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Interior and northern Alaska

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Interior and northern Alaska is the quintessential “great land”. It’s mostly a rolling plateau divided by the glacier-studded Alaska and Brooks ranges, crisscrossed by rivers and with views of imposing peaks, above all Mount McKinley, the nation’s highest. Even in high summer, when RVs clog the George Parks Highway, people are still hugely outnumbered by game: moose, Dall sheep, grizzly bears, and herds of caribou sweep over seemingly endless swathes of taiga (sparse birch woodland) and tundra.

Heading north from Anchorage the first essential stop is tiny Talkeetna, which has great views of Mount McKinley and the opportunity to fly around it. The mountain is at the heart of Denali National Park, the jewel of the Interior. If you prefer your wilderness with fewer people and regulations, head east to the untrammelled vastness of Wrangell-St Elias National Park. Alternatively, Fairbanks, Alaska’s diverting second city, serves as the hub of the North, with roads fanning out to hot springs and five hundred miles north to the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay.

Weather here can vary enormously from day to day, with even greater seasonal variations: in winter temperatures can drop to -50°F for days at a time, while summer days reach a sweltering 90°F. However, the major problem in summer is huge mosquitoes; don’t forget the insect repellent.

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