A temple was desperately needed in Alaska. Before 1999, members had to travel thousands of miles to attend either the Seattle, Washington or Cardston Alberta Temple in Canada. This was the first and is the only temple in Alaska. In 2003 the temple underwent an expansion project and was rededicated in 2004. The temple is a welcome beacon, sitting east of the Seward Highway. Seward Highway is a well traveled highway that runs from Seward to Anchorage. A beautiful and unique temple. The North Star and Big Dipper are etched on one of the exterior walls. This is an interesting feature because the State Flag of Alaska depicts the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) and the North Star. There are only a handful of temples that display stars and the big dipper. The Salt Lake City Temple, the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple and the Washington DC Temple all display stars and the Big Dipper. These are thought to symbolize the centre of time & the revolution of the universe, eternity, Kolob, helping and leading us to find God and our way back to heaven and possibly even the Holy Ghost.
During the gold rush in 1898 there were several Mormons that joined the throngs of people heading to Alaska, but no significant work was done on conversion. Alaska became a territory of the US in 1912 and shortly after missionaries were sent to Juneau. More missionaries were sent in 1928, but still there was not any significant conversions. After the migration of several families to the area, the Church was organized in 1938 and continued to grow slowly. By 1961, there were just over 3,000 members and it has continued growing.
Alaska is many things, including spectacular! The temple is the northernmost temple in the world. Being this far north definitely has it's advantages to all kinds of new experiences. The state is filled with floatplanes, glaciers and indescribable beauty. The outdoors and nature is the big draw. You can't go wrong getting out in nature here. Have you ever been mushing? Ever stepped on a glacier? Ever seen the Northern Lights? Ever seen a bear snatching salmon from a river or camped with brown bears? How about spending 19 hours straight in daylight? Ever seen a 20,322 foot mountain? I think you get the idea. The vast land stretches on for miles - some of which is not even inhabited, which is a rare phenomenon these days. Magical, majestic, serene, adventurous - any type of outdoor experience you want here you can have. There are so many things to do. You could spend months in Alaska. For a few ideas near the Anchorage Temple, visit the Native Heritage Center to get a cultural experience. The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is also great for learning about Alaska's heritage and culture. Once you're ready to get outdoors, take the Turnagain Arm Drive/Seward Hwy to see marshes, wildlife and the Portage Glacier & Visitor Center. At the glacier, you can just enjoy the view, or you can choose to take a cruise to see it up close and personal. Chugach State Park offers many hiking opportunities, as well as camping, gold panning and more. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is a nice leisurely path to take in scenery and wildlife and get some exercise in the meantime.
Alaska also has some great food, including fresh seafood. Orso has a variety of seafood items. If you're not into seafood, try Yak & Yeti Himalayan Restaurant for some curry. CampoBello Bistro is a spot to have a nice Italian dinner. A kid-friendly joint with good food is Kriner's Diner. If a large menu with fresh, local food sounds good, head to Snow City Cafe. Breakfast and hot or cold sandwiches can be found at the casual Sandwich Deck.
A place that won't be soon forgotten from your mind or your heart. Revel in the striking scenery, unique adventures and culture.