Wildlife rather than roadworks holds up the traffic in Alaska, and rivers are chock-a-block with tasty salmon. In the south of Alaska, feast your eyes on the majestic hunks of ice at Glacier Bay National Park or learn how to catch salmon from the brown bears at Brooks Falls. If you want to get your heart rate up, try cycling Alaska’s Denali Highway or head out on a canoe adventure down the Yukon River. Visit Fairbanks in mid-September and you might just be lucky enough to see the northern lights in all their glory.
Alaska isn’t always chilly: between June and August it can be almost balmy. However, it’s wise to pack plenty of layers and lots of mosquito repellent – locals call the mosquito the ‘Alaska State bird’.
The high season in Alaska is June to August – the weather is at its best, the days are long and everybody is outside playing. Consider beginning or ending your trip to Alaska during the shoulder season of May and September when many outdoor activities are still possible and prices are lower. Alaska is also working hard to promote winter tourism.
Fairbanks International (FAI) 5km from Fairbanks; Ted Stevens Anchorage International (ANC) 7km from Anchorage
The system of bus companies in Alaska is haphazard at best and the only rail transportation is between Seward and Fairbanks with the Alaska Railroad.
In the south-east and Prince William Sound travellers use the Alaska State Marine Highway to reach the towns where roads don’t. Renting a car is popular in Alaska. Internal flights link the main towns.
Accommodation in Alaska can come with fabulous views but you have to pay for them. Prices go sky high during Alaska’s short summer season.
Roadhouses, hotels and motels are the mainstays in Alaska, but B&Bs are on the up. Hostels with dorm rooms are thin on the ground. Campsites are plentiful. Another option is staying in a US Forest Service cabin; the vast majority require a flight on a floatplane to access and offer a true slice of wilderness.
Fish-lovers are in for a treat: fresh salmon, king crab and halibut are Alaskan specialities. Clam chowder with sourdough bread for dunking is another favourite. Aside from seafood, food is expensive in Alaska (most of it is shipped from Seattle) and diners rarely stray from American staples such as pancakes, sandwiches, burgers, eggs and pizza.
Vegetarians will survive well enough, although they may get a little bored with pizza.
Speak to your GP or travel clinic about vaccinations. The cost of healthcare in the USA is extremely high – some form of health insurance is essential.
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