How Big is Alaska?

Compare South Dakota to Alaska

South Dakota compared to Alaska

Alaska Is Big!

  • You could fit South Dakota into Alaska 9 times! One-fifth the size of the Lower 48, Alaska is bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined!
  • Alaska is also far-flung: 6.3 times wider (east to west) and 5.6 times taller (north to south) than South Dakota. From north to south, Alaska measures 1420 miles, the distance from Denver to Mexico City, and east to west 2500 miles, the distance from Savannah, GA to Santa Barbara, CA. See detailed Alaska maps.
  • Alaska also has the most northern point (Point Barrow) and the most western point (Cape Wrangell, Alaska -- further west than Hawaii) in the U.S.

Water & Coastline

  • Alaska has 48 times as much inland water (in lakes, reservoirs, and rivers) as South Dakota. In fact, Alaska has 3 million lakes over twenty acres big.
  • Alaska has more than 50% of the entire U.S. coastline, or 6,640 miles. South Dakota has 0 miles of coastline!

Population Density

  • South Dakota has 10 times more people per square mile.
  • If South Dakota's population density were the same as Alaska’s, only 76,227 people would live in South Dakota rather than 764,309 (based on 2003 data).

High Point

  • Alaska’s high point, Mt. Denali (20,320 feet), rises 2.5 miles above South Dakota’s high point, Harney Peak, at 7,242 feet.
  • Not only is Mt. Denali the highest mountain in North America, but Alaska has 15 other peaks higher than any in the continental U.S.

Road Density

  • Alaska has 640 sq. miles of land for every mile of paved road. South Dakota has 26 sq. miles of land for every mile of road. In other words, Alaska’s land-to-road ratio is 24.4 times greater.
  • Only 20% of Alaska’s roads are paved versus on average 91% for the other 49 states. During the long, cold grip of winter, Alaskans build ice roads to traverse rivers and ground that is otherwise too soft to drive.

Air Travel

  • Alaska has 8.6 times more active pilots per capita than South Dakota.
  • Alaska has 102 seaplane bases, far more than any other state.