For most people, coming to Alaska is the trip of a lifetime. For those of us who live here, we may spend a lifetime exploring our own state, knowing that no matter how hard we try, we'll see only a tiny portion of its vast landscape and attractions.

Tour guides try to get it across with statistics, and some do give you a general idea of scale. If you placed Alaska's estimated 692,000 residents an equal distance apart across the state, each would be almost a mile from any other. Of course, that couldn't happen -- no one has ever been to some parts of Alaska.

But numbers are not what cross your mind when you see a chunk of ice the size of a building fall from a glacier; when you feel a wave lift your sea kayak from the fall of a breaching humpback whale; or when, after driving all day along an Interior Alaska highway, the sun still hanging high in what should be night, you realize you haven't seen anyone else in an hour.

Anyone with the time to let the place sink in can make the same discoveries -- you only have to be open and able to slow down long enough to experience it.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.