“There are things greater than our wisdom, beyond our justice,” wrote Jack London, and one can only presume that he writes of the vast expanse of the Alaskan wilderness. The largest state in the union by land area, its third-least populous, and least densely populated, Alaska remains one of the few truly wild places in the United States. “The Last Frontier” and its 663,268 square miles are home to the largest wildlife preserve in the world, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the nation’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias, not to mention North America’s tallest peak, Denali. Incidentally, it remains the only state in the union where you could dodge state income and sales taxes and a speeding ticket at the same time—beyond our justice, indeed, Mr. Jack.
Tax advantages notwithstanding, the Land of the Midnight Sun offers incomparable challenges to the avid outdoor adventurer. Anecdotal reports have informed us that the state is full of bears—consider yourself duly warned. In all seriousness, however, the Alaskan wilderness is a harsh, unrelenting, Homeric siren of temptation replete with 20,000-foot peaks, sky-blue glaciers, and rivers unchecked by human progress. In the spring, the largest concentration of bald eagles in the world descends on the Sticking River near Wrangell, Alaska. The summer is long, but not so long as to run out of mountain summits or dusty trails, and not all require a map and compass.
Some ideas, for you, to get you started. You came for exploration, and you’ll leave with a racing heart.
The state and nation’s largest park is a rugged alpine wilderness, as remote as it is checkered by historic mines. Located in the southeastern part of the state, and sharing preserve lands in Canada adjacent, it is far enough south to enjoy access to the Alaska highway system, which is a limited commodity in the state.
Nancy Lake Canoe Trail: An established canoe trail with canoe rentals—a perfect day trip for canoeing beginners.
Isolated in the northern reaches of Alaska, the Gates of the Arctic is the wild Alaskan preserve created with the backcountry explorer in mind. There are no trails here, and the park service requires that you carry a rifle while traveling within the park. But the natural beauty of the area is unparalleled. Hike above the Alatna River Valley and its serpentine oxbows, and wander the rugged slopes of the alpine tundra. This trip is ideal for hardened outdoor adventurers who want a tour of the Northern Lights in a remote and secluded wilderness.