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Alaska sits near the top of many travelers' wish lists, and justly so. In a world where wild places are rapidly dwindling, the state remains a wilderness masterpiece, with scenery that seems to define the word "spectacular." Not only does Alaska contain North America's highest mountain (20,320-foot Mt. McKinley), but also the next 15 highest peaks in the United States! You could fit six Yellowstones inside 13-million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and one of the park's glaciers reaches 60 miles across!

Despite its reputation for cold, Alaska is surprisingly diverse, from the flat tundra plains of the Arctic slope to the ...

Alaska sits near the top of many travelers' wish lists, and justly so. In a world where wild places are rapidly dwindling, the state remains a wilderness masterpiece, with scenery that seems to define the word "spectacular." Not only does Alaska contain North America's highest mountain (20,320-foot Mt. McKinley), but also the next 15 highest peaks in the United States! You could fit six Yellowstones inside 13-million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and one of the park's glaciers reaches 60 miles across!

Despite its reputation for cold, Alaska is surprisingly diverse, from the flat tundra plains of the Arctic slope to the towering Alaska Range to dense rainforests. Interior Alaska can see temperatures into the 80s Fahrenheit during August, while winters seem to drop off the thermometer. Coastal areas, especially in Southeast Alaska's Inside Passage, are mild year-round, and it can (and probably will) rain almost any day in Ketchikan. Alaska's largest city, Anchorage is a major hub for transportation and commerce, and most cruises focus on Southeast Alaska.

When it comes to watching wildlife, Alaska is as good as it gets. Bald eagles, moose, and bears are all abundant, and marine life including whales, porpoises, and orcas frolic in coastal waters. Salmon by the millions fill the rivers, and when they returning to spawn, the bears gather to feed. This is a sight to behold.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Don Pitcher for Triporati

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