Watch humpback whales as they bubble feed along the coast of Southeast Alaska.
Questions About Alaska
users have asked many good questions over the years about
visiting the Last Frontier. Here are some
Where do Alaska
cruise ships go?
The Inside Passage is Alaska's biggest cruise
destination, but popular cruises also visit
Prince William Sound, the Gulf of Alaska and the
Bering Sea. The Inside Passage is also known as
the Panhandle and as "Southeast." The main ports
of call are Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau and Skagway,
along with Glacier Bay National Park and Hubbard
Glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Prince William Sound, tucked into the underbelly
of Alaska, holds abundant wildlife and glaciers,
including Columbia Glacier. Cruises in the Gulf
of Alaska visit Seward and Kodiak. Bering Sea
cruises call at Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Nome and
the Pribilof Islands. In addition to these
weeklong cruises, there are local day cruises,
especially in Juneau, Whittier and Seward. These
visit glaciers and search for whales and other
wildlife such as eagles, bears, sea lions and sea
What's the summer
weather like in Alaska?
The Southcentral climate (Anchorage, the Kenai
Peninsula and the surrounding area) boasts
relatively mild summers (highs near 70). The
Interior climate (Fairbanks and Denali) has warm
summers (highs in the 90s). The climate of the
Inside Passage, where most of the cruise ships
go, is usually warm and damp (summer highs in the
60s and 70s). Coastal areas have more moderate
temperatures than inland areas as well as more
precipitation. Daily temperature fluctuations are
wider inland. In late spring and early summer
(close to the solstice in mid-June), the days are
the longest. Early summer has less rain than late
summer and fall.
Where can I find a
map of Alaska?
We have a map page.
here for Maps
Will the mosquitos
eat me alive?
Unless you are a caribou, no they won't. We have
a page dedicated to Mosquito information.
Click here for more Mosquito
Where does the
ferry system run?
The Alaska Marine Highway services over 30 towns
throughout Alaska. The ferry does not go to
Anchorage, which is instead served instead by
highways, trains and airplanes. Most of the ferry
system's business is in Southeast Alaska, where
roads connect few towns. Another ferry works the
Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak, and a third runs
through Prince William Sound. Every month a ferry
crosses the Gulf of Alaska to and from Juneau. We
have a detailed page with a map if you click on
the link below.
here for Ferry Schedules, Map, and
What are some good
books about Alaska?
Dozens of Alaska-related books are published each
year, some are better than others. We have a
short list of the most useful and time-tested
books about Alaska.
Click here for books about
Can I see a
glacier up close?
A number of Alaska's coastal and landlocked
glaciers can be seen close up. Cruise ships carry
their passengers close to glaciers and icebergs
in Glacier Bay National Park, at Hubbard Glacier
near Yakutat and Columbia Glacier near Valdez. In
addition, day-tour companies carry hundreds of
passengers a day on glacier and wildlife tours
from Juneau to Glacier Bay, from Whittier into
Prince William Sound and from Seward into Kenai
Fjords National Park. Several land-locked
glaciers, notably Exit, Matanuska, and the
Mendenhall, are close to the highway system.
People willing to hike a short distance can walk
up to and touch several other glaciers as well.
Helicopters carry passengers onto glaciers from
Juneau, Haines, Seward, Anchorage and the Denali
Can I ship my
vehicle to Alaska?
If you don't want to drive your vehicle to Alaska
for vacation or when you're moving, take heart.
Cars, trucks, RVs and boats can be loaded onto a
container ship inSeattle and delivered to
Anchorage. The loading, voyage and unloading
takes a week or more. Drivers in Washington state
who want to visit the Inside Passage and then
head for the Alaska Highway have another option.
They can put their vehicles aboard the Alaska
Marine Highway ferries in Bellingham, Washington,
and be taken to cities in the Inside Passage such
as Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Skagway.
Haines and Skagway have road connections to the
Alaska Highway. The ferry system provides a
scenic alternative to driving the length of the
Alaska Highway and its feeder roads in British
Columbia and Alberta. Elsewhere in Alaska,
ferries provide transportation around Prince
William Sound and between the Kenai Peninsula,
Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula. (The
ferry system doesn't go to Anchorage.) Some
visitors drive to Alaska, put their vehicles on a
ship and fly back to the Lower 48.
Can I pan for
You may pan for gold for free in a number of
places without the danger of being shot as a
claim jumper. For example, people with a gleam in
their eye can pan the beach east of Nome; several
streams in the Interior, including the one where
the Fairbanks gold rush began; several streams in
Southcentral Alaska, including the Kenai
Peninsula; in places along the Dalton Highway;
and in some streams in Southeast. Some companies
that charge for tours of towns and mining areas
also have panning areas, complete with gold pans
and soil that sometimes is salted with "color."
Pans, shovels and loupes can be bought in mining
supply shops and discount stores. As you're
panning and sifting through the muck, remember
that nothing that glitters is gold. You're
looking instead for a gleam.
Click here for information about how
to and what to use for gold
Where can I see
the Northern Lights?
Winter visitors have the best chance of seeing
the northern lights, or aurora borealis. Even
though the electromagnetic activity that creates
the aurora occurs all year high overhead, the
lights are visible only at night -- and Alaska's
long winter nights make for good viewing.
Click here for more Aurora Borealis
How big is
Alaska covers 570,373 square miles of land, plus
an additional 45,000 square miles of water. It's
the biggest state in the country. Alaska is 2.3
times the size of Texas, 10 times the size of
Georgia or Florida; and 499.7 times the size of
frequent comparison victim Rhode Island. Alaska
covers 20 percent of the total U.S. area.
Is it dark all the
time? When is the midnight sun?
Alaska gets as much daylight and darkness as
anywhere else on earth over the course of a year;
it's just distributed differently. Summer is a
time of ong days. Above the Arctic Circle, the
day can be 24 hours long or months long. In
Anchorage, almost 400 miles south of the circle,
the summer solstice day is 19.5 hours long.
Winter has much shorter days. Above the Arctic
Circle, the night can last for months, although
lingering twilight brightens the sky. In
Anchorage, the shortest day still provides 4.5
hours of daylight. Around the equinoxes in March
and September, Alaska gets the same 12 hours of
daylight and 12 hours of darkness the rest of the
What are the four seasons in
Almost winter, winter,
still winter and road construction.