Welcome to Alaska
From the Inside Passage to Fairbanks and the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean to the tip of Kenai Peninsula, the RVer will find much to experience and savor throughout Alaska.
North to Alaska
Alaska remains every RVers dream vacation – and whether it’s a once in a lifetime trip or a once in a lifetime trip that ends up being repeated many times, there is more to going to Alaska than getting to Alaska.
Consider the journey, not just the destination. Turn your travels into the ultimate North American road trip, taking travelers through much of the northwest US and then likely through parts of Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon (see those Welcome sections for more details.)
All along the way there are unpopulated scenic spaces, long stretches of open road – populated by moose, bear and bison - and then colorful quaint small towns – with histories dating back to First Nations. Rivers to kayak or canoe, hiking, museums, gold panning … it’s all here. Find a great resource at www.northtoalaska.com
Enjoy the following attractions as you explore Alaska: Stan Stephens Cruises
Explore Prince William Sound from Valdez with the Local Experts – Stan Stephens Cruises. With multiple departures daily, Stan Stephens Cruises offers you a chance to view the amazing Columbia Glacier or cruise to the face of Meares Glacier. In addition to exciting glaciers, you will have a chance to see the residents of Prince William Sound: sea lions, sea otters, seals, bald eagles, puffins, porpoise, humpback whales or orcas. En route, your Alaskan captain and crew will share the history of the area from the early explorers to the oil shipping and commercial fishing of today. As you cruise the calm waters of Prince William Sound you will be treated to the best customer service in Alaska provided by our all Alaskan crew. Meals are included on all tours as well as complimentary coffee and tea.
The year-round Alaskan staff at Stan Stephens Cruises is dedicated to the health of Valdez, Prince William Sound and Alaska. The knowledge and understanding that they learn from working with tourism, commercial fishing and oil industry groups is shared daily on board.
When choosing a tour in Alaska and Prince William Sound, remember to visit Valdez and treat yourself to a day on the water with Stan Stephens Glacier & Wildlife Cruises.
For More Information: Stan Stephen Cruises, 866-867-1297, www.stanstephenscruisess.comAnchorage Museum
A world-class museum opens its doors to visitors in downtown Anchorage. The Anchorage Museum, the state's largest museum, includes the Alaska History Gallery, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, science exhibits, shop and full-service restaurant.
One of the top 10 most visited attractions in Alaska, the Anchorage Museum is a world-class art, history and science museum. Its collections offer an overview of Alaska’s rich history and an introduction to its varied culture. Displays in the Alaska History Gallery delve into Russian occupation, the gold rush, the Exxon Valdez oil spill and more.
The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center gives visitors a glimpse of the diverse culture of the Alaska Native peoples, while the Imaginarium Discovery Center will ignite the child in everyone with hands-on science exhibits. Free public programs include hourly docent tours during the summer months. The museum also features an award-winning museum shop and full service restaurant specializing in Alaska cuisine.
Learn more by calling 907-929-9200 or visiting the website, www.anchoragemuseum.org
Prince of Wales, Alaska
Prince of Wales Island is Alaska like all of Alaska used to be. There are more than 2,000 miles of roads and 1,000 miles of shoreline in pristine condition and ready for exploration. See snow-capped mountain peaks, cavernous caves and a magnificent forest. There are Sitka black-tailed deer and black bears, eagles and seabirds. Whale watching and fishing are spectacular. Visitors can experience solitude or friendly towns for you to visit.
• Craig’s oceanfront offers fishing crabbing and whale-watching along with one of the best hikes on the island.
• Klawock is a bike ride or a short walk from a river that spawns four species of salmon. In this Tlingit village newly carved totems stand in the park overlooking the oldest cannery in Alaska.
• Hydaburg and Kasaan are the two Haida villages on the Island, offering a look at the traditions of the Haida people – with the last remaining Haida longhouse and a collection of old totem poles.
• Thorne Bays’ roots as a logging town are proudly visible. Now the town is clustered around the boat harbor with fishing, beachcombing and hiking available around the bay.
• Coffman Cove also excels in whale watching and crabbing - plus there’s an active oyster farm, art festivals and fishing.
Prince of Wales is the third largest island in the United States. We’re small enough to be explored to your heart’s content and large enough to lose yourself in our splendor. Visit online at www.princeofwalescoc.org and visit in person as soon as you can. Muktuk Adventures
“AUTHENTIC!” “ UNIQUE!” “INSPIRING!” “The true Yukon experience!” These are some words used by travelers who visit with the sled dogs at Muktuk Adventures. Along the journey toward Alaska, stop and join Muktuk adventures for the day or a few hours. Muktuk Adventures is located 20 minutes from Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway and offers year-round dog sled adventures, Yukon hospitality and a northern dining experience like no other!
Don’t be just another tourist at another tourist attraction: Join the family at Muktuk, where guests are invited to connect with over 100 Alaskan Huskies and an international crew at the home of Yukon Quest legend Frank Turner.
Take part in the daily interactive, informative and personal tours and leave with memories lasting a lifetime. Take a walk to the scenic Takhini River with a group of friendly huskies and learn about the relationships in a team of sled dogs and how it’s not all that different from our human relationships. Relax and enjoy the view as you nibble on Muktuk’s Taste of Yukon lunch or dinner special featuring bison, caribou, elk, arctic char and more.
Sit back and enjoy both the quiet and the occasional, random orchestra of howling sled dogs. Sip on any one of our Yukon Brewery selections or fine wines during your meal. Short on time? Stop by for a self-guided tour in one of the very few kennels where you can pet and love every single dog. Add our off-the-beaten-trail, dog-loving adventure to your RV journey.
For More Information, contact Muktuk Adventures, 866-968-3647,
Santa Claus House
It's Christmas year-round in North Pole, home of the world famous Santa Claus House.
Enjoy a delicious treat from Santa's Fudge & Coffee Shop while you browse an amazing assortment of Christmas décor and ornaments, exclusive apparel, collectibles, made-in-Alaska items, as well as a selection of unique toys. Don't forget to bring your camera for some memorable photos including the World's Largest Santa, standing nearly 50 feet tall. You can even see real members of Santa's reindeer team. Of course, don't forget to have your picture taken with the jolly man himself! Santa is available much of the year.
Santa Claus House is home to the Original Letter from Santa and Deed to One-Square Inch of North Pole property. Since 1952, millions of letters have been mailed to nearly every country and each letter is stamped with a "Santa's Official Mail" seal and a genuine North Pole postmark.
For More Information: Santa Claus House, 907-488-2200, www.santaclaushouse.com
White Pass and Yukon Route
Built in 1898 to open the Klondike to gold seekers, this narrow gauge railway, originally stretching from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, was completed in 1900—just in time for the Klondike Gold Rush to be over. The railway hauled freight and passengers for over 80 years before closing down in 1982 after a dramatic fall in world ore prices. But WP&YR persevered and reopened its doors six years later as “The Scenic Railway of the World,” providing rail excursions to tourists from all over the world. The construction of this engineering marvel took the labor of 35,000 working men to complete during two years of harsh weather conditions & treacherous terrains, using only black blasting powder and crude tools to hew out the 110-mile line. In 1994, the WP&YR was named an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, joining the likes of the Statue of Liberty and the Panama Canal.
Today, guests experience the breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, trestles & tunnels from the comfort of vintage train cars. Hear a fully narrated tour of the White Pass featuring tales of villainous gun-slingers and good-time girls, or would-be gold seekers struggling towards the Yukon, and see with your own eyes the untouched, pristine beauty of the Pacific Coastal Mountains.
Trips depart from Skagway, AK, Fraser, BC, Carcross, YT, & Whitehorse, YT, between early May and late September each year. The White Pass & Yukon Route is Alaska’s most popular shore excursion and a favorite on many Alaska/Yukon travelers must-see lists.
Few places on earth compare with the wonders of southwest Alaska. The region's terrain ranges from a landscape of volcanoes in Katmai National Park created by the 1912 eruption of the Novarupta volcano, to the windswept Aleutian Islands that make a 1,000-mile sweep toward Asia.
South Central Region
Alaska's largest city, Anchorage lies between the mountains and the sea and is a popular destination. The view of the Chugach Mountains greets visitors to Anchorage. Creating the backdrop are the salmon-rich waters of Cook Inlet and the 5,000-foot-plus peaks of Chugach State Park. Anchorage features dozens of parks and 122 miles of paved bike paths. Warmed by a maritime climate, you can spend the day fishing Ship Creek downtown, hiking the nearby mountains, or photographing glaciers.
Portage Glacier is one of Alaska's most visited attractions. Access is via the Seward Highway about 50 miles south of Anchorage. The Portage Glacier Access Road winds about five miles from the highway past a series of campgrounds to Begich, Boggs Visitor Center.
Inside Passage Region
Shaped by the force of massive glaciers, Alaska's Inside Passage boasts wildlife-filled fjords, lush island scenery, and habitat for bald eagles, sea lions, porpoises and whales.
Sixteen spectacular glaciers flow from surrounding mountains into the waters of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Lofty mountain peaks, ice-sculptured fjords, massive tidewater glaciers, and an abundance of marine wildlife have made Glacier Bay National Park one of Alaska's most spectacular settings.
Haines sits at the northern end of the Inside Passage and is an important port of call for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Every summer thousands of RVers pass through Haines on their way to Canada's Yukon and Interior Alaska.
In Skagway a seven-block corridor along Broadway features historic false-front shops, wooden sidewalks and restored buildings, many of which are part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Beginning in 1897, Skagway and the nearby ghost town of Dyea were the starting place for more than 40,000 miners heading to the Klondike Gold Rush by way of the Chilkoot Trail. Ride the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad and experience the panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, and historic sites from the comfort of vintage parlor cars. This engineering wonder climbs nearly 3,000 feet in 26 miles of steep grades and cliff-hanging turns.
Haines was also established during the Klondike gold rush. Museums, a thriving arts community, and campgrounds are located within walking distance of downtown.
Juneau sits snugly between Mount Juneau, Mount Roberts and Gastineau Channel. The state capitol building, Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, several museums and historic South Franklin Street are all within easy walking distance. A short drive from downtown is Mendenhall Glacier, one of the 38 major glaciers that extend from the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Icefield.
Located on Sitka Sound and surrounded by a myriad of small, forested islands, the city of Sitka is marked by the picturesque remnants of its Russian heritage, including the onion-shaped domes and gold-colored crosses of the Saint Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Other historic sites include the Russian Blockhouse, the Russian Bishop's House, Princess Maksoutoff's Grave and Castle Hill.
In the heart of Alaska lies a land that beckons tourists with nearly 20 hours of daylight in the summer, beautiful crystal clear lakes, majestic mountains and wildlife galore. Only 45 miles north of Anchorage, Mat-Su Valley gives visitors the chance to walk on a glacier and visit an authentic gold mine.
The Matanuska-Sustina Valley (Mat-Su Valley) has been welcoming visitors from the lower 48 since the great depression. It's open for business to RVers with lots of full-service campgrounds to choose from.
In the center of the valley sits a town that was created by ingenuity and perseverance. In 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt used the Mat-Su Valley as a part of his New Deal to end the Great Depression and became one of the greatest social experiments in the history of the nation.
Roosevelt's mission was to transplant 200 struggling farming families from the Midwest to what is now known as Palmer. The founders chose an area in the Mat-Su Valley that was deemed suitable for a limited growing season. So 200 down-on-their-luck families from the bread basket of the lower 48 moved to Alaska and began their new life on the final frontier.
The colder temperatures meant these hearty farmers had to change the way they did things. Instead of growing corn, they grew cold temperature grains and root vegetables, which to their surprise, grew to remarkable sizes. What they didn't take into account was the number of hours of sunlight the vegetation receives in the summer. So root vegetables like turnips can grow to three times the size they would with 10 to 12 hours of sunlight. Cabbage is another vegetable that grows to enormous sizes. The area's record holder is a 106-pound cabbage.
The farming community is still thriving in Palmer. The annual Alaska State Fair is held here every August and features agricultural exhibits, a carnival and one thing that may not be present in other fairs: "The Great Alaskan Husband Holler Contest." Don't be surprised if you leave this even with your ears hurting.
Palmer keeps visitors coming back because it looks like a Midwestern farming community that's surrounded by the towering Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains. Palmer has preserved its Midwestern roots right down to the antique furniture and wooden floors of its downtown stores.
Visitors to the area enjoy driving on the back roads around Palmer to see the original farm buildings built in the 1930s. If you happen to be there in late summer, be sure to stop at the many farm stands offering the freshest and largest produce, straight from the farm.
Just outside of Palmer is Hatcher Pass, located near the historic Independence Gold Mine. Today, the old gold mine is a 761-acre state park where visitors can roam 16 remaining mine buildings constructed in the 1930s by the Pacific-Alaska Mining Company. The mine was abandoned in 1951 and became a National Historic Park in 1980.
After seeing the gold mine, stick around and take a walk on one of the many trails that wind through the area. Take a side trip to the Summit Lake State Park, just down the road. This park is a favorite for parasailing, and on a calm evening you can sit on a ridge and watch the pilots float on the thermals. Make sure you take a picnic lunch.
If you should happen to visit in the winter, bring your sled, because the Mat-Su Borough maintains are excellent for sledding hill. If you're a bit more adventurous, go snowboarding, cross-country skiing or snowmobiling all favorites among the locals and visitors.
While you're in the area, make a stop at the largest glacier in the state that's accessible by a vehicle. The 26-mile-long, 4-mile-wide Matanuska Glacier is located next to the Glenn Highway and can be seen for miles before you actually get close to it. At mile marker 101 on the Glen Highway, you can visit the Matanuska State Park. Here, you can walk a trail that parallels the glacier and the Matanuska River. Unfortunately, there is no direct access to the glacier from the state park, but you can take some spectacular pictures from a number of viewing points.
If you want to walk on the ice, travel a mile down the road to mile marker 102. Here you'll find Matanuska Glacier Park, a privately owned park that has full access to the ice. There is an entrance fee, but once you're inside, you can take a self-guided tour.
Denali State Park
Top off your trip with a visit to Denali State Park, which gives visitors a geological trek from the coastal waters to the mountains. You'll get to encounter muskrats, red fox and porcupines in the lower ranges and see black and brown bears, moose and marmots in the upper areas. Be sure to take your fishing rod, because five species of Pacific salmon and rainbow trout flourish in the area. Start planning your trip to the Mat-Su Valley by visiting www.travelalaska.com.