Alaska can be described in one syllable: huge. The state covers more than a half a million square miles, and south to north the airline distance is the same from Ketchikan to Barrow as from El Paso, Texas, to the Canadian border.
The southeast coast, rainy but mild, is a maze of wilderness islands and channels with seemingly endless forests, topped by spectacular glaciered ranges. Except for Haines, Hyder, and Skagway, no towns are connected by highway to any place else, so sightseeing by ship or air is common. Short cruises on small ships are offered in some communities. The towns also are connected by the Alaska State Ferry System, known as the Marine Highway.
Anchorage is now unchallenged as Alaska's largest community. It began as a railroad construction camp in 1914. With highways, a railroad, and an international crossroads airport, Anchorage presides over the Cook Inlet region, where, in a relatively moderate climate, half the state's population lives. Visitors can spend several days taking tours out of this city.
Mount McKinley, in Denali National Park between Anchorage and Fairbanks, is reached by rail or highway. The park is a place to see Alaska's wildlife as well as the tallest peak in North America. And then there is the Arctic; with its vast tundras, treeless hills, and the incredibly beautiful Brooks Range - accessible by flights from Anchorage or Fairbanks. The unique feature of Barrow, farthest-north settlement in the US, is that there's no night. The sun does not set from May 10 to August 2. Kotzebue, just above the Arctic Circle, is generally paired with a visit to Nome of gold-rush fame.