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Alaska

By far the largest American state, Alaska accounts for approximately one-sixth of the entire country, though its populace nudges just past 700,000. Alaska’s beauty has to be experienced: tidewater glaciers, braided rivers, the mountains of Denali. The wildlife viewing during the 18-hour summer ...

By far the largest American state, Alaska accounts for approximately one-sixth of the entire country, though its populace nudges just past 700,000. Alaska’s beauty has to be experienced: tidewater glaciers, braided rivers, the mountains of Denali. The wildlife viewing during the 18-hour summer days includes caribou, grizzly bears, bald eagles, orcas and gray whales. 

The luxury properties here are remote, unique and set amid jaw-dropping natural splendor. Minimum stays are often required. The Bristol Bay area offers some of the world’s finest fishing for salmon and rainbow trout; guests at the Tikchik Narrows Lodge take daily floatplane expeditions to secret rivers. Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge, set in a cove on the Kenai Peninsula, is especially popular with families. Several exclusive cruise operators (UnCruise, Lindblad, Entrée Yachts, Midnight Sun) journey through the stunning Inside Passage.

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EDITOR TIPS

Intimate Cruises

In Alaska, I recommend a journey aboard a smaller ship, which can take you places not accessible to larger ones. The intimate vessels of UnCruise Adventures bring you close to the pristine scenery and remarkable wildlife.

Well-Priced Binoculars

Wildlife professionals favor Swarovski field glasses, which range from $1,800 to $3,500. However, the Zeiss TERRA ED 8x42 binoculars, at around $400, are more than adequate. 

Informative Books

Whelks to Whales: Coastal Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest,” by Rick M. Harbo, is packed with clear photographs and concise text. “The Nature of Southeast Alaska: A Guide to Plants, Animals, and Habitats,” by Robert H. Armstrong, is not quite as far-ranging but goes into depth about ecosystems, which puts things into useful context. 

World-Class Fly-Fishing

Alaskan lodges are certainly not inexpensive, and minimum stays are generally required. In compensation, the fly-fishing is often absurdly good.

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