12 Ridiculous Questions Tourists Ask When Visiting Alaska

by SharonKurheg

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my many years of traveling, it’s that all travelers are not equal.

Obviously, some travelers have more money than others. Others have just had more opportunities to travel, while a remarkable percent of Americans have never flown, gone outside their birth state or even owned luggage.

And then you have the travelers who have ample opportunity to enhance their journey by learning about the place they’re visiting, and just…don’t. We’ve written about some of these people in the past:

That last one, with questions about Hawaii, really takes the cake. I mean, Hawaii has been a state in the United States since 1959. Even though it’s pretty far out there distancewise, it’s still a STATE and residents there enjoy the same sorts of things as do those in California, Maine, Washington, Florida, and everywhere in between!

But never fear, people of Hawaii…uninformed travelers in Alaska apparently are just as confused about our country’s 49th state as they are our our 50th.

These questions have come from a variety of sources through the years…travel agents, cruise ship workers, Reddit, Twitter, and things people have asked those who live and work in the state known as The Great Frontier.

Where can I exchange US currency for Alaskan money? What’s the rate of exchange?

Maybe they think Alaskans use gold, fish and polar bear pelts as legal tender? I wonder if they would ask the same question if they visited Wyoming or Texas.

What time do the Northern Lights come out?

The Northern Lights aren’t on a set schedule, like a Disney parade. They may come out, they may not, and there’s no telling what they’ll look like, either.

Are there still mammoths up here?

Some tourists apparently have no concept of location OR extinct animals. The last woolly mammoth died out about 3,500-4,000 years ago.

Do the oil barrels make a lot of noise when they’re going through the pipeline?

Psst! No barrels are involved there. Just oil. And thanks to tanker ships, rail tanks and tanker trucks, most oil never even sees the inside of a barrel nowadays. A “barrel” is just a standard measuring unit.

Do Alaskan people really live in igloos?

Let’s assume they’re talking about Native Alaskans who are part of the state’s indigenous population (formerly [and sometimes currently] known as “Eskimos”). No, they don’t live in igloos. They live in the same kinds of homes as you and me – single family homes, apartment complexes, townhomes, mobile homes, you name it.

What lake is this cruise ship docked on?

Some tourists don’t even understand how bodies of water work, apparently.

I love seeing all the wildlife at Denali National Park & Preserve! Where do they take all the animals when the park closes for the winter?


Wasilla is lovely! Where can I go to see Russia?

You can thank Sarah Palin for that one (although it’s actually a misquote – she never did say, “I can see Russia from my house”). However her town, Wasilla, is about 4,300 miles from Russia. In actuality, the closest mainland Alaska gets to mainland Russia is about 55 miles. However on a clear day, humans can only see the horizon for up to about 3 miles.

Where are all the penguins?

Nearly all penguins in the wild are only found in the southern hemisphere. Galapagos penguins can be found north of the Equator…but not in Alaska.

Why is the glacier so dirty? Who cleans it?

There’s been a shortage of glacier cleaners since the great resignation. #thankscovid

At what age do the caribou turn into moose?

Um…never? They’re two different species of animals.

I’ve seen the regular sun. Now how can I see the midnight sun I keep hearing about?

I guess they thought Alaska had 2 suns?

Same sun, friend…but if you’re far enough north, the sun is still visible at midnight.

Feature image (cropped): Pix4free

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


NedsKid December 7, 2022 - 12:28 am

I was born in Delaware. “What state is that in?” is something I’ve been asked since grade school.

It isn’t just tourists with these questions… when a certain airline without seat assignments took over one that had an Atlanta hub and gained their Carib/Mexico routes, the website folks at the headquarters in Dallas had to ask their new acquisition what the currency was in Puerto Rico because their website would only take US dollars.

Kelsey December 8, 2022 - 1:23 am

2 more for Hawaii:
At a bus stop, asked in a full on NY accent of the bus that pulled up: “Which way to Pearl Harbor ?”
At the top of the crater: “Where’s the rainbow?”


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