5 Amazing Reasons to Visit Alaska in 2024

Published: November 5, 2023

Every year, countless attractions and adventures draw visitors to Alaska, the Last Frontier. Many Alaska vacations are the makings of life-long dreams, bucket lists, and the search for off the beaten path travel experiences. With a new year arriving in 2024, new opportunities present themselves to Alaska visitors to make their visions of Alaska travel come true.

Here are 5 fantastic reasons to visit Alaska in 2024:

Wide-Open Wilderness Spaces and a Diversity of Scenery and Ecosystems

The rest of the world can make its arguments, but for Alaska travelers the scenery doesn’t get more stunning or sensational, and the state’s many wide-open spaces don’t get much wider or wilder, than in Alaska. The combination of exceptional natural attractions including rolling tundra and jagged mountain ranges, grand glaciers and unique wildlife, the big bright Midnight Sun and the dancing northern lights, inspire feelings of curiosity, fascination and excitement within most who venture north.

A photograph of the Exit Glacier by NPA / Victoria Stauffenberg

Viewing Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park near Seward (Source: NPA / Victoria Stauffenberg)

Among the best ways to soak up Alaska’s wild spaces and scenery is at your own pace, with your own vehicle. Self-drive vacations of Alaska are incredibly popular with independent travelers, families, and people who prefer flexibility and self-designed fun. The itinerary of the 14-day All Alaska Classic Self Drive Tour put together by Alaska Tours lives up to its name, featuring Alaska’s biggest stars: a tour into Denali National Park, a boat cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park, a bush plane flight in St. Elias National Park, and all the scenery and space you would expect from two weeks of driving across the country’s largest state. And on this power-packed itinerary, all accommodations are booked in advance, maximizing your opportunities for activities during the day. And if you don’t have two weeks of available time, the experts at Alaska Tours can help you’re your own unforgettable road trip with those activities you most enjoy.

Experience Alaska’s Wildlife in Abundance

Sightseeing doesn’t get more wild than viewing Alaska animals in action – big brown bears catching salmon or black bears grazing and searching for berries, agile mountain sheep racing up steep rocky faces, and cavorting whales snorting out big breaths and tail flapping even bigger splashes. You could run across a massive moose casually napping on a street corner or snacking on a tree, a herd of caribou migrating slowly across the Arctic tundra, or a bald eagle perched atop a tree hunting for dinner.

a moose browsing on vegetation seen through the passenger's side window of a car

Moose in Kincaid Park in Anchorage (Source: Jack Bonney, Visit Anchorage)

Many visitors arrive of course with hopes of seeing one or more of Alaska’s “Big Five” – bear, moose, caribou, wolf and Dall sheep. Whether you catch all 5 or not, Alaska Tours improves your chances by connecting travelers to wildlife viewing experts who lead small group tours teaching you and your companions all about the wild side of Alaska wildlife. There are Bear Viewing Tours that take visitors close enough to hear bear jaws snapping as they devour freshly caught salmon; Whale Watching Cruises that spot grays and humpbacks as well as other marine life from seals and otters to waterfowl; and Alaska Birding Tours that will awe even the biggest avian enthusiast.

Glaciers Calving into Waterways and Carving Their Way Through Valleys

Of Alaska’s many unbelievable natural wonders, few capture the Last Frontier’s life cycle of geologic history and future climate outlook than Alaska’s glaciers, which offer grand views and entertaining adventures. Simply seeing glaciers can be an awe-inspiring experience. From afar, they glisten a chilly blue even as they carve through mountainous landscapes. From a boat, they crack piercingly, calve suddenly, and splash spectacularly into Alaska’s waterways. A few glaciers even act as runways for flightseeing planes and helicopters, where teams of sled dogs greet arrivals with their excited barks, ready to run across their icy fields.

Cruising in Glacier Bay National Park.

Some Alaska glaciers also offer glacier hiking where visitors can feel for themselves their icy temps. Glacier hiking is an exciting, fun and safe outing for many Alaska visitors. The Exit Glacier Hike a short drive from Seward takes participants above this popular glacier to a scenic overlook of the Harding Icefield, which appears like an ocean of ice that makes most mountains seem small. The Matanuska Glacier Hike, located a few hours from Anchorage along the Glenn Highway, shows hikers one of the state’s most notable ice attractions for a cool walk that they won’t soon forget.

Alaska’s 8 National Parks: Vast, Diverse and Well Worth Visiting

Alaska is home to some of the country’s largest, wildest, most popular and remote national parks, a draw that on its own makes this a special destination. And while each park is packed with well-known Alaska charm and features, they are all very different and offer extremely unique experiences. Like the parks themselves, there are a variety of ways to visit each of them. Alaska Tours can help travelers find the best fit between budgets, time and visitor interests when it comes to planning a national park visit. From an Escorted Group Tour to an Independent Self-Drive trip, there’s are so many great options to choose between.

two bear sows with their cubs on a grassy area in Lake Clark National Park

Bear Sows and Cubs at Chinita Bay in Lake Clark National Park (Source: K. Jalone -NPS)

As for the most popular national parks, Alaska’s most notable national park, Denali, is set around North America’s tallest peak (not to mention many other massive mountains) and offers adventures galore, from rafting to wildlife viewing, train trips and flightseeing. Katmai National Park is where the big bears roam, catch and snack on salmon, and basically do bear things just feet away from visitors. The bears of Lake Clark National Park are usually a little further away, but just as impressive (and also impressive, the luxury lodging in Lake Clark). Similar bear viewing adventures await in Lake Clark’s Chinitna Bay. Kenai Fjords National Park is an aquatic wonder, filled with glaciers, whales, wildlife and seacoast views galore. And when it comes to mountains, magnitude and Gold Rush history, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is just a jackpot location. And not to be neglected, there are other special destinations (the ravishing rainforest of Tsongass National Forest and off-the-grid grandeur of the Gates of the Arctic National Park) which are well worth a visit if you can squeeze them in!

“Only in Alaska” Experiences

And last but not least, another great reason to come to Alaska in 2024 is discovering the “only in Alaska” special experiences you just won’t find other places. How about a ride on the iconic Alaska Railroad? Or maybe a guided flightseeing tour over Alaska’s glaciers, mountains, waterways, national parks and other hot spots. And few Alaska experiences rival seeing the northern lights dancing across Alaska’s dark winter night sky – it’s enough to bring some to cheers and other to tears. Something sure to make you smile is a relaxing dip in one of Alaska’s natural hot springs, where visitors can soak in the watery warmth under winter skies filled with stars, northern lights or the Midnight Sun . And finally two other Alaska trips that will certainly make many special memories feature the peaks of Denali National Park and the wonder of Kenai Fjords National Park, and the best of Denali National Park and Prince William Sound’s Glaciers.

green aurora over a boreal forest in winter

The Northern Lights over Fairbanks (Source: Sherman Hogue, -Explore Fairbanks)

Whatever your reason for coming to Alaska in 2024, the Alaska Tours team is standing by to make sure it’s the experience of a lifetime. Give us a ring and let’s start planning your adventure!