America’s largest state is approximately 1/5 the size of the continental 48 states and also hosts the lowest population density at approximately one person to every square mile. This, coupled with Alaska’s incredible variety of geographic features, truly makes it “The Last Frontier.”
There are only a handful of major roads linking cities and settlements in Alaska (the state capitol Juneau is inaccessible by road and has just over 20 miles of paved road within city limits), but driving is still an option for visitors, provided they only travel in the south-central & central regions. Those hoping to make the drive from Seattle will have to prepare for at least 50 hours of road between the Canadian border and Anchorage. Because of the state’s size, many people fly smaller aircraft or “puddle-jumpers” that take off and land on rivers and lakes.
Recreationally, Alaskans are extremely outdoors-minded, and its reputation as a world-class hunting and fishing destination is no secret. There are plenty of activities available, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter months to hiking and boating in the summer. Surfing has even seen tiny ripples of community sprouting along coastal towns like Homer and Yakutat. Backcountry enthusiasts take caution: while one is seldom further than 12 miles from a road in the “Lower 48,” Alaska does not offer that luxury. Medical facilities are few and far between outside of urban centers.
The climate in Alaska ranges from subarctic to arctic, and is also home to one of the northernmost rainforests in the world. Summer days in the interior can reach over 100 degrees fahrenheit, while dropping to -80 in the winter. And while world-class ski resorts in Colorado, Utah, and California boast snowfalls exceeding 300 inches, a recent winter at Alyeska (just south of Anchorage) dropped 880 inches on the mountain -— over 70 feet of snow!