Alaska is unlike any other state. Full of mountains, wildlife and adventure; Alaska is something that everyone should experience. Whether you’re traveling by cruise, land or our Land+Sea Journeys, you’re almost guaranteed to have a great time. But, before you travel somewhere new, it’s nice to know some information about your destination. Keep reading for Alaska facts and information that may help you on your journey to the last frontier.
- Name Origin: The name of Alaska comes from the Aleut word Alyeska, meaning The Great Land.
- Nick Names: The last frontier, Land of the Midnight Sun
- Motto: North to the Future
- Flower: Forget-me-not
- Capital: Juneau is the only capital in the United States accessible only by boat or plane.
- Statehood: The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7,200,00 (about 2 cents an acre) and made it the union’s 49th state on January 3, 1959.
- Land Area Size: Alaska is the largest state in the union, covering 570,373 square miles, approximately one-fifth of the entire United States. Alaska is so large that the state of Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times.
- Temperature: The record low temperature in the U.S. was recorded in Alaska in the Endicott Mountains at -80° F.
- Tallest Mt. in North America: Mt. McKinley stands at 20,320 feet. Alaska is also home to 16 of the 20 highest mountains in the U.S.
- Greatest concentration of glaciers in North America: There are more active glaciers and ice fields in Alaska than in the rest of the inhabited world. The largest glacier is Malaspina at 805 square miles.
- State Symbols and emblems:
- State Bird: Alaska Willow Ptarmigan
- State Tree: Sitka Spruce
- State Marine Mammal: Bowhead Whale
- State Fish: King Salmon, also known as the Chinook Salmon
- State Sport: Dog Mushing
- State Gem: Jade
- State Mineral: Gold
- State Insect: Four-spot skimmer dragonfly
Light vs. Dark: The Arctic Circle is an imaginary circle around the globe where on December 21 the sun never rises for twenty-four hours and on June 21 for twenty-four hours it never sets.
Gardening: Giant vegetables are common in Alaska due to the extremely long days in summer which account for a record cabbage weighing in at 94 pounds.
Additional Alaska Facts + Packing List
Many guests have concerns about the altitude in Alaska. Travel in Alaska is generally at lower elevations. For example, the train depot in Denali National Park is 1700 feet. The maximum altitude in the Denali National Park is 3900 feet.
Shopping in Alaska
In both Alaska and Canada, you can find many unique gifts and mementos. We recommend that you carefully retain all shopping receipts and origination seals to avoid difficulties in clearing customs. Souvenir ulus, Inupik Eskimo knives, need to be packed with checked baggage. Otherwise, they will be confiscated at the airport security gate as they are considered weapons.
Things to Pack for Alaska Vacation
You should take into consideration some of these amenities when packing to enhance your Alaska vacation.
- Vacation documents
- Medication & prescription info
- Personal ID
- Important phone numbers
- Travel alarm clock
- Insect repellant
- Camera, film & sturdy carrying case
- Well-marked luggage
- Warm clothes
- Comfortable shoes