What Is The Best Way To Tour Alaska?

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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!

Summer Trips To Alaska
Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour

Winter Trips To Alaska
See The Northern Lights

Summer Trips To Alaska
Denali Discovery Adventure

Denali Adventure in Alaska Vacation
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Pack Your Bags For The Adventure Of A Lifetime!

One of the biggest questions you need to answer before you pack your bags and head for Alaska is: “what is the best way to tour Alaska?” Depending on your travel style and how much adventure you are seeking, the answer may be different for everyone! However, there are a few tips and tricks to remember that will help you get the most out of your vacation to the Last Frontier.

Brown bear in eating fish in water in Alaska

Plane, Train, or Cruise Ship?

How you see Alaska depends on what sights you want to see, what towns (or national parks) you want to visit, and what you want to do. But one piece of advice that is almost universal is that you should stay away from the crowds and experience Alaska in an authentic way! Whether you plan your own trip or elect to book a guided tour and tour package, getting off the beaten path will result in a richer vacation experience.

Here are five tips to help you see the real Alaska:

Seeing The Real Alaska – Tip #1

Cruises are very popular with travelers, and some of the best guided tours of Alaska include tour packages. Why are they so popular? Cruises are a great way to see Alaska’s coastal mountains, glaciers, marine wildlife, and towns. But if you stick with only a cruise, you’ll miss out on Alaska’s amazing interior! So, if you cruise, make it a part of your trip – not the whole trip.

  • If you booked a conventional cruise, add a land tour at one of the ports of call. The best escorted tours to Alaska incorporate both land and sea adventures! Don’t miss out on the interior’s high peaks, moose and bear, or the amazing sights you can see on dry land.
  • When you dock at your scheduled ports of call, make sure your day trips have been planned out and booked well in advance. Where your cruise ship docks plays a big role in the sights you will see on land. But there are many options no matter where you dock – national parks, mountains, hiking trails, wildlife excursions, and cultural experiences. With a little bit of research, you can create a unique itinerary that can’t be beaten.
  • Consider booking a small ship cruise rather than a big commercial vessel. Smaller ships can get you closer to Alaska’s glaciers and wildlife, and allows you to visit smaller ports and bays where big ships cannot go. This makes for a more personalized and unique experience.

Seeing The Real Alaska – Tip #2

Alaska is home to seasoned tour operators, and some of the best guided tours of Alaska can be planned with their help. Try using a local travel agent to help you plan a custom land tour. This will give you a one-of-a-kind experience that allows you to explore your interests and see places that a conventional tour might not visit. Here are a few options to help you start planning:

  • Fly into Anchorage and travel by railroad to see the sights. Or, rent a car or motorhome to plot your own course for adventure and stop in small towns along the way. Meet locals and get to know more about the Alaskan lifestyle from the people who know it best!
  • Take a ferry along the marine highway, a unique route that has been designated as a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road – the only marine route with this distinction. The Marine Highway starts in Bellingham WA and extends more than 3,500 miles to Dutch Harbor, with more than 30 stops along the way. Following this route is an excellent way to take in Alaska’s coastline and visit unique, out-of-the-way coastal communities.
  • Visit one of Alaska’s eight national parks. The best guided tours of Alaska include the opportunity to see the vast wilderness and majestic wildlife of this state. By working with a tour operator, you can plan hiking trips, wildlife excursions, and other activities for each park.

Seeing The Real Alaska – Tip #3

Budget, budget, budget! Alaska is not cheap – and a trip can be very expensive. But there are a few ways for the budget-conscious traveler to stretch their dollars and get the most out of a vacation to the Land of the Midnight Sun. Here are a few ways to see the real Alaska that are less expensive than other alternatives:

  • Take advantage of day trips – a day trip can get you away from the crowds and deep into the heart of the real Alaska. Trips that require you to fly in or take a boat may cost more than other activities, so plan accordingly. Activities that require expert guides or renting gear will cost more by default but are excellent ways to catch a glimpse of the native land. If you splurge on one or two high-dollar activities, just remember that there are a lot of free museums and family-friendly hiking paths that can offset the more expensive outings.
  • Rent a fishing charter – fishermen (and women) can save a good chunk of change by renting an ocean or river fishing charter rather than booking a fly-in trip to an isolated location.
  • Reserve a public-use cabin – rather than stay at a high-end fishing lodge, rent a public-use cabin with access to a good fishing spot. If you’re an experienced angler, you’ll find it easy to guide yourself and locate a good fishing spot near your cabin.
  • Visit a roadside glacier – visiting a roadside glacier is less expensive than booking a helicopter to fly you into one!
  • Take a bus tour to see the bears – a Denali Park road tour allows you to see bears from a distance and will save you the money you would have spent on a fly-in bear viewing tour.
  • Take advantage of free museum admissions – many of Alaska’s museums and cultural centers offer visitors free admissions. These cultural institutions are a great way to learn more about the state’s native culture, without the expense of flying into a remote village.
  • Shoulder season – visit Alaska in the off-season! If you visit before June 13 or after August 20, you can get up to 25 percent discounts on many tours and accommodations!

Seeing The Real Alaska – Tip #4

whale jumping our of water in AlaskaWhen is the best time of year to visit Alaska? Many visitors love June and the summer season for the salmon runs and bear-viewing opportunities, but other travelers swear that Alaska in the fall is the best time to visit. In addition to a fall trip being less expensive, there is still so much to see and do – with the added bonus of fewer crowds.

  • The best guided tours of Alaska will continue through mid-September or early October. You’ll be able to enjoy all of the summer activities that Alaska has to offer, with cooler temperatures and much smaller crowds. The shoulder season is still a great time to hike, fish, view wildlife, take a day cruise, go rafting, and more.
  • Alaska’s wildlife is still on display in the fall! A trip to Alaska in the fall months means a chance to see bears fattening up before their winter denning, and whales, birds, and other migratory wildlife getting ready to head south for the winter.
  • Northern Lights tours begin in August! You’ll have a chance to see the magical aurora borealis without having to brave the frigid winter temperatures.
  • Fall colors begin to emerge in mid-August in the Arctic and Interior regions. If you want to take in fall color, there is no more spectacular place to do so than Alaska in September!

Seeing The Real Alaska – Tip #5

Don’t fixate on the highlights. There is so much to see and do in Alaska that you don’t have to worry about hitting the popular destination spots. In fact, some of the best escorted tours to Alaska get you off the beaten path to see sites that are even more awe-inspiring than the ones you think you should see. Here are a few hidden gems where you can explore the true essence of Alaska:

  • Visit the smaller towns. Skip the bigger destinations for the slower pace of a smaller town. For example, visit Homer and Cooper Landing on the Kenai Peninsula. You can reach these towns via the Seward Highway. From either destination, you can access the Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park. Both towns offer plenty of outdoor activities for visitors and a chance to mingle with locals in a small Alaskan community.
  • Travel east of the rail belt and cross a few mountain ranges to find Copper Center, McCarthy, and Valdez. Copper Center offers a resort-style lodge for visitors, and access to the Copper River for fishermen. It’s also a great basecamp for trips to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Valdez is 100 miles past Copper Center, down the Richardson Highway. Best visited in summer, the adventurous traveler will reach it after a scenic drive over mountains and through a canyon draped in waterfalls. Once you arrive, you can take a Columbia Glacier day cruise into Prince William Sound for a chance to spot wildlife and see one of the largest tidewater glaciers in Alaska.
  • Although it is a popular destination, Denali National Park is so big that many areas can be considered off-the-beaten-path destinations. By booking one of the best escorted tours to Alaska, you can expect a trip to Kantishna, an old mining settlement at the end of the park’s only road. The town boasts a few remote lodges, from where the adventurous traveler can launch a backcountry experience.
  • And finally, consider traveling above the Arctic Circle. It doesn’t take long to find yourself in the true Alaskan wilderness once you venture beyond Fairbanks. For that reason, you’ll want to book one of the best guided tours of Alaska. The Arctic Circle region is stark and secluded, which means it is best to explore with a local guide.

The Best Guided Tours Of Alaska

No matter what you want to see, the best way to tour Alaska is to talk to an experienced travel agent. These professionals can put you in touch with some of the best escorted tours to Alaska. From there, you can choose to book a conventional tour or you can customize a truly personalized experience. But no matter what option you choose, you are sure to create a memorable experience on this once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Download all three Alaska tour brochures for tour dates and pricing.