15 Things About Alaska That Will Surprise You

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Have you ever wondered what else other than the “Land of the Midnight Sun” label makes Alaska truly unique? Then, pour yourself a big cup of coffee, and let us tell you 15 of the most genuinely surprising things about this distant part of the US that you might not know.

The Sun Never Really Sets in Summer

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Think about this. Even at midnight, the sun still shines outside the window, just like it is mid-afternoon. This happens in Barrow, now officially known as Utqiaġvik, where the sun does not set for 84 days straight at the peak of summer. We are not making this up. People play sports, go fishing, or just relax outside, day or night.

Alaska Has the Most Coastline in the US

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Think Florida or California has a lot of beaches? Alaska’s coastline stretches over 33,000 miles, more than all the other states’ coastlines combined. This includes rugged cliffs, remote beaches, and access to the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. It is perfect for all kinds of wildlife and those who enjoy the ocean with the view from the side.

It’s Home to North America’s Tallest Peak

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Mount McKinley, also known as Denali, is not just Alaska’s pride but also the tallest mountain in North America. Denali stands at 20,310 feet. The sight is iconic, and for most outdoor lovers and climbers, it is the ultimate test. Even if you are not going to the summit, gazing upon Denali’s snowy peak on clear days is a true sight.

Jaw-Dropping Northern Lights

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As cool as the sun might seem to play peek-a-boo, it does not compare to seeing the Northern Lights. Alaska has some of the best seats in the house for this light show, especially during the colder months. The sky becomes a dancing canvas of greens, purples, and sometimes even reds, and it is like nature’s disco light show, and I swear it never gets old.

The Wildlife Is on Another Level

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As wild as our wildlife is, it only gets wilder on these lands. Where else can you see majestic brown bears catching salmon in rivers or bald eagles soaring majestically above your head? Moose casually walking through your neighborhood or whales breaching in the waters while you are on a tour boat. It is a truly amazing front-row experience of nature you can only get in Alaska.

Alaska Once Belonged to Russia

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Alaska was not always a part of the United States. It used to be under Russian rule. The US bought Alaska from Russia in 1867 for 7.2 million dollars. In other words, they paid roughly 2 cents per acre. People even joked about it by calling it “Seward’s folly” after US Secretary of State William Seward.

Dog Mushing is the Official State Sport

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Mushing is Alaska’s official state sport. Not baseball, not football, but dog sledding. Not only is it a sport in many rural areas, but it is also a popular method of transportation in the colder months. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an iconic event that illustrates how this sport truly helps people survive.

It’s Surprisingly Volcanic

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Alaska may be cold, but it is also hot beneath the surface. This state is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and has more than 130 active volcanoes and volcanic fields erupted in the last two million years. For example, Mount Redoubt is one of the most dangerous and erupted in 2009, and its ash cloud caused the airport to close.

There Are More Planes Per Capita Than Anywhere Else

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Planes are the same as cars in Alaska. It has six times as many pilots and 16 times as many planes per capita compared to the rest of the United States. Many places are difficult to access via boats, so small airplanes are the only option, whether you need them for supplies, medical surgery, or just visiting your friend in another state.

The Size of Alaska is Astonishing

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We all have heard that Alaska is big, but how big is that? Well, big enough that it totals 663,000 square miles, more than Texas, California, and Montana combined. If Alaska were a country, it would stand 17th in the world in terms of land area. Now, all this space has everything, rainforests, tundra and mountains, meadows with its own unique ecosystem.

The State with the Lowest Population Density

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While being the largest state in the US, it is the least populated area. Alaska has a whopping 1.3 people per square mile. Most of this area is uninhabited wilderness, which means you can drive for miles without spotting a single soul. However, this also translates into peace and quiet, serenity that can be hard to find.

Over Half of the World’s Glaciers

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Surprisingly, over 100,000 glaciers are found in Alaska, which is more than half the world’s glaciers. They range from a few feet across to miles wide, with the Bering Glacier, the continent’s largest glacier, stretching for 190 miles. The mountains provide a breathtaking panorama while also playing a critical role in the global climate.

It Has Its Own Time Zone

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Alaska is so big that it has its own time zone called Alaska Time. Before 1983, Alaska had four time zones. This exacerbated Alaska’s already extreme environmental difficulties and made arranging anything somewhat tough. Especially when phoning a pal in the morning or a businessperson in the lower 48 states.

Fishing is a Giant Industry

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Alaska produces more than half of the total amount of fish caught in the US, including nearly 100% salmon, crab, halibut, and herring. This industry is an essential source of local employment and supports many small towns in the state. In addition, because of this industry, Alaskan seafood is famous all over the world for its quality and integrity.

A Surprising Desert

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The Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve in southwestern Alaska includes the Aniakchak Crater, the least visited national park in the United States. That is mainly due to its harsh weather and difficult accessibility. Inside the crater is a 10-square-mile desert, one of the last places you would expect to find in a state known for its icy landscapes.


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