The USA struck gold - literally and metaphorically - when buying Alaska from Russia in the 19th century. The state was purchased for $7.2 million back in 1867 and within 50 years the USA had made that back - times 100.
While Alaska is still home to the majority of America's gold mines, for today's adventurous traveller the State's riches lay in its incredible landscapes and epic wilderness adventures.
But it's not just the landscapes that are big; this is the land of brown bears that make Leonardo Di Caprio's Revenant assailant look like a teddy bear. The bears get so big in part because they can call on 70lbs king salmon (that's about the weight of an 11-year old child) as part of their diet, and off-shore it's possible to take a boat trip to see enormous humpback and blue whales.
During the summer season spend days kayaking alongside majestic glaciers and colonies of puffins and seals, hiking almost virgin trails, fly-fishing for Alaska King Salmon and observing a sloth of bears (possibly our favourite collective noun). And with 20 hours of daylight during the summer, there is plenty of time to pack in the adrenaline pumping activities. Come winter, the Tordrillo Mountains provide prime heli-skiing and boarding terrain.
Highway 3 snakes its way through the southeast corner of Denali National Park, making this one of Alaska's more accessible national parks. Though wilderness aficionados need not fear - the park encompasses 6 million acres of asphalt-free landscapes, home to moose, caribou, wolves and golden eagles.
Further south, the Novarupta Volcano can be found in the Katmai National Park. A violent eruption by Novarupta in 1912 created the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a landscape so barren it was used as a training ground for U.S. moon landings in the 60's. Away from the volcanic fumaroles, the Brooks River in Katmai is a hotspot for Grizzly bears feeding on Sockeye Salmon. Wolves, Caribou and foxes also inhabit the park.
The USA's largest National Park, Wrangell St Elias, is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you'll find towering mountain peaks and some of the largest Glaciers, including Malaspina which encompasses 850 square miles of ice fields and crevasses.
Speaking of glaciers, the Kenai Fjords National Park includes the Harding Icefield and travellers taking to the water can observe imposing glaciers calving icebergs into the still fjord. Sea-kayaking is a popular activity here too, paddling in search of sea lions, puffins and even whales.
For a more leisurely Alaskan experience, a cruise along The Inside Passage offers a glimpse of Alaskan temperate rainforest, glaciers, fjords and mountains, all the while enjoying the comfort of a luxury cruise ship. Whale watching is popular here, while travellers can also explore the Native heritage of Ketchikan, the residual gold-rush development of Skagway and the Russian influence still present in Sitka.
Lastly, given the distances and often-inhospitable terrain, flying is a spectacular way to really get into the wilderness. We work with expert bush pilots who use robust small aircraft fitted with tundra tyres or floats respectively to land on icy glaciers or remote lakes. It's a suitably original way to explore a truly original destination.