In February, when many people are digging themselves out from another snowfall, travelers often dream of someplace tropical. Soaking in the sun on some exotic beach while sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it seems like a great idea after spending an hour or more shoveling your driveway. But there is another sort of traveler, a more adventurous sort, who finishes their driveway and asks themselves, "Where can I go where there's more snow?" For those people, a trip to Alaska may be the answer.
Do Your Research
Bill White has spent a lot of time in the 49th state and knows his way around. "A lot of people don't realize how vast the state is," he says. "You're talking about an area that's nearly two and half the size of Texas, so there's a lot to see." Another way to sum it up is that Rhode Island could fit into Alaska nearly 424 times. If you're going, you should have a plan.
Alaska is home to some of the most beautiful scenery the United States has to offer. When looking into a trip to Alaska, the opportunities to experience the state's natural beauty are seemingly endless. If getting out in nature is your idea of a great vacation, Alaska's 54 million wild acres, 15 national parks and 6640 miles of coastline has you covered. One of the top sights on the list is the Aurora Borealis, which can be seen very clearly in Alaska.
"When you see it in person for the first time it's spooky. The way it floats is scary," White says. "If you're outside on a cold clear night the movements are surreal. It's like you're waiting for something to reach out and grab you."
White also recommends the Chena Hot Springs Resort about an hour outside of Fairbanks. In addition to the springs, which boast healing mineral waters, the resort offers package deals that include dog sled rides and tours of the Aurora Ice Museum. Imagine soaking in a hot spring while soaking up the view of the Northern Lights above!
"Anyone who goes to Alaska has to try Chena Hot Springs," says White.
Must See Sights
Another great way to see the state is by rail. The Alaska Railroad and other companies offer tours all year that can expose you to some of Alaska's best scenery while enjoying the fun of rail travel.
History buffs may enjoy the Golden Circle tour, which takes travelers to old gold rush towns. This is a popular RV trip and encompasses five cities in the Yukon. Some really adventurous travelers do the tour on a bicycle.
Many Alaskan communities are accessible by car, so to really get off the beaten path, consider cruising the Alaska Marine Highway. The highway is celebrating 50 years of service in 2013 and offers multiple tours throughout the state.
Visitors to Anchorage won't want to miss the Alaska Mint, which has been creating jewelry, commemorative coins and other unique items for years.
For kids of all ages, White recommends a visit to North Pole Alaska. It's Christmas all year long in this community that features candy cane light poles and Santa Claus Lane. Make sure to visit the Santa Claus House to check in on the reindeer and say hello to St. Nick himself.
If you prefer to have someone else handle the details for your trip to Alaska, there are many options to choose from. Numerous companies offer tours of Alaska catering to nature lovers.
For a whirlwind tour, consider The Alaskan Experience Tour offered by Alaska-travel.net. This is an eight day, seven night tour that will be sure to provide you with amazing experiences. The tour is highlighted by a kayak tour of Resurrection Bay, a trip to Kenai Fjords National Park to do some whale watching, bear viewing in the Cook Inlet, a "flight-seeing" tour of Mt. McKinley, a ride on the Alaska Railroad and two days in Denali National Park.
First time travelers to Alaska may be intimidated by the weather, but in reality, the climate is not much different from many other northern cities. Winters can be cold of course, but average temperatures in places like Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage range from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit from May through September.
Alaska offers options for any traveler and provides some of the most amazing scenery in the world. Bring a sweatshirt, your camera and a sense of adventure and you won't be disappointed.
This blog post is intended as an informational tool, not an endorsement of the companies or products mentioned.