Alaska Points of Interest
It can feel a little overwhelming: There are too many beautiful viewpoints in Alaska to count, let alone find on your own. The good news? Breathtaking vistas are easy to find, if you just know where to pull over. Stop at these amazing vistas, take in the scenery—and be ready to snap some pictures.
Points of Interest
Walks and Hikes
Here is our list of Alaska mountains that are both spectacular to view while also offering reasonably fit people a route to the summit. These include mountains that can be explored during a day trip without professional guides or specialized mountaineering equipment.
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is one of four greenbelt trails located in Anchorage. Even though the trail spans 11.0 miles each way (from Kincaid Park to just north of where 2nd Avenue ends in the Cook Inlet), it is easily picked up from several points in the city, so you can enjoy any segment and hike as little or much of the trail as you desire. In the winter, the trail is groomed for cross country skiing.
Here you’ll find one of the most accessible wildlife viewing areas in Alaska. The marsh is a rest area for migratory birds including trumpeter swans, rednecked grebes, golden eyes, and pintails. Also watch for beavers, moose and bald eagles. You may even spot salmon spawning in the deeper water.
The Chena Riverwalk makes for a relaxing self-paced stroll along the Chena River and through the most scenic parks and plazas of historic downtown. It’s best when flowers are in full bloom (July-August). The path stretches approximately 3.5 miles between Pioneer Park and Airport Way, with longer options available. Or — park at Immaculate Conception Church or in the Downtown Transportation Center for a shorter jaunt.
Made in Alaska Products
This gift store sits 1,800 feet above Juneau, at the top of the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway. So while you peruse one of the city’s best selections of Alaska Native artwork, you can also take in some amazing views. It’s why this is the place to “shop at the top.”
Discover something truly unique to bring home at this one-of-a-kind gallery that carries only work by Alaskan artists. Shop for high-quality glass, metal, and wood art; jewelry; mittens; handbags; scarves; handmade soap; journals and notebooks; photography; watercolor prints; cards; stickers and more.
Longtime Alaskans Doug and Heather Robuck make modern gold prospecting easy: Their collections of handmade gold-in-quartz jewelry — a rare combination — are crafted into rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Also, check out their extensive collection of natural, unaltered gold nuggets.
This Anchorage institution has a great slogan: “If you don’t know furs, know your furrier.” The furs themselves come from Alaska and other parts of the world — such as Scandinavia and Russia — and come from mink, beaver, lynx, and fox, to name a few. Go upstairs to see how they make everything from coats to slippers, mostly by hand.
Sample delicious syrup and sweets made from birch trees at Kahiltna Birchworks in Talkeetna — the world’s largest producer of birch syrup. Stop in to shop, or for a tour of the facility at mile 1.1 of the Talkeetna Spur Rd, just off the Parks Highway. You’ll also find Alaskan food products (many wild harvested), botanicals, and functional art like pottery, tiles, birch bark and wood crafts. Products are also available online.
Alaska Wild Berry Products has two convenient locations. One, inside the 5th Avenue Mall in the heart of downtown Anchorage. The other is just a brief 10-minute drive from downtown. The shop itself features great Alaskan gifts like Alaskan jelly, salmon, meats, and chocolate.
This downtown shop doesn’t just offer ready-made gifts and souvenirs — though it does have plenty of those, including jewelry, medallions and watches emblazoned with Alaskan images such as bears, wolves and even Iditarod champions. One of the most popular items here are gold-nugget necklaces, rendered from piece of gold brought in by modern-day prospectors. The store’s other claim to fame is being the starting point for the Iditarod and Fur… ...more
One of the most original gifts you can find in Alaska is a piece of clothing made from the undercoat of the musk ox, called “Qivuit.” What’s so special about this fabric? It’s finer than cashmere, eight times warmer than wool (and not scratchy like wool), and extremely light. Pick up some items made from this rare, lustrous fiber when you’re downtown at the co-op; you’ll have a rare treasure that can be found nowhere else in the world.
Wildlife Viewing Spots
See mountain goats and sheep amble over the rocky steps of the Alaskan wilderness.
You can’t see them underwater, but sea lions are exciting to see when they’re on land. Here’s where to find Alaska’s steller sea lion haulouts.
Salmon are one of the most important creatures in Alaska. Here’s are our picks on where to see them spawn.
The proud eagle makes for one of Alaska’s most distinctive and thrilling sightings. Here’s where to find their nests.
Alaska boasts some of the world’s most unique birds. Here are the state’s best spots to go birding.
Huge moose make for spectacular sightings in the Alaskan wilderness. Here’s where to go see them
Popular Photo Ops
A highlight for many visitors, this chapel lies 22 miles north of Juneau off of the Glacier Highway. As Juneau’s expensive waterfront homes peter out, the Shrine of St. Therese appears on your left. It’s in a stunning setting, on an island with crashing surf, mountain views, and a rugged coastline, where you can look for humpback whales and sea lions. Take the trail from the parking lot back to a caretaker’s headquarters, a small stone… ...more
Where else can you walk to the end of Main Street and find yourself at the confluence of three wild rivers, overlooking a 20,000-foot peak? Close to downtown, this large, river-centered park offers wide open, untouched spaces, along with great panoramic view of the Alaska Range.
Sometimes you just want to be amazed. The overlook at the Glen Alps trailhead of Chugach State Park on the Anchorage Hillside offers a grand front-row seat on the forces of geology as well as one of the best postcard views anywhere. Like — how about a three-volcano vista? Or the profile of Denali, Foraker and Hunter in a single glance? Plate tectonics at your feet? The skyline of the biggest city within 1,000 miles?
It’s only a small pull-out on the side of the highway, but this is the closest viewpoint of the Matanuska Glacier. If you don’t have a powerful zoom on your camera, or just want to get a great look at the ice, this is the spot. There’s only room for about six cars and the feel is a bit more rustic than the official state rec site a mile to the west, but you’ll be perched on a bluff overlooking the glacier. Distance 103.3 miles north of… ...more
This is a popular stop as you travel the Seward Highway. Here you’ll find 180 degree views of Turnagain Arm with spotting scopes and interpretive signs. Look for beluga whales rolling in the surf, often seen from mid-July to August following the salmon run. And, try and catch the bore tide, and incoming tide that stretches the entire width of Turnagain Arm and can be up to six feet high.
Wonder Lake is a somewhat unlikely lake. Learn how the lake was formed, and what makes it so unique.
No matter what place a team finishes, the Iditarod burled arch is a symbol of an arduous journey successfully completed, a job well done, and of a long-awaited rest – for both dogs and mushers –just up ahead. See it above Nome’s Front Street during Iditaord season in March, or near City Hall the rest of the year.
This 191.7‑acre Anchorage park, which was created in 1994 as Municipal dedicated parkland, is highly valued for its wildlife habitat, coastal tidelands and recreational value. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail runs through it and the area has spectacular views of the inlet and surrounding mountain ranges. You can spot whales in the inlet and watch the jets land and take off from the Ted Stevens International Airport. Point Woronzof got its name… ...more
It’s 92 miles and about 5 hours from the park entrance to Kantishna, the end of the Park Road. Private vehicles aren’t permitted after Mile 15, so you’ll need to take either the hop-on, hop-off park shuttle bus or one of the tour buses. This road is only open in the summer months between May and early September. Dates vary depending on annual snowfall.
In the Talkeetna Mountains between the towns of Willow and Palmer, Hatcher Pass is a local favorite for recreation or a scenic drive. Hike in alpine tundra dotted with wildflowers and ptarmigan, ski fresh, deep powder, or visit Independence Mine Historical State Park.
The Denali Highway, stretching 135 miles from Paxson to Cantwell, is certainly one of the most spectacular drives in the world. Much of the route lies above timberline, so the vistas go on forever. The mountains and glaciers of the Alaska Range form a majestic backdrop, with miles of rolling tundra punctuated by shallow lakes in between. There are three lodges along the way, and you can camp anywhere along the highway.
Relax in some of Alaska’s hot springs, naturally heated by the earth below
Denali’s glaciers are high in the mountains of The Alaska Range. Here are the most impressive, and the flight tours to see them!
It’s easy to view or explore glaciers on the peninsula — known for its rugged terrain, coastal fiords and deep winter snows. Use our guide to plan your journey or day trip to see Kenai’s active ice.
The most spectacular and accessible waterfalls around Alaska you can see from the road, from a hike, or from a day cruise.
How and where to find Alaska’s glaciers — some of the state’s most beautiful natural attractions
Here are the most notable white massifs that beg to be photographed and contemplated. They might loom on the horizon up to a hundred miles (or more) away from where you first see them. They can be climbed, to be sure, but those who put boots on their slopes must have expertise or expert guiding (or both.) Most regular visitors admire them from afar, or approach during flightseeing trips.
Volcanoes not only shaped the face of Alaska but also make for spectacular sights. Here are the top volcanoes to look for and photograph during your Alaska vacation.
Step inside Alaska’s longest cave and learn about the geologic forces that created it and the archaeological treasures that have been discovered there. Three free, daily tours provided by the U.S. Forest Service takes visitors 500 feet into this two-mile-long cave.