No other region in North America possesses the mythical aura of Alaska; even the name – a derivation of Alayeska, an Athabascan word meaning “great land of the west” – fires the imagination. Few who see this land of gargantuan ice fields, sweeping tundra, glacially excavated valleys, lush rainforests, deep fjords and occasionally smoking volcanoes leave unimpressed.
Wildlife may be under threat elsewhere, but here it is abundant, with Kodiak bears standing twelve feet tall, moose stopping traffic in downtown Anchorage, wolves prowling through national parks, bald eagles circling over the trees, and rivers solid with fifty-plus-pound salmon. Alaska’s sheer size is hard to comprehend: more than twice the size of Texas, it contains America’s northernmost, westernmost and, because the Aleutian Islands stretch across the 180th meridian, its easternmost point.
© Samantha Cook, Tim Perry, and Greg Ward/Rough Guides. All Rights Reserved.