Alaska is a world of extremes—especially in its outdoor sports. It’s the biggest state, and almost everything about it seems to be super-sized or super remote, which means outdoor sports that feel extreme in other places feel even wilder in Alaska. You don’t even have to stay for the winter to get a taste of Alaska’s maximum adventure feel. Here are five summer extreme sports that will give you big-time thrills—if you dare.
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What’s it like to walk on a river of frozen ice? Since they’re constantly moving and changing, it’s different every time. Walk where few have dared to tread on one of Alaska’s more than 600 named glaciers. Strap spiky crampons on your feet and a helmet on your head and grab an ice axe to peer into deep, scary crevasses and check out massive waterfalls cascading from the ancient ice flowing from Alaska’s tallest peaks. For an even more extreme adventure, take a helicopter ride to access even more remote glaciers.
Sea kayaking through icebergs
Sea kayaking is one thing. Sea kayaking in Alaska is another. Icebergs. Whales. Waterfalls. Glacier tongues. Otters. Even bears are a possible sight when you’re paddling along Alaska’s coast. Even if you’ve never picked up a paddle before, you can join a guided tour and glide through the pristine northern waters.
Camp in bear country
If you’re brave enough to leave the relative safety of a tour bus, tent camping in bear country might just be one of the more thrilling activities you can do in Alaska. Hungry black bears and grizzlies foraging through the summer to put on weight for the winter are a spine-tingling sight. Especially if it’s from your tent door. There are many steps campers can take to keep their interactions with bears safe and to a minimum, but that might not be enough to help you sleep at night when you hear a branch snap outside your tent.
Downhill mountain biking in the big peaks
If you like the rush of biking downhill, Alaska is the perfect place to take it to the big mountains. At Alyeska Resort, you don’t even have to ride up the mountain first. Ride the lifts to the top and then bomb down the very peaks that skiers rip down in the winter. Just don’t forget some pads and a full-face helmet.
When the rest of the world has stashed their skis in the closet until next year, Alaska still boasts secret stashes of snow late into the summer. Alaska also boasts more heli-ski operations than the rest of the country combined. And when the conditions are right, summer skiers even enjoy warm enough weather to hit the slopes in shorts or bathing suits. Talk about extreme!
When it comes down to it, just about everything is a bit more extreme in Alaska. The summer days are longer, the mountains are bigger, even the mosquitos are bigger. How far you take your adventure is up to you, but when you’re in the biggest state, the options for going extreme are wider than just about anywhere else.