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10 Places to visit in Alaska

Last Updated on August 28, 2020

In this article, you will find our subjective selection of 10 places to visit on your trip to Alaska. It is the summary and more information you can find in our separate articles. Enjoy!

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Katmai National Park (Brooks Falls)

We ranked this place number 1 among 10 places to visit in Alaska because it is unique! You can watch some of 2200 brown bears in their natural habitat catching fish or fighting. They pretend not to see you, so it’s like the cinema, but in the cinema, you will never have such excitement. It is not easy to get to the place, but it’s worth every dollar! The best time to go is July and September. Please make sure you have the lodge or campground reservation; otherwise, there is no place to stay. You might choose a one day trip, but we do not recommend it, because it is just too short to enjoy. Read more…

brown bear in brooks falls alaska

Activities: wildlife watching, hiking

Photography hints: The best place for bears is, of course, Brooks Falls. Recommended gear is a good camera with fast AF and 200-600mm lens, and the tripod is handy. Take a lot of memory cards and spare batteries, because charging is limited in the Katmai National Park.

Talking with BearsOne of Us: A Biologist's Walk Among BearsThe Bears of Brooks FallsThe Nature of Alaska
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Denali National Park

It was a hard decision to put Denali under number 2 of 10 places to visit in Alaska because it’s as beautiful as Katmai. However, it’s much more crowded and much easier accessible. Still, it has a lot to offer. You can encounter wildlife everywhere and if the weather is good mountain sights are breathtaking! Definitely, we recommend the bus trip to Wonder Lake – it takes the whole day, but at the same time allows taking great pictures or at least see fantastic wildlife. Read more…

denali national park clody day

Activities: wildlife watching, hiking, wild water rafting, ATV

Photography hints: Recommended gear is a good camera with fast AF, image stabilization, and 200-600mm lens (for wildlife) and 16-70mm lens (for landscape), the tripod is recommended for landscape. 

McCarthy

Number 3 on the list is a tiny, remotely located, but very charming town. Actually, we can’t explain why McCarthy is so lovely, because we only discovered the fact after visiting this place. And the visit was a little bit accidental. On the way to Kennicott, we just noticed this place and decided to take a couple of pictures, only in 15 minutes. This 15 minutes changed to a couple of hours and everlasting love to the place. Maybe you will have the same feeling, maybe not. Just it’s worth trying! Give yourself some time on the way to Kennicott or back. And make sure to visit Golden Saloon! Read more…

golden saloon mccarthy alaska

Activities: hiking, history

Photography hints: everything is right here, even a mobile phone should be enough. Take a short walk through the town and discover all hidden gems on your own.

The MILEPOST 2020: Alaska Travel PlannerMoon Alaska: Scenic Drives, National Parks, Best HikesMoon Anchorage, Denali & the Kenai PeninsulaDeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer: Alaska
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Kennicott

Kennicott was our dream for years. This is why it ended up on the list of 10 places to visit in Alaska. We heard stories about how hard it is to get there because of poor quality roads. People were afraid to go with rental cars because agreement often does not allow them to. It’s a pity. However, I would take a risk and get there now, even in a rental car. But you must consider one thing – if the weather is dry, then it should be safe to get there. If it rains, it might be a problem on some parts of the gravel road. In such a situation, we do not advise you to go until on your own risk.

But when you finally get there, it is a lot to see. Old red mine with beautiful mountains in the background is not everything! You still have some restaurants to take a break, and then definitely it is worth hike Root Glacier – just a couple of miles from the mine. One or two days would be enough, make sure to take your tent or book your room if you plan to stay two days or more because lodging options are limited in this small town. Read more…

kennicott mine alaska

Activities: hiking, ice climbing, history

Photography hints: everything is right here, even a mobile phone should be enough. If you want to take a picture inside the buildings (like the old power plant, etc.), it’s good to have a tripod or camera with a high iso and wide lens (16-35mm, for example). 

Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Peninsula is a lovely place for a week if you are starting from Anchorage. At this time, you will be able to visit all the most important places like Girdwood, Wittier, Seward, Hope, Anchor Point, Kenai, Homer, Soldotna, and maybe a couple of smaller towns. Kenai peninsula is the kingdom of glaciers and wildlife. Great hikes, places for fishing, kayaking, and boating opportunities are everywhere accessible from land and sea. Distances are not that long so that you can spend more time sightseeing and less time driving. Read more…

wildlife on the road kenai peninsula

Activities: wildlife watching, hiking, kayaking, fishing, cruises

Photography hints: On the peninsula there is a plenty of places you can have great shots and each of those requires various gear. Let’s focus on some most interesting in our opinion:

Seward, near Exit Glacier, there is an opportunity for great glacier shots as well as spotting some marmots and mountain goats. If you want more, we recommend going for an all-day photography cruise from Seward to Kenai Fjords National Park. It gives you the possibility to take pictures of sea lions, puffins, otters and orcas.

Homer gives you opportunities to spot bald eagles, sea lions, shorebirds, seabirds or marine mammals, especially when you go for kayaking or cruise. Best places are around the harbor (bald eagles) and Fish Processing Plant (sea lions and bald eagles).

Anchor Point is a terrific place to spot bald eagles and other seabirds and shorebirds. Just be there in the morning or when fishermen are returning from the sea.

Homer

Homer is a beautiful place on the Kenai Peninsula. Delicious fresh oysters, local beer, fishing, kayaking, walking along the beach… All with a view of the sea and glaciers flowing down from the mountains. Downtown Homer is strung along Pioneer Avenue on a sloping hill between high bluffs to the north and Kachemak Bay to the south. It’s little wonder that many Alaskans choose to vacation in Homer. The scenery is inspiring and the climate exceptionally mild. Few small towns have the culinary variety of Homer, where there are coffee bars on nearly every corner next to gourmet sandwich shops and excellent restaurants with great seafood.

On the other side of the bay from Homer is Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park, a 350000-acre paradise of glaciers, mountains, protected coves for paddling, and an extensive trail system to explore on foot. The town is famous for charter boats heading out to catch a record-breaking halibut during the summer season. Read more…

Homer Alaska top 10

Activities: wildlife watching, kayaking, fishing

Photography hints: any camera will be enough here until you want to take great pictures of wildlife (bald eagles and sealife seen from the boats) – then you need a camera with good AF, and long telephoto lens

Valdez

This small town is worth going if you plan to fish, kayak, or see glaciers. There is not too much here, just harbor, a couple of shops and restaurants, visitor services, etc. What is worth mentioning is the road to Valdez – you will drive to Thompson Pass on the way here, and the pass itself is worth going to Valdez. There is a little chance to encounter wildlife on your way, but if you want to see more wildlife, you can go to one of the watching tours on the bay. Read more…

visitors enjoying kayak adventure Valdez Glacier Alaksa

Activities: wildlife watching, kayaking, fishing, glaciers

Photography hints: good place to spot some bald eagles is Solomon Gulch Hatchery. Thompson Pass on the way to Valdez is excellent for glacier shots.

Magic Bus

If you have seen the movie or read the book “Into the wild” you know why this place is on the list of 10 places to visit in Alaska. It is just something you can’t miss being there. Many people are trying to get to the original Chris McCandless bus, but it’s deadly dangerous! We have heard plenty of stories of how people died in Teklanika River that looks innocent but is very tricky. During movie production team was using bus replica, and this replica is on display on the 49th State Brewing Co premises. You can safely see the bus and take pictures without risking your life. Read more…

magic bus in healy alaska into the wild

Activities: wildlife watching, hiking

Photography hints: nothing special is required here. Just take some photos of the bus. It’s good to be early in the morning (less crowd and better chance for pictures, light is usually better as well).

Moon AlaskaAlaska Travel PlannerLonely Planet AlaskaAnchorage, Denali & the Kenai Peninsula
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King Salmon

We decided to put this place on the list because it might be your must-stop on the way to Katmai National Park. Actually, there is no other way to get to Katmai. You must have a stopover in King Salmon. And it looks that very often flights are delayed and you are stuck here. If it happens to you, please read our article about King Salmon – it can at least help you a little bit to spend your evening and night. You can stay in King Salmon as well if you are angler and plan to catch some fish. This place is excellent and easily accessible from Anchorage. Just make sure you have lodging booked because it is not easy to find something on the spot. Read more…

seaplane in king salmon katmai air

Activities: wildlife watching, hiking, kayaking, fishing

Photography hints: it’s nothing to photograph here. But be prepared for some wildlife, it might happen if you stay longer and you are looking for it.

Chena Hot Springs

In Alaska, you will find some hot springs. They are located rather in the northern part of the state. The problem is that most of them are not easily accessible. You must hike or drive poor gravel roads. All this makes Alaska not the hot springs state (yet we hope). But still, you can find one lovely place, quite easily accessible from Fairbanks – Chena Hot Springs. Maybe the site itself is not too wild, but it has very hot water and beautiful views. If you are bored with Hot springs itself, you can jump into the swimming pool or jacuzzi (inside or outside). The road to the place is beautiful as well, especially in Autumn. You pass plenty of forests and lakes on your way to the pools, and there is a big chance to encounter some wildlife too.

chena hot springs in autumn

Activities: Hot springs, hiking, wildlife watching on the way

Photography hints: useful to have a waterproof camera to take some pics in the pools, otherwise be prepared for wildlife with a longer lens and faster DSLR or mirrorless cameras.

Are you going to visit Alaska and do not know what places to visit? Here is the answer what 10 places to see and how to photograph them!
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the van escape

Hi, we are Agnes & Chris! Welcome to The Van Escape! We are travelers, photographers, and bloggers. Our goal is to share travel & photo experience and inspire you to outdoor adventures through America. We love wildlife, off the beaten path places, soaking in hot springs, and van life. We also like cities by night and tasting local food & wine. We give you ready itineraries, hints, and essential tools to prepare you for your unforgettable lifetime journey. We only describe the places we have been, which we know and recommend without hesitation. All photos are also ours. We are so glad you’re here!

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