Bordered by Canada and the icy waters of the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans, is the U.S. state of Alaska. The city of Anchorage lies in the mountainous south and is home to around 40 percent of all Alaskans. Alaska, …The Great Land, …The Last Frontier; …apt names for one of the most extreme places on the planet. This is a land of endless beauty, immense riches, and epic horizons.
Purchased from Russia in 1867 for around two cents an acre, Alaska is the largest state in the U.S.A., and one of history’s greatest bargains. At the height of summer, the city of Anchorage basks in an incredible 22 hours of sunlight, with the sun’s face barely dipping below the horizon. Alaska’s first peoples tell of a great raven who scattered the stars, moon, and sun into the sky, so even when the long winter comes, the sky is never completely dark. A gateway to the surrounding wilderness, Anchorage is a warm and inviting base where you can rest and resupply between outdoor adventures. And you don’t have to go far, the city is nestled snuggly against the immense Chugach State Park. Grab your hiking boots and take the half-hour drive to the trailhead of Flattop Mountain. If you don’t make the summit, don’t worry, every turn on these popular trails serves up some of the best views in the state.
In the north of Chugach State Park is Eklutna Lake, a glacially fed basin framed by snow-capped peaks and some of the best backcountry trails in the region. Clamber into a kayak, dip your paddle into the sky-mirrored waters, and venture to far off shores. Follow your compass south, to the resort town of Girdwood. In winter, avid skiers and snowboarders flock here for the best powder in the state. And when the snows melt and greenery springs forth, hikers enjoy the pine-veiled hillsides of this glacial valley too. Take the ten-minute drive from Girdwood to Crow Creek Mine.
Operational since 1896, the mine is a working relic of the Alaskan gold rush. Locals whisper that hefty nuggets still remain at Crow Creek, so why not roll up your sleeves and pan for gold in the rushing snowmelt? When you return to Anchorage share in the riches of Alaska’s first people at the Alaska Native Heritage Centre. Learn traditional dances and games and admire the expert craftsmanship of their unique art, buildings, tools, and clothing. Stock up on stories and folklore from the Last Frontier at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Centre.
Just like the outfitter stores of old, this museum carries a bit of everything, and celebrates the many voices of Alaska. When the wildernesses calls again, take the two-hour journey south to the Kenai Peninsula. At the remote fishing outpost of Seward, icy ocean breezes and the clang of rigging awaits. Hang out at the dock, and watch as fishermen and women unload and fillet their catch, just as they’ve done for generations. To admire more of the stunning surrounds, and maybe even meet some of the locals, set sail to the Kenai Fjords National Park.
Marvel as deep-sea giants breach the surface of these still waters, and witness age-old glaciers creak and crumble into the sea. Climb aboard a seaplane or helicopter and soar from Seward out to the Godwin Glacier. This colossal river of ice was formed from thousands of years of compacted mountain snow. The first Alaskans believe that glaciers are snake-like beings who have been winding their way through the mountains since the dawn of time. Ever since the early days of fur-clad trappersand miners, Alaska has loomed large in the American imagination, and Anchorage has long been the gateway to this ‘land of the midnight sun’. Those who make the journey here often discover more than rugged beauty and captivating cultures, … they often find that wild spirit which resides within us all..