How Big is Alaska Compared to the USA?

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A map featuring Alaska

How big is Alaska? Since people know it as the Last Frontier, it has to be pretty big. Many think of glacial mountains, open snow-covered spaces, more eagles than humans, and bears around every corner when considering Alaska.

But is Alaska’s size as big as people make it out to be? Satisfy your curiosity and learn more about Alaska and its size. Let’s dive in!

How Big Is Alaska? 

Everyone knows Texas is huge. Have you ever driven across that state? It seems to take days. So it makes sense to compare Texas to Alaska.

Texas is the largest state in the U.S., contiguous states at around 268,000 square miles. Alaska is the largest state in the entire U.S. It is more than twice the size of Texas, with over 663,000 square miles.

It measures 1,420 miles north to south and 2,500 miles east to west. If you think it takes days to drive across Texas, wait until you attempt to drive across Alaska. That doesn’t even take into consideration the roads. 

But before we get to the roads, there are coastlines to consider. Maybe the question shouldn’t be about how big Alaska is but how many miles of coastline it has. Texas can help put it into perspective again.

Texas has 367 miles of coastline. That’s a significant chunk of land on the coast. Or is it? Alaska has 6,640 miles of coastline, more than half of the United State’s entire coast.

However, in population, Alaska is one of the smallest states. With only 732,000 people in residence throughout the entire state, this number places the largest U.S. state, only 48th in population.

How Many States Can Fit Into Alaska? 

To fully comprehend the size of the Last Frontier, let’s play a game of finding out how many states can fit into Alaska. To start, it’s one-fifth the size of the contiguous states and almost 500 times larger than Rhode Island, the smallest state.

Not only that, but it is larger than the three other largest states combined. Those states are Texas, California, and Montana.

However, if you could turn the U.S. map into a puzzle of all the states, you’d see that you could fit up to 19 states in Alaska. Those aren’t only the small states. Those states include New York, Oklahoma, Florida, and Indiana. 

Where Do Most People Live in Alaska?

With all of this space available, where do most people in Alaska live? With almost 300,000 people living in Anchorage, this is Alaska’s largest city and most populated area.

It covers nearly 2,000 square miles and is famous for its cultural scene and access to the wilderness.

Fairbanks is another heavily-populated region of Alaska. Taking up only around 33 square miles, it has a high population density with 32,000 residents. With 70 days of daylight in the summer months and access to Denali National Park, Fairbanks is one of Alaska’s most-visited cities.

Juneau is Alaska’s third largest town, with around the same amount of people as Fairbanks, with a population of 32,000. Unlike Fairbanks, at 3,200 square miles of space, Juneau only has 12 people per square mile. You can find beaches, mountains, whales, and cruise ships here.

A bear in an Alaska national park

How Much of Alaska Is Accessible by Road?

With the size of the Last Frontier and how few people live there, it makes sense that not much of the state is accessible by roads. There are only 14,000 miles of public roads there, compared to more than 680,000 in Texas. 

Most people who do not live in major towns or cities might rely on the few forest roads in their communities. However, their primary forms of transportation might likely be dog sleds, bush planes, boats, and snowmobiles.

With more than 80 percent of towns and villages without roads, these transportation methods make sense.

Is Driving Alaska Difficult? 

While residents off the grid in Alaska are used to alternative modes of transportation, most people living in and visiting this state will drive there. The roads are generally not too challenging. Most are paved and maintained, so driving in Alaska is similar to driving in any other state. 

However, as a driver, you’ll need to pay attention to the weather and road type.

If you’re prepared for possible rain and snow on the major thoroughfares and know how to handle a vehicle in adverse weather conditions, driving in Alaska shouldn’t be different from driving in any other snow-ridden state like Montana or Colorado. If you plan on going off the beaten path onto gravel and dirt roads, you might need a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Driving is all about preparation and having the proper tools. If you’re prepared and have the right vehicle for the job, driving in this state doesn’t have to be challenging.

Keep in Mind: Is Alaska actually Closer to Russia or America? Let’s dive in and see!

View of an Alaska national park

Can You Get There Without Crossing a Border? 

If you want nothing to do with driving or crossing the border from the U.S., you’re in luck. This is possible, but only if you take the Alaska Marine Highway.

This ferry trip starts in Bellingham, Washington, bringing you to Alaska. You will not have to go through Customs or have a passport unless you disembark in Canada, Skagway, or Haines, Alaska.

What Is the Best Time of Year to Visit?

Whether you’re visiting this state by ferry, plane, or crossing the border between Canada and Alaska, the best time of year to visit is summer.

Everyone else is there, too, but it’s your best opportunity for consistent daylight, mild temperatures around 60 to 70 degrees without sub-zero weather, and your pick of some of the best campgrounds and outdoor recreational activities the state offers. 

Spring and fall can also be excellent times to explore this massive state. The weather is still reasonably mild, around 50 degrees, the crowds have dispersed, and the summer mosquitoes have gone elsewhere. 

Keep in Mind: Alaska is known for having stunning national parks! Before your trip to Alaska, here is Everything You Need to Know About Alaska National Parks

View of an Alaska national park

Start Planning Your Trip and Find Out Just How Big Alaska Is

Whenever you visit Alaska, your trip should be as big as the state. It will likely be full of cultural and outdoor activities and ambitious adventures.

But more importantly, you will have plenty of space. Start planning your trip now to experience how big this state truly is.

Where would you go on your ideal Alaska trip?

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