Jonathan Swift once said, “vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” This may well apply to U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward who, in 1865, pushed for the acquisition of an area mostly made up of uninhabited wilderness, large forests, tundra, and small volcanic islands, and was so far north that a large part of Canada separated it from the country. But it was big, roughly one-fifth the size of the rest of the United States, and the price was a bargain: two cents per acre for a grand total price of $7.2 million. Its owner, the czarist government of Russia, was only too willing to sell it.
And so, on March 30, 1867, the deal was consummated. Congress and the press variously called the purchase “Seward’s folly,” “Seward’s icebox,” and President Andrew Johnson’s “polar bear garden.” Of course, we have since known it as Alaska, which turned out to be rich in natural resources such as gold, oil, natural gas, and fish, not to mention its breathtaking views that have attracted local and international tourists every year. Without Seward’s vision, we most likely wouldn’t have had our 49th state that has contributed to the country’s prosperity every since.
Boasting some of the largest state and national parks, Alaska is a haven for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. As Guamanians we are exposed to the natural beauty of our surroundings, but a visit to Alaska is a totally different experience.
TOP ALASKA ATTRACTIONS
Denali National Park
One of the country’s largest parks encompassing six million acres of river valleys, tundra, high alpine ranges, and snow-capped mountains, it’s where North America’s highest mountain can be found. It’s also home to grizzly bears, wolves, reindeer, elk, and more than 167 species of birds. The park is located midway between Anchorage and Fairbanks, and can be reached via a single road.
Tracy Arm Fjord
South of Alaska’s capital of Juneau, this glaciers-edged fjord offers scenic views for cruise ships and boat tours. Waterfalls that create little icebergs are a joy to behold, as well as wildlife like brown bears and moose.
Perfect for recreational vehicle travelers, this road that runs from Dawson Creek in British Columbia through the Yukon Territory to Fairbanks was built during World War II.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
The largest and most magnificent of its kind in Alaska, this mountain region offers a great experience for climbers, walkers, and water sports enthusiasts.
From September to mid-April, Alaska’s skies light up with the Aurora Borealis, and the best seat in the house to experience this awe-inspiring phenomenon is at the Fairbanks area.
Cruise on large ships, charter boats, or private yachts to enjoy the views of glaciers, mountains, and oceans. Along the coastal passage are major towns that include Skagway where the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is located.
Iditarod National Historic Trail
Consisting of a network of trails that total more than 2,300 miles, it is famous for its Sled Dog Race. It was originally used by ancient hunters, later by gold prospectors, and today by hikers during summer.
This small town features the must-visit Alaska SeaLife Center, and serves as a base to explore the attractions at Kenal Peninsula. Tourists can take the Seward Highway or the Alaska Railroad to reach this community south
The Guamanian is the premier business-lifestyle magazine in the region.
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