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Fascinating Facts You Absolutely Need to Know Before Visiting Alaska

April 04, 2019

The largest state in the United States, Alaska, has a rich history that started long before it joined the union in 1959. Home to beautiful wildlife and breathtaking sights, the Last Frontier is a perfect vacation spot for adventurers looking for an Alaska fishing trip or for folks looking to relax in cozy lodges. If you're looking to visit, here are some key facts to know beforehand.

A Short History

Alaska has a complicated past. Eskimos inhabited the land now known as Alaska for thousands of years before Russian explorers claimed it as their own in 1741. It remained in Russian hands until the U.S. purchased it for two cents per acre in 1867. The land remained ignored for years, as many thought the purchase was a mistake. It was widely referred to as Seward's Folly after its purchaser, Secretary William Seward, until a major gold deposit was discovered. The gold rush this caused brought settlers to the land. Alaska officially became the 49th state in 1959.

National Parks Galore

Alaska consists primarily of wilderness and boasts 104 acres of parks and reserves due to strong environmental protection from Congress put in place in the 80s. The most well-known national park in the state is Denali National Park and Preserve, which houses the highest peak in the country, Mount McKinley. If an Alaska fishing trip is in your future, be sure to check out Kenai River, a famous national park that also housed the largest salmon ever caught (97.5 pounds!). Visit the National Parks Service site for a full list of parks and wildlife reserves.

National Resources

Alaska provides many natural resources to the rest of the states. Most of the salmon, halibut, and crab come from the state, making commercial fishing in Alaska the state's largest private industry. Fishing for sport is also a large contributor to the local economy, with an Alaska fishing trip making up 11% of all state visits in 2016 alone. Oil has also been a valuable resource from the state, with 25% of the nation's supply coming from Alaska.

State Attractions

If you've exhausted the state parks, there are still great ways to experience the state of Alaska. Consider visiting museums to learn more about the rich native history or the gold rush. Make the trip to Fairbanks to see the beautiful Northern Lights around two-thirds of the year. If you're feeling adventurous, try your hand at the state sport: dog mushing. Once the primary method of transportation in snowy Alaska, mushing is now most known as a racing sport. The Iditarod dog sled race is the biggest sporting event in the state. Five percent of Alaska is covered in glaciers; you can take a tour that allows you to walk right on one of the 1,000-plus glaciers in the state!

Five Fast Facts

  • 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the U.S. are found in Alaska.
  • Alaska is the only state without a sales tax.
  • Alaska has more coastline than the rest of the continental U.S. combined, with coasts on three different seas: the Arctic, the Pacific, and the Bering Sea!
  • Alaska has no poison ivy or poison oak.
  • Alaska has the lowest population density of any state with an average of one person per square mile--if Manhattan, New York had the same density, there would only be 16 people on the island!

Whether you're on the hunt for a luxury all-inclusive vacation lodge or you're more of a rugged camping type, Alaska is a perfect vacation spot year round. Be sure to consider the Last Frontier for your next trip!

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