Photo by Paxson Woelber
If you love outdoor adventures, living and working in Alaska might be the best of both worlds—especially if it’s in one of these five places. Instead of working hard to save up for a vacation someplace near mountains, ocean, wildlife, and all sorts of outdoor sports options, it’s right out your back door. And the great thing is each of these places attracts some tourism, so they’re comfortable places to land a job, even if you’ve never worked in Alaska before. Get ready to pack your hiking boots, kayak, and backpack—just a look at these places will have you ready to apply to work there.
Cooper Landing/Kenai Peninsula
If you dream of rafting, kayaking, or fishing, you’d probably fall in love with Cooper Landing. At the start of the Kenai River from Kenai Lake, it’s surrounded by snow-capped peaks and lush forest. The turquoise waters of Kenai Lake draw tourists to the Kenai Princess Lodge, which offers seasonal employment. But that doesn’t mean the employees can’t enjoy the lake, too. Salmon fishing, hiking, and water sports are the perfect adventures in this area.
Just because Anchorage is a city doesn’t mean it’s not a good home base for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s right in between Chugach State Park—the largest state park in the U.S.—and the Cook Inlet. And if that weren’t enough, Girdwood is less than an hour’s drive away. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking opportunities are a stone’s throw from the city, so you don’t have to live in a backcountry lodge to enjoy them.
If you’d rather get a little farther out, working in the Denali National Park area opens up a whole new set of opportunities in the outdoors. The tallest peak in North America, Mount McKinley lords over the wildlands around it. The hunting, hiking, and backpacking in the area, offers views of white-topped mountains, rainbows of wildflowers and thrilling wildlife encounters. You can cycle roads through the national park, go mountaineering or glacier walking, or even dog sledding. And with all the tourism in the area comes seasonal jobs, as well.
The “Salmon Capital of the World,” Ketchikan is a paddler’s dream, and certainly a heaven for fishing. It’s just down the road from Misty Fjords National Monument, with its dreamy waterfalls and alpine lakes. No wonder it’s the port of call for most cruise lines entering Alaska. That’s also what makes it a great place to work. You don’t have to make a living by commercial fishing—tourism provides employment for residents. And on days off, hiking or exploring the area’s waterways could keep a local busy for years.
Also on Alaska’s panhandle, but slightly less known than Ketchikan, Skagway is no less adventurous. It even played a part in Jack London’s book, The Call of the Wild. It’s just inland of the magnificent Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, and just north of the Tongass National Forest—the largest national forest in the United States. Trails lead out into the mountains and woods just a short walk from downtown, and paddling the fjords is plain magical. Thankfully, cruise boats also think Skagway is fantastic because their stopovers support jobs in the area.
Of course, so much of Alaska beyond these places is wild and ready to be explored. But unless you’re independently wealthy or want to work on an oil rig or in commercial fishing, it might be hard to nail down a job. If you check out locations where tourism flourishes, you’ll be more likely to find seasonal jobs. And, thankfully, those places are often the most scenic and adventurous, too. It’s a win-win situation.