Even for the most seasoned travelers, moving to the mighty Last Frontier can be quite the unsuspecting adjustment. Daily earthquakes, extremely harsh weather conditions and unruly amounts of wildlife are just a few of the things that make life in Alaska challenging. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are 16 other things that you’re sure to learn very quickly after planting roots in the 49th state.
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:
1. There are really only two seasons.
Okay so "technically" there are four seasons, but the reality is that we only really notice two of them. Ask anyone who lives in Alaska and they’ll tell you that we have a short four-month summer followed by eight months of winter. Spring and fall last merely weeks before the next season storms in like a lightning bolt.
2. There really are bears here.
Oh and plenty of moose, lynx, wolves, caribou and wolverines to go around as well. If you live in the city, don’t worry – you aren’t safe either. Alaska’s notorious wildlife is everywhere. Always be prepared for this inevitable act to happen. Practice keeping calm and remember to respond proactively should an up-close-and-personal encounter ever occur.
3. Breakup doesn’t have anything to do with love.
Love has nothing to do with that filthy, dirty breakup season that comes at the tailwind of winter and right before spring. Unless, of course, you consider the love/hate relationship you’re about to have with your XtraTuf boots. You’ll want to take them off but as soon as you do, BAM – you’re covered in freezing cold slush up to your knees.
4. Southeast, Interior and Southcentral are like three totally different states.
From the lush beauty of the Tongass National Forest to the wide-spread treeless ecosystems sitting on top of permafrost that’s thousands of years old. In one place you might deal with average winter temps around -50 below zero while in other areas it’s not uncommon to see temps around 50 degrees above zero in the wintertime.
5. The combat fishing scene is absolutely nuts.
Maybe you moved to Alaska because you’re an avid angling addict? If so, you might want to invest in a boat or a float plane. Otherwise, you’ll be wrestling for the best fishing spots behind crowds that’ll make you feel like you’re in the middle of the city.
6. It’s a snowmachine, not a snowmobile.
You might also get away with calling it a sled, but we’ll be able to tell if you aren’t from around here if you start talking about riding a snowmobile. That’s just so… lower 48!
7. Holidays in Alaska are anything but ordinary.
Have you ever tried to celebrate the 4th of July only to realize that the sun doesn’t set until 2 am? Sure does take the fun out of the firework show when it’s not dark enough to enjoy their true glory.
8. You will forget to sleep in the summertime.
Four words: Invest in blackout blinds! Otherwise, you’ll be like the rest of us; staying up past midnight all summer long because, um… they don’t call it the midnight sun for nothing!
9. Road trips are always way too long.
Sure the sights along the way are totally and completely amazing, but it’ll take your hours upon hours to get to your final destination. As if the miles alone aren’t long enough as is, summertime construction and tourism traffic will jam you up while hazardous winter weather conditions will slow you down in the off-season.
10. The northern lights are always worth losing sleep over.
With views like this, you’ll quickly learn that no matter how long you live in Alaska, this is one natural phenomenon that is way too good to miss. So whip up out your good camera and break up the mid-week monotony with a spontaneous outing underneath the aurora borealis.
11. Don’t go promising a view of Denali.
North America’s tallest mountain of Denali is a magnificently majestic landmark that is also quite ominous. With the Alaska Range making its own weather patterns, Denali only makes sporadic appearances that are impossible to predict.
12. You will pretty much be driving blind all winter long.
Oh do you enjoy driving on roads with clearly defined lanes? Sorry, you won’t find that around here. Unless, of course, the snow decides to spontaneously thaw, which will give you a short break of patchy lane visibility before the next storm hits.
13. Style isn’t exactly our top concern.
Laugh if you will, but anyone that lives in Alaska knows that style is something that only applies after you’ve gone through the motions of survival. We are more concerned with not freezing to death than we are with trying to impress an onlooker.
14. Multiple earthquakes happen on the daily.
The state of Alaska averages around 1,000 earthquakes each month – which is over 33 earthquakes per day. Yup, you heard that right! Hope you remember those duck & cover drillers from elementary school.
15. Snow days are a thing of the past.
If you’ve moved to Alaska from the lower 48, don’t expect any sort of special treatment. Kids in Alaska bundle up and go outside to for recess in temps down to -10 below zero.
16. Mosquitoes are the unofficial state bird.
Grrrrr! The tradeoff with the spectacular summertime weather is that these pesky critters will invade your life and drive you absolutely bonkers. Tip: don’t leave home without that bug dope!
17. Your friends that aren’t from here will ask you the craziest questions.
No, you don’t live in an igloo. No, everyone in the state is not an eskimo. Yes, there are more men than women. But remember to tell them this, "the odds are good but the goods are odd."
18. The mountains are absolutely bonkers.
You might have thought that you’ve seen mountains before coming to Alaska, but once you arrive – you’ll quickly notice that you were dead wrong. The majestic mountains in Alaska are so powerful that they’ll basically ruin you for life. From this moment on, everywhere else you go will simply not compare in the slightest.
19. It ain’t cheap.
The cost to live in the only place on earth known as the Last Frontier, is certainly not cheap. Everything that gets up here either has to be shipped, barged or drove for thousands of miles – and all with a premium price tag. But here’s the thing, it’s SO worth it. Living in Alaska comes with its fair share of tradeoffs but the quality of life up here is unlike anything else in the world.