Alaska is a bucket-list destination for the world’s great explorers and adventurers. In a land where the count of mountains and glaciers outnumber people, there’s no end to discovery in America’s northernmost state.
For photographer’s especially, Alaska provides a unique opportunity to document rugged landscapes and rare wildlife in a pristine environment. In the list below, discover nine not-to-miss photography destinations on your next visit to Alaska.
01 of 09
The View of Anchorage From the Air Will Amaze You
Flying into Anchorage is a joy. Daily flights are available on Alaska Airlines, and once you break free from the Anchorage clouds, an aerial view of a vast mountain landscape emerges. Nicknamed the Anchorage bowl, the city is surrounded by mountains and fjords from every angle. The Turnagain Arm and the Chugach Mountain Range form a natural barrier between Anchorage and other outposts in the state, creating one of the most stunning landscape city views in the country.
Photographer’s Tip: On your inbound flight to Anchorage, opt to book a window seat. This will give you prime positioning to snap the ideal photograph from your seat. If you prefer to work up a sweat for your images, climb the Flat Top trail in Anchorage. The seven-mile route will lead you high above the city and sometimes even the low hanging clouds. Once you complete the final grueling push up the mountain, attach your zoom lens for the ultimate photo reward from your challenging day on the mountain.
02 of 09
An Aerial Flight in Juneau Reveals Waterfall Views
From Anchorage, book an in-state flight to Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. Located in the Southeast Alaska Panhandle, Juneau is home to a temperate rainforest. Cloud-covered mountains loom in every direction, and a misty haze often engulfs the majestic landscape. Full of mystery and moody views, Juneau is surrounded by droves of cascading waterfalls. Book a room at the eclectic Silverbow Inn in downtown Juneau, where you can pass a rainy day in the outdoor hot tub when the temperatures are cool in the fall. As the icy rain drizzles down and the sauna pool warms you up, gaze at the waterfalls on the horizon to get lost in the wonder of Juneau.
Photographer’s Tip: When visiting Southeast Alaska, always pack a dry bag. Rainproof jackets and backpacks are also advised, as you never know when an unexpected shower will rain down on the city.
03 of 09
Glacier Walking in Juneau Is Like Walking on Glass
As Juneau is known as an adventurous hub in Alaska, opt to get active during an exploration of the Mendenhall Glacier. With crampons strapped to your feet and a down jacket keeping you warm, walk along the icy ledges of the slopes that stand resolute above the city. You’ll quickly notice that the ice includes a number of translucent pools and deep crevasses, which make for beautiful micro-images.
Photographer’s Tip: Bring a pair of gloves during your adventure to Mendenhall Glacier. Using your hands as your anchor, lay horizontal on the glacial ice to capture the crevasses up close. The mineral sediments and intense depth of the split make for a mesmerizing glacial photo.
04 of 09
Landing on the Mighty Mendenhall is an Adventurer’s Dream
Book a helicopter tour with Temsco Helicopters for the ultimate view of Juneau’s Icefield, the fifth largest icefield in the Western Hemisphere. While in air, enjoy the endless scene below from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the helicopter, but save your energy for the two landings. Landing on both the Mendenhall Glacier and Taku Glacier, you can hope to see bears and mountain goats on your ride.
Photographer’s Tip: While in the helicopter, it may be hard to capture the scene, as the condensation often produces water droplets along the frame. It’s still worth a try, however, as you may be able to extract any catches of light in the editing process. As a whole, save your battery for the two landings on Juneau’s largest glaciers. Here, you can walk freely along the ice to capture the surrounding mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
The Concentration of Glaciers in Juneau is Astounding
In Juneau, it’s as if you’re constantly gazing at a glacier. They surround the city, and you can see them from boat rides, plane rides, and helicopter tours, making it hard not to document them at every moment.
Photographer’s Tip: In Juneau, glaciers often form near waterfalls. Shoot in manual mode to capture a smooth flow of the waterfall juxtaposed against the harsh, craggy notches in the glacier. The volcanic rock also makes for a fine contrast in the finished image.
06 of 09
The Mountains in Haines are Majestic
Only a two-hour catamaran ride from Juneau, Haines is known as the adventure capital of Alaska, and for due reason. During a visit, you can river raft, kayak in lakes, and summit mountains, among other adventures. While rafting down the Chilkat Lake, be on the lookout for mountain peaks emerging over low-hanging cloud streams.
Photographer’s Tip: Make sure to pack a dry bag during your rafting trip, as it’s better to have a backup plan if the rain begins to pour or the water becomes unexpectedly choppy. While documenting the surrounding mountain peaks, make sure to capture the cloud streams in the photo. As the white, puffy clouds linger below the mountains, it shows the sheer scale of the landscape – it’s as if you’re flying above the clouds.
07 of 09
The Eagle Population in Haines is Flourishing
The Chilkat River is surrounded by the vast Chilkat Range of mountains, the ideal home for some of Alaska’s flourishing eagle population. The wondrous birds fly uninhibited around the area, serving as the perfect opportunity for you to document a slice of majestic Alaskan wildlife.
Photographer’s Tip: Get your zoom lens ready while rafting down the Chilkat River. Eagles swarm the area, making the wildlife shots endless. Be on the ready to capture images of perched eagles. The birds don’t scare easily, so if you get your raft in proper positioning, you’ll be able to document the eagles closely in their natural habitat.
08 of 09
Visit a Sled Dog Farm in Willow to Cuddle with Huskies
The Iditarod is a right of passage for the toughest of Alaskans. In a race that covers nearly 1,100 miles – equivalent from going to Miami to Chicago – mushers, or dog sledders, take a pack of 16 husky mutts through a perilous route from Anchorage to Nome, beating insurmountable odds and surviving in temperatures as low as negative 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As the race is so integral to Alaska’s culture, opt to visit Vern Halter’s Dream a Dram Dog Farm in Willow, where you can get intimately acquainted with the state’s best sled dogs.
Photographer’s Tip: Sled dogs are fast! The husky pups are full of energy and are always ready to run, so set your camera to a continuous shooting mode. This grants you greater probability of capturing the adorable dogs in proper focus during your visit.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Road Trip to Denali to View Alaska’s Best Wildlife
You simply can’t go to Alaska without venturing to Denali National Park and Preserve. It’s considered Alaska’s most popular park for a reason: White-capped mountains dominate the horizon, and a slew of wildlife roam the open land, making the ideal outpost for photographer’s to document the best of Alaska.
Photographer’s Tip: During your road trip from Anchorage to Denali, keep your gaze focused on the tree-studded fields along the road. If you’re lucky, a family of moose will be grazing. Pull off to the side and document one of Alaska’s most iconic animals, but do keep a safe distance. Moose may not look agile, but they are surprisingly fast and have been known to chase down a human or two.