Bear relaxing on log (Shutterstock: see credit below)
Article Words : Wanderlust team | 01 May

The Wanderlust guide to the best of Alaska

It's untamed. It's immense. And it will offer you the most unforgettable wilderness experience on the planet. It's Alaska. And this is what you need to do to get there...

The great outdoors doesn’t get any greater than Alaska. Wildlife rather than roadworks holds up the traffic in Alaska, and rivers are chock-a-block with tasty salmon. In the south of Alaska, feast your eyes on the majestic hunks of ice at Glacier Bay National Park or learn how to catch salmon from the brown bears at Brooks Falls.

If you want to get your heart rate up, try cycling Alaska’s Denali Highway or head out on a canoe adventure down the Yukon River. Visit Fairbanks in mid-September and you might just be lucky enough to see the northern lights in all their glory.

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska (Shutterstock.com)

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau (Shutterstock)

Looking for inspiration?

Alaska’s vast wilderness can seem a daunting prospect. There is so much to see and vast distances that need to be covered. Many travellers put off a trip until they have an entire summer... and then never get there. Thanks to the team at Wanderlust, you don't need to make the same mistake. We’ve put together four Alaskan travel itineraries that you can do right now and capture the essence of this amazing frontier state.

Will Gray, on the other hand, heads north, following in the footsteps of the old gold prospectors up the Inside Passage from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island.

If you’re pressed for time, Paul Gogarty suggests sampling the best of the state in two National Parks that are just a short hop from Anchorage – Kenai Fjords National Park and Wrangell-St Elias.

And, before you head off, make sure you read the five things Lyn Hughes wishes she’d known about Alaska before she visited. Moose, it seems, are deadlier than they look!

More information

4 ways to explore Alaska’s great outdoorsWanderlust Team

Get the inside knowledge on Alaska – Will Gray

Alaska: the USA’s wildest state – Paul Gogarty

5 things I wish I’d known … Alaska – Lyn Hughes

Brown bear, Kodiak Island (Shutterstock.com)

Brown bear, Kodiak Island (Shutterstock)

Can you bear it?

Spotting bear cubs, and their much larger relatives, is a highlight of any trip to south-east Alaska. There are higher densities of brown bears in the region than anywhere else in the world – an estimated one bear per square mile in some areas – and black bears seem to be almost as common. 

Mark Carwardine recommends Anan Creek Bear Observatory, in the south east near Wrangell Island, which was set up by the U.S. Forest Service. In July and August every year bears gather to feed on the salmon runs here and there is an observatory with a wooden platform, offering sweeping views along the creek in both directions, and a makeshift hide nearer water level. 

Lyn Hughes, on the other hand, popped over to Katmai National Park and went in search of bears with award-winning guide Simyra Taback-Hlebechuk. It’s home to the Hallo Bay Bear Camp and takes some getting too – a 220km flight in a Cessna, following a coastline of volcanoes, glaciers and a glittering turquoise lake. The reward is an intimate encounter with brown bears in lush meadows. As Lyn will tell you, she was practically cuddling them!

More information

Practically cuddling brown bears, Alaska – Lyn Hughes

Alaska: a wild state – Mark Carwardine

Bear catching salmon (Shutterstock.com)

Bear catching salmon (Shutterstock)

Capturing it all on film

Mark Carwardine has travelled the world capturing some of the most stunning wildlife images you’ve ever seen. Not surprisingly, he loves photographing bears. And his favourite place to ‘shoot’ them? Alaska, naturally.

Mark has called upon his vast experience to create a list of 5 essential tips for great wildlife images, explaining the simple rules that will make your images incredible.

If it’s inspiration you’re after, make sure you check out the photos taken by our readers on their travels to Alaska. They’re pretty amazing too.

More information

5 essential photography tips for wildlife images – Mark Carwardine

Readers photos of Alaska

Humpback whales in Juneau, Alaska (Shutterstock.com)

Humpback whale in Juneau (Shutterstock)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Alaska travel guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by the Alaska essential info page as well, for more everyday (but equally vital) information. And we’ve rounded up the latest travel news from Alaska too.

If you’re arriving in Anchorage, check out our guide to your first 24 hours there. It will ensure your adventure gets off on the right foot.

If you have a particular question about Alaska, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about Alaska. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

Alaska travel guideWanderlust Team

Alaska essential infoWanderlust Team

First 24 hours in Anchorage – Lyn Hughes

Latest travel news from Alaska

Forum posts about Alaska

MyWanderlust community content about Alaska

Denali National Park (Shutterstock.com)

Denali National Park (Shutterstock)

Ready to go?

Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From grizzly bear safaris at Lake Clark to Alaskan railroad tour and adventure cruises through isolated waterways and secrets passages, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

More information

Our Trip Finder can help you find adventures in Alaska

Main image: Bear relaxing on log (Shutterstock)