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7 Most Thrilling Alaskan Adventures

Find your thrills with our list of the 7 Most Thrilling Alaskan Adventures, from dog sledding on a glacier to zip lining and crab fishing.

Alaska is one giant playground. Every port of call offers its share of thrills and chills. Here are some of our favorite Alaskan adventures, picked for pure exhilaration and for convenience to Alaska cruise destinations. Get ready for the experience of a lifetime.

1. Get On A Glacier

Where: Juneau, Denali

Every cruise to Alaska includes at least one glacier viewing opportunity. Approaching a massive glacier face in a cruise ship feels like gliding toward another planet. To get your heart racing and amp up the experience, land on a glacier in a helicopter. Experience seldom-seen views of vivid-blue meltwater pools, jagged peaks and picturesque moraines.

If you want an Alaskan adventure to talk about for the rest of your life, take a dog sledding tour on the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, a popular Alaska shore excursion, about as thrilling as it gets.

Zip Riding Or Zip Lining

Where: Icy Strait Point, Denali, Ketchikan

Ziplining is an Alaska adventure that’s growing in popularity. The world’s largest zip rider can be found in Icy Strait Point and at 1,300 ft, it’s taller than the Empire State Building. Glide over a blanket of fir trees. While certainly exhilarating, those who have taken the zip rider say that it feels like floating. Other options for zip lining include an excursion where you soar over rivers and wildlife habitats in Ketchikan or take in mountain views from a zipline ride in Denali National Park.

2. Whitewater Rafting

Where: Denali National Park, Others

For a real rush, speed down one of Alaska’s rivers in a raft, a favorite Alaska outdoor adventure. Take an Alaska cruisetour to Denali National Park. In Denali National Park at the Nenana Gorge, you’ll navigate Class III and IV rapids, past towering peaks and untamed Denali wilderness. If you’re not comfortable with whitewater, there are gentler river floats all over Alaska. In some experiences, the guide controls the raft and with others, the passengers paddle as a team. Either way, it’s a big Alaska adventure!

3. Dry Suit Snorkel

Where: Sitka

Explore the Great Land beneath the surface on a one-of-a-kind snorkeling excursion. Find giant sea and sun stars, colorful anemones and huge kelp forests. Drysuit snorkeling is when you put a suit over your clothes for an added layer of warmth and buoyancy. You’ll earn bragging rights on this cold-water Alaska adventure.

4. Backcountry Expeditions

Where: Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Sitka, Denali

Alaska’s wilderness is breathtaking. For an intimate experience deep in nature, take a rugged expedition in an off-road jeep or ATV or zip into remote inlets and coves on a zodiac. Available in many ports, you’ll travel away from the crowds into the thick wilderness. Spot wildlife or even visit former gold mining sites. There are backcountry expeditions in every port for a variety of ages and activity levels.

5. Gold Panning

Where: Dawson City, Yukon

One of the more family-friendly Alaskan adventures, panning for gold brings Alaska’s history to life. Learn the techniques and then pan for gold in a creek. You might get lucky and snag a golden nugget, but even if you head home empty-handed, you’ll have a great time.

6. Close Wildlife Encounters

Where: Most Ports

Nothing compares to the first time you see a brown bear scouring the coast for food, a whale leap from the water or a mama moose emerge from the woods with her calf. Alaska wildlife tours bring you to the animals, to watch them frolic, play and hunt on their home turf. Take a boat or guided hike to a river to spy on bears snatching up their dinners mid-air. You won’t know who to root for—the salmon, on their run upstream, or the hungry bears, who need to bulk up. Or go into Denali on the Tundra Wilderness Tour (included on 2- or 3-night stays) to watch for grizzlies, caribou, wolves and other animals.

7. Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour

Where: Ketchikan

Try your hand at one of the world’s most dangerous jobs--crab fishing. But don’t worry, the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour doesn’t go into the massive waves of the Bering Sea, where the water is known to rise and fall 30 feet on a normal day. You board a ship that was once used as a commercial fishing vessel but now stays on the protected Inside Passage waters. You will get a secondary thrill hearing the stories from real-life crab fishers, some you may have seen on the show the Deadliest Catch.

Preparing for your Alaska cruise? Read all our Alaska travel articles