ANCHORAGE • FAIRBANKS • JUNEAU • PALMER
Native Alaskan Culture:
Hop a bus to Alaska
for year-round skiing and glacier parks!
Brrr! It might be mostly chilly out there in Alaska, but it’s also downright gorgeous. You may think of Alaska, dubbed the Last Frontier, solely as the state of snow, igloos, and polar bears. And, sure, there’s plenty of snow all around, but there’s more to the state than its climate. The 49th state packs a punch for thrill-seekers, offering visitors a wealth of unforgettable activities, scenic tours, mesmerizing wildlife, and, of course, the wonders of the night sky. If you’re thinking of booking a bus ticket to Alaska, be prepared for an elevated travel experience. This is American beauty at its best: unspoiled, rich in history, full of character, and brimming with the promise of adventure at every turn. Here, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a nature lover or a history buff!
A Brief Look at Alaskan History
Alaska has had settlers since 10,000 BCE. Before becoming a state, it was populated by Russian pioneers until 1867 when the U.S. purchased the land from Russia. Back then, the entire territory cost $7.2 million, which is roughly 2 cents per acre. By the turn of the century, people arrived in droves for gold mining — a period commonly known as the Klondike Gold Rush. The state was established as a territory in 1912 and achieved statehood in 1959 as the 49th state.
12 miles outside of Juneau, The Mendenhall Glacier is the only glacier in the region that visitors can reach via car or bus.
There's no shortage of things to do in Alaska.
Culture in Alaska
Among the most notable elements of Alaskan culture is the prestige of tradition. Its rich heritage moves from one generation to the next, carried over with pride and preserved from century to century. It speaks to the true meaning of what it means to be a native Alaskan. The population consists largely of American Indians and Alaska Natives, and there are still hundreds upon hundreds of villages throughout the state where old-world hunting practices, spiritual systems, and traditional dress forms still reign.
A popular attraction that has cultural representation is dog sledding. Due to the extreme weather conditions, people living in Alaska had to rely on mushing as a means of transportation, although it’s not considered a recreational sport that natives and visitors can enjoy.
Located throughout the state are Totem Poles. These beautiful ornamental statues are more than just pieces of artwork, they represent wildlife and historical events. Before there was a spoken language, history was carved into these statues and can be translated from bottom to top and are still an important part of displaying familial prestige and honor. Visiting local museums throughout the state can tell you more about Alaskan natives and their rich culture.
Top Cities To Visit In Alaska
The largest city in Alaska, Anchorage is largely contemporary in its offerings. Start here if you wish to explore Denali National Park or go skiing year-round at Mount Alyeska Resort. The sleek Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is a prime example of the city’s modernity. Beyond its dramatic glass façade, the museum hosts an array of art and history exhibits, along with a planetarium and a park. Among the largest state parks in the country, Chugach State Park is home to dozens of wildlife species. While there, you may encounter wolves, bears, or lynx during your adventure. It’s also worth a trip to the Alaska Railroad, whose trains take you through otherwise unreachable back-country and the magnificent sites at Denali National Park.
The sun shines all day long. The northern lights twinkle during Aurora season. The Chena River shimmers downtown. The museums and cultural centers take visitors on a journey back in time. Wilderness and dramatic natural beauty can be found at every turn. The lively arts scene is boosted by regular festivals. It’s no wonder so many make Fairbanks a must-see stop on their Alaskan adventures.
Palmer is subdued and offers a slight change of pace from the vibrant cities you might otherwise consider when booking your bus ticket to Alaska. Here, in the town set in the Mat-Su Valley, you can relax and enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the Talkeetna and Chugach mountain vistas. The area may be sparse, but there are many worthwhile destinations to visit, including the petting zoo at Reindeer Farm, or tour Musk Ox Farm and learn about unique Alaskan farming practices.
Juneau may be the capital of Alaska, but it’s among the smallest of the state’s major cities. Despite its compact size, it offers a few memorable opportunities to experience Alaskan nature at its very best. The Mendenhall Glacier is easily the most popular; it’s situated 12 miles outside of the city and it’s the only glacier in the region that visitors can reach via car or bus. In the distance are the Coast Mountains, which help craft a postcard-worthy image you’ll brag about taking for a lifetime. Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventures, with its brilliant blooms and mountain views, is also a must. If you don’t want to deal with the Mendenhall Glacier crowds, head to the Tracy Arm Fjord instead. It’s a lean inlet with dramatic cliffs where you may very likely spot a seal or a bear in your midst. It’s not directly in Juneau, but about 45 miles outside of the city. And it’s well worth the journey!