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Alaska is a bucket-list destination in and of itself.  Remote and rugged, it’s worth the trek to The Last Frontier, where the wild spirit of homesteaders can still be felt today.  From the high peaks of Denali to the misty Inside Passage, there are endless opportunities for awe in Alaska. Check out these top five musts when considering your next Alaskan vacation:

Watching the Iditarod Race

Extending for over 1,049 miles through some of the roughest and toughest country in North America, mushers and their dog teams race from Anchorage to Nome, facing bitter cold, fierce winds, and long, lonely hours of darkness. Being a spectator to the race is unforgettable, and you’ll get a great taste of the excitement as you experience the start of the race.

Kayaking alongside Whales

Imagine cutting through still and misty waters with your paddle, your kayak gliding along between old growth spruce trees and jagged rocks.  If you’re lucky, a fin or whale tail may slice the water and you’ll find yourself paddling alongside one (or a pod!) of cetaceans.  Unlike anything else, being this close to these majestic creatures in the wild will take your breath away.

Spotting Brown Bears

Alaska is truly a bear spotting paradise, and the impressive mammals can be found all across the state.  Observe bears dip and dive at Brooks Falls or skulk along the Cook Inlet searching for clams.  Spot Kodiak Island’s enormous bears, the largest in the world and exclusive to the Kodiak Archipelago.

Flightseeing over Mountains

Fly high above the mountain peaks of Denali with your very own skilled pilot guide.  At 20,320 feet tall, Denali’s stature will surely impress you, the highest mountain peak in North America will not disappoint.  Look down over ancient glaciers, flowing rivers and rolling hills. Spot wildlife – moose, bears, caribou and Dall sheep all call Denali their home.

Admiring Northern Lights

Alaska’s Aurora Borealis is unique and impressive, and witnessing it truly is a bucket-list experience.  Shades of royal, celestial and topaz blues dance with equally diverse shades of greens, purples and reds and light up the sky.  While the aurora borealis can be seen off and on all winter long, optimal viewing months are March and September. Grab a coffee – the best time to spot the lights is from 10PM to 3AM, and it’s well worth the late night (and early morning!) spent under the stars.