Guest Author - Dawn Engler
What it is about Alaska? Many have asked the question. Why does this place draw hundreds of thousands, every year from May to September, for a glimpse of the majesty that is Alaska? What would draw YOU here?
Serenity. This is a place you can actually get away from the crowds and be reminded of how loud the quiet can be. Imagine a hike on a peaceful trail allowing you vistas that you have only ever seen in photographs. State and federal parks give the visitor and resident alike so many options for finding that serenity.
Beauty. Snow-capped mountains can be viewed from your seat at the café in the middle of downtown Anchorage in July. If you venture during the winter months, this is the best viewing time for the northern lights or Aurora Borealis. Scenic byways will get you around in the most scenic areas of the state with plenty of information and history explained along the way. (See the articles highlighting each byway on the Alaska Bellaonline site.)
Wildlife. The American Bald Eagle is plentiful in Alaska. Hordes of bird species migrate here to mate. It would be hard to NOT see whales, seals, salmon, and dolphins. Musk ox, caribou, moose, snowshoe hares, even Santa's reindeer are found in Alaska. We cannot overlook the bears. Tours are available for the best spots to watch them as they swoop up a salmon out of their favorite fishing spot!
Culture. There are many things to do in cities like Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks and others. Museums, theatres, libraries, can keep your days and evenings full. Opportunities to immerse yourself in cultural and indigenous activities can be found everywhere in Alaska.
As I follow the Iditarod for the first time, I am witness to villages, camps, and towns that are not on the tourism list of places to go. This may be the only way to have a glimpse into some of the smaller, harder to reach areas of the state. What I’ve witnessed is compassion, charity, teamwork, camaraderie, and joy. I have new insight into a land that has found ways to draw me to it over and over. I'm still in awe, still in love, and still have that need to return again.
If you are considering a trip to Alaska, and are looking for reasons to go, the shorter list of answers would be the reasons not to.