FAIRBANKS -- For the purposes of tourism, Alaska is essentially two
separate, major destination areas.
One is composed of the ports along the Inside Passage and the
Gulf of Alaska. The other area is the interior, home of Denali Park
and the entry to the Yukon Territory and the historical Klondike
gold rush region.
Here is a rundown of the attractions offered by the interior of
the state and the Yukon.Denali National Park. An estimated 1 million people a year
enter the park in search of the wilderness experience.
Environmentalists constantly argue that their presence threatens
the very experience they seek; the tourist industry sees much room
for properly managed expansion of that traffic without damaging the
vast park's ecosystem.
Dominating all is North America's tallest peak, Mount McKinley,
known to many locals as, simply, Denali ("the High One" in the
Athabascan Indian language). McKinley, though, even at 20,320 feet,
is by no means the only prominent mountain in the Alaska range that
runs through the park; nearby are Mount Foraker (17,400 feet),
Mount Hunter (15,573 feet) and Mount Grosson (12,800 feet).
Wildlife abounds, from the small willow ptarmigan, the state bird
that sometimes weighs less than a pound fully grown, to the grizzly
bear and the moose, each of which can top 400 pounds.
The Alaska Railroad operates trains daily into the park from
both Anchorage and Fairbanks.Fairbanks. Alaska's second-largest city, is in the middle of
the state on the banks of the Chena River, about 120 miles from
Denali. The city was founded, almost by accident, in 1901 when a
riverboat captain refused to carry trader-entrepreneur E.T.
Barnette as far up river as he wanted to go because of low water
levels. Dumped on the shore, Barnette set up a trading post and
when, within months, gold was discovered nearby, the city began to
Today, the highlights of any Fairbanks stay are a sternwheeler
cruise on the Chena and Tanana Rivers, an inspection of the Trans
Alaska Pipeline, a tour of a gold dredge and a visit to Alaskaland,
a theme park housing original buildings and re-created early-1900s
In the winter, Fairbanks is a prime location to view the aurora
borealis.Dawson. Nowhere are you closer to the Klondike gold rush area
of the Yukon Territory than in this city. Just a few miles away are
the waters of Bonanza Creek, where the first flecks of the precious
metal were discovered in 1896, a find that led to the great
stampede of 1898.
Located at the junction of the Yukon and Klondike rivers, Dawson
is the home of Diamond Tooth Gertie's gambling Hall and burlesque
show and the Fabulous Follies Gaslight Vaudeville, performed
nightly during the summer at the Palace Grand Theater.Whitehorse. Capital of the Yukon Territory of Canada,
Whitehorse has less a frontier ambience than Dawson. As a
government seat, it has large stretches of modern architecture,
sophisticated restaurants and hotels and an international
Among its attractions are the Old Log Cabin Church, which tells
the story of the Anglican missionaries and their relations with the
original inhabitants of the area, and the S.S. Klondike, a
sternwheeler now designated a National Historic Site and open for
public viewing May through September.