Amazing Alaska Towns Where The Mountains Meet The Sea
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
When it comes to majestic peaks and awe-inspiring seascapes, Alaska (undeniably) has everywhere else in the world beat. These incredible 13 towns where the mountains meet the sea are filled with more idyllic charm than your heart can possibly handle. So sit back, relax, and prepare to treat yourself on a whole lot of eye-candy. If you've never visited Alaska or simply have yet to explore all of these fascinating regions throughout the 49th state, prepare to get an overload of wanderlust.
1: Homer, Alaska Flickr - Damian Manda Named one of the happiest seaside towns in America, there is so much to love about the cosmic hamlet by the sea. The picturesque mountains that jolt up out of Kachemak Bay truly offer the most breathtaking scene you will ever lay eyes on. This special place at the “end of the road” offers a priceless setting with views that are out of this world. An article published by The Seattle Times quoted that Homer is, “… a sort of Key West in a parka.” But more recently, Homer was named one of America’s happiest seaside towns by Coastal Living Magazine.
2: Valdez, Alaska The Alaska Life Already visit McCarthy? If so, continue traveling south on the Richardson Highway where you’ll head up and through Thompson Pass, where the views make you realize why Valdez is called ‘Alaska’s Little Switzerland’. Continue down through the pass and you’ll encounter the Keystone Canyon riddled with incredible waterfalls. You’ll definitely want to pull over and take some photos…trust me. There is so much to do and see here, you’ll probably never want to leave!
3: Sitka, Alaska Flickr – Ivan Wong Rodenas Sitka, Alaska is a hidden gem found in Southeast Alaska and a truly must-see place that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It is also the historic hideaway where Alaska was officially purchased from Russia. The rich history and cultural charm found here, nestled against the scenic shores of the Alaska panhandle, is undeniably breathtaking. Top all that off with the lush temperate rain-forest known as the Tongass National Forest that surrounds you, and it’s hard not to feel like you’re on an instant vacation upon arriving.
4: Seldovia, Alaska Flickr - Andrea Pokrzywinski Hop on a 20-minute cruise from Homer to Jakolof Bay where you’ll be greeted by the alluring little town of Seldovia - a true hidden gem. “After crossing the open ocean we passed into Eldred Passage which is sheltered by Cohen, Yukon, and Hesketh Islands. Each island is covered with spruce and hemlock trees and skirted by smooth gravel beaches with an occasional cabin perched on a cliff or hidden in the dense forest. Opposite the islands were the large mouths of Sadie Cove and Tutka Bay leading the way to even calmer waters and emerald green forests.”
5: Anchorage, Alaska Flickr - Alex Proimos Don’t let those “big city lights” of Alaska fool you, Anchorage is absolutely one of the most breathtaking metropolitan areas in America. A staggering six total mountain ranges can be spotted from Anchorage on any given (clear) day. Mount Susitna AKA “Sleeping Lady” is a sight that locals can’t get enough of, chasing sunsets and watching in awe as the seasons change and the snow-covered lady takes on ever changing perspectives. The staggering sights of the Chugach Range stretch up to the city from the east. On a clear day, you can even see Denali (North America’s tallest mountain) inside the Alaska Range to the North. Other spectacular peaks that can be spotted include the Kenai Mountains, Talkeetnas, Tordrillos, and Aleutians.
6: Girdwood, Alaska Flickr - Lynn D. Rosentrater Just one visit to this happy little place just 45 minutes away from Anchorage, Alaska - and you’ll quickly understand why it was named among the world’s top 10 greatest mountain towns. “This humble hamlet located at the foothills of the Chugach Mountains was formerly known as “Glacier City” due to the colossal rivers of ice that blanket the surrounding mountains. The scenery is larger-than-life and sure to blow even the most frequent of visitors away. In town you’ll find that the vibes are simple, happy and delightfully laid back. Girdwood has a special community feel that makes it easy to fall in love with and never want to leave.”
7: Haines, Alaska Flickr - JLS Photography - Alaska Located on the northern part of the Alaska Panhandle near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Haines is an exceptionally wonderful mountain town in Alaska where pristine peaks meet the scenic sea. Mount Ripinski and the Takshanuk Mountains are some of the most notable areas around, offering amazing views and great hiking opportunities as well.
8: Cordova, Alaska Flickr - Forest Service Alaska Region, USDA At the head of Orca Inlet on the eastern side of Prince William Sound, there are so many jaw-dropping sights in Cordova it’s almost impossible to put the pure nature beauty into words. Plus, with no roads leading into the hidden gem (it’s only accessible by plane or sea travel) it’s no wonder that it stays so rugged and beautifully untouched. The Chugach National Forest surrounds this magical mountain town, with Eyak Lake in the background.
9: Juneau, Alaska Flickr - Antti T. Nissinen All hail Juneau; Undeniably America’s most scenic capital city in all the land. Nestled at the bottom of Mount Juneau, the only way into this Southeast Alaska remote paradise is via air or sea travel. “This incredible city houses a little over 31,000 people. The size of this municipality is larger than the state of Delaware or Rhode Island! It sits across from Douglas Island, and is situated in the Gastineau Channel. It’s perfectly positioned for some of the most stunning scenery you can think of.”
10: Ketchikan, Alaska Flickr - ThreeIfByBike The whole town of Ketchikan feels like it’s been built into the bottom of a majestic mountain side. Deer Mountain is a 3,001.97-feet high peak that dominates the skyline behind downtown Ketchikan. This area also offers a great hiking trail for visitors to enjoy different, equally spectacular, panoramic views of the charming coastal city. Deer Mountain is located in the Tongass National Forest inside the lush rainforest region known as Alaska’s crown jewel.
11: Skagway, Alaska Flickr - Jasperdo “The Gateway to the Klondike.” The scenic town of Skagway served as the main stepping off point for the historic Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. This wonderful little mountain town is well preserved today, nestled in a beautiful setting where the mountains meet the sea. Mt. Harding, Face Mountain, and AB Mountain are some of the most lofty peaks that you’ll see in the special spot.
12: Hope, Alaska Flickr - Erik Halfacre Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula has a true hidden gem, and it’s the eclectic tiny town of Hope. Here, you’ll find great hiking, fishing, and camping opportunities surrounded by fascinating mountain views on the southern shore of Cook Inlet. “Hope City” was established in 1896 and was originally a mining camp for the Resurrection Creek, a tributary of the Turnagain Arm.
13: Seward, Alaska Flickr - Eli Duke Oh… sweet, sweet Seward how we love you so! “Established in 1793 by Alexander Baranov as a fur trade post on the shores of Resurrection Bay, Seward can be explored by boat, car, or even by rail! Hiking, fishing, kayaking, and more are some of what can be found in this historic seaside community.”
Looking for another great read? You'll enjoy: Road-Trippin' Alaska; Your perfect way to escape the crowds in 2020. Also, enjoy checking out America's least-visited National Park located right here in Alaska. Or, 7 Road Trips That'll Fuel Your Wanderlust To Travel Alaska This Year.
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Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Could have put any town in Southeast Alaska.
John w April 17, 2021