Alaska


Overview

Alaska travel guide, including map of Alaska, top Alaska travel experiences, tips for travel in Alaska, plus dog sledding and wildlife spotting advice

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.

Wanderlust recommends

  • Lose the world in Wrangell-St Elias National Park, Alaska
  • Get the ultimate view of the northern lights in Wiseman, Alaska
  • Ride the Yukon Railway for stunning vertigo-inducing scenery
  • Follow in the bootsteps of gold-rush pioneers on the Chilkoot Trail
  • Meet the colourful characters riding the ferry between the remote Aleutian Islands

Wanderlust tip

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’.

Further Reading

Travel in Alaska: vital stats

  • Capital of Alaska: Juneau
  • Population of Alaska: 655,500
  • Languages in Alaska: English
  • Time in Alaska: GMT-9 (April-October GMT-8)
  • International dialling code in Alaska: +1
  • Voltage in Alaska: 110AC, 60 Hz
  • Visas for Alaska: Alaska visa
  • Money in Alaska: US dollar ($). Tipping is expected in restaurants, bars and taxis. Leave about 15%. Guides appreciate a tip too. Credit cards are vital in Alaska: you’ll need one to secure car rentals and hotel bookings.
  • Alaska travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Alaska tourist board:  Travel Alaska

 

When to go to Alaska

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.

International airport

Fairbanks International (FAI) 5km from Fairbanks; Ted Stevens Anchorage International (ANC) 7km from Anchorage

Getting around in Alaska

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.

Alaska accommodation

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.

Alaska food & drink

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.

Health & safety in Alaska

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.

Further reading on travel in Alaska

  • Alaska (Rough Guide)
  • Alaska (Lonely Planet)
  • Alaska (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
  • Hiking in Alaska (Lonely Planet)
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer