Alaska Hiking, Nature August 17, 2017
13 Amazing Natural Wonders Hiding In Plain Sight In Alaska — No Hiking Required
Alaska is a land of jagged mountains, crystal lakes, and rolling tundra. That means, of course, that the state is full of natural wonders, but many of them are in remote and difficult locations. If you have your own small plane and a lot of gear, you can make it to the Brooks Range or the tiny islands along the coast, but the average traveler won’t get to go to all the epic places in Alaska. Luckily, there are many gorgeous places that you can drive right up to that are more accessible. Enjoy these amazing natural wonders that you can visit where nature’s beauty can be experienced by everyone!
1. Mount Denali, Interior Alaska
If you are lucky and Denali isn't shrouded in clouds, you can see this massive mountain from as far away as Anchorage or Fairbanks. There are places to pull off along the Parks highway at strategic spots for Denali viewing. If you make it to Denali National Park, the day long bus tour doesn't require any hiking and usually there is a variety of wildlife to view from the bus window.
2. Horsetail Falls, Valdez
This spectacular waterfall is right along the Richardson Highway in the Key Canyon before you reach Valdez. The falls measure 330 feet and there is a parking lot right next to them for easy viewing. Of course, the falls are especially heavy when everything is melting in the spring, but the rainforest climate of Valdez keeps them flowing most of the summer.
3. Lower Reid Falls, Skagway
Off the Klondike Highway is the Gold Rush Cemetary and behind that, a short forested walk leads you to these beautiful falls in Skagway.
4. The Northern Lights, everywhere
You can see the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) any time the sky is dark in Alaska, which generally means the winter. It seems as though the farther north you head and the colder the weather, the more likely it is to see them. If you are dedicated to seeing the lights, check an aurora forecast that daily predicts how much geomagnetic activity is present in the ionosphere. If you prefer a simpler method, just wake up in the middle of the night and look to the skies.
5. Chugach Mountains, Eagle River Nature Center, Eagle River
Access views of the Chugach Mountains from this very informative nature center. There is a 3/4 mile walk on a boardwalk to a bear and salmon viewing area. Head here in June-July if you want to see the wildlife.
6. McHugh Creek Falls, Anchorage
Just south of Anchorage at Mile 111 on the Seward Highway lies this lovely waterfall. A recreation area houses this 20 foot high splasher with amenities and a picnic area.
7. Bridal Veil Falls, Valdez
This beautiful waterfall is a long stream down the green cliff face adjoining the highway. Just pull up on the side of the road to see and hear this gushing stream of clear mountain spring water.
8. Russian River Falls, Cooper Landing
This waterfall is at mile 52 of the Sterling Highway in Cooper Landing. The Russian River is full of thousands of green-headed, red-bodied sockeye salmon between June and July. There is a 1.5 mile path to the falls, but it is easy, paved and gentle for strollers and wheelchairs.
9. Eklutna Lake, 26.5 Glenn Highway
Head to this crystal clear lake for a moment of tranquility. Campgrounds, trails and picnic areas are available for you to enjoy this peaceful scene.
10. Liberty Falls, Chitina
If you are traveling on the Glenn or Richardson Highways, take a detour to see Liberty Falls, a towering and glorious waterfall viewable from the parking lot. The terraced falls cascade over green tinted rocks. There is also a campground at the site.
11. Ketchikan Creek Falls, Ketchikan
Right in town, follow Creek Street to the Ketchikan Creek Falls. When the salmon are running in June and July, this waterfall becomes a "salmon ladder" where salmon leap up the falls to continue on their way upstream.
12. Matanuska River, Chickaloon
Along the Glenn highway there are several places to pull off near Chickaloon where you can see the Matanuska River. The river is the run-off water from the well-known Matanuska Glacier and follows the highway before draining into the Knik Arm.
13. Blackstone Falls, Prince William Sound
Although this waterfall is a 4 hour boat ride from Whittier to the Blackstone Glacier, seeing this 500 foot glacial waterfall requires no hiking at all! This massive flow of icy water tumbles into Prince William Sound from the glacier. There are plenty of beautiful things to see from the water if hiking is not for you.
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Have you been to any of these natural wonders? Tell us about it in the comments below.