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Going to explore the northern parts of North America? Which should one visit - the United States, Alaska, or the Canadian territories? This article will limit itself to comparing Alaska with the Canadian territory of the Northwest Territories. The northern end of North America is full of wildlife and is an endless untamed wilderness. It is much more than just a frozen wasteland and offers the adventure of a lifetime.

Alaska is famous as the largest and wildest state in the United States and borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. The Northwest Territories are very remote, but they are accessible by car. Both Alaska and the Northwest Territories offer Arctic adventures but they are also very different from each other.


Alaska Is Much Larger And More Populous

Alaska has some of the remotest territories on the North American continent. While Alaska is famously sparsely populated, it is still far more populated than any other territory north of the 60th parallel in North America. In fact, it has more than four times more than the Canadian territories populations of the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, as well as Greenland.

  • Size: 663,268 sq mi (1,717,856 km2)
  • Population: 736,000
  • Capital: Juneau
  • Largest City: Anchorage

The Northwest Territories (appreciated NWT) is one of the three Arctic territories of Canada. Despite its size, it has a population of less than 50,000. A round 20,000 of the population lives in the capital and only city, Yellowknife. While the NWT is smaller than Alaska, it is still almost twice the size of Texas.

  • Size: 442,000 sq mi (1,144,000 km2)
  • Population: 45,500
  • Capital and Largest City: Yellowknife

Related: See Alaska In A Whole New Way With These New Alaskan Cruises

Alaska And The Northwest Territories Both Have Many National Parks

Alaska is home to over half the federally owned public land with vast national forests, national parks, and wildlife refuges. The national parks of Alaska include:

  • Denali National Park
  • Kenai Fjords National Park
  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
  • Glacier Bay National Park
  • Katmai National Park
  • Lake Clark National Park
  • Gates of the Arctic National Park
  • Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

The Northwest Territories is home to six Canadian national parks. Visitors find a remote and unspoiled landscape populated by muskoxen, caribou, grizzlies, bison, and more.

  • Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve
  • Wood Buffalo National Park
  • Aulavik National Park
  • Nahanni National Park Reserve
  • Naatsihchoh National Park Reserve
  • Tuktut Nogait National Park

Both Have Roads Up To The Arctic Ocean

One of the most adventurous things one can do in the Northwest Territories is to drive the Dempster Highway all the way from Dawson City in the Yukon to Tuktoyaktuk on the shores of the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories.

  • Dempster Highway: The Canadian Road To The Arctic
  • Dalton Highway: The Alaskan Road To The Arctic

It is also possible to drive to the far north of Alaska up to the Arctic on the Dalton Highway (the only road to the Arctic in Alaska).

Related: This Is The Best Way To Visit Alaska's Beautiful & Remote Aleutian Islands

Alaska Has More Wildlife And A Greater Range Of Things To Do

Alaska is a stunning state with some of the most dramatic coastlines in North America. It is full of wildlife around various coastal areas with large marine life, including whales, seals, and orcas (or killer whales). The forests and coastal areas are also full of brown bears, bald eagles, and other wildlife wolves and deer. In northern Alaska, one will also find herds of Caribou as well as polar bears.

Unlike Alaska, the Northwest Territories do not have access to the Pacific Ocean, and so it completely lacks all the dramatic fjord-studding coastlines of Alaska (it does have access to the Arctic Ocean).

Alaska is bursting with activities. There is mountaineering up Denali, coastal cruises around the glaciers and fjords, whale watching, seeing brown bears in the wild, polar experiences to the High Arctic, hunting, and much more. Plan the Alaskan experience with Travel Alaska. There is a greater range of things to see and do in Alaska - it's larger, more diverse, and has more infrastructure.

Plan one's trip to the Northwest Territories with the Spectacular Northwest Territories website. Visiting the territory is a journey into the grand outdoors. Some activities to expect include camping, watching the Northern Lights, canoeing, hunting, discovering native cultures, and other experiences. There are still scores of adventurous things to see and do in the Northwest Territories.