What Makes Alaska’s Coastline Different than the Rest of the US?

With Alaska’s dramatic views and harsh winters, this state has already built a rugged reputation. However, one of the most interesting features of this vast state is the coast. From thousands of mostly uninhabited islands to dramatic glacier cliffs, here are some interesting facts about Alaska’s coastline.

Alaska is Longer than the Rest of the US Combined

Alaska’s tidal shoreline measures approximately over 46,600 miles (or more, depending on how you measure it). That is longer than the other 49 states coastlines combined! Though coastlines are difficult to measure due to tide and weather that reshapes the shore, Alaska by far has the most coastline due to all of the smaller islands that inhabit it, along with the vastness of the terrain. For reference, the second-longest coastline in the US is Florida at 8,436 miles.

80% Of Alaska is not Reached by the Road System

By air or by boat, the coastline of Alaska is the lifeline to the rest of the state. Active glaciers cover 5% of Alaska, and there are more active glaciers here than anywhere else in the inhabited world. Glaciers alone often change Alaska’s coastline dramatically.

Even in the summer, many towns are not accessible by highway. Supplies are either shipped in by boat or flown in by plane. In fact, Juneau is America’s only state capital that you cannot access by the road. In Anchorage, the Port of Alaska is the largest port in Alaska, and Lake Hood has the world’s busiest seaplane base.

One of Two U.S. States not Bordered by the Other States

While Hawaii is surrounded by water, Alaska is connected on one side to Canada and not directly attached to the US. To get to Alaska, you either have to fly in or take a boat (Alaska cruises are popular for this very reason). If you’re driving into Alaska, you’d likely take the Alaska-Canada highway if you’re coming up from California, Trans-Canada from the eastern side of the US, or the Cassiar Highway if you want to take an isolated, adventurous route.

Animals that uniquely call the Alaska Coastline their Home

Alaska is filled with wildlife, but there are a few animals that specifically live along the Alaska coastline.

The Islands Wolf (also known as the Alexander Archipelago Wolf) lives in a remote region of Alaska. This small grey coastal wolf lives exclusively on a strip of coastline separated by the Coast Mountains, along with living in the Alexander Archipelago islands.

Endangered throughout the world, one of the most common whale sightings along the Alaskan coast is the humpback whale. The humpback whale’s migration route is from Alaska to Hawaii. When they travel back up to Alaska in the spring, they are usually seen in Kodiak, the Barren Islands, and the Aleutians Islands.

Polar bears live most of their lives on the ice, but during the ice-free periods in Alaska, polar bears are known to inhabit the coasts near Kaktovik and Utqiagvik.

Alaska has Thousands of Islands

One of the reasons why Alaska has such an extensive coastline is due to the thousands of islands. Alaska has 2,670 islands, many of which are mostly uninhabited, or protected wildlife preserves.

Whether you’re shipping something to the Port of Alaska or the Aleutian Islands, Alaska Air Forwarding offers a wide variety of shipping options to get your materials where they’re needed along the largest coastline in the US.

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