It’s no secret that Alaska is home to some of the world’s most stunning natural beauty. After all, it is nicknamed “The Last Frontier.” Glistening icebergs, thick emerald forests, and jagged mountain ranges are just a few draws for nature lovers. Alaska also boasts incredible wildlife such as grizzly and polar bears, moose, and a variety of whale species. Additionally, the state showboats it’s stunning midnight sun and northern lights depending on the season. All these things combined make Alaska a pilgrimage for those who love the outdoors. Whether you’re a hiker, mountain climber, animal enthusiast, or just love the arctic landscape. Whether you’re planning to visit or just get a better feel for what the state has to offer, here are some of the most incredible natural wonders in Alaska.
1. Northern Lights
The northern lights, aka aurora borealis, belong on every nature lovers bucket list. This astronomical phenomenon happens when solar wind disturbs the Earth’s magnetosphere resulting in a stunning light show! Famously viewed in arctic regions such as Norway, Greenland, and Canada – Alaska is also an ideal spot to catch them. Fairbanks is famous for having some of the best access to the Northern Lights.
A sundog or “parhelion” in fancy meteorologist terms is one of Alaska’s most impressive phenomena. This natural occurrence happens when ice crystals in the atmosphere create an illusion of multiple suns. This typically happens when the sun is low on the horizon and sometimes can create a rainbow effect. To most, this looks similar to a halo surrounding the sun – an incredible spectacle indeed.
Alpenglow is precisely what it sounds like – alpine + glow. Imagine a stunning purple glow surrounding the mountain ranges making for an epic sunrise/sunset, and you’ve got alpenglow. This phenomenon is best caught on ranges that face west or east, such as The Chugach mountains facing west just outside Anchorage.
4. Volcanoes…Alot of Them
Alaska has so many types of geological wonders that the state’s volcanoes are often overlooked. However, Alaska is home to a plethora of ancient magma, lava, and ash flowing mountains. A whopping 40, to be exact. This number equates to over 80% of the total number in the entire country! Most of Alaska’s volcanoes can be found along the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands. You can even visit Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes to see long-gone fumaroles and otherworldly lava fields.
5. Bore Tides
Bore Tides are natural wonders in Alaska that takes place when incoming ocean tides clash with outgoing river tides that create a massive ripple through a river or channel. These waves can reach a whopping 10 feet and are a favorite for surfing among local adrenaline junkies.
This just wouldn’t be a round-up of Alaskan wonders without a nod to the region’s crown jewel – glaciers. The Last Frontier state boasts 87,000 square kilometers of glacial ice. It’s estimated that of these 87,000 square kilometers, there are 100,000 glaciers – 1,000 of which are in Glacier Bay National Park. Of these 100,000 glaciers, 616 of them have been officially named. Curious to see what sort of names glaciers go by? Head here.
7. Brooks Falls
Nothing screams Alaskan wildlife like pink-orange salmon and chocolate-colored brown bears. Brooks Falls is famous for both. This enormous waterfall is home to the best bear viewing in the state. Located in Katmai National Park, the salmon funnel over the waterfall but the thousands while the bears attempt a feast. It’s a perfect opportunity to observe the regions rugged wildlife in action and snap a few great photos in the process.