5 unmissable things to do in Alaska

With thousands of miles of unspoiled scenery and hundreds of mountains and lakes, Alaska is definitely a place you should put on your to-do list.

It's home to North America's highest peak, Mt McKinley, along with grizzly bears, caribou, whales, glaciers and numerous historical sites.

We've rounded up five things to do while you're there, to help make the most of your time in this popular destination. 

See the Northern Lights
Seeing the Northern Lights is something no traveller is ever likely to forget. It is a mystical, haunting, moving and intense experience that can often be hard to describe. And thanks to Alaska's location within "the zone" you are almost guaranteed to see a spectacular light display during your trip. But be sure to move further away from city lights of Fairbanks and into the region's vast wilderness areas of Denali and the Yukon Territory.

There could be a long, cold wait but often when you least expect it, the lights of the Aurora Borealis will come out to dance. Hard to describe, they are usually green but more intense displays will have red or purple in them. They almost appear as a ghostly cloud of light that moves rapidly across the sky. Northern lights displays in Alaska can continue for several hours, and the winter months (October through March), are the best time to see them simply due to the darker nights.

Ride the Mount Roberts Tramway
Take a soaring cultural heritage tour aboard the Mount Roberts Tramway. The trip takes you from the cruise ship dock in downtown Juneau through the rain forest  and up to the 1,800-foot level of Mount Roberts for breathtaking views.

See the Chilkat Mountains, the Gastineau Channel, downtown Juneau, Douglas Island and the highest peaks on Admiralty Island spread out before you. And once you're at the top you can enjoy a ive bald eagle display, a Nature Center, wildlife viewing platforms, a self-guided trail marked by Native totemic carvings and access to upper alpine hiking trails.

But beyond all that, this is quite simply a wonderful way to feel the breeze on your face and admire the incredible scenery.

Explore Tracy Arm

Tracy Arm Fjord is perhaps one of the most dramatic locations in all of North America. This classic fjord has it all - tidewater and elevated glaciers, breathtaking mountains and sheer rock walls that reach up almost two kilometres high with waterfalls that tumble down to the emerald green water. And don't forget about Alaska's largest icebergs!
Keep your eyes peeled for whales, bears, mountain goats, hundreds of harbor seals and a variety of birds such as eagles, arctic terns, kittiwakes, and pigeon guillemots.

Cruises through Tracy Arm allow you to witness the calving of icebergs, as giagantic chunks of ice break away from the glaciers and the air fills with the deafening sound.

See the end of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
The Iditarod is unlike any event in the world. It’s a race across 1,150 miles of extreme, beautiful, wintry terrain that challenges mushers (people involved in sport powered by dogs) and the dogs themselves.

In March this year, teams start in Anchorage and will cross the finish line in Nome to wild applause. The fire siren sounds as each musher crosses the two-mile mark before the finish line so everyone can gather to cheer them home. And considering the town's population almost doubles during the race, that's bound to be a loud cheer!

Being such a popular even means there is also a lot going on for visitors. Events include a golf tournament on the Bering Sea ice (played with brightly painted balls so they don’t get lost in the snow), live bands, snowmachine, sprint sled-dog races, the largest invitational basketball tournament in the world, the annual Miner’s and Musher’s Ball, crab feasts and plenty of drinking and dancing. 

Meet the locals at the Alaska Zoo
At only 25 acres and 100 animals, the Alaska Zoo is smaller and more charming than most city zoos, and easy to navigate with small children. But what the Alaska Zoo lacks in size it makes up for with charm. Anchorage residents have developed personal relationships with many of the animals, even going so far as to name many of them!

You'll see a lot of northern natives here like moose and polar bears, plus a few exotic animals like tigers, snow leopards and elephants. There's and even a few rescue who will steal your heart.

Gravel paths meander through the woods past enclosures with natural flora for bears, wolves, seals and otters, musk oxen, Dall sheep, moose, caribou, and waterfowl.

Got any other tips for visitors to Alaska? Tell us about it in the comments section below. Or head to twitter and Facebook to share your images and stories.

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