6 Common misconceptions about Alaska

March 5, 2016

Alaska has a vast territory and its lifestyle vary from one corner of the state to another; however, there are still some images that mislead people into thinking that its  way of life is the same at any given location within this land. Before moving to the northernmost state, I also had a vague idea about how living in Alaska is like, as well as a false one. Cold weather, wild animals walking on the streets, polar bears all over, no people, no civilization, and many other beliefs are just some of the misleading conceptions surrounding the way of life in Alaska. While many of you have an accurate understanding how is to live in this state, others are still hunted by wrongful thoughts regarding the Last Frontier. So, after living in Kenai for about five months, and now  residing in Anchorage for two, I would like to dispel some of those ideas and hopefully give you a better insight on real Alaskan’s lifestyle. Here are some popular misconception that happen to be no more than that, misconceptions:

Snow year round

Winter in Alaska might be long and unusually cold for people who are not  used to such weather. The snow starts to fall late October and there is a good chance that it will stay around till sometime in April(depending on the region), but that’s about it. Moreover, Alaskans have beautiful summers with a lot of green trees, plenty of sunny days, and warm weather when people do wear shorts and light summer clothes.

People living in igloo

This one I actually wish was true because I am very interested to see how these constructions work; however, it is not. Igloos are temporary shelters which were built and used by Inuit people while on hunting trips or ice fishing. Even though these constructions used to be common among some Inuit people (again as a temporary shelter), nowadays they are not anymore, and certainly are not used as real estate by people in Alaska.

Polar bears walking around

So imagine, you are driving towards your destination and all of a sudden a polar bear appears out of nowhere and is getting ready to cross the street. I mean, really, a polar bear? Just FYI, you have better chances to meet a moose on the road or a brown bear if you go hiking, which is pretty exiting too, don’t you think?(Just kidding, I wouldn’t be so eager to meet the “Teddy Bear”). I guess the best shot to see a polar bear is to visit the Zoo, or book a trip to Barrow or Kaktovit; however, those communities also offer limited opportunities, and the best time is September.

There is nothing to do in Alaska

A common misconception about Alaska is that there is nothing to do here. I heard this so many times, and I still do every time I get to tell someone new where I live. Questions like what are you doing there, why did you move to the end of the world, and how do you survive there followed by various comments are just some versions about the concept of boring lifestyle in Alaska. The truth is that Alaska has as many activities as you can imagine, plus it promotes many outdoor recreations. Besides the remote towns with just few hundred residents, the state has big cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks where you can find about anything you wish. There are malls, and restaurants, and high-end shopping stores, and gyms, and movie theaters, and diverse cultural events, but also you can go fishing, hiking, camping, and so many other activities that you can choose from.

 In Alaska is dark 24 hours a day

Even though some residents of Alaska do experience about 60 days with no daylight, such as Borrow, it is not the case for the entire state. During winter months places like Anchorage and Kenai Peninsula have short days when the sun rises around 10 am and goes down around 4 pm. So, not all Alaska emerge into total darkness during winter, and when the days start to gain daylight hours it goes up to 19 hours of sun light in Anchorage while Borrow gets to have over 80 days of continuous daylight. I think it’s a fair game here.

While those are just misconceptions, the fact that Alaska doesn’t have territorial connection with the lower 48 (this is how Alaskans call the rest of United States) can complicate things once in a while. For example, shipping and online shopping can be challenging because some companies will not deliver certain products to Alaska while others will charge the same payment amount as for an international order.

These are common misconceptions I came across one way or another, what are the ones you know or heard about? Did you hear something and wondering whether is true or not? Leave your question in the comment section and I will do my best to find the answer for you.

From Alaska with care, 

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  • tots2travel March 7, 2016 at 12:23 am

    I had a friend at school from Alaska. I live in Scotlad. She wore skirts and shorts all year round practically as she thought it was so warm here (which is kind of laughable) so I have it my head Alaska must be freezing! She always looked amazing and I’ll never forget it.

    • Victoria March 7, 2016 at 1:35 am

      This winter I think the lowest temperature we’ve experienced was around -15 -20 C, but on average was -10 C.That was in Kenai and Anchorage.I believe Fairbanks and further north was colder.So, I would say that it is cold, but not as bad I thought it would be before we moved here. Some people even wear sandals during winter(I don’t know how they aren’t cold).

  • Elizabeth March 7, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Great article! If you ever need suggestions for things to do/places to see in Southeast Alaska, I’d be happy to give suggestions.

    • Victoria March 9, 2016 at 1:03 am

      Thank You, Elizabeth!

  • Yasmine Davis April 19, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I must admit, I did believe all those misconceptions. Thanks for the insight!

    • Victoria April 19, 2016 at 10:04 am

      I believed as well before I moved to Alaska 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!