Summer in Alaska

Mt. McKinley from Denali State Park

Spending the summer in Alaska has been on my “bucket list” for decades.  For nature lovers like me and Theresa, Alaska represents all that is wild and untamed.  In Alaska we find the largest national park in the country (Wrangell-St. Elias), the tallest mountain in North America (Mt. McKinley), over 3 million lakes, 100 thousand glaciers, and 34 thousand miles of tidal shoreline.  Alaska is home of the midnight sun in summer and the aurora borealis in winter.  “To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” ~John Muir

Our 49th state Alaska, admitted to the union is 1959, is by far the largest state in the US, over twice the size of next-largest state Texas, about 1/3 the size of the continental US, and larger than all but 18 countries in the world.  Yet it’s one of the most sparsely populated areas on the planet, averaging only 1.2 people per square mile.  Approximately 65% of Alaska (275 million acres) is owned and managed by the federal government as public lands.  The State of Alaska owns another 101 million acres, and Native Alaskans own another 44 million acres.  Only 1% of Alaskan land is privately held, by far the lowest percentage of any state in the country.

The United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million ($120 million in today’s dollars) at approximately 2 cents per acre.  The purchase was an initiative of then U.S. Secretary of State, William H. Seward.  Political opponents scoffed at the deal, dubbing it “Seward’s Folly,” though this apparently was more for political reasons than based on the merits of the deal (some things never change).  However, the United States recouped its entire purchase price from fur and mineral revenue within 18 months.  To this day, Alaska continues to provide the US with billions of dollars annually in oil, mineral, and other resources.  Alaska is arguably the greatest land deal in history, rivaled perhaps only by the Louisiana Purchase.

Please check out our first set of photos in this wilderness wonderland called Alaska:

Alaska Highway in Alaska
Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge
Chena River State Recreation Area
Denali National Park
Denali State Park

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