17 things I learned on my trip to Alaska

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I’ve been asked a bunch how my trip to Alaska was, and to even try to describe how fabulous it was would be futile. It was breathtaking, so instead of a travelogue of stories, I thought I’d share the list of things I learned while I was there.  Mostly about the state itself, but facts in general that left my husband and I stumped that we had gone this far in our lives without knowing these facts–brand new information, I tell ya. I’ll mix pictures in, and short details in {} under each image.

1.  Alaska has the largest vertical rise in the world from ocean to mountain.


2. Whittier, Alaska has the longest tunnel in North America:  2.5 miles long, single lane, took us 12 or so minutes to drive through.

{Anchorage Mormon Temple just across the parking lot from the church building}

3. There are more than one type of salmon:  king salmon, red salmon, sillver salmon, & pink salmon… who knew???

{This swimming bear was not in the wild, but in a conservation center/zoo type setting}

4. Most of those living in Alaska refer to the rest of us as “the lower 48”

{This eagle was also behind a fence, but we saw many eagles up in tree’s all over the state. My hubby’s favorite animal, it was cool to see.}

5. Hundres of glaciers, form from ice fields up in the mountains

{we stayed in the hotel down below, and rode this tram to the top of the mountain to eat at a restaraunt}

6. Alaska was purchased from Russia for .02 cents an acre

7. 750,000 people live in the entire state of Alaska–less than the city of Austin!

{Above was a pedestrian tram that one is able to ride in and pull the rope to get across.  Sadly, it was closed, which was good because I may have been to scared to ride it anyway.}

8. Half of the 750,000 that live in Alaska live in Anchorage

9. Cut Alaska in half and they are both still bigger than Texas;) People liked to tell me that when I said we lived in Texas.

10. There was an earthquake in 1964 that was 9.2 on the Richter scale, big part of their history

11. Dogs off of their leash are the #1 killer of baby moose.

12. People tend to own a sea plane over a boat (see first picture above).

13. You cannot travel to Juneau (the capitol) from Anchorage by car, only by boat or plane.

14. A reindeer is just a domesticated caribou

15. Locals can pick fresh blueberries wild in the mountains each September

{4th of July, a huge race that locals have a lottery to participate. Mount Marathon is like a reunion of types to those in the Anchorage area (held in Seward 2 hours away). Right image look closely and you can see the trail of colors going up the mountain.  A BYU grad (my alma mater) won this day–left image on the left with no shirt.  Another man broke his leg coming down the steep mountain incline}

16. There is a yearly resident stipend for each  person living in Alaska that averages $1000 a year.

{The above bear we did see in the wild. We were about 100  yards away, he was on a mountain side.}

17. Locals get on the “moose kill” list for when a moose gets hit by a car, they are notified, pick it up, and butcher it for meat.

There you have my favorite landscape images from Alaska. Did you know any of the 17 facts that I listed above?

Make sure to check out the links at the top for more of our Alaskan Adventure!

Join The Discussion



  1. Norman hill says:


  2. Liz H says:

    wow! LOVE the pic of the 2 trees w/ eagle in it. definitely print worthy!!

  3. Deb Kepiro says:

    Your photos are amazing! The facts are fasinating! This makes me want to put Alaska on the Bucket List!! Wow!!

  4. Mindy says:

    beautiful! Were you with a guide/local most of the time?

    • Kristen Duke says:

      No, mindy, we were on our own. My friend that hosted my workshop did suggest places to go ahead of time, and helped us map out where we would go;)

  5. I had no idea about ANY of those facts. Your pictures are beautiful! It’s funny, after your first bear picture, I was thinking “oh good she didn’t see any bears in the wild, I could totally handle Alaska”…but then you had to go and throw in the picture of the bear in the wild! 😉 My trip to Alaska will have to wait until I outgrow my fear of wild bears…and deer…but that’s a crazy story in and of itself…all I gotta say is Reindeer are NOT domesticated! 🙂

    A girl who was bit by a reindeer!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      The bear in the wild was still quite a distance away, though when we hiked, there were signs mentioning the possibility…bit by a reindeer? curious now…

  6. Jacqueline says:

    Ummm, don’t think I knew any of that. Pretty interesting!

  7. Tobi says:

    I knew a few of those facts. But most of that was news to me! Great pictures. I think Alaska must go to the top of my bucket list!

  8. carol says:

    Enjoyed your beautiful pictures and facts about Alaska!

  9. Michelle says:

    Love the facts and loved the pictures! This makes me want to go to Alaska even more!

  10. Emily says:

    Aww its too bad the hand tram was closed, it’s a cool little thing to experience! I love that you’re still sharing your trip and even though I live here and see all those things frequently I still loved the post. A few of the 17 things made me laugh, its funny to think back to when I first learned all of that too!

  11. This is really cool. My dad grew up in Alaska…and he was in Anchorage in the 1964 earthquake. In fact, he and his family had just moved into this new house in Anchorage a week before the earthquake hit. You can look on-line at YouTube videos of the quake. It was really powerful indeed. Thanks for the awesome photos and fun facts to go with it 🙂 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  12. Karl and Amanda Schulte says:

    We are laughing..we live in Austin and were in Seward on July 4th as well..have a photo from the side of the guy that went missing..have the same eagle and the same bear at the conservation center !!!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      really?? that’s crazy!

  13. kriste says:

    Your pictures are gorgeous! I did know a few of these, only because a good friend is from there, and my sister lived there for a little while. :o)

  14. amanda says:

    Love to see you do landscapes, Kristen!
    Like you, we’ve been on the go – after our trip to Colorado in June, we headed to northern Ontario for 8 days last week to our cottage up there.. it’s not Alaska, we still hope to go there some day, but there are many similarities! More moose, bear, & eagles than people any day. 🙂
    Lovely photos & fun facts.

  15. Kate says:

    There are actually more types of salmon than you listed. The american names you listed, here in Canada we call them.
    Chinook( also called springs) there are Red and white springs as well. (You call them Kings)
    Chum Salmon (also called Dog salmon by some because of the teeth they grow when spawning)
    Sockeye Salmon (Reds)
    Coho Salmon (Silvers, sometime called blue backs)
    and Pink Salmon.

    Some would also include Steelhead but these are actually ocean going rainbow trout but they’re often grouped with salmon by some.

    I’m so jealous that you went to Alska, my husband and I would love to go but; we want to go fishing there and we need to save up for that type of trip.

  16. Vicki says:

    Kristen~Your pictures are spectacular! I live in Anchorage, take many, many photos but aspire to take photos like you. Alaska is such a great subject to shoot! I’m hoping Santa brings me a new camera!

  17. Had I not gone to Alaska on a cruise and experienced the beauty of this phenomenal landscape first-hand, I would have said these pictures couldn’t possibly be real. These are absolutely breathtaking shots! You have perfectly captured Alaska’s beauty in them. I find retelling my stories of destinations help me to remember each destination with perfect clarity! I’m sure you experience the same thing with your pictures.


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