These towns are small in size yet filled with the ability to create magical lifelong memories. With their endless beauty, world-class attractions, adrenaline filled adventure and historic charm, these communities capture hundreds of thousands of hearts throughout the last frontier each year. You just have to check out what you’ll find in these 15 small towns in Alaska that very well may surprise you.
1. 26 Glacier Cruise - Whittier
With a population just over 200, many might not expect that the town of Whittier becomes a booming recreational paradise in the summertime. The 26 Glacier Cruise offers a scenic and comfortable journey into Prince William Sound where guests can let their eyes feast on some of the most beautiful glaciers in the world.
2. Alaska Heliskiing - Haines
Although the town itself only has a population of around 1,300 people, one of the most awesome adrenaline packed adventures in the whole state of Alaska is based right from the town of Haines. Alaska Heliskiing offer fly-in skiing adventures, only accessible by helicopter. Drop down on mountains with runs over 5,000 vertical feet and feel your heart beat with joy and excitement as you shred powder that feels like heaven on earth.
3. World's Largest Zipline - Hoonah
Don't be fooled by the population size of roughly 700 people, the tiny town of Hoonah offers one of the most spectacular attractions in the state. Hook up with Icy Strait Point to enjoy the world's largest ZipRider. This massive operation with six 5,330 ft long ziplines drops over 1330 ft. Speeds have been known to get up to 60 mph while on the zipline. We are shaking in our boots just thinking about it!
4. Whitewater Rafting Sixmile Creek - Hope
Don't let the approximate 192 population of Hope fool you. This tiny town on the Kenai Peninsula is filled with charm and hidden treasures. Whitewater rafting Class IV and Class V rapids while dropping over 50 feet per mile with Chugach Outdoor Center is one of the most mind-blowing ways to let loose and soak life in from the town of Hope.
5. Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes - King Salmon
With a population under 400, King Salmon looks like a sleepy Alaska town when you see it on paper. But when you realize that it is home to some of the most incredible sockeye salmon runs in the entire world as well as the incredible Katmai National Park & Preserve, you quickly realize that this is one place you absolutely MUST put on your bucket list. Some of the most incredible features here include the vast amount of brown bears and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, which is filled with ash flow from the eruption of the Novarupta volcano on June 6–8, 1912.
6. Glacier Landing - Talkeetna
Although the population of Talkeetna is said to be less than 900 people, there is so much good stuff inside this quaint and quirky town located off the George Parks Hwy. One of the most thrill-seeking adventures that visitors can enjoy is a Glacier Landing excursion with Talkeetna Air Taxi. Emabark on an adventure that lets you view an ice age world of sculpted peaks and blue glacier ice or get a little higher and opt for the excursion around North America's largest peak, Mt. Denali.
7. World's Largest Totem Pole Collection - Ketchikan
This small city located on the Inside Passage certainly does have quite the claim-to-fame. With the largest collection of totem poles in the world, visitors here can enjoy a rich amount of Native American and Alaska Native art. The most popular places to view these magnificent carvings are Saxman Native Village, Potlatch Park, Totem Bight State Historical Park, Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, Totem Heritage Center and many other places all throughout Ketchikan.
8. Musk Ox Farm - Palmer
With a population around 6,500 people, the quiet town of Palmer is one of the greatest places to go in Alaska to experience farm country. And this amazing Musk Ox Farm is no exception. Visitors here can enjoy learning about the non-profit organization's dedication to domesticating the Musk Ox which is an Ice Age mammal that once roamed the earth alongside saber-tooth tigers. Learn about the harvest of qiviut which is said to be the finest wool in the entire world.
9. Aurora Borealis Shows - Livengood
The Northern Lights are certainly an attraction within themselves in Alaska. The best time to catch these stunning dancing lights in the sky is during the winter months in Alaska, but the location is very broad. The tiny area of Livengood (northwest of Fairbanks) which has a population of about 13 people is positioned greatly for those looking to catch the most fantastic show of their life.
10. Kenai Fjords Tours - Seward
With less than 3,000 people, the town of Seward is small in size yet lofty in adventure. Being the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park, thousands upon thousands of visitors each year come to Seward and embark on a Kenai Fjords Tour. This day cruise offers comfortable guided tours with epic views of marine life, wildlife, glaciers, birds and so much more.
11. Halibut Fishing Capital of the World - Homer
With tons of great guide services to choose from in the small town of Homer, which has a population around 5,300 people, stocking your freezer (and having a blast while doing it) with halibut from the "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World" is something that everyone should do when visiting the Kenai Peninsula.
12. Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park - Gustavus
With a population under 500 residents, Gustavus might not look like much when you're looking at a map. However, this tiny town is the gateway to the incredible Glacier Bay National Park. Visitors here can get up close and personal with vast glaciers, incredible wildlife and endless Alaskan wilderness.
13. Alyeska Resort - Girdwood
Although Girdwood has a population less than 2,000, it is home to the largest ski resort in the entire state of Alaska. With an average annual snowfall of 650 inches, phenomenal views overlooking the Turnagain Arm, 2,500 vertical feet runs and over 1,400 acres of outdoor playground paradise, this place is what dreams are made of. In the summer months the resort is a hiking and mountain biking paradise.
14. Kennicott Mine & Ghost Town - McCarthy
With a population of about 28, McCarthy is one of the most unassuming places in Alaska. Home to the historic Kennicott Mine and ghost town tours, visitors can learn about the start of the mine in 1903, the discovery of copper minerals, the end of the boom in 1938 when it become ghost town and so much more. Although this is a very "touristy" area to explore it is also very fun for locals to learn about this important part of the state of Alaska's history.
15. Kenai River Canyon - Cooper Landing
With a population under 300 people, the town of Cooper Landing on the Kenai Peninsula is a tiny treasure that attracts a booming influx of tourists in the summertime. One of the coolest experiences in the area is a trip down the Kenai River Canyon which offers Class II+ rapids through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Go for the float or bring your fishing rod and catch world-class salmon or trout along the way.
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