The works of man are not what bring visitors to Alaska. Driving into a city or town at the end of a long, empty road feels surreal because everything is, in a way, in the middle of nowhere; the fact that things have been built at all, often with heroic difficulty, makes even tiny cabins special. Alaska's real draw and glory is the works of nature, so numerous and stupendous as to make any list of "bests" a mere suggestion of where to start. Natural forces of vast scale are still shaping the land in their own way, inscribing a different story on each of an infinite number of unexpected places.

Alaska's unformed newness makes it interesting and fun. Despite the best efforts of tour planners, the most memorable parts of a visit are unpredictable and often unexpected: a humpback whale leaping clear of the water, the face of a glacier releasing huge ice chunks, a bear feasting on salmon in a river. As a visitor, opening yourself to what's new, real, and unexpected is your job, but it's an effort that's likely to pay off.