Amazing Alaska! Resources

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All Things Alaska!


Videos, Images, Recipes, Alaska Books, and other links


Here are all the resources found in Amazing Alaska!, plus a few extra fun tidbits and links.

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Recommended Alaska Books

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Melissa L. Cook's The Call of the Last Frontier
Follow Me to Alaska book
Ann Parker's Follow Me to Alaska
John Muir's Travels in Alaska

The Call of the Last Frontier: The True Story of a Woman’s Twenty-Year Alaska Adventure by Melissa L. Cook

📖 Immerse yourself in the wilds of Alaska with Melissa L. Cook’s exhilarating memoir! Journey with a brave schoolteacher who uproots her life, venturing into the isolated Aleut village of Nelson Lagoon and later braving the rain-soaked beauty of the Tongass National Forest.

From navigating daily challenges with unwavering resilience to awe-inspiring encounters with nature, Melissa paints an intimate portrait of life in the Last Frontier. Dive deep into Alaska’s rich history, from the haunting tales of the Aleut internment camps during WWII to the tragic sinking of the S.S. Princess Sophia.

Packed with humor, history, and high-stakes adventure, this memoir stands as a beacon of inspiration for dream-chasers and adrenaline junkies alike. Ready to feel the call of the wild and witness the transformative power of the Alaskan frontier? Melissa’s vivid recollections await you.

Follow Me To Alaska by Ann Parker

📖 Ready for a journey of a lifetime? Join Ann Parker and Shon as they trade the Texas plains for Alaska’s untamed wilderness. Swapping city life for a cabin on Cub Lake – only reachable by bush plane or snow machine – they embark on an off-the-grid adventure unlike any other. Their transition to this rugged land will test their mettle, pushing every skill they’ve acquired to the absolute limit.

Brace yourself for a roller-coaster of emotions as you’re transported to the heart of the Alaskan bush. Revel in their hilarious encounters with wayward chickens, hold your breath as they come face-to-face with bears, and find inspiration in their determination to thrive amidst arctic temperatures and daunting challenges. More than just a tale of survival, this memoir is a love letter to Alaska, a testament to the strength of partnership, and an invitation to chase your wildest dreams.

As Ann and Shon prove, sometimes the greatest adventures begin with a simple invitation: “Follow Me to Alaska.” Dive in, and let the journey begin!

Travels in Alaska by John Muir

📖 Venture into the heart of Alaska with the iconic naturalist, John Muir, as your guide! An influential pillar of America’s environmental movement, Muir’s insatiable thirst for wilderness led him to Alaska’s awe-inspiring landscapes. “Travels in Alaska” takes you on a spellbinding journey, mapping his steps amidst the region’s breathtaking beauty.

From the intricate geology of Glacier Bay to the rich tapestry of the Chinook people’s history, every page pulses with Muir’s passion for the world around him. And, with photographic plates from the 1915 original, you’ll see Alaska as Muir did—a wild, magnificent frontier.

Whether you’re an environmental enthusiast or simply someone with a penchant for wanderlust, this travelogue promises to enthrall. So, don your explorer’s hat and embark on an Alaskan voyage with one of history’s greatest nature writers!

Color Photos from the Book


The US purchase was transacted in the form of a check written to Edouard de Stoeckl, the Russian diplomat who had promoted and negotiated the deal on Russia’s behalf. Today, you can find the check in the National Archives in Washington D.C., along with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Check to buy Alaska
Cancelled check in the amount of $7.2 million, for the purchase of Alaska, issued August 1, 1868. Source: archives.org

In 1927, the Seward Gateway newspaper announced a competition to design a flag for Alaska, which was still a US territory at the time. The contest was opened to all 7th– to 12th-grade (12- to 18-year-old) students in the territory.

Roughly 700 designs were submitted, with 142 submissions being sent for final selection. Of those 142, the winning design featured eight stars to represent the Big Dipper, placed on a blue background to represent the sky and the forget-me-not flower. The winner was 14-year-old Benny Benson, a boy of mixed Unangax̂, Swedish and Russian heritage who had grown up in an orphanage after his mother died.

Benny Benson holding his winning Alaska State Flag design. Source: Alaska State Library.

Alaska is the largest state in the United States. Let’s talk numbers to give you a better idea of just how massive Alaska is. Alaska is about 663,000 square miles (1,717,162 square kilometers) or about 365,000,000 acres. Texas, the second largest US state, is just under 269,000 square miles. Texas would fit into Alaska twice, with room to spare. In fact, if you combined Texas, Montana and California, Alaska would still be bigger.

A map of Alaska compared to the contiguous United States - made by thetruesize.com
A map of Alaska compared to Europe - made by truesize.com

From the mainland of Alaska, the shortest distance between Alaska and Russia is only 55 miles (88.5 km), separated only by the Bering Strait. 

But between two islands located in the Bering Strait, less than three miles of water separate Russia and the United States. These two islands are Big Diomede and Little Diomede. Russia owns Big Diomede and the US owns Little Diomede.

Map of Alaska via Depositphotos.com
Map of Alaska via Depositphotos.com

Maybe because almost one-third of Alaska lies inside the Arctic Circle, about 5 percent of the state is covered in glaciers. The Alaska Almanac estimates there are about 100,000 glaciers in Alaska. That’s way too many to name! 

According to the Geographic Names Information System, there are roughly 664 named glaciers in Alaska.

Hubbard Glacier in Alaska. Photo by Peter Hansen on Unsplash.

A 9.2 magnitude earthquake rocked central Alaska on Good Friday, March 27, 1964. It lasted for four minutes and thirty-eight seconds, but 52 separate aftershocks shook the area over the next three days, 11 of which measured higher than 6.0 on the Richter scale. Two hundred miles southwest of Anchorage, areas near Kodiak were permanently raised by 30 feet (9m). Other areas dropped as much as 8 feet (2.4m). People as far away as Texas and Florida reported movement directly related to the earthquake, such as seeing their “pool jiggle.” 

Miraculously, only nine people died in Anchorage and 115 throughout the rest of the state. 

The strongest recorded earthquake in the world happened only four years earlier in Chile, with a magnitude of 9.5.

Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage, Alaska after the 1964 Alaska Earthquake. Photo by U.S. Army, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage, Alaska after the 1964 Alaska Earthquake. Photo by U.S. Army, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Denali National Park, formerly known as Mount McKinley National Park, centers on the highest mountain in North America, Denali (highest point at 20,310 ft or 6,190 m). Denali National Park is one of the three parks in Alaska that you can get to by car. It’s 240 miles (386 km) by road from Anchorage and 125 miles (201 km) from Fairbanks. The park has just one road, called the Denali Park Road. The road is 92 miles (148 km) long, and only the first 15 miles (24 km) are paved.


Denali National Park is 9,492 square miles (24,584 square km). To compare, New Hampshire is 9,351 square miles (24,218 square km) in area and Massachusetts is 10,555 square miles (27337 square km).

Bull caribou walking in front of Mt McKinley, (Rangifer tarandus), Alaska, Denali National Park, Taken 07.96

Katmai is a national park famous for its brown bears (a species also known as grizzlies, when they live inland). It has more bears than people! An estimated 2,200 brown bears live in the park. One of the best places to see bears is at Brooks Camp, where they catch salmon in the Brooks River. You can only get to Katmai by air or boat, because there are no roads.


The park also has volcanoes, including Mount Katmai, which erupted in 1917 and created the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Bear watching is the most popular activity, and July is the busiest month. Other activities include hiking, camping, skiing, and kayaking.

Bears fishing for salmon in the Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Photo by Pradeep Nayak on Unsplash.
Bears fishing for salmon in the Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Photo by Pradeep Nayak on Unsplash.


During the summer, Katmai National Park turns on their live web cam at Brooks River. Here you can watch the bears feast on salmon, spot a bald eagle or two, and even the occasional wolf trying to get in on the salmon action. Bears have been known to catch more than 30 salmon per day during the peak season in late June and July.

Watch it here: https://bit.ly/Katmai-Bear-Cam

The Northern Lights

Alaska, especially in the city of Fairbanks, often sees the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights are bands and waves of brightly colored light that dance and move across the night sky, most often visible between mid-August and mid-April.

Northern Lights seen in Alaska. Photo by Pixabay
Northern Lights seen in Alaska. Photo by Pixabay

Adult moose range from 800 pounds to 1,600 pounds (362 to 725 kg) and can be just under six feet (1.8 m) tall. 

Humans and moose have similar taste in where they live, preferring low-lying land next to rivers and streams, which naturally makes us unlikely neighbors.

Moose sleep on the ground like deer. They can store over 100 pounds (45 kg) of food in their stomachs at one time; they can move each ear and eye independently; and their home range may be up to 50 square miles (129 square km). A male moose is called a bull, a female moose is a cow, and a baby moose is a calf. Only the males have antlers.

Adult male moose. Photo by Shivam Kumar on Unsplash
Adult male moose. Photo by Shivam Kumar on Unsplash

Polar bears are found in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Russia and Norway. While not all polar bears live in the high Arctic, all polar bears live where there is snow and ice. To spot polar bears in Alaska, you can usually find them near Barrow, now called Utqiagvik, and Kaktovik, between August and October. 

Polar bears have longer necks, narrower heads, shorter claws, bigger feet and smaller ears than other bears. Their white or yellow coat is water-repellent. Their large feet help them swim and walk on thin ice. The bottoms of their feet are nearly covered in fur. They also have excellent night vision, which is important since most of their hunting is done in the dark Arctic winter months, where there is little to no sunlight for months.


What do you get when you cross a polar bear with a grizzly bear? You guessed it! A grolar bear or pizzly bear, and these polar bear-grizzly bear hybrids do exist! Wild hybrids are usually born from polar bear mothers. Now, while this seems wacky, it might help to know that polar bears did evolve from brown bears.

Half polar bear and half grizzly bear. Photo by Stefan David via Flickr (CC by SA-2.0)
Half polar bear and half grizzly bear. Photo by Stefan David via Flickr (CC by SA-2.0)

Alaska has both reindeer and caribou—about 20,000 reindeer and 750,000 caribou. These are the same elk-like species but with a few differences; caribou are larger and undomesticated. Reindeer were semi-domesticated on the Eurasian continent, so commercial herding is possible.

Reindeer Closeup. Photo by Barry Tan via Pexels.
Reindeer Closeup. Photo by Barry Tan via Pexels.

The alpine forget-me-not flower was chosen as a symbol of Alaska long before it was officially adopted as Alaska’s state flower in 1949. The small flowers have five rounded blue petals with a white inner ring and a yellow center. These wild, native perennials grow throughout Alaska’s high-altitude meadows and on rocky mountains. They represent one of the few plant families where the blossoms exhibit true blue. 

Forget-me-not flowers were part of the inspiration for the blue Alaskan state flag. Benny Benson, the 14-year-old who designed the winning flag design, explained that, “The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the Forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower.”

Closeup of forget-me-not flowers, Alaska’s state flower. Photo by Anna Rozwadowska on Unsplash.
Closeup of forget-me-not flowers, Alaska’s state flower. Photo by Anna Rozwadowska on Unsplash.

These tall, thin plants produce bright pink and purple blossoms that bloom from the bottom upward. They can cover entire mountainsides and roadside meadows and are a sure sign that summer has arrived in Alaska. When the topmost flower blooms, it’s a sign that summer is coming to an end.

Its name comes from the fact that it is one of the first to bloom after a fire sweeps through, and not just in mountains and meadows. After World War II, fireweed was the first plant to blossom in bomb craters in London. 

New shoots can be eaten like asparagus. The leaves can be dried and used for tea. Bees feeding on fireweed nectar produce a white honey that tastes great in jams, jellies, and ice cream.

Fireweed. Photo by Paul Levesley on Unsplash
Fireweed. Photo by Paul Levesley on Unsplash

While hikers in Alaska don’t have to worry about poison oak or poison ivy, they don’t get away from annoying, poisonous plants that easily. 

Alaska has what’s called cow parsnip, also known as wild celery. Cow parsnip can grow up between five and 10 feet tall and has large hollow stems and large, maple-leaf shaped leaves that are divided into three. It has tiny white flowers in flat-topped clusters at the top of each stem. 

If you brush up against it, the plant juices (furocoumarins, a photosensitive chemical) can get onto your skin and react with sunlight, causing pain and blistering. If it does get on your skin, wash it off as soon as you can. 

People have used cow parsnip stems as straws and even make them into toy pop guns and pipes.

Cow Parsnip
Cow Parsnip

Salmonberries are large, watery, raspberry-like berries and are one of the first wild fruits available each summer. The berries are best in July but are often available mid-June to mid-August. It has been said that an abundance of salmonberries means pink salmon will be plentiful and also foretells an upcoming snowy winter.

Salmonberry. Photo by randimal via DepositPhoto.com.
Salmonberry Berry

These tangy, sweet, and nutritious berries are also called lowbush cranberries, cowberries, red whortleberries or mountain cranberries, and can be found in the Alaskan forests, mountain slopes and even the tundra.

Lingonberries have more antioxidants than cranberries and have been used for medicinal purposes. Chewing the berries can help a sore throat, relieve an upset stomach or help a headache.

Lingonberry. Photo by blinow61 via DepositPhoto.com.
Lingonberry. Photo by blinow61 via DepositPhoto.com.

Cloudberries are a prized berry in Canada, Russia, Scandinavia, and throughout Alaska. Other names include Nordic berry, bakeapple, low-bush salmonberry and aqpik. A handful of cloudberries contain more vitamin C than a glass of orange juice and any other Alaska berry.


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