Can You Physically See Russia From Alaska?

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A red tanker ship off the coast of Alaska at sunset in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia.

Russia has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons lately. For many Americans, it seems like Russia is on the opposite side of the world. However, some U.S. citizens live close enough to Russia that it would be less than an hour’s drive if it were possible.

Many people often wonder, “Can you see Russia from Alaska?” If you’re one of them, wonder no more. Today, we’re looking at how close these countries are to each other. Let’s explore.

How Far Is Russia From Alaska?

It’s easy to think that Russia and the United States are thousands of miles from each other. However, that’s just not the case for some Americans.

Russia is only 55 miles from the nearest point in Alaska. That’s less than some people drive for their daily commute to work. The two countries don’t always see eye-to-eye despite their proximity — much like neighbors in a subdivision.

Can You Physically See Russia From Alaska?

Since Saturday Night Live misquoted former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin in 2008, many Americans ask, “Can you see Russia from Alaska?” If you’ve wondered the same, yes, you can see Russia from Alaska in certain parts of the state.

Catching a glimpse of Russia from the mainland of Alaska requires a clear day and a trip up a hill on Cape Prince of Wales.

However, it’s much easier to view Russia if you head into the Bering Strait and visit Little Diomede Island. It is only 2.5 miles from the Russian-owned island of Big Diomede, also known as the Gvozdev Islands.

What Part of Russia Can You See From Alaska?

In those rare instances where you can see Russia from Alaska, you won’t see much. Don’t expect to catch a glimpse of major cities or anything worth seeing. You’ll see the Chukotka autonomous district, which doesn’t have much.

This vast and desolate area encompasses about 285,000 square miles and has a population of 50,526. It’s the size of Texas with less than 400 miles of roads. Russia mainly uses this land for mining and hunting.

Flying to see Russia from Little Diomede Island, Alaska

Can You See Mainland Russia From Mainland Alaska?

Only on the clearest day and from higher elevation points like Cape Prince of Wales can you see a tiny glimpse of mainland Russia from mainland Alaska. It’s slightly over 50 miles between the two, but it’s possible. You might have better luck using binoculars and hiking to a good lookout spot.

Is There a Bridge Connecting Alaska and Russia?

No bridge connects Alaska and Russia currently and likely never will. Some estimate it would cost well over $105 billion to build a bridge connecting the two countries. These estimates would reduce if we used the Diomedes islands. 

With tensions being the way they have for the past several decades, there’s likely no chance either country will build a bridge. So don’t hold your breath on that one.

Traveler’s Tip: Watch out for these popular travel scams in America.

Can You Still Walk From Alaska to Russia?

There are only reports of two individuals ever walking across a frozen Bering Strait, Karl Bushby and Dimitri Kieffer. It took them 14 days to cross, and they were immediately detained and deported upon their arrival in Russia.

So even if the Bering Strait freezes and you have the opportunity to cross the waters, we don’t recommend it. The two adventurers were lucky that the Russian government only briefly detained them. Americans have found themselves imprisoned for much longer for lesser offenses. 

Why Can’t You Take a Boat From Alaska to Russia?

You can physically take a boat from Alaska to Russia; however, it’s not safe. Political tensions between the two countries are incredibly high. The Russian government will likely not grant any Westerners access anytime soon.

Additionally, the Bering Strait has intense currents, cold water, and very choppy seas. If you’re in these parts of the world, you’ll want to ensure you have a boat capable of withstanding the waters and in good working order. 

Furthermore, the Russian side of the Bering Strait has plenty of military protecting it. You don’t want to end up like John Martin William III, who accidentally crossed the Bering Sea in his one-person boat.

Is Seeing Russia From Alaska a Big Deal? 

Seeing Russia from Alaska can transform the way you think about the world. You can instantly realize that much of what we hear on the news that’s taking place in “far away places” isn’t so far away after all.

Conditions have to be just right, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll catch a glimpse of the country if traveling to the Alaskan coast. So consider yourself lucky if you visit on a clear day.

Have you ever seen Russia from Alaska?

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