Alaska – The Frontier State

Alaska – The Frontier State

Alaska is located in the most northwestern part of the North American mainland. It is the largest state in the United States with an area of ​​1,518,775 square kilometers. With a population of 450,000, Alaska is the most sparsely populated state in the United States. Alaska borders Canada to the east. Furthermore, Alaska is enclosed by water. It is a state of extremes: Alaska has more than half of all glaciers on its territory and, for example, more than 52,000 km of coastline. From north to south the distance is 2240 km, from east to 1392 km. The capital of Alaska is Juneau but the largest city is Anchorage. Anchorage is relatively densely populated. Nearly half of all Alaskans live here.

According to EJIAXING, Denali National Park is Alaska’s most visited and most famous tourist attraction.

Here is Mount McKinley, with a height of 6194 meters the highest mountain in North America. The top of the mountain is often shrouded in clouds and therefore often a disappointment to those visitors who come to Alaska especially for this. The top is eternally covered with snow. Those who are lucky enough to see the summit in clear weather will be amazed at the massive and very impressive sight this mountain offers. The park has been in existence since 1980.

It is actually formed by two parks

  • Mt McKinley National Park (1917)
  • Denali National Monument (1978).

The Athabascan Indians have given the McKinley the name Denali which means nothing more or less than “the High”. The park is one of Alaska’s most accessible recreational wilderness areas. The park is accessible from Anchorage and Fairbanks via Highway 3. It covers an area of ​​24,315 square kilometers. Mount McKinley is by far the tallest mountain in the Alaska Range. The entire Alaska Range leaves an impressive image on your retina. The length of this mountain range is 930 km and extends in the southern part of Alaska. This area is home to caribou, lynx, wolves, grizzly bears, dall sheep and moose.

The Mount McKinley has been called Denali for many centuries but was named in the year 1897 by William A. Dickey after President William McKinley. Mount McKinley National Park was opened in 1917, making it one of the largest national parks in the United States. Summers in the park are generally cool and rainy but can also be hot and dry. The maximum temperature in July is on average 19 degrees Celsius.

The average minimum temperature in the same month is 6 degrees Celsius. The weather is completely unpredictable. In one day one can experience rain, sleet, hail, snow, fog and sunshine. The winter months are strict and hard but every now and then the winters are nice. It can also snow in the park because 2 meters of snowfall is a possibility. And it doesn’t matter which month one is in, a snow shower can always fall from the sky. A large part of the area suffers from the so-called ‘Permafrost’, the ground remains frozen to a certain depth for thousands of years. In the summer months, a thin top layer will thaw. This thaw is just enough for the life forms in the park to survive.

Gates of the Arctic National Park

The Gates of the Arctic National Park encompasses part of the northernmost extension of the Rocky Mountains, also known as the Brooks Range. This park is often described as the largest untouched wilderness in North America. The features of the landscape are sharp-toothed mountain peaks, fast-flowing rivers, beautiful valleys and many natural lakes. In the southern part of the park, the river valleys are wooded. The park consists of mountain ranges intersected by beautiful valleys with, in most cases, rivers and mountain lakes. Its water is crystal clear. Most of this park, north of the tree line, is covered with shrubs and tundra vegetation. In 1980 this area obtained the status of a national park. Before this, the name was Gates of the Arctic National Monument.

This park is located northwest of Fairbanks and can only be reached by foot or plane. Due to the difficult accessibility of this national park, it is also the least visited park in Alaska. The entire park is located within the Arctic Circle. In general, the summers in the park are very mild and the maximum temperatures fluctuate between 16 and 19 degrees. Even in the months of July and August it can freeze in the park. Winters are generally very harsh. Spring and fall are pretty cool and don’t last too long. Just like in Denali National Park, wolves, grizzly bears, Dall sheep and moose can be encountered here. The black bear, caribou, marmots, wolverines and ground squirrels also live here. There are also various species of migratory birds and eagles in the park.

One can make excellent hikes in this park. However, there are no beaten paths in the park. Hikers are generally dropped by planes and picked up again. There are no visitor and sleeping accommodations in the park, so if you go hiking here, you must be in possession of rain hiking clothing, warm clothing and camping equipment. It is also important that these items are of excellent quality because the conditions in this park can be quite strict. There are no camping areas, lodging options and/or cabins in the park, but camping is allowed everywhere. South of the park (32 km away) is the town of Bettles where there is a motel with a shop and canoe rental. There are also excursions by experienced guides if you prefer not to explore on your own.

Glacier Bay National Park

Located in the southeastern part of Alaska, this park has 16 active tidal glaciers, ice-filled coves, beautiful forests, and plenty of wildlife. There are seals, mountain goats, bears and over 150 different bird species. An important part of the park is also the humpback whale that comes to forage here in the summer in the plankton-rich water. The humpback whale can reach a length of more than 15 meters with a weight of more than 45 tons. Glacier Bay National Park was established in 1980. Before that, it was a national monument whose boundaries had been established as early as 1925. There are no roads through the park, making it accessible only by ship or plane. In 1794, Captain George Vancouver sailed through the Icy Strait, which was teeming with ice floes.

Glacier Bay was then little more than an incision in the shoreline. At the deepest point of this notch, a gigantic wall of ice arose, the sea mouth of an immense glacier that completely occupied the wide, deep basin of today’s Glacier Bay. The ice from the glacier stretched for more than 100 miles (160 km) in a northerly direction. In many places the ice sheet was more than 1200 m deep. In 1879, researcher John Muir, while taking a canoe trip, discovered that the ice tongue had retreated for 30 miles and that a vast coniferous forest of spruce and pine was beginning to grow there. Ebb and flow had been given free rein in the bay and caused the tidal movement in the deep fjords. Even after 1879, the glaciers continued to lose ground.

Nowhere in the world have glaciers retreated at such a rapid rate. This phenomenon attracted the attention of researchers, which means that quite a bit is now known about ice recession. Today the ice is still retreating. The Muir Glacier retreated 5 miles (8 km) over a seven-year period. The glaciers that can still be found in the park are remnants of an advance of the ice field that started about four thousand years ago. The waters of Glacier Bay are teeming with icebergs. Combined with the glaciers, deep narrow fjords, snow-capped mountains and dense coniferous forests, Glacier Bay is a unique and beautiful wilderness area.

Katmai National Park

This national park is known, and is famous, for the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. This beautiful valley is a lunar-like landscape created by one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions of modern times. But outside this area, this park still has a wide variety of natural beauty with rivers, mountains, lakes and swamps. The area of ​​the park is 17,396 square kilometers and in 1980 this area was given the status of national park. Lake Naknek is part of a web of rivers, swamps and fens, formed in valleys carved by the ice. In the western part of the park, the low parts of the mountain slopes are covered with spruce and birch.

On the higher part of the slopes, the forests change into tundras with a splendor of flowers in summer. The lake area is home to wildlife such as: the moose, the beaver, the tern, the American eagle, the wolf, the fox, the lynx and the Alaska bear. The latter feeds on the sockeye salmon that swim in the rivers. Beyond the Lake District rises the peninsula’s spine, the Aleutian Range, with its snow-capped peaks. These volcanic mountains were formed by glaciers. Smoke or steam comes out of some volcanoes. The peaks of the Aleutian Range reach heights of 2100 meters. The 160 km coastline of this park has deep coves, rocky outcrops, steep cliffs, jagged coves and wide beaches. It is an ideal habitat for sea lions, sea otters and many other animal species. In the summer months the maximum temperature fluctuates around 17 degrees. The lowest temperature is then about 7 degrees.

When visiting, one should take into account sudden onset of downpours and wind forces that can sometimes turn into a storm. Furthermore, in the summer months an insect repellent is a necessary evil. The winters in the area are exceptionally harsh and harsh. The hinterland of this park is particularly fascinating. There are quite a few short walking routes to follow, but making multi-day trips is also no problem in this park. When visiting the hinterland, one should take into account the fact that there are few beaten paths.

There is one camping site in the park. If you want to make campfires outside this area, you must have a free permit. If you visit the park for several days, it is wise to stock up on provisions and drinking water. The park is not accessible by car. For a visit one has to take a plane from Anchorage to the place King Salmon. From King Salmon you can take an amphibious plane to Brooks River and then take the bus to the park.

Kenai Fjords National Park

This park is characterized by rugged coastal wilderness, mountain valleys and fjords formed by glaciers, an enormous ice field in which the Kenai Mountains have almost completely disappeared (only the peaks still stick out) and several tidal glaciers. The park is located halfway along the southern coast and covers an area of ​​2296 square kilometers. Along the coast are spruces and pines where, for example, the American eagle lives. The mountain goats live on the rocky slopes above the tree line. Sea lions, sea otters and seals find their place in the shallow bays and lagoons. Thousands of species of seabirds raise their young each year on the steep cliffs and islets off the Kenai Fjords.

Because the moist sea air of the Gulf of Alaska cools strongly when it comes into contact with the cold mountain air, a lot of rain falls in this area. This creates one large ice mass in combination with cracks and fissures. The latter is therefore life-threatening for the inexperienced visitor. If one would like to make a trip over the Harding Icefield, one should realize that experience is one of the most important conditions for successfully completing a trip over the ice mass. Inexperienced people should at least be accompanied by a guide. Before departure, it is wise to let the authorities know that you are entering the area.

After the trip it is wise to report that the trip has been completed in one piece. Warm and sunny days do occur in the area but are extremely rare. The maximum temperatures in the summer months fluctuate between 10 and 15 degrees. The winters are also exceptionally severe here and winter and rain clothing are standard for a visit to this park.

Kobuk Valley National Park

This park consists of a broad valley, between the northern Baird Mountains and southern Waring Mountains, along the middle section of the Kobuk River flowing into northwest Alaska. In 1980 the status of national park was a fact. In the east of the park is the village of Ambler and in the west of the park is the village of Kiana. The area of ​​this park is 6923 square kilometers. In this park, the arctic forests reach their northernmost limits, where they merge into an area of ​​scattered small trees in a dense mat of tundra vegetation. To the south of the park, the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes and the Little Kobuk Sand Dunes extend over an area of ​​65 square kilometers.

The climatic conditions in the Kobuk Valley hardly differ from those during the last ice age. As a result, remnants from the Pleistocene occur. The indigenous Eskimos still feed on the yields of the land and water of the Kobuk Valley. The eastern part of the park owns Onion Portage. This is one of the most important archaeological sites in the United States. Evidence has been found here that suggests that people lived in this area more than twelve thousand years ago. Short summers in combination with long severe and harsh winters are the characteristics of this park. There are no facilities to be found in the vast wilderness of Kobuk Valley National Park and there are no beaten paths. Nevertheless, hikes are possible.

The Great Kobuk Sand Dunes are a rare and beautiful sight. The Kobuk River meanders through the park and can be sailed by motorboat or kayak. The Salmon River is suitable for a kayak or canoe. When trekking through the park, you can encounter quite a few wild animals, including black bears, caribou, moose, wolves and lynx. If you visit the park in the summer months, it is wise to bring an insect repellent against the mosquitoes that are present in large numbers in June.

Lake Clark National Park

One hundred and sixty miles southwest of Anchorage, the Alaska Range and the Aleutian Range meet in Lake Clark National Park. The park, which covers an area of ​​9,874 square km, is located in the heart of the Chigmit Mountains along the west coast of the Cook Inlet. The features of this park are two smoking volcanoes, rugged mountains, mountain valleys, jagged coasts, glaciers, rivers and glacial lakes. Lake Clark, which runs halfway into the park, is a single elongated aquamarine ribbon of glacier-fed water. Along this water, jagged mountain peaks up to a height of 2400 meters are the outward beauties.

The mountains are bisected by Lake Clark Pass and Merrill Pass, flanked by dozens of glaciers and hundreds of waterfalls cascading down. Two volcanoes are active on the east side of the park: Mount Iliama and Mount Redoubt. The climatic conditions are shaped by the sea and continental factors. In the summer the temperature in the park can be pleasant, but the winter can be harsh and harsh. However, there is a lot of precipitation in the park. The park is attractive for walkers and hikers. Camping and white water rafting are also available in the park.

Fishing is also a favorite sport here. The park is extremely inhospitable in some places. The wildlife here includes Alaska bears, Dall sheep, and moose. The native Eskimos still live here like their ancestors did. Camping is allowed anywhere in the hinterland. You can visit the park on your own, but also under the guidance of an experienced guide.

Wrangell Saint Elias National Park

This park, with an area of ​​32,984 square kilometers, borders Canada’s Yukon Territory. This beautiful and very large park is of unspoilt beauty. It extends from the Tetlin Plain in the north in a southerly direction, enclosing part of the high Wrangell Mountains and Saint Elias Mountains. From this area, the park continues to the beaches of the Gulf of Alaska. On the territory of this park are some of the highest mountains in North America.

The features of the park are mountains, glaciers and ice fields. This park has more than a hundred glaciers, of which the Malaspina Glacier and the Nabesna Glacier are among the largest in the world. Also, the park has dozens of major rivers in its territory. In summer it is often cool and rainy. However, warm days with clear weather are not uncommon in summer either. July is often the month with the best weather. The month of August is noticeably cooler, but has the great advantage that the mosquitoes are no longer present. Hiking, cross-country skiing, white-water rafting and mountaineering are some of the activities that can be enjoyed here. Camping is allowed in the hinterland and there are some primitive camping areas. The park can be reached via a route that is open to four-wheel drive vehicles during part of the year. In summer, regular cars can also take the route.

In 1926 Alaska held a flag competition where people could submit an idea for the Alaska flag. A year later, this flag became the winner. Its creator was 13-year-old Benny Benson. Even when Alaska became an American state in 1959, no concessions were made to the appearance of the flag. The dark blue in the flag is supposed to represent the beautiful Alaskan sky. The stars are always visible in the clear blue sky and the North Star that is often seen in Alaska is also on it. The shape in which the stars are presented should be seen as a kind of rope indicating that the flag is for all ages and all ethnic groups.

The flag of Alaska

Alaska – The Frontier State

More info

  • Alaska state slogan: The Last Frontier
  • Member of the union since: January 3, 1959
  • State flower Forget-me-not
  • State tree Sitka spruce
  • State bird Willow ptarmigan
  • State insect Four spot skimmer dragonfly