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What is Alaska Known For? 20 Things Alaska is Famous For

Alaska, the largest state in the United States, is renowned for its wildflife and exceptional beauty. Its name is synonymous with majestic landscapes, including formidable mountain ranges such as the Denali, which is the highest peak in North America; unspoiled national parks like the breathtakingly vast Denali National Park, the glacier-filled Kenai Fjords, and the wildlife-laden Katmai.

Along with these natural wonders, Alaska is known for its rich indigenous cultures comprising of groups like Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, among others, that predate the United States by thousands of years. A vital part of Alaskan identity, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, is a grueling race that garners worldwide attention.

Moreover, Alaska is famous for its diverse wildlife, including species such as Brown and Polar bears, moose, eagles, and whales. Lastly, the phenomenon of the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, dances across Alaskan skies, captivating observers with stunning displays of colors- making it a haven for photographers and astronomy enthusiasts.

What Food is Alaska Known For?


Salmon, the culinary and cultural icon of Alaska, is deeply ingrained in its food scene. Reflecting a spectrum of preparation styles from smoking, grilling, and baking, to preserving for winter, salmon stands as a centerpiece of Alaskan meals. Highly appreciated for its fresh, succulent taste and extensive health benefits, Alaskan salmon is consumed both domestically and internationally.

Home to five species of Pacific salmon—Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, and Chum—Alaska’s pristine, glacier-fed rivers offer prime spawning grounds. Alaska’s highly regulated, sustainable fishing industry contributes substantially to the economy.

Traditional Alaskan culture also values salmon significantly, including subsistence fishing and celebrations like the traditional salmon bake. Salmon migrations, referred to as “Salmon runs,” are spectacular natural events that enthrall enthusiasts and bear-watching tourists alike.

Fish and Chips

Fish and chips, a classic dish with British roots, has made its mark in Alaska’s diverse food scene. Preferred local seafood, such as flaky halibut or flavorful cod, is battered and deep-fried to a crispy, golden perfection, served alongside crispy potato chips. Locals and visitors to Alaska revel in the crispy indulgence, enjoying it either in cozy pubs alongside cold brews, or at roadside eateries. Fish and chips in Alaska showcases not only the region’s abundant seafood offerings, but also the mingling of international culinary traditions with locally-sourced ingredients.

King Crab

King crabs are a marine delicacy and a significant part of Alaska’s seafood industry. Known for their large size and succulent, sweet meat, Alaskan King Crabs are primarily harvested in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. This adventurous, dangerous, and highly regulated fishing activity forms the backdrop of popular television series like “Deadliest Catch”. Consumed worldwide, King Crab legs—served steamed, boiled, or grilled—are the highlight of Alaskan menus, representing local fishing traditions and the state’s abundance in premium seafood.

Reindeer Sausage

Reindeer sausage is a signature dish in Alaska, harking back to native traditions of utilizing local resources. Made from the local reindeer population, these sausages are enriched with a unique gamey flavor and often enhanced with spices such as garlic, pepper, and coriander. Reindeer sausages can be found in various Alaskan cuisine contexts: breakfasts, hearty sandwiches, and pizza toppings, or simply grilled and savored at local fairs. This delicacy, signifying Alaska’s adaptability and culinary diversity, is a must-try specialty for visitors seeking an authentic taste of the region.

Berry Cobbler

Berry cobbler stands as a beloved dessert in Alaskan cuisine, owing to the region’s rich variety of wild berries. Incorporating local fruits like salmonberries, lingonberries, blueberries, and cloudberries, Alaskan berry cobbler is a delightful mix of sweet-tart flavors, topped with a buttery, crumbly crust. Bakeries and households alike bake this dessert, often served warm and finished with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of cream. Known for its simplicity and reliance on locally-gathered ingredients, berry cobbler tells a story of Alaska’s fertile summer season and the warmth of its hearths during chilly times.

Eskimo Ice Cream

Eskimo Ice Cream, or Akutaq, is a traditional Alaskan dessert cherished by the indigenous Yupik people. It’s a unique blend of local ingredients like berries, sugar, and fish combined with fat (traditionally, reindeer, seal, or other animal fat). This “Eskimo ice cream” is more of a whipped fat concoction that can hold a variety of flavors from sweet to savory. As modern adaptations emerge, Crisco and milk are often used. Akutaq marks special occasions and its preparation is regarded as a cherished cultural practice, showcasing Alaska’s indigenous culinary tradition in a delightful fashion.


Sourdough, a leavened bread with a tangy taste, possesses a storied history in Alaska, dating back to the Gold Rush era when prospectors relied on it as a dietary staple. Commonly referred to as “Sourdoughs,” these pioneers relied on wild yeast starters to create their loaves, resulting in distinctive flavors. Today, sourdough remains a cherished Alaskan favorite, featured in breakfasts, sandwiches, and hearty stews. Sourdough bread embodies not only Alaskan culinary tastes but also the region’s resilience, adaptation, and the enduring legacy of its early settlers.

What Drink is Alaska Known For?

Duck Fart Shot

The Duck Fart Shot is a quirky part of Alaska’s drink culture, originating in Anchorage’s popular bar scene. This cocktail shot, intriguingly named, is a layered combination of Kahlúa, Baileys Irish Cream, and Crown Royal Whiskey, which creates a smooth blend. No party or bar crawl in Alaska is quite complete without this iconic drink. Despite its odd name, the Duck Fart shot is known for its surprisingly sweet, creamy taste and is often enjoyed as a celebratory drink, marking it as a unique and fun aspect of Alaskan nightlife.


Beer in Alaska reflects the state’s independent spirit and love for the spectacular natural surroundings. Home to over 40 craft breweries, Alaska boasts a dynamic beer scene, with local breweries producing a range of beers from crisp lagers to robust stouts, often featuring native ingredients like spruce tips or wild berries. Alaskan breweries distinguish themselves with award-winning brews, contributing to the state’s reputation for high-quality, flavorful beer. Whether enjoyed in a buzzing downtown brewery or a rustic cabin in the wilderness, beer in Alaska is an embodiment of local craft and community.

Famous Places Alaska is Known For


Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city, nestled between the Chugach Mountains and the waters of the Cook Inlet. It combines urban convenience with wilderness access, presenting opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking, and fishing right within city limits. Known for the Northern Lights’ spectacular displays, Anchorage is rich with Native Alaskan heritage, vibrant arts, and thriving food scenes featuring local seafood and craft brews. It also hosts popular events like the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the Anchorage Market, attracting visitors year-round to experience Alaska’s unique blend of metropolitan living and outdoor adventure.


Ketchikan is a picturesque coastal town in Southern Alaska celebrated as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” Nestled among forests and sea, Ketchikan offers abundant wildlife, rich Native Alaskan heritage, and world-class fishing. The town boasts of the largest collections of totem poles globally, depicted in the renowned Totem Bight State Park and Saxman Village. Creek Street, Ketchikan’s former red-light district, now holds a charm with its boardwalk shops and galleries. Ketchikan, where nature meets culture, draws visitors eager to experience its scenic beauty, vibrant arts, traditional salmon bakes, and maritime traditions.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park, encompassing over 6 million acres in Alaska, is home to North America’s highest peak, Mount Denali. The park is a sanctuary for grizzlies, wolves, caribou, and Dall sheep, seen against a backdrop of tundra, spruce forests, and snow-capped mountains. It offers visitors challenging hikes, striking landscapes, and unparalleled wildlife viewing. During winter, it becomes a snowy playground, perfect for cross-country skiing and dog-sledding. The park’s beauty, spiced with the thrill of wilderness adventure, underlines Denali as one of Alaska’s most striking icons of natural grandeur.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park, located on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, is a breathtaking territory defined by glaciers, fjords, and abundant marine life. It’s best known for the vast Harding Icefield, from which countless tidewater glaciers cascade into the sea. Visitors can explore by boat or on foot, witnessing spectacular sights such as calving glaciers and wildlife including seals, otters, and myriad bird species. With its vivid blend of ice, water, and alpine terrain, Kenai Fjords National Park offers an immersive experience in one of the world’s most striking, icy wilderness realms.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Glacier Bay National Park, in southeast Alaska, is a pristine wilderness of dynamic glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and deep forested valleys. The bay is flanked by imposing glaciers that calve spectacularly into the sea, an awe-inspiring phenomenon witnessed from boat tours or kayak trips. The park is teeming with wildlife from humpback whales, sea otters, and seals to brown bears and moose. Fortunate visitors may witness the aurora borealis color the vast sky. Glacier Bay National Park showcases Alaska’s majestic glaciated landscape, offering an unforgettable encounter with the raw, ever-changing forces of nature.


Fairbanks, in interior Alaska, is a city that showcases both the cultural and natural riches of the state. Known as the “Golden Heart City,” it offers a unique blend of arts, native culture, and frontier spirit. Highlights include the University of Alaska Museum of the North, Pioneer Park’s historic town, and the annual World Ice Art Championships. Its prime location under the auroral oval makes Fairbanks one of the best places to witness the Northern Lights. From hot springs to sled dog tours, Fairbanks provides an authentic Alaskan experience, steeped in tradition and natural splendor.


Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is famed for its stunning scenery and rich cultural heritage. Nestled at the base of Mount Roberts and fringed by the Gastineau Channel, it’s only accessible by boat or plane. Visitors can indulge in outdoor activities, with the Mendenhall Glacier, Mount Roberts Tramway, and whale-watching tours being popular attractions. The city also houses fascinating museums shedding light on Alaska’s Native cultures and gold rush history. From frontier charm to culinary delights featuring fresh seafood, Juneau offers travelers a unique blend of natural wonder and local culture.

Katmai National Park & Preserve

Katmai National Park, located in southern Alaska, is renowned for its explosive volcanic history and thriving bear population. The park’s landscape is dominated by the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a surreal ash-filled plain formed by the 1912 Novarupta eruption. Home to about 2,200 brown bears, the park offers unparallelled bear viewing opportunities, especially at the famed Brooks Falls. Outdoor enthusiasts can engage in fishing, birding, and backcountry camping. Katmai National Park brilliantly symbolizes Alaska’s untamed beauty and raw wilderness, presenting a unique spectacle of volcanic geology and vibrant wildlife.

Famous Landmarks and Attractions Alaska is Known For

Museum of the North

The University of Alaska Museum of the North, located in Fairbanks, is an insightful institution dedicated to showcasing Alaska’s natural wonders, diverse cultures, and art. Housing over 1.4 million artifacts and specimens, the museum offers a comprehensive journey through Alaska’s past and present. Exhibits range from prehistoric fossils to contemporary Aboriginal art, showcasing the region’s rich human history, wildlife, and stunning landscapes. Through its striking architecture and engaging display of Alaska’s cultural and geological treasures, the museum serves as a vital educational institution and a must-visit destination for those exploring the state.

Alaska Native Heritage Center

The Alaska Native Heritage Center, located in Anchorage, is a cultural institution dedicated to preserving, displaying, and celebrating the rich heritage of Alaska’s indigenous peoples. It serves as both an educational center and a living museum, providing insight into the traditions, languages, and art of the state’s eleven major cultural groups. Visitors can explore authentic native dwellings, participate in storytelling sessions, and observe live performances of dance and music. Through its engaging approach, the Alaska Native Heritage Center offers a unique window into the cultural diversity and historical resilience of Alaska’s native communities.

Totem Bight State Historical Park

Totem Bight State Historical Park, located near Ketchikan, Alaska, is a cultural hub highlighting the indigenous art and heritage of the region. The park houses a collection of towering totem poles and a restored 19th-century clan house, remnants of the Tlingit and Haida communities. Each totem pole tells a unique story reflecting the native traditions, legends, and history. Set against a backdrop of a spruce forest and panoramic ocean views, the park offers a serene trek while immersing visitors in Alaska’s rich Native culture. Totem Bight is a vibrant testament to the enduring legacy of Alaska’s indigenous peoples.

Sitka National Historical Park

Sitka National Historical Park, situated in Sitka, Alaska, is a symbolic location that commemorates the 1804 battle between Tlingit natives and Russian traders. The park houses an impressive collection of towering totem poles dotted along scenic coastal trails. Each of the totems, carved by Tlingit and Haida artisans, depicts stories from local indigenous culture. The visitor center exhibits Native Alaskan artifacts and offers demonstrations of traditional art. A walk in this historic site not only immerses visitors in the beauty of a rainforest but also in the cultural heritage and history of Sitka’s indigenous peoples.

Alaska Native Heritage Center

The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage is a premier cultural site dedicated to preserving the traditions of Alaska’s eleven native groups. This living museum offers interactive exhibits, dwellings representing each culture, and opportunities to meet with native artisans. Visitors can enjoy storytelling, dancing, native games and craft demonstrations, all set against the stunning backdrop of Lake Tiulana. The center emphasizes education and understanding, making it a valuable resource for those wanting to explore the rich tapestry of Alaska’s indigenous cultures.

History, Culture and Activities Alaska is Known For

Bought From Russia

In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, a transaction known as the “Alaska Purchase” or “Seward’s Folly” after Secretary of State William H. Seward. Initially mocked for buying a perceived icy wasteland, the discovery of gold and oil in subsequent years validated Seward’s vision. This geopolitical move expanded America’s territory by 586,412 square miles, establishing its presence in the Arctic and paving the way for Alaska’s diverse economic and ecological contributions to the nation today.

The Gold Rush

The Alaska Gold Rush, spanning from 1896 to 1911, was a transformative period marked by the discovery of gold in the Yukon’s Klondike region. The rush attracted over 100,000 prospectors, leading to the rapid growth of towns and the establishment of transportation routes in the rugged Alaskan terrain. While only a small percentage struck it rich, the gold rush played a pivotal role in Alaska’s development, paving the way for infrastructure, commerce, and eventual settlement. Furthermore, it shaped the state’s enduring reputation as a land of adventure, opportunity, and untamed wilderness.

The Midnight Sun

The Midnight Sun is a natural phenomenon occurring near the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, where the sun is visible at the local midnight. During summer months, areas of Alaska situated above the Arctic Circle experience this phenomenon, with daylight extending up to 24 hours. This prolonged sunlight is due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis, causing the sun’s path to remain above the horizon. The Midnight Sun brings a unique, continuous daylight period that significantly influences local climate, wildlife behavior, and human activities, transforming these regions into bustling, vibrant landscapes overnight.

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are mesmerizing natural light displays predominantly visible in polar regions, including Alaska. Occurring when charged particles from the sun interact with Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere, these otherworldly illuminations exhibit vibrant hues of green, pink, and purple, dancing across the night sky. Alaska’s remote location, long winter nights, and minimal light pollution make it an ideal destination for witnessing the Northern Lights. Visitors flock to prime viewing spots such as Fairbanks, Denali, and the Arctic Circle to experience this awe-inspiring celestial spectacle, adding a touch of magic to the Alaskan wilderness.

Dog Sledding

Dog sledding, or mushing, is an iconic part of Alaskan culture, with roots tracing back to indigenous communities and the historical Gold Rush era. Today, it’s an exciting sport, renowned globally with the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a grueling 1,000-mile event across Alaska’s wilderness. Dog sledding tours also offer a unique way for visitors to explore Alaska’s breathtaking landscapes, complete with frozen rivers and snow-laden forests. The intimate bond between mushers and their canine teams exemplifies the spirit of teamwork, resilience, and respect for nature that underscores Alaska’s rich heritage.


Fishing in Alaska is a critical element of the state’s economy and culture, boasting an extraordinary variety of species and locations for enthusiasts. Whether it’s the major commercial fishing in the Bering Sea, sport fishing for world-class salmon and halibut, or subsistence fishing vital to native and rural communities, Alaska’s rich marine ecosystems offer unparalleled opportunities. The seasonality, migratory habits of species, and vast wilderness add a sense of adventure and stewardship to fishing in Alaska. Preservation efforts, including responsible catch restrictions and hatchery programs, ensure the sustainability of this precious natural resource.

Alaska Cruises

Alaska cruises offer a unique, all-inclusive way to explore the state’s extraordinary scenic wonders and wildlife. Traveling through the Inside Passage and past sweeping glaciers, passengers can encounter marine wildlife such as whales, seals, and eagles. Popular ports include the historic cities of Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, offering cultural experiences, excursions, and connections with local communities. Many cruises also offer on-board entertainment, dining, and educational lectures. Despite the seasonal nature of these cruises, running primarily from May through September, they continue to attract thousands of tourists annually for a memorable Alaskan adventure.

Wildlife Watching and Wilderness

Alaska’s wilderness represents the state’s pristine and untamed nature, encompassing vast forests, glaciers, mountains, and waterways. As America’s largest state, it contains 17 of the country’s 20 highest peaks and more than half of its parklands. This diverse landscape provides habitats for a wide array of wildlife, including grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and numerous bird species. Marine life, such as whales, seals, and countless fish, flourish in its waters. Efforts to conserve these outstanding wilderness areas and protect biodiversity make Alaska a prime location for ecotourism, wildlife viewing, and outdoor exploration.

Famous People From or Connected With Alaska

Christopher McCandless

Christopher McCandless was an American adventurer who gained posthumous fame as the subject of Jon Krakauer’s book “Into the Wild,” later adapted into a film. In 1992, after graduating from Emory University, McCandless ventured into the Alaskan wilderness with minimal supplies, intending to live in solitary self-sufficiency. His tragic death four months later in an abandoned bus, deemed the “Magic Bus,” spurred debates about risk-taking, escapism, and the romanticism of the wilderness. His life continues to inspire and caution prospective adventurers about the stark realities and potential dangers of deliberately embracing isolation in nature.

Mario Chalmers

Mario Chalmers is a professional basketball player recognized for his performance in high-pressure situations. Born on May 19, 1986, in Anchorage, Alaska, Chalmers played significant roles for the University of Kansas and Miami Heat. His most famous play came in the 2008 NCAA Championship Game with Kansas, where he hit a game-tying three-pointer to force overtime, leading to a Kansas win. In the NBA, Chalmers won two championships with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013, playing alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. His ability to hit big shots in crucial moments has defined his basketball career.

Curt Schilling

Although Curt Schilling was born in Anchorage, Alaska, on November 14, 1966, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona, at a young age. His early days in Alaska were limited, as he spent most of his formative years and developed his baseball skills in Arizona. His career spanned 20 seasons from 1988-2007 and he was recognized as one of baseball’s greatest pitchers. Schilling made notable contributions to the championship victories of the Arizona Diamondbacks (2001) and Boston Red Sox (2004, 2007), earning him a reputation as a dominant postseason performer. Particularly memorable is his “Bloody Sock” game in the 2004 American League Championship Series where, despite an ankle injury, he pitched Boston to victory.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin is an American politician, commentator, and author who rose to prominence as the first woman to serve as the governor of Alaska (2006-2009). Known for her conservative stance and engaging public presence, she gained national spotlight as the Republican vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 election, running alongside Senator John McCain. While they lost to Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Palin’s visibility grew, making her a prominent voice in the American conservative movement. Despite controversy surrounding her political career, Palin’s influence on Alaskan and national politics remains significant.

What is Alaska Known For Producing?

Oil and Gas

Alaska, endowed with abundant natural resources, is one of America’s top oil and gas producers. Petroleum exploration began with the discovery of oil seeps in the Cook Inlet area in 1898. However, it was the Prudhoe Bay discovery in 1968 that catapulted Alaska into an oil and gas powerhouse. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, completed in 1977, made transporting these resources feasible. Although production has declined since peaking in the 1980s, the industry remains a significant part of the Alaskan economy. Ongoing exploration, like in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, may shape its future.

Fish and Seafood

Alaska’s rich, expansive waterways make it a prime location for the fish and seafood industry. The state is the leading producer of seafood in the US, with salmon, halibut, and crab being the most notable products. Alaska’s fisheries are globally renowned for their sustainable management practices, ensuring the longevity of fish populations. Whether it’s the dynamic salmon migration through Bristol Bay or the colossal Bering Sea’s bustling crab fishery, Alaska’s seafood is integral to the state’s economy, global seafood supply, and local culture. The state’s commitment to preserving its natural resources exemplifies sustainability in the seafood industry.

Zinc and Gold

Alaska has been historically associated with gold and zinc production, adding valuable contributions to the state’s economy. Gold mining began in the late 19th century with the famous Klondike Gold Rush, which led to the establishment of several Alaskan towns. Today, operations like the Fort Knox and Pogo mines continue to produce sizable quantities of gold. Alaska’s Red Dog mine, meanwhile, is one of the world’s largest zinc producers, functioning since 1989. While the focus on renewable energy may shift Alaska’s reliance on natural resources, gold and zinc production will likely remain essential components of its economy.

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