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Why Is Alaska Called the Last Frontier?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated: May 17, 2024

Alaska is often called the last frontier due to the expansive areas of land that have never been accurately charted, mapped or explored in this American state. With big game, mineral deposits and timber, Alaska is commonly viewed as the last frontier by those wishing to create a new life or begin a new business. Many opportunities exist in Alaska for a person who is eager to take a gamble and strike out on his own in search of wealth and glory. The government of Alaska is willing to issue homesteading rights, mining claims and other aids for individuals willing to attempt to bring industry to this area commonly known as the last frontier.

The often harsh environment of Alaska tends to make exploration and year-round habitation difficult at best, and sometimes impossible. This has given much acclaim to the area being called the last frontier. Most areas of the world have been thoroughly explored and settled, resulting in the formation of large cities and towns. Alaska has many cities and towns, however, there are many remote locations within the state that are only accessible by boat or aircraft. This makes the total exploration of the land incomplete and gives credence to the last frontier moniker.

The Alaskan climate also makes it difficult to raise any large food supply for the local inhabitants, and this tends to make the cost of living very high here. Normal expectations of life are not easily obtained and alternative food sources, such as moose steak or caribou meat, are often hard to get. High prices on fresh vegetables, fuel and other goods can make the state of Alaska seem like it is very far from civilization.

For the adventurous at heart, Alaska offers many exciting and challenging experiences that are not available in the lower United States. The ability to remain protected by the laws and rights of the United States while seemingly traveling into another world give the feeling of the last frontier to the entire state of Alaska. Some explorers feel as if they may be experiencing the same type of emotions and realizations that the earlier explorers encountered in their travels. The opportunity to see what no other man has seen or stand on a spot where no other human or animal has ever stood is a real possibility in Alaska, giving the area the feeling of being the last frontier.

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Discussion Comments
By jessiwan — On Mar 02, 2014

I was once on a cruise to Alaska, and we got off the ship in a major city there (forgot the name. It was either Anchorage or something else). My family and I were walking around the city (although it was more apt to call it a town), and there was a woman walking. She then handed us this flower she was holding, probably as a gesture of friendliness. I thought that was very nice and it really warmed my heart. I feel that people in Alaska have not lost "their way", because they are so far from civilization and all its corrupting influences. I would definitely go visit again.

By bagley79 — On Oct 17, 2011

I have a friend whose husband works on the oil rigs in Alaska. He makes pretty good money, but it also takes a toll on their family life.

They have young children and it is really hard for them to have their dad gone so much of the time.

He will be gone for several weeks at a time, and then be home for several weeks. One advantage to that is that when he is home, he doesn't have another job he has to be at.

This gives him quality time to spend with his family when he is home. It is still hard having him so far away for such a long length of time.

The whole family spent a few weeks visiting Alaska in the summer and at least they know where he is working and what the climate and weather is like.

If you grew up in Alaska, that is all you would know, but I think it would be a tough place to live.

By sunshined — On Oct 17, 2011

Some of my friends just got back from a cruise to Alaska and they have some beautiful pictures of the scenery.

Some of them are so beautiful, I felt like I was looking at a postcard. I wouldn't mind visiting Alaska so I could see all the awesome scenery, but don't think I would be able to live there.

It sounds a little too rugged and cold for my tastes. My friends were there in September and in most of the pictures they had on coats and jackets.

I also don't know if I could handle their winters when it stays dark for much of the day. I think our winter days are much too short, but at least we have several days with sunshine.

I would have a hard time going so many months with so little sunshine. I know they make up for it in the summer time, but would rather have it spaced out over the year than such extremes.

By JessicaLynn — On Oct 16, 2011

Alaska really does sound like the last frontier! I've heard there are some really well paying jobs in northern Alaska working in the oil industry, though.

Now I understand why they pay so much. The conditions sound really harsh in Alaska!

Also, I hear that because they're so far up north, in the summer, it's light for about 23 hours of the day. Then in the winter, it's dark for about 23 hours of the day. Definitely not a place for someone with seasonal depression!

By Azuza — On Oct 16, 2011

@ceilingcat - Wow. Living alone in the wilderness and hunting? I don't think I could hack it either!

The thing is though, is that not all of Alaska is like that. I knew someone in college who was from the Anchorage area, and living there is a lot like living anywhere else in the US. Except for the crazy weather of course.

And the animals. Here on the east coast, people often get into car accidents because of deers. In Alaska, you don't hit a deer with your car. You hit a moose!

By ceilingcat — On Oct 15, 2011

I used to read a blog written by a lady who lived in Alaska. She lived out in the less populated areas and her life was fairly rustic, to say the least. She actually wrote a few posts about going hunting for various game animals!

Also, her cabin is only accessible by water, and she lived by herself. I believe her nearest neighbor was a few miles away down the river.

Definitely an interesting way to live, but I don't think it would be for me. I'm more of a city girl myself.

By lighth0se33 — On Oct 15, 2011

I have a friend who spent several summers in the last frontier. She went there during her break from school to work and earn money canning fish.

She made enough money that she didn’t need a part-time job during the rest of the year. It was a smart decision, because while some of her classmates were stuck working at restaurants and stores on the weekend, she was enjoying her freedom.

I have heard that there are plenty of opportunities in Alaska for part-time work like this. Probably not too many people take advantage of them, because they don’t want to leave their families or homes for an extended period of time. Those who do go say they really feel like pioneers of a sort, going on an adventure to better their lives.

By StarJo — On Oct 14, 2011

Alaska is undoubtedly the most remote and the most beautiful place I have ever visited. I visited it in summer while everything was alive and blooming, and I heard tales of the harsh winters the locals have to endure.

It’s a gorgeous destination, but I would not want to live in the last frontier. For one thing, my diet consists mostly of fresh vegetables and fruit, and these are not easy to get there. For another, I hate being lonely, and I know that lots of people in Alaska live far away from other humans.

By seag47 — On Oct 13, 2011

My dad wanted to take me on vacation with him to Alaska. He planned to stay in a cabin in a deserted area teeming with wildlife and blessed with a view of mountains and water.

Though I would have rather spent spring break in a warmer location, I wanted to go to the “last frontier” at least once in my life, and I thought this might be my only chance. Plus, I had always wanted to see the aurora borealis, and I heard that it was the most visible in March there.

I went with him, and I’m glad I did. I truly felt like I had entered another realm, especially when the beautiful colored lights danced across the sky.

By OeKc05 — On Oct 13, 2011

For people like me, Alaska is the “last frontier” we would ever want to visit. I detest cold weather, and I can’t imagine being in an area that has permafrost.

I also have an intense fear of bears. I know that Alaska is just full of them, and many people have been killed and eaten by them. People who set up camp there to mine for gold have to store their garbage at a good distance from the campsite to avoid a confrontation with one.

I understand how the truly adventurous could be drawn to Alaska, but I lack that character trait. I prefer the highly populated beaches of the Gulf coast to the unexplored, chilly terrain of the last frontier.

By chivebasil — On Oct 12, 2011

Whenever I hear stuff about the wild Alaska or a last frontier, I always think of the novels of Jack London. He was one of my favorites as a kid (and as an adult too). There is something about the way he writes where you can just feel the environment around you as you read. Its like being in Alaska.

And of course he had an amazing sense for adventure stories. You read some of those books and you just want to pack a bag, hitchhike north and head straight to the top of the tallest mountain. I have a young son and I can't wait to introduce him to London's work. I think those are the perfect stories for a boys mind.

By jonrss — On Oct 12, 2011

I've been to Alaska and it absolutely lives up to its name. You really do feel like you are in the wildest place on earth. Everything is tall, very intense looking and seems to go on endlessly.

I once was able to spend an entire summer traveling around Alaska and I saw something amazing at least once every single day. It is an amazing state and really, required viewing for anyone who either loves the outdoors or wants to get a better sense of how much there is in this country

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