Why Alaska: Mountains, glaciers, wildlife – everything is bigger in Alaska. A cruise of the stunning Inside Passage is on nearly everyone’s bucket list; consider a small ship for the most intimate experience. There are plenty of opportunities for wildlife encounters, in particular whale watching and bear viewing. In Denali NP, look for the “Denali Slam”: moose, caribou, wolf, Dall sheep and brown bear.
When to Go: The warmer months (mid May to mid September) are the best time to visit, as they offer long hours of daylight. Spring is when the wilderness becomes a hive of activity, with whales arriving and bears coming out of hibernation to feed on sedge and berries. July to September is when the salmon run occurs and a good time to see bears fishing.
Combine With: Canada. The country’s west (Pacific) coast is home to the picturesque Rocky Mountains, and can be easily explored by rail. You can also visit the beautiful alpine towns of Banff and Jasper, or encounter wild grizzly bears at Knight Inlet. On the east (Atlantic) coast, explore charming French-speaking Montreal or Quebec City, or take a tour of the historic Atlantic Maritimes.
Getting There: Fly to Anchorage or Juneau in Alaska. Inside Passage cruises depart from Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau or Seattle (in Washington State).