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Alaska

Main attractions

Mount Shishaldin at sunset, Alaska
Mount Shishaldin at sunset / Erik Beach, 2007, / public domain

This far northern land is very diverse and its landscape is spectacular. Alaska though is not very rich with separate, specific landmarks - this is a land which brings a very special emotional experience as a whole. Singling out some specific landmarks here feels somehow out of place - Alaska is magnificent with its wast glaciers, supertall mountains, numerous active volcanoes, endless forests, deep canyons.

There are though some very special landmarks:

  • Volcanoes and geothermal features. Alaska has more than 130 volcanoes! And some 50 of them are active or have been recently active! Some volcanoes are unusual - like the perfectly symmetrical Mount Shishaldin. There are interesting geothermal fields, f.e. Mount Recheshnoi Geyser Field has 5 active geysers - very rare phenomenon in the world.
  • Archaeological heritage. Alaska most likely has the most ancient man made heritage in Americas - people came here from Eurasia some 16,500 - 13,000 years ago... or - may be much earlier. Those people hunted mammoths and other extinct animals. People have lived here since then, developing adjustments to harsh climate - e.g. semi-subterranean villages.

Natural landmarks

Volcanoes

Mount Cleveland, Alaska
Mount Cleveland / NOAA Photo Library, / CC BY 2.0
  • Devil Mountain Lakes - Seward Peninsula. Possibly the largest maar in the world - two joined round lakes formed by volcanic eruption some 21 000 years ago. Diameter of lakes reaches to 8 km.
  • Fumaroles of Mount Griggs - Lake and Peninsula. Hot and vigorously active fumaroles which are roaring very loudly and can be heard far away.
  • Mount Cleveland - Chuginadak Island, Aleutian Islands. Near symmetrical stratovolcano, 1 730 m high. Almost constantly active. Nearby from the sea rise several more symmetrical volcanic cones - such as the beautiful cone of Mount Carlisle and Herbert Island.
  • Mount Douglas crater lake - Kenai. Approximately 160 m wide, highly acidic crater lake with pH of its water reaching 1.1.
  • Mount Martin - Lake and Peninsula. Volcano with very active fumarolic activity. Crater contains acidic lake and thick sulphur deposits.
  • Mount Shishaldin - Umnak. Most symmetrical cone-shaped glacier clad mountain in the world, 2857 m high. Volcano is continuously active, emitting a plume of steam.

Other geothermal fields

Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Alaska
Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes / R. McGimsey, / public domain
  • Baranof Warm Springs - Baranof Island. Group of nine warm springs with temperature up to 49 °C. Next to the springs is powerful waterfall - outlet of Baranof Lake.
  • Indecision Creek - Lake and Peninsula. A stream with waterfalls which are flowing down from Mount Chiginagak volcano. Stream is very acid, with pH of 1.2, its water has sulphuric odor.
  • Mount Recheshnoi Geyser Fields - Umnak island. The only location in Alaska with true geysers: three closely located geyser fields with 5 active geysers (the highest - 2 m tall) and 9 natural fountains.
  • Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes - Lake and Peninsula. Valley which is filled with volcanic ash from an eruption in 1912. Layer of ashes is up to 210 m deep. After the eruption there formed thousands of fumaroles from this ashfield, most are extinct by now. Rivers have formed deep canyons in this ashfield.

Caves

  • El Capitan Cave - Prince of Wales Island. The longest cave in Alaska - 3,846 m long and up to 130.8 m deep.
  • El Capitan Pit - Prince of Wales Island. Deepest vertical shaft in USA, 182.4 m deep.
  • Qagnax Cave - St. Paul Island. A lava tube where have been found remnants of unique dwarf mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) who lived here around 3700 BC.
  • Viva Silva Cave - Heceta Island. The deepest known cave in Alaska, 242.9 m deep.

Waterfalls

Brooks Falls with bears, Alaska
Brooks Falls with bears / Mila Zinkova, / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Brooks Falls - Kodiak Island. Low, some 2 m tall and approximately 80 - 100 m wide waterfall, which is world famous thanks to a large group of brown bears catching salmon and other fish. Sometimes up to 50 bears can be seen on this waterfall.
  • Cheshnina Falls - Valdez-Cordova. Tall waterfall with a high vertical plunge. Starts from the base of Chesnina glacier.
  • Falls Point Fall - northern Tanaga island. Some 60 - 80 m tall vertical plunge - a waterfall discharging directly in the sea.
  • Kasnyku Falls - Sitka. Some 150 m tall waterfall, flowing down along the cliff face. Some 40 m wide. Waterfall looks very picturesque from the fiord, flowing among the trees.
  • Nugget Falls - Juneau. Powerful, 115 m tall and some 30 m wide waterfall, sliding down along the cliff.

Other natural landmarks

Ruth Glacier, Alaska
Ruth Glacier / anujd89, / CC BY 2.0
  • Barrerite find at Rocky Pass, Kuiu - Kuiu Island, Alexander Archipelago. One of the very few localities in the world where crystals of zeolite mineral - barrerite - are found.
  • Find of Aleutian Shield Fern - Adak Island. One of the rare northern endemics in the world, this fern (Polystichum aleuticum) is found only on Adak Island, Mount Reed. In 1992 the number of individual plants in the wild decreased to 112.
  • Hubbard Glacier - Yakutat. Large, 122 km long glacier which is advancing. Step by step it is blocking the outlet of Russel Fjord, causing massive outbursts of water.
  • Mount Dickey east face - Matanuska-Susitna Borough. 1,600 m tall granite wall which rises over a horizontal distance of 800 m.
  • Punuk Islands - near St. Lawrence Island. Large amount of bones - including human bones - are found on these islands. Bones are washed out in other places and are transported by sea currents here.
  • Ruth Glacier - Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Spectacular glacier which flows for 16 km among cliffs which rise up to 1,600 m high.

Man made landmarks

Archaeological heritage

Petroglyph Beach, Alaska
Petroglyph Beach, stone with a carving of spiral / J Brew, / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Adamagan - Alaska Peninsula. Ancient centre of Aleuts. Around 1 100 BC - 100 AD here lived up to 1000 people. Here were built more than 250 subterranean houses and numerous storage pits.
  • Broken Mammoth - Fairbanks North Star. One of the oldest archaeological sites in Alaska, inhabited in 9,000 - 10,000 BC. It is possible that inhabitants of this village hunted mammoths.
  • Ipiutak Site - North Slope. Major site of Ipiutak culture, inhabited around 100 BC - 800 AD. Found sites of some 600 houses, although these could have existed in different time periods. Here have been found interesting mortuary offerings - elaborate ivory carvings.
  • Onion Portage Archaeological District - Northwest Arctic. Prehistoric settlement at the caribou migration river crossing point. This site has been inhabited by numerous cultures from 6500 BC to 1700 AD and its research has helped to build the cultural chronology in this region.
  • Petroglyph Beach - Wrangell Island. Some 40 different signs and symbols hewn in the boulders and rock outcrops at the sea. It is possible that these symbols are even 8000 years old.
  • Swan Point - Fairbanks North Star. One of the oldest dated archaeological sites in Alaska, from 12,300 BC. Finds have cultural similarities to Siberian cultures.

Churches

St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska
St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka / Barek, / public domain
  • Church of the Holy Ascension - Unalaska. Old Russian Orthodox church, built in 1826.
  • St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka - Sitka. Russian Orthodox church, built in 1848.
  • Sts. Peter and Paul Church - St. Paul Island. Russian Orthodox church with an onion dome, built in 1907.

Unusual villages

  • Shishmaref - Shishmaref Island, Nome. Village on a small, low lying island in Chukchi Sea. This traditional Inupiaq village is suffering from global warming - sea is washing it out.
  • Ukivok Stilt Village - King Island in Bering Sea. Abandoned Inupiat village on inhospitable cliff side. Houses are built on stilts above the sea.

Other man made landmarks

Miles Glacier Bridge, Alaska
Miles Glacier Bridge / Fish and Wildlife Services, / public domain
  • Anton Andersen Memorial Tunnel (Whittier Tunnel) - Valdez-Cordova. 4.1 km long tunnel - the second longest highway tunnel and the longest combined road and rail tunnel in North America. Basically constructed during the World War II, converted to combined road - rail tunnel in 2000.
  • Fourth Avenue Theatre - Anchorage. Movie theather in Art Deco style, built in 1941 - 1947. Valuable interiors with silver and gold murals.
  • HAARP Research Station - Valdez-Cordova. Ionospheric research facility - high-power radio frequency transmitter which is able to excite the ionosphere above it. This is a subject of numerous conspiracy theories.
  • Miles Glacier Bridge (Million Dollar Bridge) - Valdez-Cordova. 470 m long railway bridge, built in 1910. This expensive bridge currently stands almost without use, but it is cheaper to maintain it than to remove it.
  • Russian Bishop's House - Sitka. A well preserved and restored example of Russian colonial architecture. This two floor wooden building was constructed in 1842 by Finnish carpenters.
  • Salty Dawg Saloon - Kenai Peninsula. Bar built of wooden logs, structure includes a lighthouse. Walls of this bar are pinned with thousands of dollar bills, signed by visitors of the bar.

List of described attractions

ArrowMount Recheshnoi Geyser Fields, UmnakGeysers

Map of Alaska

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