Alaska Tops ‘Bucket List’ Destinations

Alaska, the only non-contiguous U.S. state, rich in resources, lush landscape and abundant wildlife, often seems like a lofty goal when considering possible travel destinations for the year ahead. According to USA Today’s 2014 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, Alaska ranked second on the ‘Best Bucket List Trips.’

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What people don’t realize is that a trip to Alaska is attainable with a bit of planning and research.

Denali National Park and Preserve, found in the interior of Alaska, encompasses six million acres of preserved wilderness that includes massive expanses of forest, glacial lakes, frozen tundra, and towering mountains – including North America’s tallest mountain, Mount McKinley. Denali Park Village, located only miles from the entrance to Denali National Park, is set among 20 acres of a spruce forest along the Nenana River.

This compelling, adventure-laden locale and its stunning views of nature and wildlife topped ‘bucket lists’ of some 400,000 visitors last year who found themselves at the heart of the Alaskan wilderness. Visitors also experienced Denali Park Village’s rustic yet luxurious lodge, cozy cabins, varied dining options, tour packages, accommodating staff and interpretive tours of the park.

Tips to checking Denali National Park off your bucket list in 2015:

  1. Book direct, in between tours. There are short gaps between groups and tours when the hotel may be nearly empty, those nights can be very cheap. Book with the hotel directly.
  2. Reserve a budget for day-tours. Day tours are the best way to see Alaska.  Plan to spend part of your budget on day-tours, they let you explore the otherwise inaccessible wilderness. Then rent a car and create your own adventures or take a trip on the Alaska Railroad, it provides efficient and reasonably priced service throughout most of the state.
  3. Know what time of year to visit. Days are long, and temperatures are comfortable anytime from May to September. Hotel rates are lower during shoulder seasons (mid-May to mid-June and early September), but temperatures a little warmer during peak season. It gets rainier as the summer progresses.
  4. Act like a local. Avoid tourist restaurants in favor of street vendors or local cafes. If you have a car, shop at the discount stores outside each town rather than at the expensive downtown boutiques. Take advantage of free weekend markets, festivals and other local entertainment options.

Denali Park Village, a new lodging destination that embodies Alaska’s rich mining and natural history, underwent a complete transformation in 2014. It now offers visitors an authentic Alaskan experience including The Lodge at Denali Park Village, The Cabins at Denali Park Village and Miner’s Plaza designed to resemble a historic mining town. The plaza includes individually themed shops, general store, museum, gift shop, gem mining, games such as horseshoe and bean bags, open fire pits and lounge chairs and an outdoor stage offering free talks by the Denali Education Center.

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