Home to over half of Alaska’s population, South Central offers a variety of things to see and do. Anchorage is its largest town and one of its best-kept secrets – the perfect location for a luxury holiday.Anchorage is nestled between the Chugach National Forest and Cook Inlet, in the heart of the great wilderness. Travel in any direction and you will be spoilt for choice. Snow-covered mountains, a fantastic trail system and miles of untracked snow create the ideal conditions for alpine skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding, snowshoeing and more.If spectacular scenery is what you crave you can book a luxury tour to the waters of Prince William Sound or Kenai Fjords National Park. Prince William Sound is a breathtaking mix of tidewater glaciers, rainforests and mountains, while Kenai Fjords National Park contains an abundance of marine life. Tours depart daily from Seward or Whittier.For something truly out of this world, Anchorage’s dancing northern lights, otherwise known as Aurora Borealis, are a must-see. These lights appear when the electrically charged particles from the sun are blown on a solar wind and react to the earth’s magnetic field. They can be incredibly bright, with their most common colour being a striking yellow-green.Autumn, winter and spring are the best seasons to view the northern lights, and the best displays usually happen in sub-zero temperatures under moonless skies. Many of the hotels have a ‘northern lights wake up call’ for guests.The Alaskan Interior is the area south of the Arctic Circle and west of Canada. The Interior epitomises the Last Frontier. Gold mining – which started before the Klondike rush – continues to this day, particularly around Fairbanks. Denali National Park contains North America’s tallest peak, Mt. McKinley, and is famous for its wildlife: grizzly bears, caribou and moose plus many other species.The massive Yukon River flows westward across the region from Canada toward the Bering Sea. Waterfowl nest in the drainages of the Yukon and other rivers of the Interior.Chena Hot Springs is situated five miles out of Fairbanks. Chena Hot Springs is a privately owned luxury resort. Discovered in 1905, the springs are at the centre of a 40-mile geothermal area which produces a steady stream of water that’s so hot, it must be cooled before you can soak. The resort offers a heated lodge and rooms as well as log cabins and a camping ground.Barrow is the well-kept secret of Alaska’s Far North. Traditionally, Barrow is referred to as Ukpeagvik, ‘place where owls are hunted.’ Barrow is home to the world’s largest Inupiat Eskimo settlement. While many modern conveniences are available, the subsistence lifestyle is still evident, and fishing, hunting, and whaling are a way of life for the Inupiat people. For further awareness, visitors should check out the Heritage Centre.Barrow has the harshest climate in Alaska. The sun shines and never sets for 82 days from early May to early August and it is dark for 51 – 67 days between November and January. This can be a great time to view the northern lights.Barrow is one of the top 100 bird-watching spots in America. All four species of Eider ducks migrate and nest around Barrow. Barrow is also the prime habitat for many shore birds.The Birnirk archaeological site lies two miles north of the airfield. The Birnirk culture, which existed about 500-900 A.D., is represented by a group of 16 dwelling mounds and is considered a key link between the prehistoric cultures of Alaska and Canada.For those with a yearning to really get back to basics, few places on earth compare with Southwest Alaska. Brown bears amble along the plains and more than 240 bird species inhabit the region. The region’s terrain is uncompromising – a fact highlighted by the landscape of volcanoes in Katmai National Park created by the 1912 eruption of the Novarupta volcano.Unalaska and Dutch Harbor are great destinations for adventure seekers. Unalaska on Unalaska Island and its sister town Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island, are at the edge of the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. A 500-foot bridge connects the two islands.In 1942, the Japanese opened their Aleutian Islands campaign by bombing Dutch Harbor in the only foreign invasion of U.S. soil during World War II. The Aleutian World War II National Historic Site was established in 1996 to share the history of an area critical to the U.S. during World War II.
National Park, Northern Lights, Dutch Harbor
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Cooke is a professional consultant with Travel Associates, an exclusive Australian travel agency catering to the premium travel market. More helpful travel tips and suggestions are available at http://www.travel-associates.com.au.