Located in the far north of North America, Alaska is a wild place with the famous midnight sun in the summer and never-ending dark in the winter. It’s home to incredible natural beauty with rugged mountain ranges and vast, pristine forests.
Many people love the incredible natural beauty and wide open spaces. Others make the journey to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights or the native wildlife.
If you’re thinking about traveling to Alaska, there is no doubt that you’re excited about what the state has to offer. However, it’s crucial to be aware of safety concerns when traveling in a remote part of North America.
Is Alaska safe to visit? We’ll cover the various risks and challenges you may face while traveling in Alaska and tips for staying safe.
Is Alaska Safe to Visit?
The short answer is yes, Alaska is generally safe to visit. Dangerous wildlife and weather concerns should be top of mind, but with the right precautions, you’ll have a safe trip here.
The biggest concerns for any traveler visiting Alaska are the wildlife and the climate. If you plan on exploring the natural beauty and getting off the beaten path, you may encounter some very dangerous animals in Alaska.
Going to remote areas of Alaska means putting yourself in a dangerous situation where the nearest medical care is hundreds of miles away. This makes it important to be self-sufficient and prepared for anything.
Finally, travelers need to be aware of the extreme climate in areas of Alaska. The coastal waters of Alaska can be hazardous. The weather can be unpredictable in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter.
Despite these challenges, there’s no doubt that a trip to Alaska is an incredible adventure. With some preparation and caution, you can enjoy everything this astonishing state offers safely.
Crime in Alaska
Crime is relatively high in Alaska compared to other parts of the United States. Violent crimes happen at higher rates than the rest of the U.S., especially outside of the larger cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks.
As a result, taking some basic precautions and common sense actions while traveling in Alaska is important. You should avoid waving around a lot of money or wearing flashy clothing. Avoid getting into altercations because they may escalate quickly.
In addition to violent crimes, petty crimes such as theft are relatively common. It’s essential to be aware of your surroundings at all times and not to leave valuables unattended. Additionally, you should always keep your hotel room or cabin locked.
If you do encounter a crime while visiting Alaska, be sure to report it right away. Law enforcement is generally responsive and will work with you to resolve the situation quickly.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
While most of Alaska is relatively safe, it’s still essential to be aware of any potential danger lurking in the shadows. The large cities of Juneau and Anchorage have some neighborhoods that are best avoided by visitors.
For example, traveling alone in some neighborhoods surrounding downtown Anchorage is generally not a good idea. If you plan camping or hiking in remote parts of the state, research where you’re going and avoid any unsafe areas.
If you find yourself in an unsafe situation, try to remove yourself from the situation calmly and safely. Don’t attempt to confront any dangerous individuals or put yourself in harm’s way. Contact local law enforcement and ask for help.
Know that most of the neighborhoods and cities in Alaska are entirely safe. Most of the towns are pretty small and the people are friendly. Bigger cities with more people are where you may run into petty theft and similar crimes.
Natural Disasters in Alaska
Alaska is an area that is prone to natural disasters, including earthquakes, wildfires, and blizzards. While these events can occur at any time of year, some disasters are more likely at certain times.
For example, Alaska is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the tectonic plates of North America. The state is also prone to wildfires when vegetation dries out in the spring and summer months.
Alaska is also prone to blizzards and ice storms in the winter. This state has some of the highest recorded snowfall, so make sure to pack appropriate winter gear before traveling and always check the forecast.
If you are in a natural disaster, stay calm and stay put until help arrives. Always follow the instructions of any local authorities and be sure to heed weather warnings.
Transportation in Alaska
Transportation in Alaska is generally safe, but you should always watch the weather and road conditions closely. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination since weather and traffic can cause delays.
In general, most major cities have excellent public transportation systems that are safe and reliable. However, if you plan to travel outside the city or into more remote areas, renting a car or arranging another form of transportation is best.
Since Alaska is so remote, many cities and locations are only accessible via boat or plane. Double-check your travel plans and choose suitable transportation to get to your desired location.
Cellular Phone Service in Alaska
Alaska is a highly remote state. As such, cellular phone service isn’t always reliable. Most of the major cities and towns here have excellent cell phone coverage, however.
As long as you stick to the towns and cities, you should be able to get a signal for most of your trip.
If you plan to travel or camp in remote or rural areas, be sure to bring a satellite phone or other reliable method of communication. It will be the only way to make sure you can contact the outside world in an emergency.
Health and Disease Concerns in Alaska
The most common health issues are related to the harsh climate. These problems can include dehydration, frostbite, hypothermia, and exhaustion.
You should always pack sunscreen and plenty of water, especially if you plan to be outside for an extended period of time. If you’re traveling to the more remote areas of Alaska, you’ll want a full medical and first aid kit to bring along.
In addition, many parts of Alaska are home to some dangerous diseases. This danger is incredibly high in rural and remote areas, where disease-carrying animals may be present. Some diseases you should be aware of are Hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, rabies, mosquito-borne illnesses, and tick-borne illnesses.
Get the appropriate vaccinations before traveling to Alaska to stay safe and healthy. Don’t forget to ensure you have any necessary medications or prescriptions before your trip!
Dangerous and Poisonous Animals in Alaska
Plenty of dangerous animals live in Alaska, including different species of bears, moose, and wolves. Thankfully, most of these animals aren’t aggressive and will only attack if they feel threatened.
Still, it’s crucial to keep your distance and avoid approaching them. The animals you may encounter in Alaska are wild and aren’t used to seeing humans. They’ll likely be afraid if they see you, so it’s best not to panic.
Perhaps the most dangerous animals are moose. They are bigger and more aggressive than other animals, so giving them plenty of room is essential.
If you encounter a bear or wolf, make yourself as large and loud as possible. These actions are often enough to scare the animal away and avoid any danger.
If you are hiking or camping in the wilderness, be sure to bring bear spray or other deterrents in case of an attack. If camping overnight or going into the bush, you should get a bear bag or bin to keep your food safe.
Additionally, travel with another person and be on the lookout for any wildlife near your campsite or hiking trail.
Weather in Alaska
The weather is the most significant natural threat in Alaska. With its location so far north, the state is prone to extreme, unpredictable weather.
It’s crucial always to be aware of the local conditions and be prepared for any weather forecast. Taking these precautions is vital for boaters and hikers, who may be exposed to the elements for long periods.
To stay safe while in Alaska, be sure to pack warm clothes and a raincoat. If you head into the backcountry, you must bring a tent, sleeping bag, and other camping gear.
Additionally, you should always check the weather forecast before heading outside so that you can prepare for the worst. Always pack an emergency kit in case you become stranded in the wilderness.
Getting a Visa to Travel to Alaska
If you are a U.S. citizen, you don’t need a visa to visit Alaska. You can even travel to Alaska with only a driver’s license. However, you’ll need a passport if you are arriving through Canada.
You must check your nationality’s visa status if you aren’t a U.S. citizen and want to enter Alaska. In general, most countries require a valid visa to travel to Alaska. Check with the United States Embassy in your country for more information.
If you are applying for a visa, be sure to do so well in advance of your trip. Visas can take a while to process and you don’t want surprises to delay your travel plans.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have a few questions about whether or not Alaska is safe to visit? Check out the most commonly asked questions to learn more.
Is it difficult living in Alaska?
Alaska is very remote and many aspects of daily life can be challenging. However, you can quickly adapt to the climate and do your research and learn to be flexible.
What is the safest part of Alaska?
There is no single safest area in Alaska - the state is vast and has both urban and rural areas. However, you'll probably feel safest in Alaska's big cities without dangerous wildlife and shelter from climate extremes.
Is Alaska safe from crime?
The crime rates in Alaska are pretty low. You don’t have to feel suspicious of the people you meet while visiting Alaska and most people here are friendly. You should still take precautions when visiting to protect yourself from petty or violent crimes.
What is Alaska's crime rate?
Alaska is generally very safe, and its crime rate is low compared to other parts of the U.S. and continues to drop over the years.
However, there are some high-crime areas in some major cities, so it’s vital to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Is Alaska expensive?
The cost of living is reasonably high in Alaska, especially in the cities and tourist areas. Most goods and food must be imported, so you must pay for their transportation.
So, Is Alaska Safe to Visit?
Overall, most of Alaska is safe to visit with the right preparations and expectations in place. The weather can get bitterly cold quickly, storms are common, and the wildlife can be downright dangerous in more remote areas.
Crime rates are continuing to drop here, but remain slightly elevated in certain areas on the outskirts of large cities in Alaska.
Stick to well-lit areas, protect and secure your belongings, and don’t make yourself a target for violence by getting involved in altercations.
If you plan to spend time in the remote areas of Alaska, come prepared with medical supplies, a first aid kit, any medications you need, and warm blankets and clothing. You’ll need a strong tent and warm sleeping bag at minimum to stay safe in the wilderness here.
With some preparation and caution, you can enjoy all the beauty and adventure this incredible state offers. Just be aware of potential dangers like wild animals, unpredictable weather, and crime in some areas.
Remember to always stay alert and have fun! Come prepared and you’ll have a safe and memorable trip.