#6 The inside passage
Cruising is likely what will bring you to this region of temperate rainforests, glaciers, fjords, and coastal mountains. It’s heavily trafficked during the summer months, with visitors exploring the waterways, small islands, and coastal towns on cruise ships. But independent travelers can get around just as well, using ferries, water taxis, and island-hopping planes. You can’t miss all the glaciers, or the huge populations of whales, sea lions, and seals. Alaska’s capital, Juneau, is the main city draw here. Head to Sitka to experience the state’s Russian influence, and check out native Alaskan totem collections there and in Ketchikan.
Ketchikan is an Alaskan city facing the Inside Passage, a popular cruise route along the state's southeastern coast. It's known for its many Native American totem poles, on display throughout town. Nearby Misty Fiords National Monument is a glacier-carved wilderness featuring snowcapped mountains, waterfalls and salmon spawning streams. It's also home to rich wildlife including black bears, wolves and bald eagles.
#4 Hubbard Glacier
It’s a popular stop for ships on Alaskan cruises – the glacier’s terminus will calve (or lose ice chunks of itself that dramatically split off the main glacier mass and fall into the water where they float like submarines) often and leave everyone who sees the drop filled with awe. The glacier face is 400 feet tall, so some icebergs that calve off into the water can be the equivalent size of 3 to 4 story buildings.
Hubbard Glacier is a great place to visit, although when the weather gets too cold it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the ship through the ice chunks to get as close to Hubbard Glacier as most would like. If you’re lucky, the right conditions will come together and let the ship get within half a mile of the glacier face for you to take it all in.
#3 Misty Fjords National Monument
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed over 2,200,000 acres as the Misty Fjords National Monument. In 1980, this acreage got reduced to 2,142,243 acres but was now congressionally designated as Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness and still remains the largest wilderness area on the Tongass National Forest. Due to this designation, it is now strategically managed to continue the preservation of this undeveloped, enduring ecosystem for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
In 1867, when the United States purchased Alaska from the Russians, the transfer ceremony was held in Sitka, and Sitka became Alaska's first capital city. Accessible only by air or sea, Sitka offers incredible scenery, fishing, hiking, abundant wildlife, and Alaska's most culturally rich history and community.
Skagway is a compact city in southeast Alaska, set along the popular cruise route the Inside Passage. It's home to gold-rush-era buildings, now preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad runs vintage locomotives past the famously steep Chilkoot trail and offers sweeping mountain views during its climb toward Canada.