Arctic National Park

Gates of the Arctic National Park

Arctic Alaska is one of the greatest wilderness areas in the world. It is a delicate balance of tundra, boreal forest, coastal plains, and mountains. It’s vastness is deceiving because the Arctic ecosystem is extremely fragile and is easily impacted by man’s activities. The Arctic climate produces permafrost and marginal growth conditions for vegetation. Land that has been damaged may take years to regenerate, or it may never recover. (See the Travel and Tour Operators list for information on guides and outfitters that can arrange hiking/backpacking trips in the area.)

Generally defined, tundra means “rolling treeless plain”. A short growing season followed by snow, low light, and melt-freeze cycles combine to force tundra plants and animals to adapt to a rigorous environment.

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Alaska Regional Roundup

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365 Million Acres of Adventure

I’m a born-and-bred Alaskan with eighteen-plus years to my credit — and yet I’ve spent most of that time in one small corner of the state. No matter where you think you’ve been or what you think you’ve done, you cannot pull a”been there, done that” attitude in the Last Frontier. It’s just too big and too diverse. Within this single state there are 365 million acres of rushing freshwater rivers and crashing salty coastline; towering peaks and flat expanses; tufty tundra and lush rain forest. Separate Alaska by region and you have four very different destinations.

Even clipping along at a million acres a day, covering Alaska would take an entire year. We cannot exhaustively explore (or even describe) the forty-ninth state, so here’s a taste of what each region is like: