5 Places You Had No Idea Were in Alaska

Alaska is famous for its vast wilderness and stunning scenery. It’s home to Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, over 100,000 glaciers, and some of the fattest brown bears in the world! We even vote for our favorites during “Fat Bear Week.”

But while Alaska is well-known for its natural beauty, there are also a number of lesser-known destinations in the state that are worth exploring.

From ash-filled valleys to cascading waterfalls, here are five places you had no idea were in Alaska.

Disclaimer: This blog post is in partnership with Travel Alaska. As always, all opinions and recommendations are based on real-life experiences exploring Alaska.

5 Amazing Places You Had No Idea Were in Alaska

1. Northland Falls

Just outside of Whittier, Northland Falls is a waterfall that cascades over the edge of Northland Glacier and plunges down into the icy, turquoise waters of Prince William Sound.

If you’re up for a thrilling experience, I definitely recommend visiting the waterfall on a jet ski. Book a guided tour from any of the various adventure tour companies that includes all of the instruction and equipment you need to see some of Alaska’s most awe-inspiring scenery.

Once you leave the Whittier Harbor, you’ll be zooming across the water on your own personal watercraft. At speeds up to 55 mph, you’ll feel the wind in your hair and you won’t be able to shake the grin off of your face. While you’re cruising around, keep an eye out for sea otters. These marine mammals love to sunbathe and play in the water.

As you ride into Blackstone Bay, you’ll be awestruck by the towering mountains and immense glaciers that surround you. It’s like something out of a dream! Your guide will lead you deeper into the fjord until you reach a small cove. As you gaze up at the cascading Northland Falls, you’ll feel a sense of wonder and amazement.

Birders will be delighted to find a large kittiwake colony off to the side of the waterfall. These graceful birds can be seen soaring overhead or perched on the rocks, and they offer a unique and unforgettable sight.

If a jet ski isn’t your vibe, you’ll need a boat. Hop on a glacier cruise for a more leisurely adventure to easily view the waterfall and discover other glacier-carved fjords in Prince William Sound.

northland falls jet ski whittier

2. Bremner Glacier

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, located in Southcentral Alaska, is a vast and remote wilderness that receives very few visitors. In fact, fewer than 100,000 people visit the park each year and even fewer venture into the backcountry. That just means you’ll have its wonders to yourself, including Bremner Glacier, a glacier that covers an area of over 100 square miles.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Bremner Glacier. On day three of our week-long backpacking trip along the Seven Pass Trail, I climbed to the top of an overlook and had my first glimpse of the massive glacier. It was breathtaking!

If you are looking for an unforgettable experience in Alaska, join a 7-day guided backpacking trip along this 40-mile route. With an experienced guide by your side, you’ll safely navigate the trail and make the most of your time in this beautiful part of Alaska. Even the most advanced hikers may find themselves challenged at times by the variable terrain, including glacier moraines, high passes, and ice-cold stream crossings.

The trail is challenging, but every step is worth the incredible scenery and wildlife. As you traverse the Chugach Mountains, you’ll be surrounded by rugged mountains, sparkling glaciers, and alpine lakes. You may even spot some of the park’s abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for bears, moose, wolves, and Dall sheep.

places you had no idea were in alaska bremner glacier

3. Valley of 10,000 Smokes

Surprisingly, one of the most unique landscapes in Alaska is not a mountain range, a glacier, or a forest. It’s a valley filled with ash and smoke.

The Valley of 10,000 Smokes is located in Katmai National Park and Preserve. It was created by one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, the Novarupta eruption of 1912. The eruption sent an ash cloud as high as 20 miles into the sky and filled the Ukak River valley with ash, covering an area of 40 square miles.

To make the most of a trip to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, book an all-day Natural History Tour guided by a National Park Service park ranger. The tour includes a scenic 23-mile bus ride from Brooks Camp to the Robert F. Griggs Visitor Center.

Once you reach the visitor center, join a ranger-guided hike down to the valley floor to see Ukak Falls and stand directly in front of a towering wall of ash! Before hiking all the way back up the valley, take the spur trail to the Windy Creek Overlook where you can see the confluence of the rivers.

The Valley of 10,000 Smokes is a truly otherworldly place. The ash creates a surreal, moonlike landscape. It’s like stepping onto another planet!

Plan a visit to this volcanic wonderland after seeing the famous Katmai bears at Brooks Falls because a trip here is definitely worth it.

hidden gems in alaska

4. Archangel Valley

Some may say that Archangel Valley is hiding in plain sight. This lesser-known valley can be found just beyond the trail head for Reed Lakes Trail, the most popular hiking trail in Hatcher Pass, and quite possibly one of the busiest hikes in the entire state!

Archangel Valley is a hidden gem, and it’s sure to impress even the most experienced hikers. From the crystal clear alpine lakes scattered throughout the area, wildflowers that bloom in the summer months, and wild berries that are ripe for picking, Archangel Valley is the ideal destination for outdoor adventurers and a popular spot among rock climbers.

Getting here can be a challenge! The road beyond Archangel Creek bridge is not suitable for all vehicles, so you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle if you want to drive to the end of Archangel Valley Road. A standard sedan with low ground clearance will likely bottom out on the rough terrain.

Once you reach the end of the road, you’ll be greeted by an abundance of hiking trails to choose from. Lace up your hiking boots and ascend the valley to explore Fern Mine Trail or Lane Basin Trail. These two popular hikes offer sweeping views of the surrounding landscape, making you feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from Lord of the Rings.

Archangel Valley is also an incredible place to camp. No matter where you choose to camp, you’re sure to enjoy the peace and quiet of the valley, and the breathtaking views that you get to wake up to.

archangel valley

5. Kachemak Bay State Park & State Wilderness Park

Hidden across the water from Homer is one of Alaska’s true hidden gems. Kachemak Bay State Park and State Wilderness Park is a 400,000-acre park that has everything you’d want in a remote wilderness park — grand mountains, stunning glaciers, lush forests, unspoiled coastlines, and over 80 miles of hiking trails.

Despite the wilderness park’s ease of access (the water taxi from Homer takes less than 30 minutes), and abundance of activities for all ages, the park is rarely crowded, and visitors can often feel like they have the place to themselves.

After getting dropped off in the park, you’ll have endless opportunities to get off the beaten path. Grewingk Glacier is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the park, but the views while hiking along Grace Ridge are definitely hard to beat.

Tutka Bay is a top choice for kayakers. This fjord is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the park. Kayakers can explore the fjord at their own pace, paddling along the shores and stopping to admire the unique rock formations, old-growth forests, and plentiful marine life.

No matter if you’re hiking, kayaking, camping, or fishing, you’re sure to have a memorable experience in Kachemak Bay State Park.

places you had no idea were in alaska kachemak bay state park

These are just a few of the many lesser-known destinations in Alaska. If you’re looking for an adventure, be sure to add these places to your Alaska itinerary.

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Did you already know about any of these places you had no idea were in Alaska? Let me know in the comments.

About Andrea Kuuipo

I was born and raised in Anchorage and have been able to travel to many places around Alaska. As an Alaska Travel Blogger, I love sharing my favorite things to see and do in my home state to help others plan an incredible trip!

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