Alaska is known as "The Last Frontier," "Land of the Midnight Sun" and "The Great Land," so why is it getting the nickname "The Forgotten State?" Maybe it’s the misconceptions about Alaska that has made people steer clear from the state. Such misconceptions about the 49th state include its supposed constant below freezing weather, the 24 hours a day of darkness and the endless rumor that people live in igloos, which unfortunately has made people who have never visited the state want to stay away.
The fact is, Alaska is one of the most charming states in the United States and its physical beauty is uncanny. Alaska will easily leave you in awe from its jaw-dropping glaciers, it’s millions of acres of lush forest, and the fact that it is technically the best state to see the Northern Lights will make you want to come back again and again.
While we listed a bunch of things about Alaska’s physical appearance that you won’t find in other states, we also mention a few random facts that will clear the air about any misconceptions travelers may have before journeying out to Alaska. So before you question taking a vacation to this state, you should take a look at the 25 things mentioned in this list about the “forgotten state” that will make you want to book a trip as soon as possible.
25 The Official Sport Of Alaska Is Dog Mushing
Using dogs to pull sleds have been used in Alaska for centuries and it was even a method of transportation in many parts of the state. The state dog is the malamute, a large dog bred for their strength and ability to haul heavy freight, which also makes this breed of dog perfect for sledding. According to State Symbols USA, the tradition of using dogs to pull sleds started sled dog racing and today, it is a worldwide sport where people from around the world would participate in Alaska. In 1972, the official sport in Alaska was declared dog mushing.
24 The State Flag Was Designed By A 13-Year-Old
Believe it or not, Alaska's state flag was designed by a 13-year-old boy named Benny Benson who participated in a contest for young children to design Alaska's flag in the late 1920s. According to Alaska Historical Society, of the 142 submissions, a panel of judges agreed that Benson's design of the Big Dipper and the North Star on a field of blue was the winner. Alaskans flew the flag for the first time on July 9, 1927, and during the ceremony, Benson received a watch with the flag emblem on it and a $1,000 scholarship.
23 Moose Laws Are A Real Thing Here
Like other states in the nation, Alaska has its fair share of outrageous laws that can send just about anyone to the slammer. The nation has "moose-specific legislation" that has laws against pushing a moose from a plane, viewing a moose from a plane, and giving a moose a beer to name a few. These laws are definitely bizarre and can even send you to jail! There is also a law that forbids someone to whisper in someone's ear while they are moose hunting. Make sure you keep these moose laws in the back of your mind the next time you visit the state!
22 There Are Around 100,000 Glaciers In Alaska
Glaciers cover approximately five percent of the state of Alaska. There are nearly 100,000 glaciers in Alaska and most of them don't have names. Some of the most notable glaciers in the state are the Bagley Icefield, which is 127 miles long six miles wide, and up to 30,000 feet thick. The Malaspina Glacier is North America's largest piedmont glacier and covers an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. Alaska and Washington are the only two states in the U.S., which get a large percentage of their water supplies from glacial sources.
21 Visitors Have Misconceptions About The Weather
A lot of people who have never traveled to Alaska have many misconceptions about the state. One of the biggest misconceptions is it is freezing and cold all year round. According to an article from Business Insider, one traveler noted that while it is cold in Alaska for a major portion of the year, and dip below freezing with snow falling between October to April, it does warm up in the summer months. Along the southern coast and panhandle, Alaskans and travelers enjoy temperatures that can soar upwards of 70 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August.
20 17 Of The Highest Mountain Peaks In The U.S. Are In Alaska
Alaska's mountain peaks are jaw dropping and they are downright impressive. The five tallest mountains in the United States are in Alaska with the Denali having the highest peak with an elevation of 20,310 feet. The Denali means "the tall one" in the native Koyukon language. According to Alaska Yukon, the peak of the Denali is so tall it often creates its own weather! Four of the other highest mountain peaks are also in Alaska and are Mount Saint Elias, Mount Foraker, Mount Bona, and Mount Blackburn.
19 The Northern Lights Can Be Seen In Fairbanks 243 Days A Year
Thousands of travelers make their way to Fairbanks, Alaska to see the stunning phenomena in the sky called the Northern Lights. Known as Auroa Season, which starts August 21 and lasts April 21, visitors can witness the wonders of waving colors in the state. Fairbanks is cited as the best place to see the lights because of its location under the "Auroral Oval," a ring shaped zone over the far north where aurora borealis activity is concentrated. Fairbanks clear sky also makes it one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, explains Explore Fairbanks.
18 Barrow, Alaska Has The Longest And Shortest Day
Barrow, Alaska is the northernmost city in the United States and the ninth northernmost city in the world. What makes this city unique is that when the sun sets in November, it doesn't rise again for 65 days. According to The Weather Channel, in Barrow, this polar night will occur with the last sunset on November 19th until the sun reappears above he horizon again on January 23rd. It's a misconception that Barrow and other areas north of the Arctic Circle are completely dark during this period. However, Barrow makes up for the dark days during the summer when they have 82 days of uninterrupted sunlight.
17 The State Has More Than 100 Volcanoes
Alaska has 80 percent of all active volcanoes in the United States and since the 1700’s; some 50 volcanoes have erupted and are active. According to Alaska Kids, most of the active volcanoes are found along Cook Inlet and down through the Aleutian Islands. However, volcanoes that haven't erupted can be pretty much found in every region of Alaska. According to Alaska Volcano Observatory, "the 1912 eruption of Novarupta and Katmai, which formed the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes on the Alaska Peninsula, was the largest 2oth century eruption on earth." The eruption dumped 700 feet of ash in a 40 square mile area.
16 Balto The Famous Sled Dog Wasn't The Only True Hero
We've all watched "Balto" as a kid, the animated feature about a dog who risks his life to deliver life-saving medicine to a remote Alaskan town. The story was based on true events and Balto is remembered to this day as a hero. However, people tend to forget that Togo, another sled dog actually pulled the medicine the furthest (200 miles) and was on the most perilous route before the medicine was given to Balto, who completed the last 55 miles of the journey. Both dogs should be remembered for their courage and strength.
15 Alaska Holds The Nation's All Time Low-Temperature Record
Alaska holds the record for the nation's all-time low temperature of -80 degrees Fahrenheit, which was recorded in the state's Endicott Mountains. Temperatures as low as these are unheard of in other parts of the United States, however temperatures can reach frigid low quite often, especially in the month of January, reports Current Results. The Endicott Mountains are a range of mountains, part of the Brooks Range in northern Alaska. While it is quite a stunning and beautiful part of the nation and the United States, it can get ridiculously cold!
14 Alaska Produces Outrageously Large Produce
For two months out of the year, surrounding the summer solstice, Alaskans enjoy daylight for 24 hours a day. These long summer days have made it possible for Alaskans to produce outrageously oversized produce. According to Mental Floss, some of the most notable produce that has been harvested in Alaska include a 35-pound broccoli, a 65-pound cantaloupe, and a whopping 138-pound cabbage. People can view these massive fruits and vegetables at the Alaska State Fair in August. Some of the produce is so large; viewers have a hard time figuring out what they exactly are.
13 Alaskans Can Sort Of See Russia From Their Houses
Alaska and Russia are separated by the Bering Strait, a naturally formed waterway of the Pacific that is around 51 miles wide at its narrowest point. Within the Bering Strait is the Russian island of Big Diomede and the United States island of Little Diomede, which are approximately two and a half miles apart. These islands are literally a world apart, where you can look across and see the future since Big Diomede is 21 hours ahead of Little Diomede. So, with the islands being so close together, is it possible for a few Alaskans to actually see Russia from their homes.
12 America's Largest National Forest Is In Alaska
The largest national forest in the United States is the Tongass and it's located in Alaska. The forest is a 17 million acre park, covering at least 80% of the nation's southeast region. People who live in Tongass rely heavily on its sources with roughly 75,000 inhabitants living in 32 communities. Tongass National Forest is awe-inspiring and stretches along 11,000 miles of coastline. The forest also encompasses a number of islands, mountains, bays, forests, fjords, glaciers and salmon streams. The forest is three times the size of its runner-up, the Chugach National Forest, which is more than five million acres and also located in Alaska.
11 Juneau Is The Only Capital In The U.S. Residents Cannot Drive Too
Juneau, the capital of Alaska is quite unique. Juneau is the only state capital that is not accessible by road. While Alaska is known for being quite remote and sparsely populated, Juneau is very distinct for its remoteness and so much so that residents from the rest of the state can't just drive to Juneau. People who wish to visit the capital must take a plane or ferry. So if you are looking to explore the region, it is best that you take a ferry. However, Juneau has a lot to offer, from the friendly people to plenty of nightlife, there is much to do in this remote capital.
10 Alaska Has The Largest Concentrated Indigenous Population In The U.S.
According to PBS, Alaska's indigenous people, who are also known as Alaska Natives, are divided into five major groupings, Aletus, Northern Eskimos (Inupiat), Southern Eskimos (Yuit), Interior Indians (Athabascans) and Southeast Coastal Indians (Tlingit and Haida). Alaska has a more concentrated indigenous population than any other state in the U.S. and today, they comprise 24 percent of the state's population, according to Indian Country Today. The indigenous people continue to hunt and fish among 200 villages and with "hard-fought-for federal statutory and regulatory provisions" the Alaska Natives are can harvest animals like whales, seals, polar bears, and sea otters.
9 The State Has The Third Longest River In The U.S.
The Yukon River in Alaska is the third longest river in the United States with the Missouri River coming in first and the Mississippi River in second. According to World Atlas, the Yukon River flows for 1,979 miles and flows from the Range Mountains in North of British Columbia and drains into the Bering Sea. The Yukon River was of great importance in the past, where people used it to transport goods and were also the main way people traveled during the 1896-1903 Klondike Gold Rush. The river is also home to one of the longest salmon runs in the world and villages along the river continue to rely on the fish to survive.
8 25% Of The Oil In The U.S. Is Produced By Alaska
Prudhoe Bay in Alaska is the largest oil field in North America, with four of the top 10 producing oil fields existing on the North Slope, according to the Alaska Oil and Gas Association. Alaska's oil and gas industry has produced more than 17 billion barrels of oil and 13 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Because Alaska produces the most amount of oil in the United States, the industry supports one-third of all Alaska jobs and generating 110,000 jobs throughout the state. Since 1959, Alaska has collected $157 billion from oil.
7 Most Of The Fish We Eat Come From Alaska
According to Seafood Health Facts, Alaska leads all other states when it comes to U.S. domestic seafood supply. "The leading species landed by U.S. commercial fishermen in 2014 in descending order includes: Alaska Pollock, menhaden, flatfish, cod, salmon, hakes, sea herring, shrimp, crabs, and squid. Alaska led all states in volumes of landings in 2014 with 60% of the total catch." Alaska is known as fish country, so it would make sense that the state catches the most amount of seafood. Alaska’s indigenous native people have used fishers since prehistoric times and Alaskan's today continue to fish in the seas and rivers.
6 Alaska Has The Lowest Population Density In The Nation
Alaska is by the far the least densely populated state in the U.S. and has 1.3 persons per square mile. According to World Atlas, Alaska has the lowest population density because it is "both immense and located far north, not connected to the mainland. A large portion of the state is covered in ice and snow creating difficult living conditions, and therefore no urban developments have emerged. " From its 365 million acres, only 160,000 acres have been encroached. According to Princess Cruises, there are more caribou then there are people in Alaska!
5 There Is A Museum Dedicated To Hammers
Yes, there is actually a museum in Alaska dedicated to hammers! Located in Haines, Alaska, the museum is the first in the world dedicated to hammers. The museum was founded in 2002 and features over 1,400 hammers and other related tools, ranging from ancient times through the colonial days to the industrial era. The museum's founder, Dave Pahl, who became a blacksmith, began collecting hands tools over the years and decided to turn a 100-year-old building he and his wife purchased into a hammer museum. The museum also features several galleries featuring hammers used for blacksmith, early trades and hammers used to serve bankers, nightclub goers of the 1920s and medical professions.
4 Alaskans Compete In An Outhouse Race Each Year
Each year, Alaskans compete in the Fur Rondy Festival outhouse races. This kooky event features racers who have creatively designed outhouses to be in a race where one member of the team must sit in while others push or pull their outhouse design through the snow. Teams outfit the bottoms of their outhouses with skis and race each other down a two-lane track. Besides winning the title of king or queen of their throne, winners also receive prizes for their creativity and engineering. You definitely don’t want to be number two in this race! This event is said to be held in February in Anchorage, Alaska.
3 Alaska Has More Coastline Then That Of All The Other States' Coastlines Combined
Alaska has the largest coastline of any state in the nation. The state's coastline stretches 6,640 miles, a distance greater than that of all the other states' coastlines combined. "Including islands, Alaska has 33,904 miles of shoreline. The estimated tidal shoreline, including islands, inlets sounds, and bays, is 47,300 miles," reports Fly Alaska. Alaska is also the only state to have a coastline on three different seas - the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Bering Sea. We should also mention that Alaska is the largest state and is rough twice the size of Texas!
2 Visit The Museum Of The North For Everything Alaska
If you are really interested in knowing everything there is to know about the state of Alaska it's highly recommended that visitors check out the Museum of the North located in the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Here you can discover awesome stories about Alaska's people, both past and present, learn about wildlife and check out contemporary Alaska Native art. The centerpiece of the museum, the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery, features many treasures from ancient Eskimo ivory carvings to paintings and sculptures, both Native and non-Native. Whatever you are interested in, you'll find it in this museum.
1 The State Has A Number Of Nicknames
The meaning for the name Alaska comes from an Aleut word, meaning "the great land" or literally "the object toward which the action of the sea is directed." The state has received many nicknames including, The Last Frontier, Land of the Midnight Sun, The Great Land, and the Mainland State. Whichever nickname you refer to when talking about Alaska, just know that it is one of the nation's most charming and beautiful states and one that shouldn't be taken for granted. So if you are ever deciding on a place to travel too within the U.S., consider Alaska and see all it has to offer.
References: statesymbolsusa.org, alaskahistoricalsociety.org, flyalaska.com, worldatlas.com, seafoodhealthfacts.org, npr.com, businessinsider.com, explorefairbanks.com, aoga.org, onlinyourstate.com