Home to the highest peak in North America and the coldest winters in the United States, Alaska is a land of great extremes. It's no surprise that it also features some of the world's wildest adventures.
Alyeska Dog Team
This adventure begins with a quick helicopter ride from Anchorage to Punchbowl Glacier where the Alyeska facility trains Alaskan huskies to participate in the grueling Iditarod. Amateurs can experience a 2-mile taste of the legendary 1,000-mile dogsled race. After a meet-and-greet with these super canines, you can help harness them to a sled and climb aboard for a wild ride on a trip across the glacier.
Mahay's Riverboat Service Devils Canyon Adventure
Denali National Park has 6 million acres of stunning wilderness and plenty of activities for true daredevils. But few adventure-seekers have the chance to experience Devil Canyon's Class 5 rapids. Alaskan adventurer Steve Mahay was the first to navigate this dangerous stretch of water. Today his company lets adventurers face these raging waters aboard a high-speed jet boat that deftly maneuvers the wild whitewater.
Most campers are happiest when they can successfully avoid any bear encounters. But for some crazy campers in Homer, AK, the goal is to get as close as possible to these not-so-cuddly creatures. Air trekking allows hikers to be airlifted right into the thick of the wilderness at Katmai National Park, home to about 4,500 brown bears. Daring dens of campers observe these majestic beasts in their natural habitat. Then at nightfall, it's time to bunk down in the confines of an electric fence and hope the electrical zap is enough to keep these 7-feet-tall, 1,000-pound bears at bay.
Papa Murphy's Pizza
Residents of Alaska's most remote spots never take the pizza guy for granted. Papa Murphy's intrepid delivery workers will travel by boat or seaplane to fulfill a cheesy, pepperoni craving -- and delivery is free! Don't worry about the pizza getting cold during its journey because these pies arrive unbaked and oven-ready.
There's no snoozing or relaxing to be found when fishing for colossal king salmon in Gakona, AK. Kingfisher's Perch is one of the only places around where amateurs can check out rodeo fishing. Fishermen cast their lines out while still standing on dry land. Once there's a bite, they move the rod to the left to hook the fish and then move to the dock to board the boat. Once aboard the fish-cat boat, it's much easier to follow the king's every twist and turn. Then the challenge is to keep rowing against the raging rapids. Hopefully the fish reaches exhaustion first, and thats the time to reel in dinner -- all 4 feet of it.
Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
The Ice Museum in Chena Hot Springs is carved from 1,000 tons of ice, making it the largest permanent ice structure in the world. Visitors can play a cool game of chess on a giant ice-sculpted board or just chill at the museum bar with a martini in a glass made of ice. Not cool enough? Spend the night on a bed of ice, literally, in one of the museum's 4 icy rooms, then warm up with a dip in the hot mineral waters the next morning.
Trans Alaska Pipeline System
Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska
The Trans Alaska Pipeline System is the largest single state oil pipeline in the country. The workers who constructed this steel serpent had to contend with Alaska's most extreme terrain, including frozen tundra, 3 mountain ranges and over 800 rivers and streams. This system traverses 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, a distance that's nearly 2 times the length of the entire state of Florida. With this exceptional size, it has an extremely important job -- supplying nearly 600,000 barrels of oil each day.
The reward is great for those hearty souls who can brave Alaska's long, drab winter enveloped in 20 hours of darkness per day. Enter the Summer Solstice when the sun shines for 24 hours straight. In Fairbanks, it's just another excuse for a mega-party. The Midnight Sun Festival promises 12 hours of Alaskan fair food (think caribou) and local activities like panning for gold. The first pitch is thrown out at the annual baseball game at 10:30 PM and the bars are packed from would-be dusk until dawn.
Alaska Canopy Adventures
Get a bird's-eye view of Ketchikan from a swinging cable bridge on this seriously wild zip-line course that reaches 135 feet in the air. Not for the faint of heart or those fearful of heights, the most extreme run is 750 feet long and takes just 22 seconds as the body reaches speeds of 35 miles per hour. But the terror doesn't stop there; you'll zoom through 7 zip-line runs before the trip comes to an end. If you can keep your eyes open, look out for soaring eagles above and big bears below in the rugged landscape.