The first time it happened was in Nebraska in 2017. I'd just told someone that we were in Nebraska as part of our goal to visit all 50 states before our son turned 18. She said, "Oh, I bet Alaska will be your 50th state! It's the hardest state to visit." She was very surprised to hear that Alaska was actually the second state Trevor visited. It happened again and again over the years. When people learned we were visiting their state on our way to seeing all 50, they guessed that Alaska would surely be last. Nope - not even close.
From where we live in California, Alaska is one of the easiest states to visit. Not the cheapest or the fastest, but the easiest. We only have to drive 45 miles to San Francisco in order to get on a cruise ship to go to Alaska. That's exactly what we did, just after Trevor's first birthday, making Alaska his second state after California. We did the same thing for Hawaii in 2009, Trevor's fourth state. Those are colored in blue below. The states colored red are the ones we first visited by driving directly from home. I consider these 7 states to have been the easiest for us to visit.
The next easiest group of states includes Washington, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Nebraska. We can get to each of them with a nonstop flight in 3 hours or less.
I've mentioned many times that one of the best things about where we live is that we have three major international airports within 45 miles (San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento). Between them, we can fly nonstop to 33 different states. Also interesting to note: a nonstop flight from SFO to Alaska takes just under 5 hours, while flight time to New York is just under 7 hours. That means it's easier for us to visit Alaska by plane than to fly to New York, Washington DC, Florida, or anywhere else on the east coast.
Of the 17 states we can't reach by a nonstop flight, some are easier to visit than others. For example, you can reach any part of Delaware within an hour after flying nonstop into one of the surrounding states, as we did in October 2017. After flying to Massachusetts, it's only a short drive to Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. We made that trip in June 2023. I'd argue that Maine, Kansas, Oklahoma, and the Dakotas are the most difficult states for us as Californians to visit. Flying there means multiple flights, often to tiny airports with only a few flights a week. Driving from another state takes many hours, driving from home takes multiple days, and there are no options for sailing. Even train travel (which also takes multiple days) is not a convenient option from where we live.
Obviously, the most difficult state to visit is going to depend 100% on where you live. I'm not surprised that someone in Nebraska, or elsewhere in the midwest, would consider Alaska the most difficult state to visit. I'm glad that isn't the case for us. I've been to Alaska on seven different trips, far more than any state besides Washington, Oregon and Nevada. Alaska is one of my very favorite states. Even if it's the most difficult state for you to visit, it's well worth the effort. Go!