The Alaska outdoors: What is Alaska like?

Alaska is a vast land with diverse ecosystems, boundless expanses of forest, high arctic plains, thousands of  miles of rivers, and entire mountain ranges within its borders. It is possible to spend a lifetime exploring the state and never see the same place twice. As you plan your Alaska outdoors trip, you need to know what to expect in the region you are visiting. What is the weather like? What are the terrain & vegetation like? What rivers flow through the area? What facilities are available?  Can the area be accessed by road, or is flying necessary? Here you will find  details on these, and more.  We constantly update these pages, so if you don't find what you need, bookmark the page and check back.


Denali National Park (Cory Kittle Photo)

This site divides the state into the same regional designations used by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation. Each of those regions is generally described below. For details on the entire region, including amenities and recreational opportunities, click on it's title.

REGION 1: Southeast AlaskaAlaska Region 1 map

Commonly referred to as the "Panhandle", Southeast Alaska is composed of a number of large islands and a strip of coastline that borders British Columbia to the east. The area is roughly 480 miles long and 100 miles wide in places, and is the coastal rainforest of Alaska. Ketchikan is typical of the area, receiving an average of over thirteen feet of rain per year.

Because this area is large and encompasses some areas that are not easily accessed, this site separates Region 1 into "north" and "south" sub-regions.

Region 1 South: Southeast Panhandle  |  Region 1 North: Yakutat / Cordova Area

REGION 2: North Gulf Coast, Kenai Peninsula, and the Kodiak / Afognak ArchipelagoAlaska Region 2 map

Region 2 includes the coastal waters associated with Prince William Sound from the Cordova area north and west. It includes the entire Kenai Peninsula, which hosts some of the best road-accessible fishing in the state (the Kenai and Russian rivers, for example), as well as popular jump-off points for saltwater halibut, lingcod, rockfish and salmon fishing out of Valdez, Whittier, Seward, the Deep Creek / Ninilchik area, and Homer. It also includes the storied Kodiak and Afognak islands, famous for brown bears, Sitka blacktailed deer, elk, and some of the best saltwater fishing in the state. This site divides Region 2 into "east" and "west" subregions. The eastern section includes the North Gulf Coast area and the Kenai Peninsula, while the western section includes the Kodiak / Afognak Islands area.

Region 2 East: North Gulf Coast / Kenai Peninsula  |  Region 2 West: Kodiak / Afognak Archipelago

REGION 3: Interior and Eastern ArcticAlaska Region 3 map

Alaska's Interior covers a huge land mass ranging from the Canadian border almost to Western Alaska, and encompasses the eastern third of the Brooks Range. It's an incredibly diverse area, with numerous lakes, rivers, mountains, and forests popular with fishermen, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The area gets quite warm in the summer, with temperatures ranging all the way up over 100º F. In the winter, this is typically the cold spot, with temps dropping to -65º F and even colder, for days on end. That's cold enough to shatter a plastic trash bag if you shake it outside, or turn a cup of hot water into steam before it hits the ground. This is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the winter, with Circle Hot Springs a premium destination.

This site divides Region 3 into eastern and western sub-regions, which are separated by the Parks Highway and the Dalton Highway (the "Haul Road").

Region 3 East: Eastern Arctic / Eastern Interior  |  Region 3 West: Central Interior

REGION 4: SouthCentral through the Alaska Peninsula and the AleutiansAlaska Region 4 map

Southcentral Alaska contains the population center of the whole state, with the communities of Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla, King Salmon, Dillingham, and many others, including the tiny community of Adak. Recreational opportunities abound in this area, with some of the best trophy rainbow trout fishing out in the Bristol Bay watersheds, excellent road-based fishing for all five species of salmon, dolly varden, grayling, lake trout and northern pike, to name a few. Waterfowl hunting is good, as is big-game hunting for moose, caribou, black bear, brown / grizzly bear, and Dall sheep. There are many affordable opportunities for flight-seeing, and great opportunities for snowmachining the back-country in the winter months.

This site divides Region 4 into two sub-regions: Region 4 (east) extends from the Canadian border to the summit ridge of the Western Alaska range. Region 4 (west) runs from the Alaska Range, through the Lake Iliamna region and Bristol Bay out through the Aleutian Islands.

Region 4 East: Southern Interior, Anchorage, Susitna Valley  |  Region 4 West: Bristol Bay and the Alaska Peninsula

REGION 5: Arctic and Western AlaskaAlaska Region 5 map

The Arctic is truly "the land of the midnight sun", with 24 hours of daylight for a good portion  of the summer. This region is mostly inaccessible by road, however several airlines serve the villages scattered throughout the area, so access is good. Once you arrive in a village, any of a number of commercial air charter services offer wheel, float plane, or ski plane access to remote locations. Though saltwater fishing opportunities are limited, freshwater fishing is tremendous and several unique species can be had in this area, including the iconnu, or "sheefish", which grow to exceptional size (the current state record is 53lbs.) Hunting opportunities exist for many species, including the unique muskox.

This site divides Region 5 into "north" and "south" sub-regions. Region 5 (north) encompasses the western Arctic, south through the Seward Peninsula and ending south of Unalakleet at the border of GMU 18. Region 5 (south) includes the entirety of GMU 18, which includes the entire Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region. 

Region 5 North: Western Arctic  | Region 5 South: Yukon / Kuskokwim Delta

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