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Land of Majestic Natural Beauty

Pause to witness massive glaciers calving, hike breathtaking trails in Denali National Park, fish for salmon on Bristol Bay, snap photos of Mount McKinley — North America's highest peak — or quietly kayak on Prince William Sound. It's hard not to be humbled by so many natural wonders.

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Skiers in Alaska await the heli-ski
Skiers in Alaska await the heli-ski

Skiers in Alaska await the heli-ski

One of the more popular sports in Alaska is skiing on virgin terrain, but these remote locations are accessible only via heli-ski. Head to the Chugach Mountains in southwest Alaska with Points North Heli-Adventures as your guide. 960 1280

Gabe Rogel/Getty Images/Aurora Creative  

Snowboarder jumps in the air

Snowboarder jumps in the air

Professional snowboarders flock to the Valdez region for the purest powder. But this adrenaline rush is suitable only for expert snowboarders or skiers: There are no ski lifts or training sessions in these mountains. 960 1280

Whit Richardson/Getty Images/Aurora Open  

A raft goes by large glaciers in the river

A raft goes by large glaciers in the river

A must-see when in Alaska: glaciers! There are a handful of expeditions offered by different tour companies throughout Alaska, including a 1-day rafting trip down the Matanuska River that lets riders disembark for a half-day or full-day trek on the Matanuska Glacier.

Steve Faber/Getty Images/iStockphoto  

Raft alongside a river bank

Raft alongside a river bank

White-water rafters get their kicks on the Hulahula River, from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has information on camping, rafting and backpacking tours.

bpfriel/a different perspective  

camp site and the Northern Lights

camp site and the Northern Lights

Alaska's northern lights, also known as aurora borealis, are spectacular to view in the colder months of winter, although they’re still visible — and beautiful — in spring. Grab the camping gear, pitch a tent and experience aurora borealis outside the city limits, away from artificial light. 960 1280

Steve Mcsweeny/Getty Images/iStockphoto  

A person wades in the hot springs

A person wades in the hot springs

Located outside Fairbanks, AK, Chena Hot Springs has been a must-see destination for more than 100 years because of its "healing" mineral-water hot springs. Another crowd favorite on the property is the Aurora Ice Bar at the Aurora Ice Museum, where visitors can stay in 1 of 4 rooms made of ice! 960 1280

Walter Bibikow/Getty Images  

Riverboat Discovery steam boat

Riverboat Discovery steam boat

Get an authentic taste of Alaska with Riverboat Discovery, a 3-hour tour on and off a traditional steamboat that travels down the "backwoods" of Alaska. Stops along the way include a Chena Indian village walking tour, a bush pilot demonstration and storytelling about the important role that bush pilots play in Alaska, along with a visit to a 4-time Iditarod champion's home and kennels. Tours are offered May through September.

Yves Marcoux/Getty Images/First Light  

Tanana Valley Railroad stream train

Tanana Valley Railroad stream train

Craving a bit of that old gold rush history? Visit Fairbanks, AK, for a 2-hour tour of the El Dorado Gold Mine. Get a brief history about the mine on board the Tanana Valley Railroad stream train as it winds its way through the country’s valley and hills. When it reaches the mine, you’ll have an opportunity to pan for gold. 960 1280

LightRocket via Getty Images  

View along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

View along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Take in the beautiful views of Anchorage, AK, along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. The trail is roughly 11 miles long. Start in the city of Anchorage, at West Second Avenue, near the railroad station, and head south until the trail ends at Kincaid Park. It’s open year-round.

Brian Dearth  

Bearing Sea crab fisherman's boat the Aleutian Ballad

Bearing Sea crab fisherman's boat the Aleutian Ballad

Thanks to the hit TV show Deadliest Catch, the fishermen of the Bering Sea are practically celebrities. For 3 hours, get a small taste of what life is like on the Bering Sea — minus the danger. See king crabs up-close, spot whales and more. From Anchorage, fly 4 hours south to Ketchikan, or choose the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen's Tour as your next Alaskan cruise excursion.

Courtesy Bering Sea Crab Fishermen's Tour  

Brown Bear

Brown Bear

Visit Katmai National Park and Preserve, located in King Salmon, AK, to see one of the highest concentrations of brown bears in North America. There are a handful of bear-viewing Natural Habit Adventures, that offer service to Katmai, which is accessible by plane or boat. 960 1280

David Rasmus/Getty Images/iStockphoto  

Cruiseline passes a glacier

Cruiseline passes a glacier

Take a cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage region, reaching as far south as Ketchikan and heading north past Sitka and Juneau. Then, before reaching the quaint town of Skagway, you can visit Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and see the immense Mendenhall Glacier nearby. 960 1280

Kent Weakley/Getty Images/iStockphoto  

12 Things To Do in Alaska   12 Photos

Only Happens In Alaska
Only Happens In Alaska

Only Happens In Alaska

What an adorable little mosquito! I wonder what it’s made of. Wait, what? It’s made of poop?! Yep. Believe it or not, this creative little creature is made of repurposed moose droppings. In Alaska, artists will use anything they can find to make their art — and we do mean anything. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Alaska

Only Happens In Alaska

But you can’t just pick up poop and pop out art. Artists carefully coat each piece of moose poop with polyurethane so that it can be transformed into Christmas ornaments, knickknacks and even jewelry. Haven’t you always wanted moose-poop earrings? 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Alaska

Only Happens In Alaska

In some of the more remote stretches of Alaska, women can be hard to come by. The frontier life simply isn’t for everyone. But the men of Talkeetna, AK, have come up with a solution to attract the opposite sex to their small town. Welcome to the Wilderness Woman Contest. Every year, hundreds of bachelorettes from all over the state flock to Talkeetna to partake in this tongue-in-cheek competition to separate the girls from the women. Events consist of such tasks as fetching water from a stream (pictured), snagging a salmon and shooting a latex ptarmigan (similar to a pigeon). While the prizes vary from year to year, all competitors leave as winners. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Alaska

Only Happens In Alaska

Alaskans pride themselves on their ability to get the most out of anything. So when they’re presented with an old WWII bunker, they don’t see ruins — they see potential for new house! A couple in Kodiak renovated this old bunker and even added an entire third floor, creating one of the more secure and unique living quarters in the world. And you simply cannot beat the 360-degree view of the Alaskan wilderness. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Japan

Only Happens In Japan

This hallway resembling a beehive is in one of many Japanese hotels focused on pleasing the traveler who’s always on the move. These small pods offer customers the bare essentials: a bed, a pillow and a place to recharge their phones and bodies. There’s not even a door, just a simple curtain to give each guest some privacy. The rooms are booked in 9-hour increments — just enough time to get a good night’s sleep before continuing on your trip. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Japan

Only Happens In Japan

At most restaurants, the first thing the staff hands guests is a fork, but not at Zauo Restaurant in Tokyo. Guests are greeted with a fishing pole and a net. If you want to eat here, you’ll have to earn it first. Catch your dinner fresh from the restaurant’s aquariums. Then, bring it over to the chef and watch as he prepares your meal. The experience is unique to Japan and definitely brings a whole new meaning to “catch of the day.” 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Japan

Only Happens In Japan

Perhaps no country in the world holds on to traditions the way Japan does. From daily rituals to annual festivals dating back centuries, tradition is found everywhere. One example is the Hadaka Matsuri — the Naked Man Festival. Thousands of men from all over the country come together each year to participate in the annual event in hopes of gaining luck for the new year. Men are broken up into teams as they parade around in nothing but a Japanese loincloth, called a fundoshi, before entering the temple gates. Once inside, the men stand shoulder to shoulder and wait for 3 sacred bamboo sticks to be tossed into the crowd. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these sticks, and subsequently be escorted out of the naked mob by teammates, you are granted good luck for a year. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Japan

Only Happens In Japan

These ornately designed dekotora trucks line up to show off their beauty. The stylized trucks are unique to Japan and can often be seen at car shows and special events, or even on the road as work trucks. Owners do everything and anything to dress up and trick out their trucks with neon lights and extravagant additions. The end result is something you’d be more likely to see in a Mad Max sequel than on the open highway. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Russia

Only Happens In Russia

Russia features some of the most notoriously brutal winters in the world. And none are more brutal than those in Siberia. Winter here can last up to 9 months, and when spring comes, it’s time to celebrate. This fiery party is the symbolic “burning of winter” at the Maslenitsa festival near Lake Baikal. The weeklong festival coincides with the start of Great Lent (similar to Lent) and is a celebration of religion, culture and food. If you plan on making the trip, come hungry! The festival is known for serving up some of the best and biggest pancakes around. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Russia

Only Happens In Russia

It takes a special kind of person to run a marathon. It takes a really special person to run those 26.2 miles over a frozen lake. But that’s precisely what happens every year at the Baikal Ice Marathon. Runners from around the globe come to Siberia to partake in this truly unique and challenging race, which takes place on the frozen ice of Lake Baikal. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Russia

Only Happens In Russia

Some people like a cup of coffee to start their day. Russians prefer being whipped by tree branches in the sweltering heat of a bathhouse called a banya. But what if you can’t get to a banya? No worries. In Russia, it’ll come to you! This old military truck is exactly what the cartoon painted on the outside looks like — a mobile banya. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Dubai

Only Happens In Dubai

Nothing says luxury more than gold. And what better way to show off your bankroll and status than with a gold-leaf facial? At the Raffles Spa in Dubai, you can get just that. Sit back, relax, and before you know it, your face will be covered in 24-karat gold leaf. The treatment, unique to Dubai, is supposed to rejuvenate your skin and deliver a fresh and glowing complexion. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Dubai

Only Happens In Dubai

Police car chases have often been a thing of intrigue. There have been TV shows created solely dedicated to them, in fact. And no matter how boring they may appear, somehow, you just can’t take your eyes off them. So just think how amazing they would be if the police officers were driving McLaren’s and Audi’s. Now THAT is exciting! They even have a Bugatti worth $2.2 million! Only in Dubai will you find an entire police force outfitted with racetrack-quality vehicles to chase down the bad guys. 960 1280

  

Only Happens In Dubai

Only Happens In Dubai

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear Dubai? The sweltering heat? The lavish city and surrounding resorts? No, you think of shredding some powder at the most unique ski resort you’ve ever seen, right? Well, maybe you should. Because right in the middle of the city of Dubai is the completely man-made, snow-pumping Ski Dubai, where snowboarders and skiers alike can come to get their winter-sports fix. 960 1280