Miles upon miles of tundra, crisscrossed with rivers, and crowned with the continent’s highest peak: this is Interior Alaska. Travelers may come to do wildlife spotting, or to hike the vast park surrounding 20,310-foot Mt. Denali, but they leave with an indelible vision of Alaska’s heartland.
Central to the region is the Yukon River, which winds for 2,000 miles before emptying into the Bering Sea. Known as “the Mighty One” to the local Athabaskan Indians, this watercourse figures in the area’s mythology as “the thread that holds the world together,” providing food and transportation to the native villages that dot its banks. Around it, on the interior flatlands, you’ll discover a diverse array of wildlife, including moose, elk, grizzly bears, beavers, muskrats, mountain bluebirds, peregrine falcons, and kokanee salmon.
No less of a magnet to visitors is Denali National Park and Preserve, named for the pink-quartz pinnacle that soars into the clouds near the region’s southern edge. Denali is Alaska’s greatest land attraction, towering some four miles over the encircling parkland, and visitors who stay in one of the nearby lodges or campgrounds can hike, bike, or canoe the area in comfort. Rafting, flightseeing, and ATV tours round out the roster of activities.
Interior Alaska also has its outposts of civilization. Fairbanks, dubbed the “Golden Heart City” by locals, is known for its quirky museums, as well as for riverboat tours that allow you to mine the state’s Gold Rush past. Meanwhile, in the border town of Tok, those crossing into Canada can take sled-dog tours, meeting the mushers and trainers behind these plucky canines.
Mountains, river systems, Yukon wildlife: Interior Alaska’s vast territory is matched only by the vastness of its muster of attractions.