Culture Call: Five Lesser-Known Destinations in Alaska We Love

Alaska is a destination that really puts so-called outdoorsy types' proclamations to the test. You want mountains? Alaska's peaks make Kilimanjaro look like the Surrey Hills. Lakes? Good luck circumnavigating them (they're huge). Woodland? Sorry, can't hear you - there's a dense thicket of prehistoric forestry in the way. Yes, think "natural wilderness" and you almost certainly picture Alaska. Where better then, after months of TikTok marathons, banana bread binges and tepid home-development projects, to really get outdoors? Once it's safe to do so, we're heading north - specifically to one of these five rugged yet charming Alaskan hotspots.

Dive into nature post-lockdown by booking one of these Alaskan getaways


Why we can't wait to visit again: Well, we're not visiting Fairbanks itself. We'll touch down at the local airport and then bundle into a taxi headed for Borealis Basecamp, a cluster of glass-ceilinged domes shrouded in a maribou boa of feathery mountain pines. After days spent kicking up powder on snowmobiles, put a couple of bottles on ice and settle in for cosy nights under the stars. Last time we were here, the Northern Lights made an appearance.

Where we're staying: Borealis Basecamp

Before you go: Read True North: Contemporary Art of the Circumpolar North by Julie Decker. It paints a picture of northern identity by considering the works of artists from Alaska, Russia, Canada and Scandinavia.

Denali National Park and Preserve

Why we can't wait to visit again: Just look at that vista. To put it into numbers, that's 25,000sq km of parkland, sugar-capped mountains - 6km-high Mount McKinley being America's tallest peak, by the way - and (not pictured) approximately 1,800 moose. We're gutsy but sensible, so we'll conscript the help of a mountain ranger to keep us on track as we zig-zag across the park, hiking poles in hand.

Where we're staying: Grande Denali Lodge

Before you go: Read Yuungnaqpiallerput/ The Way We Genuinely Live: Masterworks of Yup'ik Science and Survival to see how Alaska's native people survived such harsh conditions.

Wrangell Mountains

Why we can't wait to visit again: There's no point scanning your finger over a map: if you're looking for The Middle of Nowhere, this is it. Ultima Thule Lodge is 100 miles from any paved path and so remote that even the surrounding mountains have yet to be named. When we're not revelling in all the glorious nothingness - tuning in and out to the soundtrack of wind-whipped long grass and trickling glacial river water - we'll be literally dipping into some of Alaska's most remote crevices on board the lodge's tiny propellor-powered plane.

Where we're staying: Ultima Thule Lodge

Before you go: Push your musical boundaries by adding this record of Indigenous circumpolar Hip-Hop to your collection.


Why we can't wait to visit again: Homer's the place for those who like their nature breaks served with city comforts. We'll catch a water taxi across the bay to Seldovia, Halibut Cove or Kachemak Bay State Park - unofficial rehabilitation centre of the stir-crazy, where kayaks or bicycles can be hired for a small fee, so you can get deep into Alaska's unspoiled wilderness. As the sun sinks into the gaping mountains, we'll spend our evenings stopping in at the galleries and boutiques staggered along the Homer Spit back in town.

Where we're staying: Baycrest Lodge

Before you go: Keep tabs on Bunnell Street Arts Center. It's an unassuming not-for-profit gallery tucked in a residential building just of Bunnell Avenue.

Humpy Cove

Why we can't wait to visit again: The name alone makes us giddy. There's not much by way of civilisation at this sandy cove on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, though the dystopian, steely vestiges of Resurrection Bay's WWII defences are worth checking out. Thankfully, we've checked in to one of the yurts at Orca Island Cabins, so days will be spent kayaking, hiking and keeping a lookout for whales from our private deck.

Where we're staying: Orca Island Cabins

Before you go: Read Moments Rightly Placed: An Aleutian Memoir by Ray Hudson - a fascinating first-hand account of life in an Aleut society, written by an outsider.

The Lowdown

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