The best national parks in Alaska- a guide. Alaska is famous for its picturesque snowy mountains, the views of aurora borealis and its captivating natural beauty. But what are the best national parks in Alaska? Keep reading to find out more…
- What is a national park?
- Why visit the national parks in Alaska
- How many national parks are there in Alaska?
- The best accommodation when visiting the national parks in Alaska
- Essential packing list when visiting the national parks in Alaska
- The best national parks in Alaska
- Lake Clark
- Glacier Bay
- Wrangell-St Elias
- Gates of the artic
- Kenai Fjords
- The 6 best national parks in Alaska- further reading
What is a national park?
What exactly is a national park? A national park is an area protected due to its cultural heritage, boasting varied wildlife and beautiful countryside. They are typically known for their stunning landscapes and unique features. The aim of a national park is to preserve the site of natural beauty and benefit from this, without destroying it. The ‘National park service‘ manages 423 national parks across America, in aims of conserving the ‘natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations’.
Why visit the national parks in Alaska
Why visit the national parks in Alaska? The national parks in Alaska are some of the most beautiful in the world. Not only is it one of the best spots to view the Northern Lights, but it also has some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.
How many national parks are there in Alaska?
Alaska is renowned for its stunning array of national parks, 23 in total! These national parks bring in an astonishing $397,000,000 in economic benefit for Alaska’s local economy. These parks continue to flourish from the money made by the national park service, meaning vast improvements and positive environmental changes help to develop Alaska’s national parks.
The best accommodation when visiting the national parks in Alaska
So, what is the best accommodation when visiting the national parks in Alaska? Look no further because here are the best priced, most conveniently located and best facilitated accommodations for visiting the national parks in Alaska.
The Tides Inn
The Tides Inn is just a 15-minute walk from Kenai Fjords, boasting beautiful mountain views and top-notch comfort. Every room is beautifully furnished, with a flat screen TV and free WIFI available. There is a fully equipped kitchen and living space, perfect for spending time with family or friends. In addition, there is plenty of outdoor space with lovely greenery and BBQ facilities to enjoy. Click here to find out more.
Hart D Ranch
Hart D ranch is located directly opposite the entrance to Wrangell St Elias national park. This is the perfect accommodation to stay at when visiting Wrangell St Elias if you’re not keen on camping on site, as it’s the only one located within a 50-mile radius of the site. This accommodation provides free WIFI, an equipped kitchen, TV, BBQ facilities and breakfasts each morning included. Click here to find out more.
Wrangell Mountains Wilderness Lodge
Wrangell Mountains wilderness lodge is the perfect accommodation for visiting Wrangell St Elias national park, located within the scenic mountains of the park. This accommodation has free WIFI on site, beautiful outdoor facilities including a patio, and even a sauna to relax in after a long day. There is a restaurant and bar all located within the lodge, so you don’t need to travel far for good food! Click here to find out more.
Breeze Inn Motel
Breeze in Motel is just a 3-minute walk from Kenai Fjords national park. Not only is this accommodation super convenient, but there is also a shuttle service offered to visit nearby attractions too, so you can make the most of your stay. Each room has a scenic view of the surrounding harbour and mountains, as well as having a flat screen TV, free WIFI and a tea maker for all the home comforts you need. There is a restaurant and cafe on site, serving up delicious American cuisine from breakfast to dinner. Click here to find out more.
Essential packing list when visiting the national parks in Alaska
So, what is the essential packing list for visiting the national parks in Alaska? Here I will break down all of the essentials you need for your trip.
Alaska has very long winters and very short and cool summers, meaning it’s an essential to bring some warm clothing with you.
- In summer, packing a raincoat is convenient for protection from any rain.
- If you’re visiting in winter, it’s essential to pack a thicker jacket with a hood, as temperatures can drop to -16°c!
Scarf, hat and gloves
In the bitter winter months of Alaska, a main priority is to keep warm. Having a scarf, hat and gloves can prevent from becoming overly cold. You can buy these in a set which is more convenient,
- For women I recommend the OOPOR set, lined with faux fur, providing comfort, warmth and style!
- For men I recommend the BeCann set, for its thick and warm material, sure to keep you cosy and dry on cold days.
There will be some incredible hiking trails within the national parks of Alaska, which means it’s important to come prepared with a hiking backpack to carry all of the essentials. I recommend the POKARLA backpack with a 40L capacity and comfy straps, making carrying the backpack easy, no matter how long the hike!
Mini first aid kit
A mini first aid kit is an essential when visiting the national parks in Alaska. Whilst hiking it’s important to keep one of these in case of any small injures or blisters. I recommend the Clay Roberts first aid kit, which has all of the essentials from plasters to safety pins all in one easily packable pouch!
The best national parks in Alaska
Here are the best national parks in Alaska, renowned for their natural beauty, size and abundant and flourishing wildlife. So, with that in mind, expect nothing less than perfection in these national parks, each one with their own authenticity.
Lake Clark contains some of the most amazing natural beauty in Alaska, with craggy mountains, volcanoes, pristine lakes and many bears that graze the site. In fact: one of the most popular activities on site is to view the bears from a special viewing area. What makes Lake Clark so special is that you can experience it from land sea and air! Experience activities from water boating to fishing, camping, birding, hiking, and even viewing the site via aircraft!
Glacier Bay covers an astonishing 3.3 million acres with some of the most stunning natural wildlife in Alaska. It is one of the best national parks in Alaska for its global significance as a world heritage site, known for representing homeland, hope and inspiration. It’s a natural laboratory, containing some of the earths most fundamental geological processes, so significant that it’s studied by scientists to predict future changes to the earth. A visit to Glacier Bay is not an everyday occurrence and definitely provides an unforgettable trip, whether you hike, cruise, boat, sea kayak or raft!
Wrangell – St Elias is 13.2 million acres in scale, making it the world’s largest international protected wilderness site and biggest national park in the USA! There is plenty to explore at this beautiful national park, home to one of the largest ecosystems in the world, otherwise known as ‘the boreal forest‘.
So, what activities are on offer at Wrangell St Elias? You can participate in a ranger guided tour of the park throughout the summer months to spot some wildlife, get educated on the natural environment and experience all of the best scenic views!
There are also plenty of hiking trails you can take around site, most of which are situated in the Nabesna area. There are also vast opportunities for mountaineering, with 7 of the highest peaks in North America, so make sure you have a permit in advance.
Gates of the artic
Gates of the arctic’s natural scenery has remained unchanged for over a thousand years, part of what makes the national park so special. This park is made up of the 6 wild and scenic rivers of the gates of the artic. These consist of the Alatna river, the John River, Kobuk River, Noatak River, North Fork Koyukuk River and the Tinayguk river. You can travel on these rivers by renting boating equipment including, rafts, inflatable canoes or pack rafts.
Katmai national park protects 9,000 years of human history, established in 1918 to protect the surrounding area, devastated by volcanic activity, in particular, The Valley of Ten Thousand smokes. At Katmai, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, including hiking, boating, bear watching, fishing and camping.
Kenai Fjords is one of the best national parks in Alaska for its luscious landscape! Snow and ice cover the majority of the land, with over 40 glaciers flowing Harding icefield. The best time for visiting is in winter, with plenty of activities from ice climbing to winter shuttle services, providing a scenic tour of the national park grounds.
The 6 best national parks in Alaska- further reading
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