12 Amazing Alaska Towns That Offer a Glimpse into the Wilderness of the Final Frontier

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Alaska is home to an incredible array of wildlife, scenery, and the opportunity to get out into real wilderness. From the idyllic seaside town of Sitka to the quirky Denali base camp town of Talkeetna, each town offers a glimpse into the soul of the last frontier. These 12 amazing Alaskan towns are the best places to get outside and see the real Alaska up close and personal.


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Alaska’s oldest settled city, Sitka, sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Southeast Alaska. This oceanfront town offers a glimpse into its Russian history and stunning views of the mountains and ocean. Keep an eye out when hiking, as you have just as good a chance of running into a brown bear as another person.


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Talkeetna, Alaska, is a home base for people looking to climb Denali, the highest peak in North America. This quaint town is home to the Talkeetna Roadhouse, which serves a hearty breakfast featuring plate sized cinnamon rolls. The town is also famous for Stubbs, the cat who became known as the honorary mayor of Talkeetna.


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Homer is known as the halibut capital of Alaska, and it attracts anglers from around the world looking to catch one of the infamous “barn doors” that call these waters home. This artsy Alaska town also serves a wide variety of delicious food and uniquely Alaskan art from the Homer Spit, which stretches over 4 miles into Katchemak Bay.


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Seward is named after William H. Seward, who orchestrated Alaska’s purchase. The purchase was then known as Seward’s Folly, as most thought Alaska to be useless. Today, Seward serves as the gateway to the scenic Kenai Fjords National Park, where you can get up close to wildlife, glaciers, and massive fjords.


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Valdez is one of the snowiest places in America, receiving over 300 inches of snow annually in town and up to 900 inches in the nearby mountains. The snow and steep mountains attract world-class skiers and snowboarders to this sleepy coastal town. One of the best parts of Valdez is the drive-in, as you’ll pass through some of the most incredible mountain scenery in the entire state.


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Home to Alaska’s largest ski resort, Girdwood is a sleepy ski town located just south of Anchorage. Despite its small size, there is almost always something to do and see in town, whether skiing America’s longest double black diamond run, hiking through the lush forest, or trekking up to the alpine meadows beyond the town’s border.


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McCarthy, Alaska, is the smallest town on this list but offers one of the biggest adventures imaginable. McCarthy serves as the base camp for entry into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The park is America’s largest national park and one of its least visited due to its lack of established roads or trails. If the park is too much adventure, stick around town and visit the abandoned Kennecott Mines.


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Petersburg is one of Alaska’s most beautiful towns and one of the few where locals far outnumber tourists during the summer, as it has no deep-water port. This means the cruise ships that sail up and down this stretch of coastline during the summer skip Petersburg for nearby towns of Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau. Because of this, you can visit and enjoy the town as the locals do by fishing, hiking, kayaking, and taking in the views on Alaska’s long summer days.


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Cordova is a small fishing town on the eastern end of Prince William Sound that is connected to the rest of Alaska by boat or plane only. This means that once you’ve arrived in Cordova, odds are you’ll be there for a bit. This is a good thing as Cordova sits at the mouth of the famous Copper River and is a fishing, hiking, and exploration paradise!


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Yakutat is one of Alaska’s hidden gems but has gained international recognition in recent decades for its surfing scene! The areas surrounding the city include the typical massive Alaskan attractions like Hubbard Glacier (the largest tidewater glacier in the world) and Mt. St. Elias (the 2nd tallest mountain in the United States). Like many other Alaskan towns, Yakutat is only accessible by boat or plane, as there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska or Canada.


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Kodiak, Alaska, located on Kodiak Island, lends its name to the Kodiak Brown Bear, the largest species of bear in the world. That doesn’t keep locals from enjoying the abundant fishing around the island which is located out in the Gulf of Alaska. When the weather cooperates, there is no better place to spend a day in the wilderness or on the water than Kodiak. 


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Whittier is one of Alaska’s most interesting towns as it is only accessible by boat or by a 2.6-mile-long tunnel that is shared by both auto and train traffic, and almost the entire town lives in a single building: the Begich Tower. This was the result of Whittier being developed as a strategic military harbor during WWII. Today, Whittier is known for its incredible fishing and access to Prince William Sound.

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest