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Alaska

Best time to go: May to September offers mild weather.

It’s fr-fr-fr-freezing, but don’t let that put you off, just grab your thermals and head off to America’s Final Frontier.

Nothing can quite prepare you for the scale of Alaska. Covering 591,004 square miles, and more than twice the size of Texas, it makes up a fifth of the entire landmass of the USA, and is as big as England, France, Spain and Italy put together. Are you getting the picture? Although it is by far the largest of the states in size, it is the second smallest in terms of population.

It is not only the area that is vast. Everything in Alaska seems larger than life. Alaskan Mount McKinley is the highest peak in North America, and the Ukon River is one of the longest rivers in North America. There are more than 5000 glaciers, and one of them is larger than Switzerland.

Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve is one of Alaska’s favourite tourist destinations. With the world’s largest concentration of tidewater glaciers, it is home to humpback whales, killer whales, harbour seals, wolves, moose, and plenty of other marine life.

Over three quarters of the 200,000 annual visitors go by cruise and never leave the boat, but there is much more to Alaska than just glaciers, and it’s not always cold everywhere. Temperatures in Fairbanks, Alaska’s second city (after Anchorage), can reach a sweltering 95°F.

Did you know?

  • the Americans purchased the state in 1867 from the Russians at a cost of $7.2 million – less than 2 cents per acre
  • apparently, if Manhattan were populated to the same density as Alaska, it would have only 16 inhabitants!
  • it has been estimated that Alaska has twice as many caribou as people

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