Enormous and lightly developed, Alaska is a global haven for outdoor and nature enthusiasts. The mountain and glacier views are beyond stunning, the amount of wildlife is excitingly alarming and the adrenaline rush that can be experienced by simply opening your eyes – it’s impossible to match. Enjoy these exhilarating seven wonders of the world that are actually right here in Alaska.
1. Denali National Park & Preserve
In the summer months, when the park road is open, visitors can walk, hike, or bike along the park road. Many flightseeing tours also operate during the summer and offer a unique view of the area. During the winter months, visitors can cross country ski, snowshoe, or even dogsled within the park. Starting around May 20th and ending around September 15th, you can drive a private vehicle up to mile 15.
Some of the most iconic, large mammals, such as grizzly and black bears, wolves, caribou, moose and Dall's sheep, can be seen by lucky visitors. Some of the more-often seen small mammals include arctic ground squirrels, red squirrels, foxes and marmots. The bird life of Denali is varied and impressive.
Denali National Park is comprised of the "Park" and the "Preserve." Together, they contain over 6 million (6,075,029) acres – or 9,492 square miles. Most of the original park (which was originally called Mount McKinley National Park) is now designated as "Wilderness."
2. Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska is the northernmost national park in the U.S. It is roughly 8,472,506 acres, slightly larger in area than Belgium.
Springtime caribou migration in Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve. In the park you will find a total of 36 mammals some of which include lemmings, wolves, caribou, moose and brown bear. Over the past 30 years a total of 133 bird species have been observed in the park.
Bush pilots and locals say that where the road ends, the real Alaska begins. And so it is in Gates of the Arctic. You can fly or walk in; most people fly. From Fairbanks (about 250 miles away), scheduled flights serve Anaktuvuk Pass, an Eskimo village within the park borders; Bettles/ Evansville; and Ambler, to the west. From Bettles/Evansville, Ambler, Fairbanks, or Coldfoot, you can air taxi into the park. Allow time for bad weather and delayed flights. From Anaktuvuk Pass, you can hike into the park.
3. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is located on the Alaska panhandle west of Juneau. From sea to summit, Glacier Bay offers limitless opportunities for adventure and inspiration.
Covering over 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska's Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site—one of the world’s largest international protected areas.
Humpback whales, gray whales, killer whales, porpoises, harbor seals, sea otters and stellar sea lions can all be found throughout the park. On the shoreline it is not uncommon to see black and brown bears.
4. Katmai National Park & Preserve
Katmai National Park and Preserve is located in southern Alaska, notable for the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and for its Alaskan brown bears.
Katmai National Monument was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region surrounding Mount Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Today, Katmai National Park and Preserve remains an active volcanic landscape, but it also protects 9,000 years of human history as well as important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears.
Transportation is always a wild situation in Alaska. Most people go to Katmai via floatplane. Unconnected to any town by roads, Katmai requires additional planning, costs and advance reservations for extended visits. Bear viewing tour packages to the park, even one-day tours, can be arranged from Kodiak, Homer and Anchorage.
5. Kenai Fjords National Park & Preserve
Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The park covers an area of 669,984 acres on the Kenai Peninsula in southcentral Alaska, near the town of Seward.
At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords' crowning feature. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. Marine life in this park include sea otter, Dall's porpoise, harbor porpoise, Steller sea lion, harbor seal, killer whale, fin whale, gray whale, humpback whale, minke whale, and sei whale.
Land animals in black bear, brown bear, beaver, coyote, mountain goat, river otter, snowshoe hare, little brown bat, lynx, hoary marmot, marten, mink, moose, meadow jumping mouse, northern bog lemming, porcupine, shrew, red squirrel, vole, short-tailed weasel, gray wolf, and wolverine. A total of 191 species of birds have been documented in the park.
6. Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Over 4 million acres of tundra, mountains & lakes, with trails, fishing holes & serene campgrounds. This is a land of stunning beauty where volcanoes steam, salmon run, bears forage, craggy mountains reflect in shimmering turquoise lakes, and local people and culture still depend on the land and water of their home.
Salmon, rainbow trout, and arctic grayling are among the 25 species of freshwater and anadromous fish in the park.
37 species of terrestrial mammals are believed to be present in the region and five different marine mammal species. Solitude is found around every bend in the river and shoulder of a mountain. You can venture into the park to become part of the wilderness.
7. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
Last but certainly not least is America's largest national park. Wrangell St. Elias is a vast national park that rises from the ocean all the way up to 18,008 ft. Mount St. Elias. At 13.2 million acres, it’s the same size as Yellowstone Nat. Park, Yosemite Nat. Park, and Switzerland combined!
Wildlife in Wrangell include dall sheep, mountain goats, caribou, bison, brown bears and black bears.
This is a rugged, beautiful area filled with seemingly endless opportunities for adventure. Hiking, backpacking, flight-seeing, rafting, mountain climbing, camping, fishing, glacier exploring, wildlife viewing and so much more can be done in this beautiful park.
Volcanoes, glaciers, lakes, mountains, more wildlife than inhabitants and millions of acres of remote wilderness. With Alaska being the largest state in America, it’s pretty easy to guess that we would have seven wonders of the world right here in the land of the last frontier. Did we leave any of your favorites off the list?