Beginner's guide to Alaska

Alaska, even for beginners, is a trip of a lifetime. Here is Sunset’s guide to the coolest glaciers, biggest bears, and the best small town.

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    From seeing of the world's tallest mountains, to exploring glaciers, to getting a glimpse of amazing wildlife, Alaska is the ultimate dream vacation.
    iStock
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    The ultimate dream vacation Alaska is the ultimate dream vacation. But the thing about dreams is that they can be amazing and a little scary.
    Michael Hanson
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    Watch big, big bears In parts of Alaska, bears outnumber people by a large margin.
    Michael Hanson
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    Find the quirky small town You grew up on Northern Exposure, fascinated by the eccentric small Alaska town? There are plenty to choose from—artsy Homer, cruise-ship-stop Ketchikan. But for the most quirk-for-the-buck, head to the lesser-known Southeast Alaska town of Wrangell.
    Michael Hanson
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    Meet the first Alaskans From the Inupiaq on the Arctic coast to the Haida in Southeast, Alaska’s native peoples—who number about 165,000 today—have indelibly shaped the land they call home.
    Photo courtesy of Alaska Native Heritage Center
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    Visit the totem capital Totem poles are Alaska’s most famous art-form.
    Photo courtesy of Totem Heritage Center
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    See the tallest mountain In a state of superlatives, Mt. McKinley, in Denali National Park & Preserve, is the most super of all: 20,320 feet of continent-topping grandeur.
    Brown Cannon III / Intersection
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    Camp in a rugged wonderland Rugged types can camp at Wonder Lake, at milepost 85 on Park Road.
    Ron Sanford / Getty
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    Take a journey to planet ice Yes, some are melting fast, but Alaska’s glaciers are still huge and impressive.
    Mark Conlin / Alamy
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    Really get away from it all No other state in the country makes it so easy to get away from everybody: Park the car, grab a tent, start hiking, and you’ll be alone within minutes, even from the outskirts of Anchorage or Fairbanks.
    David Fenton
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