From island escapes and isolated towns, to communities known for their world-class salmon fisheries and historic gold-rush era survival, here are the 15 coolest small towns in Alaska that you’ve probably never heard of. This is part-two to the topic we did last August titled ‘
Here Are The Most Beautiful, Charming Small Towns In Alaska‘ so if you don’t see one of your favorites on this list, be sure to peep the first article that we rolled out. Now that you have two lists, it’s time to start planning an epic summer road-trip bucket list!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
From your first step off the boat and onto the docks in Craig, it is nearly guaranteed that your heart will skip a beat and leave you gasping for air. It's just... magical. This small town is so special that it is hard to truly put into words. It has to be experienced in person, it just HAS to. The population in Craig is around 1,250 and is filled with people who love to fish, hike, hunt and live the Alaska life.
Located just around eight miles west of Fairbanks, Ester has a population around 2,450. This historic mining town is filled with quirky, charismatic and well-educated folks that enjoy dancing to the beat of their own drum. Creative crafts and fantastic artwork is found throughout this town. The Ester Dome is a very popular place for hiking and berry picking, just watch out for the bears!
3. Funny River
With a population under 650, Funny River is a cool little town located closest to 'Alaska's Kenai River City' of Soldotna. Visitors here can enjoy an awesome campground, Kenai River fishing and boat access, horseback riding trails, hiking access, ATV riding and so much more!
Located on Chichagof Island, Hoonah is truly one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the entire state of Alaska. And the people here are some of the most friendly and hospitable in the world, which makes it easy to fall in love and never want to leave. Popular attractions in Hoonah include the worlds largest and highest zip-line, whale watching, kayaking, bear viewing, fishing Icy Strait point and exploring the Tongass National Forest.
Located just up the road from the entrance to Denali National Park, Healy is a cool little community best known for the area where the 'Into the Wild' book (and movie) wrapped up inside the now-notorious abandoned bus. In addition to that little claim-to-fame, Healy is known for having awesome safari excursions, hearty restaurants, a fantastic brewery and total isolation within reach. This is an excellent area for hunting during open season(s) and stunning wildlife viewing during the summer months.
With a population around 7, this is a community that was founded on gold mining and is one of the few surviving gold rush towns in Alaska. Popular spots in town include the Goldpanner Gift Shop, 40 Mile Steakhouse, and Mini-Golf area.
7. Moose Pass
Located on the Kenai Peninsula as you head towards Seward, the town of Moose Pass is not to be missed. With under 200 residents, this town is known for having some of the warmest hospitality in all of the last frontier. Visitors enjoy the incredible hiking trails nearby as well as the Summer Solstice Festival which happens around Jun 21st of each year.
NakNek is located in the Bristol Bay Borough with a population around 550 (which grows substantially during the summer months.) This lovely little community is best known for having the world's richest sockeye salmon fishery.
Located just a stone-throw's boat ride away from Homer, Seldovia is a town that is filled with smiles, laughter and a love for the great outdoors. This small community offers amazing restaurants, lodging, kayaking, hiking and various adventure outlets to get you outside and falling in love with Alaska in a whole new light.
Located on Mitkof Island with a population under 3,000, Petersburg is quite the unique and special place. Hike in a rainforest, gaze at glaciers, go halibut fishing or simply go outside and breathe in the island fresh air. Rich traditions and a pride in culture are very prominent in this special town.
Located on the Kenai Peninsula, Hope is a happy little town nestled along the countryside with stunning views of the Turnagain Arm. With a year-round population around 200, visitors here enjoy fishing, camping and hiking.
With a population around 1,200 residents, this is the first “major” welcoming city to Alaska once you cross the Canadian border. In town you can expect to meet some of the nicest and most hospitable people around with a true dedication to caring for their customers. It is also fun to talk with the locals about things to do in the area and how often they make it to the "big city" of Fairbanks.
With a population around 2,400 and a remote island location in southeast Alaska, Wrangell is filled with charm and beauty. Visitors here can fish on the saltwater, go wildlife viewing or check out Rainbow Falls while picking berries. Some of the most popular attractions are the Chief Shakes Tribal House, Totem Park and the Wrangell Museum.
With a population around 87, Hyder has a strong Canadian influence although it is a town in America. In town you will find gold rush-era saloons and quirky little businesses. The Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site is a remarkable area where visitors can watch (and photograph) large brown and black bears feeding on pink and chum salmon that are spawning by the thousands upstream.
15. Trapper Creek
With a population under 500, this small town located towards Denali National Park off the George Parks Hwy is one of those "if you blink, you'll miss it" kind of towns. Small and size and filled with people who enjoy being away from the rat race and living semi off-the-grid. Visitors here enjoy fishing streams, ATV'ing, hunting and exploring the mighty back-country.
Have you ever been to any of these awesome small towns in Alaska? Do you have a favorite or one to add to the list?