Two bears eating fish.

Discover Alaska’s larger than life wonders

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Alaska is a dream destination for many wandering souls. Every year visitors flock to Alaska to experience this mega-size state and to answer the question, “How big is Alaska?” for themselves. Living and working here, the residents of Alaska are still in awe at this giant-sized place they call home.

Snowy mountains in Alaska
Denali, the Great One. Photo Credit: Yay Images.

Just how big is Alaska?

Many people who don’t live here ask how big Alaska is. The square acreage is impressive, coming in at 365,000,000 acres, or 586,412 square miles. The state can stretch coast to coast across the rest of the United States, with the Aleutian Islands hitting the coast of California and Southeast butted up against the East coast. Many other characteristics of Alaska are record-breaking.

“Alaska is truly one of those places that is bigger than it appears in photos. No words can explain the majesty of the views jutting from every direction in Alaska. Focusing on one town or one destination, like Wrangle St Elias National Park, and planning just for that adventure is my trick for making the most of every visit to Alaska.”

— Kita Roberts, Girl Carnivore

It’s easy to get lost in today’s modern and busy world. And for those who seek quiet and reconnection to their selves, Alaska is more than an adventure. It is healing, solace, and renewal where one could recharge and just enjoy in nature’s peace.

The Mighty Yukon

The rivers are big too. Such as the 1979 mile-long Yukon River. It stretches from British Columbia and Yukon, Canada, to the Bering Sea and cuts right through the heart of Alaska. It is so big and wide that paddlewheel boats used to travel up and down the river.

The Northern Lights

If there is one Alaskan sight you would not to miss, then get in awe of the Northern Lights. One of Alaska’s most beautiful attractions is the Northern Lights experience. Alaska’s prime location under the auroral oval makes the viewing of the Northern Lights more breathtaking to witness. Fairbanks and Denali National Park are popular spots because of their clear skies and minimal light pollution. The best time to see the Northern Lights is during the winter months from September to April when the nights are longest and darkest. Tourists from all around the globe flock to Alaska to witness this mesmerizing nature’s gift.

Denali, the Great One

Of course, you’re thinking of Denali standing at 23,310 feet. Who wouldn’t? Denali is so big and monumental you can see her clearly from 300-plus miles away. And there are two parks dedicated to it, Denali National Park and Denali State Park.

Two bears eating fish.
Bears fishing. Photo Credit: Yay Images.

The Bears

All three species of bears native to the United States live in Alaska. Polar bears, brown bears and black bears. Grizzly bears and Kodiak brown bears are both subspecies of brown bears. Alaska even has the elusive and rare subspecies of black bears, too, the glacier bear. Make all your interactions with bears in bear country safe and respectful. And remember, all of Alaska is bear country.

Bear Country

Speaking of bear country, you can sit amongst the bears in Katmai National Park in Western Alaska. They move down to the falls at Brooks Creek to feast on salmon before winter comes, and for the most part, here in a tiny area of the world, man and bears can live in harmony. Watch them on a bear cam in July when they’re feeding or catch the highlight reel playing the rest of the year. Or come and see them in person.

The Contiguous Coastline and Shorelines

The coastline of Alaska is the longest of any state in the United States, coming in at 6,640 miles long. Add the islands, and that number grows to 33,904 miles. With all that shoreline, you can bet there are a lot of islands too, 2670 named Islands, to be exact. Of the top 10 biggest islands in the United States, eight are in Alaska. Sadly none of the Alaskan islands made Food Drink Life’s 11 Best Islands to Visit!

A bunch of fish.
Dipnet Salmon. Photo Credit: Little House Big Alaska.

Bristol Bay, Alaska

This watershed boasts the largest natural salmon runs left in the world. An estimated 46 percent of the salmon in the world return each summer.

Alaskans love to fish, whether its commercial, subsistence, or sport fishing. And almost all of them utilize salmon in their diet. If you love salmon you can enjoy it in nearly every town in Alaska, or make some of these salmon recipes at home. You won’t find beer batter salmon on the menu in many places, so use this delicious recipe to make it at home.

“Once you visit Alaska, you will always want to go back. From glimpses of wildlife in the beautiful and expansive scenery to the unique cities with incredible seafood to eat, there is so much to explore.”

— Susannah Brinkley Henry, Feast + West

That’s a school district

One borough in South Central Alaska, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, measures a whopping 25,000 square miles and is bigger than the State of West Virginia. The borough is also home to the Matanuska-Susitna School District, which serves just 19,000 students in that same 25,000-square-mile area.

Love dog mushing?

You can get your fill here with the longest dog sled race in the world, 1,049 miles. Its commemorative race harkens back to the 1920s when a diphtheria outbreak in Nome on the west coast of Alaska was ravaging the population. The serum to save lives was run from Seward to Nome via dog sled.

Sled dogs are celebrated in Alaska. Dog sledding has long been ingrained in the Alaskan culture—it has been their mode of transportation and a symbol of survival dating back for centuries. Mushing events showcase the skill, endurance, and teamwork of mushers and their canine companions in a challenging and exciting competition. It is Alaska’s pride and culture. Not only that, these competitions are held in scenic backdrops; making your viewing elevated!

Mountain views in Alaska
Mountain Views in Alaska. Photo Credit: Yay Images.

Alaska is small, too

Now that the size of Alaska has been discussed, the focus can shift to its smaller aspects. What? Is it small? Yes, the population of Alaska is only about 732,000 people in a state with 365,000,000 acres.

There are four just main highways clustered in South Central and the Interior, serving just 20 percent of the state. And for the most part they all lead to the Alaska Canada Highway, also called the Alcan, which connects the state to the lower 48 but goes through Canada. Western Alaska and Southeast Alaska are not on this central road system. You might think Alaskans don’t like road trips, but they do. And they love all the Road Trip Snacks, too.

“The magnificent aurora borealis, spectacular natural landscape, and holy life of St. Herman of Alaska make this state a fascinating and intriguing location to me. I hope to visit it one day in the summer when the sun never sets!”

— Jessica Haggard

With so many reasons to come to Alaska, whether it’s to see Denali towering across Interior Alaska, go bear watching in Katmai National Park, or get out into the wide-open spaces in the back country to watch the aurora borealis, what’s calling to you? And more importantly, will you answer?

Postcards come to life in Alaska. Home to rich wildlife, breathtaking sceneries, and a culture like no other, it’s no wonder Alaska is listed as a place we all should visit once in our lives. It is the trip of a lifetime! It is the perfect getaway that will give you a fresh breath of life from your busy bustling lifestyle. There’s simply something for everyone. Skiing, fjord cruising, wildlife, camping, and the Northern Lights! Alaska is waiting for you and your loved ones! Time to go packing the suitcases for this dream adventure.

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