Stunning mountains flank the harbor at Seward, Alaska.

Stunning mountains flank the harbor at Seward, Alaska. (Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

If you’re assigned to Alaska, it’s probably good to love the outdoors because there’s plenty of it to go around.

America’s largest state, with the lowest population density, is a place of striking contrasts, where the sun barely comes up in winter and barely goes down in the summer, where mountains and glaciers create scenic masterpieces that can quickly turn deadly, where tourists flock to hike in Denali National Park when the weather is good and flee south when things turn cold.

For servicemembers, it’s a place to embrace hunting, fishing, skiing and snowmobiling, or a place to just survive the brutal winters. The U.S. military even has a training site in the middle of nowhere to teach soldiers how to stay alive such harsh conditions.

Even though a winter road trip can mean packing a wide array of survival gear for contingencies, Alaska gets into the blood of many.

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