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Alaska Geography

Wild and beautiful Alaska is home to majestic mountains, glaciers, active volcanoes, huge tracks of forested land and some of the planet's most varied extremes of cold, heat, rain, snow and wind. In addition, Alaska is the most northern, western and eastern U.S. State.

Major geographical regions (north to south) include the Arctic Coastal Plain, North Slope, Brooks Mountain Range, a central upland dissected by the Yukon River, the massive Alaska Mountain Range, the Pacific Coastal areas and eastern Inside Passage, and the Alaskan Peninsula, and Aleutian Islands of the southwest.

The North Slope of the Brooks Range slopes gently north into the Arctic Coastal Plain, (or tundra). Beginning in the upper reaches of the Brooks Range, only the surface area of ice and snow thaw in spring, as the balance of the land remains frozen year-round. Melted water then flows north to the Arctic Ocean via countless streams and/or small rivers.

The Brooks Range is a collection of icy mountain peaks that form the northern front of a huge central upland area of low mountains, hills and river valleys, all dissected by the Yukon River and its tributaries.

mt. mckinley The countless mountains of the rugged Alaska Range, including Mt. McKinley, the highest point in Alaska and in all of North America at 20,320 ft., dominate the southeast regions of Alaska.

Along the thickly forested coastal areas (from southwest to southeast), numerous mountain ranges cover the land. They stretch southwest across the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands. The (70 some) Aleutian Islands extend across the North Pacific Ocean all the way to Russia. Many of these islands have active volcanoes.

The Inside Passage of Alaska's Panhandle that fronts the Pacific Ocean and Canada's British Columbia includes an estimated 1,000 islands, 15,000 miles of shoreline and thousands of coves and bays. This area also includes Glacier Bay National Park and toothy-edged peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

Hundreds of rivers drain the land, while the 2,000 mile long Yukon is the major river. Its largest tributaries include the Porcupine, Tanana and Koyukuk rivers. The state has almost three million lakes; Becharof and Iliamna lakes are the largest.

For a closer look at the topography of Alaska, view this topographic map

See Also

Alaska Photographs

mountain hunter, alaska

Mt. Hunter, Alaska

NASA Cleveland Volcano, alaska

The Cleveland Volcano in the Aleutian Islands
NASA photo

Alaska Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Akutan Aleutians East 907
Unalaska Aleutians West 907
Anchorage Anchorage 907
Bethel Bethel 907
Naknek Bristol Bay 907
Healy Denali 907
Dillingham Dillingham 907
Fairbanks Fairbanks North Star 907
Haines Haines 907
Hoonah Hoonah Angoon 907
Juneau Juneau 907
Kenai Kenai Peninsula 907
Ketchikan Ketchikan Gateway 907
Kodiak Kodiak Island 907
Iliamna Lake and Peninsula 907
Wasilla Matanuska Susitna 907
Nome Nome 907
Barrow North Slope 907
Kotzebue Northwest Arctic 907
Petersburg Petersburg 907
Craig Prince of Wales Hyder 907
Sitka Sitka 907
Skagway Skagway 907
Delta Junction Southeast Fairbanks 907
Valdez Valdez Cordova 907
Hooper Bay Wade Hampton 907
Wrangell Wrangell 907
Yakutat Yakutat 907
Nenana Yukon Koyukuk 907

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.