Best Way To Visit Alaska
There are five keys to make a visit to Alaska the best. Consider these as you plan and you’ll have a more enjoyable, more memorable trip.
Pick a home base
Laying down roots can simplify plans. No need to worry about toting luggage every day, or finding the next stop after a full day. Savvy travelers choose Anchorage because of the city’s nearby glaciers, resident wildlife like moose and bears, and easy connections to nearby national parks. Anchorage has the widest spread of hotels, cabins, vacation rentals and resorts. It’s also the hub for road, rail and air travel inside Alaska.
Add a little extra time
It's one of the few laments of past Alaska travelers: "I wish I had made time to ____." Don't make the same mistake! Factor in some unstructured time to add an activity after you arrive. Follow a local's recommendation, or take one extra opportunity to see the incredible. Rent a car and strike out on your own; you'll have the most flexibility. Or hire a guide for the day and let someone else drive. You get a dedicated local expert that way.
Learn the shortcuts and find hidden gems
Local experts also share shortcuts that can save time and amazing places that are close but often overlooked. Want to see animals in the wild? The national parks are great, but moose are minutes from the airport and wildlife is everywhere, even in the city. Check out the Chugach Mountains. The range is less than 20 minutes from downtown Anchorage, and home to an amazing array of wildlife. Glaciers are so close you can touch them. Just south of Anchorage, Portage Glacier is the most popular draw. Byron Glacier isn't as well known, but it is just a mile walk to the face. Want to visit Denali? The most incredible views are from the air. And sightseeing flights from Anchorage visit Denali and have you back in a day. How about fishing? There is no need for an expedition with salmon in the heart of the city. Even remote lodges offer fly-in fishing packages for the day.
You may not see it all, but you can see a lot.
Would you go on any trip solely to see one landmark? Of course not! Same goes for Alaska: don't build the whole trip around a single thing, whether it's visiting a glacier or viewing the bears. Alaska is a big place, and with a little forethought, you can explore a sizeable swath. A central location like Anchorage gives you the best connections. You can link whale watching with Alaska Native culture, and cycling to glacier views, all without adding travel time or backtracking.
If you choose to cruise, there's more ashore.
Cruising Alaska is incredible, just remember after it's finished you've seen just a slim portion of this extraordinary place. Don't just go direct between the airport and the ship. Take some time before or after the cruise. Rent a car and explore inland. Go carless and join a couple day tours to focus on nearby glaciers, rail travel, or wildlife viewing. Add a land package. There is much more to see and do than what you view from the decks of the ship.