10 Interesting Facts About Alaska

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Alaska seems to never stop being amusing in all its aspects. Today we are writing to present you with 10 fun facts about Alaska that will undoubtedly spark a newfound appreciation for this magical place.

1. 240 days of Northern Lights

If your main goal from a trip to Alaska is to see the world-renowned Alaskan northern lights, then the city of Fairbanks will pleasantly surprise you! Going on an Aurora Borealis hunt in Fairbanks is a common activity to do for all newcomers and expert travelers to Alaska, and it’s no wonder why. Fairbanks is considered the best place to see northern lights in Alaska for one specific reason. Fairbanks’s Aurora season begins in the middle of August and finishes in the middle of April, which is when the northern lights are present in the sky. Although it is important to keep in mind that the sky needs to be clear of all clouds for you to see the beautiful spectacle above. Luckily, Fairbanks’ conditions provide a dark enough sky without any cloudiness during four out of five nights on average.


2. Welcome only by boat or plane

The city of Juneau, famous for being home to Tongass National Forest (which we describe in fact #8) is the only state capital in the United States that can’t be reached by car, which isn’t surprising considering around 75% of Alaska is inaccessible by roads due to heavy snowfall. So the question is, how do I arrive to the capital of Alaska? Simple! Get a boat from a neighbouring city to Juneau or catch a plane.


3. Land of volcanoes

Alaska continues to amaze us with its natural beauty. Alaska is home to more than 130 volcanoes, 90 of which were active within the last 10,000 years (and are expected to erupt again) and over 50 of which have been active since the 1760s. This vision of volcanoes often contrasts the concept of Alaska being a spot of endless winter. To put this number into perspective, there are an estimated 169 volcanoes in America that are considered active, with Alaska having the majority of them. To add to that, volcanic eruptions have been occurring in Alaska once or twice annually since the 1900s, so it is somewhat of a common occurrence. How cool (no pun intended) is it that the place associated with winter could have so much fiery potential!


4. Any espresso fans?

The owner of one of many Anchorage coffee shops says, “Alaska may be home to rich oil deposits, but it sometimes feels like this state runs on caffeine”. He isn’t wrong. Anchorage alone has more espresso stands per capita than any city in the U.S. While the city’s population is climbing towards 300,000, it is home to over 170 active coffee shops. That’s a coffee shop for every 1,765 people.


5. Alaxsxaq

Wondering what this strange combination of letters means? You might’ve already guessed that it stands for Alaska! The word “Alaxsxaq” originated from Aleut people, who are indigenous people of Aleutian islands, which through time and history (more on that in fact #7) spread across the U.S state of Alaska and the Russian region of Kamchatka Krai. The meaning of the word directly translates to “the object towards which the action of the sea is directed” or simply put “the mainland”.


6. A 13-year-old student designed the Alaskan flag

Never underestimate a child’s creativity; that’s what George Parks, Territorial Governor of Alaska, thought about when he decided to persuade the Alaskan American Legion to hold a contest for all Alaskan children grades 7-12 to design Alaska’s new flag. The contest winner was a 7th grader by the name Benny Benson who went to the territorial school at Seward. His design was placed on a dark blue background and consisted of eight gold stars that formed the Big Dipper and symbolized a bear, which is an animal indigenous to Alaska. After the jury at Juneau reviewed his flag amongst many others and chose his, the first time it was flown was on July 9, 1927 and Benny was awarded a watch with the flag emblem on it and a $1,000 educational scholarship.


7. Alaska used to be Russia’s

Alaska was first discovered in 1741 when a Russian expedition led by Vitus Bering sighted the Alaskan mainland. After Russia successfully claimed Alaska, it was not until October 18, 1867 that the United States Senate formally transferred Alaska to its ownership for the price of $7.2 million, which in today’s economy translates to roughly $55 million.

8. Largest glacier in the state

Matanuska Glacier, which you might’ve heard of if you have been looking at Alaska tours, is the largest glacier in the United States that is accessible by road and is likely to appear on your itinerary if you go on an Alaskan adventure! This astonishing Alaskan landmark is a point of attraction not only for its size, but also for its naturally formed beauty which shows in its deep blue tint of ice through which you can look deep inside. Also, the glacier is large enough that tours are held with professional guides that will show you around inside of the glacier where you can fully see why this landmark is truly a mesmerizing sight.


9. Largest forest in the U.S

Alaska tops the charts again with its largest national forest in all of the United States called Tongass, located in the capital of Alaska: Juneau. This national park is considered a must see in Alaska, not only for its vast size of 16.7 million acres, but also for a large number of native flora and fauna that call Tongass National Park their home. While walking on a tour around the rainforest, you can spot foxes, beavers, moose, deer, and grizzly bears, so make sure to grab a camera and try out your photography skills.


10. Chickens and gold

Our final entry on the list is about what the title suggests: chickens and gold. How are they connected, you ask? Well, Chicken is the name of a U.S. census-designated place in Southeast Fairbanks and it has a community of 12 like-minded individuals which is founded on gold mining. Chicken is one of the few still thriving gold rush towns in Alaska, with an outpost for the 40 mile mining district. The name for the town was picked in honor of the local grouse known as Ptarmigan, which was, as the locals say, “quite prevalent in the area”.


How much gold is mined in Chicken?
In the past century, over 100,000 ounces of placer gold have been mined on Chicken Creek and its tributaries and there still remains a great deal of gold to be found. It is one of the richest placer gold deposits to be mined in Alaska!

As you can now tell, Alaska is surprisingly vibrant in its historic incidents and vast in its flora, fauna, and natural creations like glaciers or volcanoes that have much more to offer than what we covered in this blog. Look for fun things to do in Alaska that suit your taste and go on a winter wonderland journey with Firebird Tours!