PHOTO BY NATE LUEBBE
January 3 marks 60 years of Alaskan statehood. Over that time, many of the 49th state’s tourism experiences have remained the same—cruise ships on the Inside Passage, tour buses in Denali National Park—but here are three brand-new ways to approach America’s Last Frontier.
Set amid 100 acres of birch and spruce forest 25 miles outside Fairbanks, the new, off-the-grid Borealis Basecamp is one of the best places in the world for viewing the northern lights, thanks to its inland location, minimal light pollution, and clear-topped, geodesic-domed accommodations. After a dogsled or snowmobile excursion, snuggle up inside your own personal snowglobe and watch the flakes fall and the night light up. On a three-day stay in season (August 21 to April 21), visitors have a 90 percent chance of seeing the aurora borealis.
Based in Seward, the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, Liquid Adventures offers paddlers the first—and maybe last—chance to get up close to the area’s glaciers before they disappear. The Aialik/Northwestern Explorer tour takes kayakers through either Aialik Bay or the Northwestern Fjord, a rugged valley of calving glaciers and secluded coves that has never before been accessible via group tour. In addition to the ice, you may spot puffins, orcas, humpback whales, sea otters, and Steller’s sea lions.
FOR ART LOVERS
In 2017, following a $24 million expansion, the Anchorage Museum unveiled its sleek new 25,000-square-foot Rasmuson Wing, which houses its innovative Art of the North galleries. Rather than isolate indigenous artworks in an outdated ethnographic exhibit, the curators incorporate many different interpretations of the idea of “the North.” This means that a grid of Denali oil landscapes by explorer George Browne (who painted them in 1947 while climbing the mountain) shares the space with mixed-media Abstract Expressionist animal portraits by contemporary Sugpiaq artist Alvin Amason and an installation by Nome-born artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs that utilizes walrus stomachs and rawhide.