The great state of Alaska has an astounding 54 million acres of national park land. Besides the extremely popular Denali National Park and Kenai Fjords, this state has several other lesser known national parks. These parks have just as much natural beauty and abundant life that their popular counterparts do, they just have less tourists. Read on to discover these six lesser known national parks in Alaska.
Lesser Known National Parks in Alaska
Visit America’s Largest National Park
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is a massive, rugged, and beautiful landscape. This park, at a whopping 13.2 million acres, is equal in size to Switzerland, Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park combined. The park has an abundance of wildlife sighting opportunities including sightings of Dall sheep, moose, bears, bird species, and much more.
Things to do here include hiking, fishing, boating, and guided tours. Notable attractions include Kennecott, an old copper mining town and McCarthy, a former ghost town. The primary season to visit the park is mid-May to mid-September. Due to early winter, services and facilities are limited by the end of September.
Explore Stunning Wilderness
Lake Clark National Park & Preserve invites visitors to become part of the wilderness. At this glorious park, you will see beautiful turquoise lakes, glaciers, streams loaded with salmon-with the occasional bear fishing for a meal. There are many things to see and do here including hunting, kayaking, biking, and much more.
Highlights include Richard Proenneke’s log cabin on Upper Twin Lake and the hike to Tanalian Falls, an ancient lava cliff over 30 feet high. The park is open year round and permits are not required to visit.
See Sand Dunes in Alaska
The oddity about Kobuk Valley National Park, is the climate feels more like Africa than Alaska. Although the park is located above the Arctic Circle, it has sand dunes, and the temperatures can reach 100 degrees. See the tracks of the half a million caribou that migrate on the dunes.
After exploring the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, visitors can also enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, and backpacking. Kobuk Valley National Park is open year round. Visitors do not require passes to enter the park.
Get Close To Siberia
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is a remnant of the last Ice Age. The land was once a natural ‘bridge’ that connected North America to Eastern Asia. Most of this land is now submerged under Chukchi Sea and Bering Sea. Believe it or not, this 2.7 million acre park is rarely visited compared to other national parks.
The abundance of wildlife sightings here includes moose, grizzly bear, wolves, and seals, walruses, and birds by the seashore. Visitors can indulge and spend a night in a rustic bunkhouse at Serpentine Hot Springssurrounded by warm waters.
Watch Brown Bears Fish For Salmon
Bears are everywhere at Katmai National Park and Preserve. A highlight is a visit to Brooks Camp, where visitors can safely view the numerous bears from platforms on a bridge. You can also see still steaming volcanoes here, and hike in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
Visitors can also enjoy a kayak journey on Savonoski Loop. Brooks Lodge is open for guests from June 1stthrough September 17th with reservations required. The park is open year round and prime bear viewing time is July and September.
Hike on Caribou Trails
The Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is larger than the state of Maryland. The park spans a massive 8.4 million acres and have approximately 490,000 resident caribou. There are no roads in the park, and the hiking trails are made by the animals.
Park visitors can enjoy their time birdwatching, fishing, camping, and hunting, plus much more. The park is open to visitors year round. As of April 2021, visitors that wish to enter the park via Anaktuvuk Pass must first request permission from the Village Council through the email address provided on the website.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com