Ask any Alaskan, and they know June 21 is the summer solstice - with 22 hours of functional daylight in Southcentral Alaska, and total darkness not achieved for days. In Talkeetna, for example, the official sunrise is at 4:05 a.m. and the official sunset is exactly at midnight. During those four hours the sun isn't technically up, however, it's light enough for almost any activity.

It's the official start to summer, but for Alaskans, its a time to celebrate our longest days of the year. The photo above, for example, was taken at midnight on Willow Creek last weekend.

For many, solstice is about getting out and enjoying the natural beauty Alaska has to offer. Camping, RVing, going ATVing, hiking or even fishing local lakes are popular activities around the Mat-Su Valley. Take a late-night hike up the Butte for astonishing views of the Matanuska Valley below.

Solstice is bittersweet for Alaskans, however, because it also means our days will now start to get shorter, albeit by just seconds to start with. There is nothing like an Alaska summer, so get out and enjoy those long days of sunlight!