Witness the wild wonder of the best Alaska National Parks.
From the pine-covered taiga forests to the long, narrow fjords that run through massive glaciers, when you vacation to Alaska National Parks, you witness the pristine landscape of Denali National Park, or watch for breaching whales in the waters of Misty Fjords National Monument. For more adventure, zip-line through the treetops of Gulf Islands National Park, or kayak down the ice-covered waters of Glacier Bay National Park. However, you decide to explore, you're sure to find a thrill in an untouched landscape and different kinds of terrain and ecosystems.
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Alaska's distinctive landscape is defined by millennia of slow change, from the glacial-paced movements of ice to the tectonic shifts of mountains and volcanoes. A holiday to Alaska National Parks provides the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the world's most impressive glaciers, fjords and wildlife.
Most known for its glaciers, Glacier Bay National Park is also an ideal spot to watch for baby seals. Keep an eye out for mother seals depositing their little ones on floating chunks of ice while they hunt, but feel free to kayak through the icy waters nearby for a close look at these fierce animals.
Wrangell-St Elias National Park is the largest National Park in the United States, and it's home to Hubbard Glacier, an imposing, active tidewater glacier. Spend the day cruising near this massive river of ice among graceful porpoises, or trek up one of the 5,400-metre volcanic mountains that line the park to see moose and bears. There's no shortage of adventure – or stunning views – in this national park.
If you're looking for a bit of everything, visit Kenai Fjords National Park, a 1,047-square-mile location where the ocean touches mountains and massive glaciers. Board a smaller vessel for an up-close view of the park, where you can see groups of sea otters basking in the icy sunshine of Resurrection Bay, or board a flightseeing plane to get an eagle-eye view of paradise.
Last Frontier's wilderness is so expansive that you can feel the thrill of getting lost without ever actually losing your way. Take a tour through one of the best Alaska National Parks to get the full experience of this untouched landscape.
Rising up from the Alaska Range in the heart of the state stands Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, which presides over Denali National Park. With more than six million acres of rugged, natural beauty, Denali National Park offers no shortage of adventure, from climbing the steep Polychrome Pass on the eastern side of the Polychrome Mountains to walking among the pine trees of the park's stunning taiga forest.
At the end of the 19th century, the city of Skagway sprang into existence to support the Klondike Gold Rush prospectors. Catch a ride on the White Pass rail tour to travel on the route through the Boundary Ranges of northern Alaska, listening to guides tell the history of how prospectors sought their fortune.
If you're hoping to explore Alaska on foot, check out the five miles of maintained trails winding throughout Katmai National Park and Preserve, or if you're even more adventurous, feel free to take a guided tour through the untouched parts of the wilderness park. Just be sure to keep an eye out for brown bears along the way.
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Watch for wildlife as you cruise through enchanting fjords, narrow inlets surrounded by massive glacial walls. At places like Misty Fjords or Kenai Fjords, you'll sail across the edge of where mountains, volcanic formations and turquoise waters converge. Be sure to snap a photo while you're there.
Enter the Alaskan national parks through the beautiful Village of Hoonah, located near Icy Strait Point on Chichagof Island. Visit the village to take part in a traditional Tlingit dance performance, or watch for whales as they wave from the surrounding waters.
Most of Alaska's national parks are only open with very limited services in winter and even into the spring and fall; late May through mid-September is the best time to go – and luckily, Royal Caribbean cruises to Alaska depart during the summer months.
Entrance fees are low or non-existent: Denali is US $10 per person, and Glacier Bay National Park is free to visitors.
If you're planning to hike in spots like Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park, pack rubber boots: though you're here to see the ice, the trails themselves can be muddy.