The place known as the Last Frontier is filled with many charming and utterly unique towns that are known to capture the hearts of hundreds upon thousands of visitors each year. But while towns like
Seward, Cooper Landing, Fairbanks, Homer, Valdez, Juneau, Sitka and Talkeetna top most of the travel lists as the ‘most popular’ destinations in the 49th state, we can’t help but fall even deeper in love with these itsy bitsy teenie tiny towns that are wildly underrated. Take a look…
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:
Located on the Kenai Peninsula, the isolated town of Tyonek is home to roughly 130 year-round residents. Home to many generations of Alaska Native people throughout the Athabascan region of Alaska, Tyonek is roughly 40 air miles south of Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage and boasts rich culture and extreme beauty. Hunting and fishing is a way of life in Tyonek, and visitors enjoy wildlife viewing and excursions in the nearby Lake Clark National Park & Preserve.
If you've visited Denali and continued on north to Fairbanks, you likely went right through the small town of Healy which is home to roughly 1,000 year-round residents. Healy is an excellent jumping-off point for those looking to visit Denali National Park, but there is also so much more than what initially meets the eye. The summertime is great for enjoying a horseback riding or atv'ing adventure, or the more popular hike down the historic Stampede Trail. During the winter months, Healy is a great place to enjoy skiing, mushing and snow-machining adventure. The area is also a very popular hunting destination for locals.
Home to roughly 550 year-round residents, the town of Kake is a little southeast Alaska gem nestled in the lush Tongass National Forest. Kake is filled with history and culture, and the area has actually been inhabited by the Tlingit indigenous people for thousands of years. While fishing, hiking and hunting are some of the more popular activities here, you don't want to miss seeing the 128-foot-tall totem pole which was carved in 1967 for the Alaska Purchase centennial. Fun fact: it is one of the largest in the entire world!
Located in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, the remote northern town of Tanana is home to roughly 300 year-round residents. Fishing, hunting and living off the land is a way of life in the town of Tanana (and the surrounding area). If you love peace and quiet and want to experience a "real" slice of Alaskan paradise, Tanana is hard to beat!
Okay so you've probably heard of Glennallen (because it's on the road system) but we couldn't resist from adding it to this little list. In our opinion, it's highly underrated. Not only is this the jumping-off point for excursions into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, but the area is also home to some of the best fishing in the entire world. Enjoy flightseeing, rafting, wildlife viewing and so much more in this sweet little town, population 500.
Located on the picturesque Admiralty Island in southeast Alaska, Angoon boasts a population of roughly 450 year-round residents. Watch massive brown bears roam in the Kootznoowoo Wilderness area, go sea-kayaking, hike into the Tongass, enjoy world-class fishing or relax and soak in the immense amount of Tlingit culture that surrounds you.
Located off the George Parks Highway about 55 miles south of Fairbanks, Nenana is home to so much more than just the popular Ice Classic river lottery. This former railroad/construction camp with a population around 385 permanent residents is filled with rich Athabascan culture, and is truly surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. Stop and stay a while, you might just not ever want to leave!
8. Old Harbor
Located on Alaska's Emerald Island of Kodiak, Old Harbor is a tiny little village with a population just over 200 year-round residents. In the area, you'll have access to world-class hunting, fishing and hiking opportunities. Plus the hospitality that you'll receive in town is enough to warm your heart for years to come.
The Russian village of Nikolaevsk is located on the Kenai Peninsula and is home to roughly 350 residents. As the story goes, this idyllic town was settled by a group of 'old believers' of the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church around 1968. Submerge yourself in the local culture and get ready to see a side to Alaska like you've never experienced before.
Head to the Aleutian Islands to this tiny town with just over 300 people that still call the town of Adak home. Located on the island of Adak off Kuluk Bay, this tiny town is surprisingly the westernmost municipality in the United States and also the southernmost city in the state of Alaska. Hiking and ATV'ing are popular activities in the area, while hunting and fishing prove to be the most bountiful sports in the area, without a doubt.
Located on the northwestern part of Chichagof Island in southeast Alaska, Pelican is a tiny little coastal town that only about 165 residents call home. Although the area is isolated and challenging to reach, once you arrive, you'll soon realize that the trek was completely worth the journey. Hiking, sea-kayaking, camping and fishing are some of the most popular activities to enjoy in town.
12. Thorne Bay
Located in southeast Alaska, Thorne Bay is home to only about 560 residents. Nestled in the lush Tongass National Forest, the area is filled with an incredible amount of history. In fact, from the 1970s through the 1980s, Thorne Bay was home to the world's largest logging camp, and the town even continues to hold the record today. As with many areas in Alaska, the hunting and fishing nearby is absolutely bonkers!
Nestled on the shores of the renowned Kuskokwim River, approximately 350 residents call the town of McGrath home. Needless to say, the fishing in the area is some of the best that you'll experience throughout the great state of Alaska. Although the population size is teenie tiny, you might be surprised to learn that the village is actually a very important transportation and economic hub for the area.
Over 1,000 people call Tok home and play a major part in the area being Alaska's "official welcoming committee" as the first major community across the Canadian border. Tok is truly a mecca for the outdoors-lover, with an unparalleled amount of fishing, hiking, birding and wildlife viewing opportunities in every direction you look. In town you can even have by going gold panning, golfing or horseback riding. Or stay indoors and check out the local museums, restaurants and shops. If you are looking to embrace the 'true Alaskan lifestyle' be sure to check out the awesome little town of Tok.
Located in the Northwest Arctic Borough, the tiny village of Kivalina is home to roughly 400 residents. Isolated and off the road system completely, Kivalina is located on a fragile barrier island along the Chukchi Sea, roughly 83 miles above the Arctic Circle. Unfortunately, Kivalina is actually expected to be completely underwater in the next decade (as global warming threatens the community), so the local residents are expected to relocate. Be sure to pay this place a visit before it's too late. We are sure that you'll love experiencing the unique beauty that can be found here as well as meeting the wonderful warm-hearted locals.