Don’t let the endless vistas of rugged wilderness fool you—the Last Frontier can be tamed. All you need is a plane, a helicopter, a boat or a train. Preferably all four.
Author Sam Polcer Photography Sam Polcer
Number of people per square mile: 1.2
Number of registered pilots for every 58 residents: 1
Area in square miles (making it the biggest state in the union, and bigger than California, Texas and Montana combined): 663,267
Length, in miles, of the Bering Glacier (the longest in North America): 127
Amount the U.S. paid for Alaska: $7.2 million
Number of species of whales in Alaskan waters: 14
Potential Leg span of an Alaskan Red King Crab in feet: 6
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Santa may object to Anchorage’s street meat craze
Ah, summertime in Alaska. The endless daylight, the humane temperatures, the fields changing from white to green … and the smell of grilled reindeer meat filling the air. That’s especially the case on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, where at least four carts serving spicy reindeer sausage can be spotted within a hundred yards of each other. The links come slathered in hot caramelized onions on a bun with a choice of fixings, including mayonnaise, sriracha hot chili sauce and pineapple sauce, and make for a good on-the-go breakfast or lunch. Locals will swear by their favorite cart, so your best bet for choosing where to go is to spot the longest line.
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Buy an authentic musk ox coat, help out a member of a Native Alaskan tribe
The musk ox, a bovine animal that survived the last Ice Age, may be about as attractive as, well, a bovine animal that can survive an Ice Age, but that’s of no importance to the Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers’ Co-Operative. They’re more concerned with the animals’ undercoat, which sheds every spring and happens to be one of the warmest and softest fibers known to man. The raw stuff that comes from farms throughout the state is washed, dried and spun into yarn at specialty mills and then sent to 200 knitters, providing jobs to members of the Yupik people living in remote villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. They turn the material into hats, scarves and the like. Once you’ve tried one on, normal sheep wool just won’t feel the same.
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The inside scoop from those in the know
“A 2.5-hour drive north from Anchorage is a town called Talkeetna. I grew up in a small Alaskan village, and it’s the only place in this area that reminds me of home. You can walk from one end of town to the other; on a clear day you can see Denali.”
Chef, Seven Glaciers restaurant
“Off the Winter Creek Trail, which is a beautiful trail here at the Alyeska Resort. Back in that area you’ll find tons of blueberries. To be able to get out and explore a bit and do some foraging is really a cool thing.”
Manager, Viator Tours, Alaska
“Biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is a must-do. You can access it in downtown Anchorage, and before you know it, you feel like you’re in the middle of some remote wilderness. You’ll probably even spot a moose!”
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