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Alaska is known as the last frontier for a reason. With its pristine land and forests, stunning mountain ranges and peaks, and exclusive wildlife, outdoor Alaska can be appreciated and admired by all.
The best way to explore the beauty that is the last frontier – pay a visit to Alaska’s many famous state and national parks.
Set in southern Alaska in the Denali and Matanuska–Susitna boroughs, the Denali National Park consumes 10,000 square miles of pristine North American land, and encompasses Mount McKinley, the highest mountain on the continent.
In 1917, this six million-acre park was established as the first national park to preserve wildlife – making the park home to everything from grizzly bears to caribou, moose and golden eagles.
This is a truly majestic experience, so head up Alaska Highway 3 and visit the Denali NP&P.
Choose from winter activities like snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the Denali National Park, or visit the park during the summer for backpacking hikes, nature photography and cycling on the park roads. Feeling really adventurous? Try your hand at mountaineering on the famed Mount McKinley.
Another of Alaska’s stunning national parks is Kenai Fjords National Park near the southern city of Seward. The park is found less than three hours from Anchorage, and day trip away from Homer, Valdez, Soldotna and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Open throughout the year, Kenai Fjords National Park features hiking, fishing, and mountaineering – plus water activities like fishing, kayaking, and boat tours. You’re sure to be inspired by Alaska’s stark magnificence and adventurous activities, so start planning for your expedition into the last frontier today.
Immediately east of Anchorage, Chugach State Park is a true playground for the outdoor enthusiast. Encompassing one of the most diverse habitats of a state park near a major city, Chugach is celebrated for its accessibility and varying adventures. Pristine hiking trails, cross-country and downhill ski areas, and rock climbing cliffs are within easy reach from the Seward highway. And just because the park is close to Anchorage doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in wildlife. More than 45 species of mammals live here, with brown bear and moose so abundant that they can often be seen in the backyards of Anchorage’s eastern neighborhoods.
Found along the western shore of the Kenai Peninsula, Clam Gulch State Recreation Area preserves 129 acres of sandy beaches, home to hundreds of thousands of Alaskan razor clams. In fact, each year, razor clams are harvested from these wide clam beds, along the shore of the Cook Inlet.
Located southwest of Soldotna, the recreation area also features incredible views of the Aleutian Mountain Range. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the magnificent view of Mount Iliamna, Mount Spurr and Mount Redoubt, and be on the lookout for moose, mammals, sea birds, and bald eagles.
Host of Fairbank's annual Midnight Sun Game, Growden Memorial Park is a baseball field seating 3,500 people in Fairbanks. The home field of the Alaska Goldpanners of the Alaska Baseball League, Growden Memorial Park has also hosted championship games for local high schools, and once featured MLB greats like Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.
Beyond the outfield walls of the Growden Memorial Park, you'll find a covered picnic area, a playground, uncovered picnic areas, a volleyball court, and plenty of open, grassy areas for you and the kids to have fun. Growden Memorial Park is also noted as having the tallest press box in Alaska.
Comprised of 811 acres, Jack Bay State Marine Park offers visitors and residents of southern Alaska a wonderful area to explore. Jack Bay State Marine Park is comprised of 15 miles south of Valdez, along Jack Bay. The old growth forest in the park's upland area, feature alder, spruce, and hemlock trees and salt marshes.
This exquisite area is a haven for those who love to fish and cruise along the bay in a boat. Trekking along one of the park's trails for a fun day of hiking is another popular activity in the park. While in this beautiful area of Alaska, be sure to schedule time to enjoy this gem of a park.
Southeast of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula you'll find Kachemak Bay State Park.
Noted as Alaska's first state park, Kachemak Bay SP is nearly 400,000 acres
Visitors will find a plethora of outdoor adventure at the park, including a day full of hiking, fishing, boating, and bird watching opportunities.
Don't miss out on experiencing the Grewingk Glacier, China Pot Bay, or the Halibut Cove Lagoon.
Pay tribute to the last great gold rush with a visit to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, found north of Juneau in Skagway. Occupying vast tracts of beautiful forest land in the Alaskan Panhandle, the park offers plenty of history and outdoor activities in one spot.
Take on a ranger guided tour of the Skagway Historic District or tour the Dyea townsite and see what was once a booming gold mining town. Round out the visit by hitting the area's numerous hiking trails, including the Chilkoot Trail, or learn about the gold rush's history at the local museums.
Established in 1978, Noatak National Preserve is a breathtaking landscape of rugged mountains, forests, lakes, and alpine meadows, located north of Fairbanks. Pack well for an expedition to the Northwest Arctic Borough for a glimpse into life governed by the forces of nature alone.
Proficient and experienced backpackers, bicyclists, fishermen, and boaters also love the recreational opportunities in this vast park. Explore dense vegetation, see wildlife up close you would normally never see before, and mount a once-in-a-lifetime backcountry experience throughout the Brooks Range and Baird Mountains.
At 44 acres, Pioneer Park in Fairbanks has plenty of room for all sorts of outdoor recreation – picnics, birthday celebrations, and even Easter egg hunts.
Opened in 1967 as the Alaska 67 Centennial Exposition, it was changed in 2001.
Within the park, there are a variety of attractions to entertain all members of the family on your excursion through Alaska.
Check out the SS Nenana, a vintage stern-wheeler which, from 1953 to 1954, carried cargo on the Chena River.
You'll want to visit the Tanana Valley Railroad Museum, home of a restored 1899 Engine No.1. You can also play 36 holes of mini golf at the aptly named Mini Golf Fairbanks.
Encompassing more than 2,800 acres, Point Bridget State Park offers recreational enthusiasts in southern Alaska plenty of options for a fun day outside near Juneau. The Park can be found on the tip of Point Bridget, along the edge of Berners Bay.
The Alaska State Legislature established this incredible park in 1988, to protect the area's natural beauty. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the park's rocky beaches, incredible views from the cliffs, and the variety of wildlife while enjoy the hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing opportunities.
Pay tribute to Russia's colonial legacy in North America with a visit to the Sitka National Historic Park, found south of Juneau.
Visit this historic site, which preserve the site of a battle between Russian traders and the indigenous Native Americans.
See traces of both heritages along the scenic coastal trail, which features totem poles and leads to the restored Russian Bishop's house.
Established in 1959, the Totem Bight State Historical Park is located in southeastern Alaska near Ketchikan.
Covering 33 acres, the site includes the Totem Bight State Historic Site – listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Operated by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Totem Bight features 14 interpretive totem poles for visitors.
History buffs will be pleased to know the United States Forest Service and Civilian Conservation Corps redeveloped the site in 1938.
Encompassing over two million acres of eastern Alaskan landscape, the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve preserves habitats found along the Yukon and Charley River basin.
There are two visitor centers associated with the preserve – one in Fairbanks and another in Eagle – and both feature trail maps, historical exhibits, and plenty of travel tips.
Due to the hundreds of miles of river slicing through the preserve, boating and other aquatic recreation activities are popular among adventurists.
Apart from the endless outdoor recreation, visitors can gain some historical and cultural context by visiting sites like the Nation Bluff Cabin, Glenn Creek Cabin, Coal Creek Dredge, and others found within the preserve.