10 Fun And Interesting Facts About Alaska You Probably Never Knew!

Composite picture with four frames of Alaska

If you have never been to Alaska, you should definitely put this state on your bucket list! You might think the entire state is nothing more than a frozen tundra, but you would be wrong. With more than 12,000 rivers and 3 million lakes, the wilderness is a mecca of wonderful sights. From wildlife to active nightlife, you can find almost everything in this remote state.

Alaska became a U.S. territory on October 18, 1867. Dubbed “Seward’s Folly,” the purchase of the remote wilderness was thought to be a blunder. Once gold was discovered, opinions changed. It did not gain statehood until January 3, 1959, when it became the 49th state. Approximately six months later, on August 21, 1959, the islands of Hawaii joined as the 50th state. Our flag was modified to reflect the newest additions, and the design with 50 state stars and 13 stripes remains.

Northern lights over Alaska
Image from Wikimedia Commons.

1. Alaska Has More Than 130 Volcanoes!

When we think about what state has the most volcanoes, we often think of Hawaii. In truth, Alaska has more volcanoes than any other state. While many of them are currently inactive, there are 50 that have been active between 1760 and today! More than 75% of all active volcanic activity recorded in the US over the past 200 years has been in Alaska.

2. There Is No Shortage Of Tidal Shoreline In Alaska

Alaska is considered a peninsula, meaning that three sides of the state border water. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be shocking that Alaska has more than 33,904 miles of shoreline!

Image of the Alaska wilderness showing evergreen trees along a shoreline with a mountainscape in the background.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.

3. There Are More Than 100,000 Glaciers In Alaska

We mentioned that many people consider Alaska to be a frozen tundra. While it doesn’t comprise the entire state, part of the reason for that opinion is the more than 100,000 glaciers in the state. A glacier is comprised of snow, ice, rock, sediment, and sometimes liquid water. The mass originates on land and, due to gravity and its own weight, eventually moves down a slope. These moving masses can make travel around the interior regions of the state treacherous.

4. Wildlife Is Everywhere!

Alaska is home to more than 1,000 species of vertebrate animals. Caribou number over 900,000, with 32 herds roaming across the landscape. There are 32 registered species of carnivores, which is more than any other state in the US. The available shoreline we mentioned earlier is a stopping point for five to eight million shorebirds. The birds utilize the tidal shoreline as a location to forage on their migration north to breeding grounds in the Arctic.

Alaskan Range Glacier
Alaskan Range Glacier. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

5. Alaska is HUGE!

While we all realize that Alaska is a large state, many don’t really understand just how HUGE it is. It is relatively common knowledge that it is the largest of all the states, measuring 663,300 square miles. When considering the size, we can compare it to the next three largest states: California, Montana, and Texas. In fact, Alaska is bigger than those three states combined!

6. Alaska Was Originally Purchased For A Meager $7.2 Million

Alaska used to belong to Russia. The United States purchased the territory on October 18, 1867. The original price was $7.2 million, which would roughly equal $55 million in today’s market. The purchase was made to give the US a better vantage in the Pacific Northwest and to protect the border in the north.

Juneau, Alaska. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

7. Tall Mountains? Alaska Has Those In Abundance

There are 20 really tall mountain peaks in the US. Seventeen of them are within the borders of Alaska. The tallest peak, Denali, is 20,320 feet above sea level. While there are several Native American names for the peak, most translate to “The Tall One” or “The Great One.” The peak was known as Mount McKinley until 2016, when it was changed to Denali to honor the indigenous tribes and revert to the original name of the area. The name change was 100 years in the making.

8. The “Rat Islands” Are Aptly Named

At the tip of the Aleutian Peninsula is a series of islands known as the “Rat Islands.” The three largest islands are Amchitka, Kiska, and Semisopochnoi. All of the Rat Islands are part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The islands have a history dating back to before World War II. Kiska Island was under Japanese occupation during the war. Amchitka Island was used as an underground testing site for nuclear weapons in 1965, 1969, and 1971. The chain of islands was named the Rat Islands due to an infestation after rats were introduced accidentally in around 1780. It is believed that the rats have been eradicated, but the name stuck.

9. Alaska Has Its Own Version Of The Bermuda Triangle

Known as the Alaskan Triangle, there is an area in central Alaska that is home to hundreds of odd occurrences. The area spawned a TV series and several books. Some of the oddities include missing persons. Apparently, people in the area disappear with no trace at a rate that is double the national average. Airplanes have a high disappearance rate also. The area ranges from Utqiagvik to Anchorage to Juneau. The landscape is barren tundra, icy mountain peaks, and boreal forests. There have also been an incredible amount of reported alien abductions, sightings of the infamous Bigfoot, and other paranormal phenomena. While we can’t verify any of the weird stuff, we did figure it was worth mentioning.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

10. Alaska Enjoys A Thriving Tourist Industry

Who in their right mind would want to vacation in a frozen landscape where wild animals roam freely, and people vanish at an alarming rate? Apparently, a lot of people. One of the favorite spots to visit is the Denali National Park and Preserve. Whether you want beautiful scenery, fresh air, or a glimpse of the northern lights, Alaska does have a lot to offer. If you remain in the cities, Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage offer the same tourism opportunities as any major city elsewhere in the US. If you are more adventuresome, there are guided wilderness tours you can take advantage of. Whatever your desires, you can find satisfaction in Alaska.

Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Despite the cooler temperatures, Alaska does enjoy a more moderate climate part of the year. If the heat of Florida and the southern states is too much for you, consider heading north. You might need a hoody for the cool evenings, but you won’t sweat nearly as much.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here, here, here, and here.

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