Looking for the biggest national parks? Head to Alaska
Alaska’s national parks are twice the size of the first 48, which means plenty of wilderness for keen adventurers.
Alaska is a state like no other. Not only is it by far the largest state in the United States, but it also has one of the lowest populations of any American state. The end result being that there is a lot of empty and pristine land in the state.
In fact, approximately 65% ââof Alaska is owned and managed by the US federal government as public land. For those interested in the great outdoors, there are plenty of reasons why everyone should visit the scenic state of Alaska.
Alaska size and scale
Alaska’s national parks alone are twice the size of all other national parks in the United States combined. Two-thirds of Alaska is public land, it is organized into national forests, national parks and national wildlife refuges.
- Double: Alaska’s national parks are double the size of all other national parks in the Lower 48
- Cut: Alaska is larger than the next three largest states combined (Texas, California, and Montana)
- Population: 736,000 (third lowest)
- Sold: Alaska was sold to the United States in 1867 for $ 7.2 million
Alaska is home to 8 national parks as well as many other federal and state public lands. It is the second largest national park of any state (California has 9 national parks, but one is shared with another state).
Alaska’s national parks:
- Denali national park
- Kenai fjords national park
- Wrangell-St Elias National Park
- Glacier Bay National Park
- Clark Lake National Park
- Katmai National Park
- Gates of arctic national park
- Kobuk Valley National Park
Alaska’s national parks are huge because they are beautiful, but they are often difficult to access. This is often the main problem and the reason why Alaska’s parks are often among the least visited in America.
National parks accessible by road
Only three of Alaska’s eight national parks are accessible by road. Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park and Wrangell-St Elias National Park are accessible by car. Denali and Kenai fjords are much easier to get to and can be reached by bus and train.
- Accessible by road: Denali, Kenai Fjords, Wrangell-St Elias
- Accessible by train: Denali, Kenai Fjords
Denali Park is crossed by a ribbon of road and is home to the highest peak in North America – the Denali 20 310 ‘. The summit of Denali is not easy but it is rewarding and requires mountaineering expertise. Kenai Fjord is located at the edge of the Kenai Peninsula and is a relic of where the Ice Age still persists. It has nearly 40 glaciers emerging from the Harding Icefield, although they are now receding due to climate change.
- Denali: The home of the tallest mountain in North America
- Kenai Fjord: Home of dozens of ice age glaciers
Of these, Wrangell-St Elias is also not a walk in the park (pardon the pun) it does require a long drive on a gravel road. Wrangell – St Elias is the same size as Yellowstone, Yosemite and the country of Switzerland combined. Among many other things, we will see people continue to live off the land as they have for centuries.
- Wrangell St Elias: A really massive park but requires a long drive on a gravel road
Accessible by boat / ferry
Other national parks require other means to access them. Glacier Bay National Park is accessible by cruise ship and ferry (as well as small planes). Glacier Bay features rugged mountains, vibrant glaciers, temperate rainforest, and deep, sheltered fjords. It is part of one of the largest international protected areas in the world and is the highest point of the Alaska Inside Passage.
- Glacier Bay: Iydically to be discovered by a cruise ship
Largely inaccessible without a seaplane
After these national parks, you really have to venture into the wilderness. Lake Clark National Park, Katmai National Park, Gateway to the Arctic National Park, and Kobuk Valley National Park are only accessible by air – usually a small seaplane that can land on the water.
- Gateway to the Arctic: It is the least visited national park in the United States and not only does it have no roads, but it also has no trails. This park has remained virtually unchanged.
- Kobuk Valley: A land of caribou, sand dunes and more. Half a million caribou migrate in this park.
- Clark Lake: Features smoldering volcanoes, salmon streams, foraging bears, turquoise lakes, and local people and culture that still depend on land and water.
- Katmai: Protect the region devastated by volcanism surrounding Novarupta and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. It also protects important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears.
To see the requirements or permits to visit these remote national parks, one should check the National Park Service website.
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