Alaska: The land of extremes and untouched nature. Here you can read some of the more interesting facts about this unique place as Alaska is.
When we were deciding where to spend the next summer, we didn’t know much about Alaska. Only as little as there is a beautiful nature, unique wilderness and a nearly no civilization. These expectations were absolutely fulfilled. I would call Alaska the land, where is everything and nothing at the same time. The country where people are only the visitors to an animal kingdom. Alaska is a rough beauty and it is not worth to underestimate this place.
Can you believe that only a little bit over 700,000 inhabitants live there. It means that every resident of Alaska has almost 2.5 km² of the land “for herself/himself. Alaska is also very young state. Median of the age is 33!
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Country where live more men than women
This is not surprising. Winters are long, dark and cold and many people still live without running water at home and they need to use public showers and laundries. Try to imagine how cruel it must be to go to the outhouse (or dry toilet) in the middle of the night, when the temperature is as low as -- 45 ° C.
“Weather on a swing” Don’t be surprised to wear your winter jacket even in August
The weather really surprised us. In general, the summer was warmer than we expected. All July and mid-August were mostly for a T-shirt, even at night. Well, there are 3 climatic zones at Healy (the town where we lived), so you can simply swim in the lake and lie on the beach in the afternoon and wear a winter jacket or raincoat in the evening.
In general, the weather is quite difficult to predict. Trusting local weather forecasts is simply as naive as believing you will win the jackpot. However, the biggest surprise came with the drastic weather change from summer to autumn. It happened literally overnight! One day, we were wearing a T-shirt and the other day, a jacket with a raincoat. Some days there was even a strong wind as well. And it can be very strong In this area -- up to 160 km / h. The minimum temperature measured at NP Denali was -81.6 ° C.
Never push a moose out of an airplane!
Yes, you can find such a law in the Alaskan legislative. I’m still wondering what had to happen that they needed to create this law. After I heard about this law, I wasn’t surprised about another strange thing -- that the mayor Talkeetna town was a cat! For 20 years! If you don’t believe it, here is a link to Wikipedia.
Denali -- the largest mountain in the world?
Another “extreme thing” is the monumental and beautiful Mt Denali. If you are lucky enough, you can see this mountain already from the city of Anchorage, which is 214 km away. If we count the altitude from the base of the mountain to the summit, Denali is the largest mountain in the world. The bottom of the Mt. Denali lies at only 600 m above the sea level. It isn’t a mountain for beginners. The expedition lasts between 2 and 3 weeks and the success rate is usually below 50%.
The weather itself is adding difficulty levels for climbing this mountain, moreover, we can’t forget the fact that Denali lies almost on the polar circle. (All other highest peaks in the world are much closer to the equator). The descent itself is not that difficult because it is not necessary to acclimate to the altitude anymore. An official record of “descent” is only 11 hours! Record holder took a pair of a ski to the top to make the descent faster.
Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see a mountain on your first day. Statistically, only 31% of visitors are lucky enough to see the real beauty of this mountain. Summit is unfortunately hidden in clouds 2 out of 3 days. But when clouds disappear, it’s such a spectacular show!
Wilderness and only wilderness
The most beautiful thing about Alaska is simply the untouched nature. If you look at the map, you won’t find many roads. There is basically only one road loop -- starting around Anchorage, heading towards Fairbanks and then the road leads again to the south. People are really just visitors in the animal kingdom. I was walking to work every day from our house to the horse pasture and it was really rare not to meet any animal. Whether it was snowshoe hare, owl, moose, bird, squirrel, marmot or even a lynx.
Extremely simple hitchhiking
We were surprised how easy is it to hitchhike in Alaska, even though weren’t experienced hitchhikers. People around Alaska are very nice and willing to help. Even the very first car stopped for us many times! Can you imagine that we got a ride in a limousine too?? Average waiting time was around 10 minutes. And it wasn’t an exception that people took us further than where they were planning to go.
Everything is so close and far away at the same time
Distances lie here, whether on the map or in reality. It may seem really close to the nearest town, and it’s 2-hour drive. Distances deceive simply because there aren’t many artificial objects to compare the distance with.
The midnight sun
During the longest days (around June 21) there is practically no darkness. The sun only slightly hides behind the horizon and in a while, is up again. It’s truly beautiful view that looks like a 4-hour long sunset/sunrise combined. Of course, it depends on where you are -- if you are at the arctic circle, you can witness what is called the “midnight sun”. Days are very long during the whole summer and you are not able to see the northern lights. First chance is with the end of August when there is a night again, although very short.
Daylight all day long can be very confusing, especially at the beginning. It might seem it is only 9 PM, but it can easily be 2 AM. Well, midnight golf was one of the favorite activities for visitors of our resort. We were lucky that we had very good window blinder, which is basically all you need. Good thing was that we had more energy thanks to all that daylight. You don’t have to be worried about the late arrival from your hiking trip when the sun never set. It happened to us many times that we came back from a hike at midnight.
Extremely high prices
If you come from outside of USA, it is better not to convert your expenses into your currency. You will be only angry 😀 Prices are very high due to the fact that majority of goods has to be imported. The cheapest is to shop in the shopping centers in large cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks. Just to imagine the price level. When you shop offseason in a town of Healy, (small town with approximately 1000 inhabitants), you’ll get a gallon of milk for $ 12! These high prices can compensate a little bit high Alaskan minimum wage, which is $ 9.75 per hour.
Check this beautiful video about Alaska:
What else surprised us? The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics was the most incredible experience of the whole summer that we have spent in Alaska. We witnessed seal skinning contest, ear pulling, ear lifting and other “crazy” competitions.
- Read more about it in this article: The World Eskimo-Indian Olympic Games
- And what did our work looked like? Work and Travel Alaska: Horse wagon guide!
- Other stories from Alaska: By train across Alaska
- And if you would like to read a complex guide about Alaska.
And how about you? Have you visited Alaska? Did you meet a bear? Share with us your experiences in comments.
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Adriana & Matěj
Travelers, sport enthusiasts and photographers behind this blog. Creating high-quality and informative guides for your travels. Read more about us here.
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