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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
Planning A Trip To Alaska
Planning a trip to Alaska is no easy task! The Last Frontier encompasses 663,267 square miles of land and is larger than Texas, California, and Montana combined. Alaska is also home to the last great wilderness in the United States. Less than 160,000 acres of the state have been settled, leaving the remaining 365 million acres untouched. Within this vast and pristine land are eight national parks, which are visited by more than 2 million people each year and many, many species of wildlife! Coordinating a trip to this great state can take a lot of time and research, and may call for some tough decisions in order to get the most out of your trip. But with a little effort, you can put together a trip of a lifetime.
Where To Start?
Here are a few quick tips to begin planning a trip to Alaska:
- Alaska is huge! Pick a specific destination and then figure out what you want to do when you get there. There are plenty of websites or travel guides that can help you figure out what to see and what to do in each part of this great state.
- Determine your timeline. Give yourself enough time to see what you want to see on your trip. Many experts recommend a two-week trip (if possible) for visitors to have an opportunity to really explore Alaska and its local cultures.
- Figure out your transportation needs. Getting around Alaska can be challenging – many locations are only accessible by plane. How you will get around on your trip depends on where you are going and what you want to see. Map out your travel route well in advance and make sure you schedule any flights before leaving the mainland.
- Research costs! Alaska is an expensive state. Many of the towns are accessible only by plane, as mentioned above, which drives up the price of goods and services. Know your budget, but also plan ahead so you are prepared for any unexpected costs during your trip.
- Make your reservations for lodging, transportation, and other necessities well in advance! If you’re staying in hotels or need a campground space, it’s best to reserve them ahead of time. Alaska’s tourist season runs from June to August, and most places book months ahead of the season. Although there are many floatplane services to tourist destinations, they are often booked ahead of time, too. Don’t wait until you are in Alaska to reserve a flight!
When Is The Best Time To Go To Alaska To See Wildlife?
You can see wildlife any time of the year in Alaska. Migratory birds return to the state as early as April and the spring vegetation draws caribou, mountain goats, black bears, and Dall sheep out where they can easily be seen by visitors. The peak summer months are a prime time for bear viewing, as these magnificent creatures gather at the river banks to fish for salmon. During the autumn months, moose, goats, caribou, and muskoxen are actively mating, and even the winter offers daring adventurers a chance to spot deer, sheep, and mountain goats in the bleak and barren landscape. But in order to really figure out when is the best time to go to Alaska to see wildlife, you have to first decide what wildlife you want to see!
- Spring – during the spring months, caribou herds move to their calving areas and Dall sheep, mountain goats, and black bears emerge from hibernation. Migratory songbirds begin arriving late in May to gather at their nesting colonies. Spring is also the best time to see walruses, seals, and bowhead whales.
- Summer – bears are most active during the summer months. During this time, moose cows can be spotted with their calves along roadsides and in tall thickets. Fur seal pups and sea lion cubs are born in the late summer months along the coast. The late summer months are also a good time to visit seabird colonies in Southeast to Northwest Alaska and to see shorebirds as they begin flocking in preparation for their migration south.
- Fall – the fall season means that moose, goats, caribou, and muskoxen begin their mating rituals and often can be spotted in open areas. Bears can also be spotted in berry patches, making one last effort to fatten up for their winter’s denning. Gray, bowhead, and beluga whales begin migrating along the western coast of the state. During the late fall months, hares, arctic foxes, ptarmigan, and lemmings turn white. If you visit late enough in the fall season, you may see caribou herds begin their migration to their winter ranges.
- Winter – if you’re adventurous enough to visit Alaska in the winter months, you can see the largest bald eagle concentration in the world along the Chilkat River. It is also easier to spot Dall sheep, deer, and mountain goats without the landscape’s lush vegetation obscuring your view. If you’re into birding, native waterbirds concentrate in bays during the winter months and can easily be viewed near coastal towns.
Alaska is home to a surprising number of wildlife viewing festivals that happen throughout the year in towns like Ketchikan, Wrangell, Fairbanks, Homer, and Anchorage. Check online before you leave the mainland to see if there’s a festival happening during your trip.
Why Book A Package Trip To Alaska?
If you’ve read this far, you might be daunted by the task of planning a trip to Alaska. It’s certainly no easy feat to organize such a big trip, especially if you’re trying to figure out the best time to go to Alaska to see wildlife. Fortunately, there are a huge number of tour operators who can do the planning for you! In fact, one of the most popular ways to see Alaska is by booking of the many package trips to Alaska that touring outfits offer throughout the year. So sit back, relax, and let the experts handle the logistics!
- Alaska by train – tour options range from one-day tours to multi-day adventures that can take you through Alaska’s pristine wilderness and to fascinating cities. Travel aboard the legendary Alaska Railroad for a once-in-a-lifetime experience with stops in Juneau, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Fairbanks, Denali National Park, and Kenai Fjords National Park.
- Alaska by cruise – with so many cruise options to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Most cruises last seven days, but some are longer. When you book a package trip to Alaska that involves a cruise, you’ll have the option to cruise Alaska’s majestic bays, explore the famous Inside Passage, visit remote ports of call, and explore the state’s many national parks. Not to mention all the wildlife you can see from the comfort of the ship’s deck.
- Alaska by guided land tour – on a guided Alaska land tour, a tour guide travels with you from place to place, handling the logistics and making sure you have a memorable experience. Guided trips tend to cater to small groups and focus on the outdoors, including nature, wildlife, and sustainable ecotourism. Many of the tours include activities such as kayaking, backpacking, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. Specialized tours include photo trips, excursions into the backcountry, winter activities, and glacier viewing. Options for lodging include everything from rustic cabins, to secluded lodges, and old-fashioned tents!
Whether you are planning a trip to Alaska by yourself or opt to book one of the many package trips to Alaska that are available through local tour operators, odds are you will have a trip of a lifetime. No matter what route you take to get to the Last Frontier, just remember to enjoy the experience and revel in the breathtaking surroundings of Alaska’s mountain ranges, tundra, glaciers, rivers, and coastlines. You won’t regret your escape from civilization.