Alaska Claims To Fame That You Might Be Surprised By
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Alaska claims to fame vary drastically from one to the next. The 49th state has many accolades but these unique and captivating claims to fame might leave you bewildered. From the extreme weather changes to the quirky roadside attractions, and the “free money” that everyone can’t stop talking about. Check out eight of our top picks for Alaska’s most recognized claims to fame.
1: The Most Daylight and The Most Darkness
Head to Barrow, Alaska where the temperature and daylight extremes are unlike anywhere else in the world. Basically, the further north you go the more daylight you’ll have in the summer, and the more darkness you’ll have in the winter. Summer season means that between roughly May 11 – July 31 annually, the sun won’t completely set for around 82 total days. Then on the flip side, the winter is when the locals (and the bears) tend to hibernate. Starting around November 18th and lasting until January 22nd, the area has almost complete darkness. The reason for this is due to the way the Earth tilts in relation to its orbit around the sun. When the Earth’s northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun, the sun then disappears. Luckily, locals here are used to this cycle every year and plan ahead far in advance in preparation to adjust their lifestyles accordingly.
2: Free Money For Living In The State
AKA the PFD. The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend was established in 1976. It was a short time after oil from the North Slope began flowing through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System that the PFD was created by amendment to the Alaska Constitution. The original idea was to invest at least 25% of the oil money that could then later be used as a dedicated fund for future generations when oil might not be such a plentiful resource. A certain share of oil revenues were set aside to help benefit current and future generations in Alaska. It is reported that the “Fund” grew from an initial investment of $734,000 in 1977 to roughly $53.7 billion reported on July 9, 2015. Each year, residents have until Spring season to apply for the PFD then they anxiously anticipate the disbursement in October.
3: World-Renowned Life Sized Fruits And Veggies
Something about that midnight sun that makes “growing season” short, sweet, and magically mighty up here in the great 49th state. Make sure to get yourself a ticket to the annual Alaska State Fair in the Mat-Su Valley for an up close and personal look at the agriculture phenomenon that is “all things” Alaska-produce. We’re talking, gargantion! 138-pound cabbage, 65-pound cantaloupe, and 35-pound broccoli just to name a few. So why do they get so big? All that sunshine! Alaska’s growing season is short and around only 105 days (compared to California’s 300-day growing season). But in areas where there is up to 20-hours of sunshine per day, the produce just keeps growing and growing. The photosynthetic overload also attributes to the produce being much sweeter.
4: The North Pole and Santa Claus’ Workshop
Head just 20 minutes north of Alaska’s golden heart city of Fairbanks, where the “spirit of Christmas” lives all year long. Visit the ACTUAL North Pole home to the infamous Santa Claus House. Located off of St. Nicholas Drive, visitors here will be greeted by the 42-foot-high Santa Claus statue and roadside attraction. Top your experience off with a visit to some of Santa’s real-live reindeer nearby.
5: Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin was the ninth governor of Alaska who was elected to office in 2006 before resigning in 2009. She was both the youngest person and the first woman to be elected as the Governor of Alaska. Her fame sky-rocketed to national prominence in 2008 when Republican presidential nominee John McCain chose her as his vice-presidential candidate. The Palin family soon became household names as the media focused much attention on their hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. Over the years she has held other titles such as reality tv personality, author, and commentator. Perhaps we all remember the clip most played on the airstreams where comedian Tina Fey impersonates Sarah Palin on SNL stating, “I can see Russia from my house.” What Sarah Palin actually said, however, was that “you can actually see Russian from land here in Alaska, from an island.”
6: Reality TV Shows Selling A Side Of “Real Alaska” Live We’ve Never Seen Before
Ask any local and they will surely have an eye-roll and gasp at the whole Alaska reality TV movement attempting to sell “real Alaska” to the mainstream masses. While many are quite entertaining and show shreds of the truth, it’s hard not to ignore the over-the-top “fluff” involved in making these shows hits. But while nothing here in the land of lights, cameras, and action is 100% genuine, it’s undeniable that Alaska is one of the most intriguing states to dig into and get the nitty gritty. The wilderness and extreme lifestyle choices that come along with life in the Last Frontier make for an unlimited amount of wow-worthy scripts. You might remember classic hits like Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, Life Below Zero, Gold Rush, Alaska: The Last Frontier, Alaskan Bush People, Bering Sea Gold, Alaska State Troopers, Yukon Men, The Last Alaskans, and many more. A couple “flops” include Slednecks, Wild West Alaska, Alaska Proof, and Looking for Love: Bachelorettes in Alaska.
7: North America’s Tallest Mountain Peak
Once named Mount McKinley, Denali is the tallest mountain peak in North America at 20,310 feet above sea level. By measure, it could be considered the third tallest mountain in the world, falling behind Mount Everest in Nepal and Aconcagua in Argentina. On a clear city from Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage, you can spot Denali. Talkeetna, Cantwell, and many other towns along the George Parks Highway offer breathtaking views of this majestic mountain peak. A trip to Denali National Park & Preserve during the summertime is a bucket-list must for over 600,000 visitors each year.
8: The Longest Sled Dog Race In The World
The longest annually contested sled dog race in the world is located right here in Alaska. The Iditarod Sled Dog Race, roughly 1,049 miles, takes place across a route leading from Anchorage leading up to Nome. Mushers with their dog teams (of no more than 14 dogs each) embark on this journey which generally takes between 8-15 days to complete. The race began in 1973 and grows in popularity with each year that passes. Alaska is a proud dog mushing state as ‘dog mushing’ is considered the official state sport. Check out these 13 dog sledding adventures that offer the thrill of a lifetime!
Do you know of any other Alaska claims to fame that we left off the list? We’d love to hear your favorite Alaska accolades!
Looking for another great read? Check out these 9 creepy & abandoned Alaska life places + stories that’ll make you cringe. If you love Alaska’s idyllic charm, check out these 11 charming Alaska small towns that’ll leave you wanting more. Buckle up and prepare to enjoy: Road-Trippin’ Alaska; Your perfect way to escape the crowds in 2020. Also, for all those mastering the art of “social distancing” you’ll enjoy America’s least-visited National Park located right here in Alaska.