Best Alaska Travel Experiences

01/06/2015
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photo via Paxson Woelber

The best things in life aren’t things. They’re experiences. If you’re on the hunt for happiness, forget the jewelry and big-screen TV, and choose a memorable experience instead.

Not convinced? Don’t take our word for it. Research from Cornell University has proven that buying vacations makes us happier than purchasing clothes, electronic gadgets or even a new car.

How so? Researchers uncovered a few reasons:

Zest for living

Life is juicier when you get out and experience a new corner of the world. It’s the difference between watching a nature documentary on PBS and actually seeing a bear or moose from the glass-topped car of an Alaska rail tour. No matter how high the resolution on your big-screen TV, it can’t make your heart beat in the same way.

Memory-makers

The excitement over a new object fades in a matter of six to eight weeks, according to the Cornell scientists. If you’re lucky, the thrill might last three months, tops.

But vacations come with a built-in happiness extender: memories. When re-lived through shared conversations, photos and videos, that flightseeing trip over Denali National Park’s mammoth Kahitna Glacier doesn’t lose its luster the way those earrings will. The trip keeps paying the happiness dividend forward.

Stronger social fabric

Buying a new computer? Expect to spend a lot of alone time. But an excursion—whether it’s gazing at the Northern Lights or jetting to a remote wilderness camp on a —almost always involves other people. Those shared experiences naturally strengthen our social bonds, which in turn makes us feel happier.

Beyond compare

Cornell researchers also say you’re much less likely to compete with your neighbors when it comes to experiences. After all, it’s tough to play whose-is-bigger when discussing your trip to Talkeetna to meet those amazing sled dogs. But spend an evening in your neighbor’s home theater, and you might be making mental comparisons the entire time you’re munching popcorn.

Go to your happy place: Alaska

With its emphasis on collecting experiences rather than things, travel is a natural endorphin-booster. And what better place to experience the best life has to offer than Alaska? With 34,000 miles of shoreline to explore, the country’s largest national park, and more than 20 million acres of national forest to hike, it’s practically a happiness factory.

Book a vacation to the 49th state and you’ll be reaping the benefits for years to come. Here we’ve rounded up our picks for top Alaska travel experiences, available from our custom-built Princess Lodges:

Rail travel

Take in the sights of the Alaska wilderness while you relax and enjoy a meal, a good book or the company of fellow passengers. We take care of navigation and travel logistics; you focus on Alaska’s stunning landscape.

Denali Hike & Flight

Venture into a roadless backcountry that few others visitors will glimpse. A seaplane flies you to an off-trail hiking adventure through a land of clear streams, grassy heather slopes, snowy and spectacular views of the Backside and Ruth glaciers.

Flightseeing

What better way to take in the grandeur of Alaska from the air? Get a birds-eye view of Denali as your circle this stunning peak on a 200-mile flight.

Rafting

Shoot the rapids of the Nenana Gorge as your guide pilots you through some of Alaska’s most beautiful surroundings. It’s a splash-tastic time for the entire family.

Trail riding

Saddle up for a stunning ride through the tundra, trails and fields of Denali National Park, where more than 450 species of flowering plants dominate the landscape.

Fishing

Alaska is a year-round angler’s paradise, with thousands of lakes stocked with Arctic char, Coho salmon, rainbow trout and more.

Whether you prefer the quiet pleasures of fishing a clear mountain lake, or the adrenaline-fueled thrill of a flight over thousands of acres of glaciated peaks, an Alaska sojourn—chock full of new experiences, stunning scenery and wildlife encounters—just might hold the key to happiness. We’re eager to help make your trip to the Last Frontier your best vacation ever.

Posted in: Alaska Activities