31 Things You Probably Didn't Know (But Should Know) About Alaska

Think your Alaska trivia is up to snuff? Check out our list to see just how knowledgable you really are about the Last Frontier.

State Specs

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Aerial image of Mount St Augustine volcano, Cook Inlet, Alaska, USA

1. Extra, Extra Large Texas

Alaska's 586,400 square miles of territory make it America's largest state - more than twice the size of Texas.

2. So Many Lakes...

There are more than 3 million lakes in Alaska.

3. And Volcanoes

Alaska is also home to more than 40 active volcanoes.

4. One Land, Two Oceans

Alaska is the only state with coasts on two oceans. Its 33,000+ miles of coastline run along the Pacific as well as the Arctic.

5. The Glacier State

There are more than 10,000 glaciers in Alaska. That's over half the world's total number of glaciers. And one is larger than Rhode Island.

6. The Ceiling of North America

The highest mountain peak in North America is Denali - formerly known as Mount McKinley. 

State Symbols

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7. Tongue Tied State

Alaska has more official languages than other U.S. state. English is one of 21 official languages, which include Inupiaq, Siberian Yupik, Deg Xinag and other native tongues. 

8. Alaska Means...

Alaska comes from the Aleut word Alyeska, which means "great land." 

9. State Song

The official state song is an ode to the state flag, which features the big dipper and the north star set on a blue background. Or as the state anthem calls it, "The simple flag of the Last Frontier."

10. Living State Symbols

The official state bird of Alaska is the willow ptarmigan, the state fish is the king salmon, the official mammals are the moose (land) and the bowhead whale (marine) and the official dog is the Alaskan malamute.

11. Non-living State Symbols

Alaska's official state gem is jade, the official fossil is the woolly mammoth and the state mineral is gold.

12. State Sport

Dog mushing is the official sport of Alaska. 

State History

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Miners in Alaska during the Gold Rush.

13. The Danish Columbus

Europeans discovered Alaska in 1741 when a Russian expedition headed by Danish explorer Vitus Bering sighted the future state's mainland. The sea between Russia and Alaska now bears Bering's name.

14. From Russia with Love

Until 1867, Alaska was a colony of the Russian Empire, which sold the territory to America for $7.2-million.

15. The Gold Rush

Alaska became a hotbed for prospectors in 1880 when Canadian miner Joe Juneau discovered gold in the city that would later bear his name.

16. Japanese Invasion

Alaska's Kiska Island is one of the few American territories that was occupied by enemy forces during World War II, when the Japanese held it for just over a year before abandoning it to American and Canadian forces in 1943.

17. An Earth-Shattering Record

On March 27, 1964, the Prince William Sound region of Alaska was rocked by a 9.2 magnitude earthquake - the largest quake ever recorded in North America.

18. Haul of Fame

Mining has been such an important part of Alaska's culture and economy that there's an Alaska Mining Hall of Fame honoring influential developers like Joe Juneau, co-founder of the state capital Juneau.

Holidays and Festivals

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Alaskan Slush Cup

19. Alaska Day

Alaskans celebrate their American heritage every year on October 18 (a.k.a. Alaska Day). That's when the territory was officially transferred from Russia to the United States.

20. Seward's Day

The last Monday in March is Seward's Day, named after former Secretary of State William Seward, who negotiated the purchase of Alaska.

21. Furry Frenzy 

Anchorage's annual Fur Rendezvous - which lasts from the last week of February to the first week of March - features events like snowshoe baseball, snow sculpture competitions and outhouse races (i.e. strapping skis to the bottom of port-o-potties and sending them hurtling downhill). 

22. The Mush Marathon

Every March, Alaska catches Iditarod fever. The epic dogsledding event pits mushers and teams of 21 sled dogs against 1,000 miles of Alaskan terrain a race that can last anywhere from 8 to 15 days or more.

23. Worst Golfing Ever

The Aleutian Tundra Golf Classic features some of the very worst sporting conditions imaginable. Vegetation growing up to your knee is considered "smooth," knee-high vegetation is called "semi-rough" and greenery growing up to your waist is listed as "rough." Plus, all the competitors wear wacky costumes.

24. Downhill Waterskiing

In April, the resort town of Girdwood (just outside Anchorage) puts on the Slush Cup featuring skiers and snowboarders hurtling down a slushy hill before trying to skim across an icy pond. And they're all wearing wacky costumes, of course. 

Random Trivia

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25. Typing Gymnastics

Alaska is the only state whose name can be spelled using only one row of keys on your keyboard.

26. The Most American State

There are more bald eagles in Alaska than all the other states combined.

27. The Road Not Taken

Juneau is the only American state capital that can't be accessed by roads. You have to fly or sail into the city.

28. Giant Veggies

The long days in Alaskan summers mean that some veggies grow to monstrous proportions. In 2009, the state set a world record when Palmer resident Scott Robb grew a cabbage that weighed nearly 140 lbs.

29. Snowiest Place in America

The Thompson Pass corridor in the Chugach Mountains once received 974 inches of snow (over 80 feet) in a single winter.

30. Husky Athlete

The most famous Alaskan sled dog - and perhaps the most famous canine athlete ever - is Balto, the Siberian husky who became a hero during a diphtheria outbreak in 1925. Balto became a lifesaver by leading an emergency sled ride that has since become an Alaskan legend.

31. Home of the Happy Trees

Therapeutic painter Bob Ross' career began while he was stationed at the Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska. That's where he first saw the mountains and "happy little trees" that would become a staple in his work. So if you want to unwind like him, consider making America's Last Frontier your next travel destination.


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