Alaska--the word itself conjures images of vast mountain ranges, breathtaking scenery, big fish, bigger grizzlies and often someone's dream vacation. Thousands of people journey north every summer, leaving with pictures, stories and all those trendy items tourist love to purchase.
Alaska's tourism is unique. People often travel to visit the history of antiquated cities. Ancient ruins, priceless art, soaring cathedrals and the modernity of high-priced shopping attract hundreds of thousands of tourists annually. However, the very opposite has enchanted travelers of Alaska for hundreds of years. Alaska might not have the industrial history spanning the longevity of Greece or Rome, but its charm is just as mysterious--the wilderness.
Alaska is every outdoorsman's dream, but if the idea of roughing it doesn't thrill you, there's still plenty to appreciate. Just about anywhere you travel, many similar activities are offered depending on geography. From hiking to fishing, experiencing Native Alaska culture, wildlife ocean tours to cruises, and flightseeing to dining out, tourists can make Alaska as rugged or as luxurious as desired.
Many Alaskans have lived here for decades, or even their entire lives, not having witnessed the majority of the state. One week, even one month, is not enough to encounter all Alaska has to offer. It takes a different breed to live out on "The Last Frontier," but visitors can experience what Alaska locals adore.
THINGS TO DO, PLACES TO GO
One of the state's most loved and frequented rural areas is Denali National State Park. With six million acres to explore, it also boasts the largest mountain in North America: Mount McKinley (Denali), which stands at 20,320 feet. And while at DNSP, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a grizzly, wolf, Dall sheep, fox or other wildlife.
However, there is another park in Alaska that is not often recognized, even though it has been described as the park with "more superlatives than any other," according to the National Park Service.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve surrounding the towns of Kennicott and McCarthy, is about 300 miles from Anchorage. In the park's 13 million acres, it houses "one of the largest concentrations of Dall sheep in North America," according to the National Park Service, in addition to all the animals Alaska is so well-known for: moose, brown bear, black bear, wolves, caribou, bald eagles, and salmon, just to name a few. Mount Wrangell, standing at over 14,000 feet, is an active volcano. The park also contains the largest accumulation of glaciers in North America.
If you choose to drive into the park, there are two gravel roads accessible with plenty of hikes and sightseeing along the way. However, depending on what kind of car you have, one road might be more recommend than the other. On Nabesa Road, there will be a couple rivers to ford, and higher clearance is recommended. McCarthy Road, which leads into the town, is usually...