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Must-see Alaskan marvels

Fancy a trip up north? Jot these must-see places down!

My aunt and uncle just returned from a trip to Alaska, and I heard that it was just as gorgeous and amazing as I’ve always dreamed it would be. Part of me really, really wants to travel there—even live there—someday, while another part of me thinks that humans should just leave the place alone to help preserve its beauty and wonder (not to mention all of the wildlife who call it home).

If I do ever end up going, here are a few things that I really want to see. How about you?

The Northern Lights. I’ve been in love with these ever since I heard about them. I’ve even painted them (very poorly) once. How cool would it be to see them? There’s nothing like that at all where I live, and from what I know, not in most places in the world, either.

A moose. Okay, this isn’t exclusive to Alaska, but it’s on my daughter’s summer bucket list (and I have no idea how we’re going to fulfill it here in Missouri!), and I would love to see one, too—just not too close up!

Whale watching. I know this is probably one of the most touristy things you could do in Alaska (the other things on my list probably are, too), but whales are pretty big in my family. Okay, they’re big everywhere. But my mom raised us to love and respect animals, and whales are her favorite, which makes them pretty special to the rest of us. I’d love to see one in the wild—but again, I think we should just leave them alone, and I worry about a cruise ship disturbing them, or people throwing more trash overboard that would kill them.

Mount McKinley. I certainly don’t want to attempt climbing it—or even walking to it, ha!—but I’d love to take a photo of it from a distance. I saw mountains from a distance while in Spain (and traveled over some as well) and that was one of my favorite memories, just walking from my dorm to town or class and back and seeing those amazing mountains in the distance. I have friends who climb mountains and I am certain it’s a thrilling, life-altering experience—but if I were to even try such a thing today, I’d just roll down and cause an avalanche or something! No, I’d be happy to just see one from afar.