Are you planning a trip to Alaska in 2020? We run a large Facebook page of 380,000+ fans and on a daily basis we get asked questions on how best to travel to Alaska. Below I will give my personal thoughts and opinions on this question. Just keep in mind that your own personal experiences will need to influence how you travel to Alaska and what you do when you get here. There are three main ways to get to Alaska - Air, Boat or Car.
In Order Are My Favorite Ways of Traveling To Alaska
By Car / RV
For those who live in the lower 48 or even Canada, one of the most beautiful drives you can take is to Alaska. There are really only two major routes you can take to get to Alaska. This map will show both of them if you were coming from Seattle:
Those who are driving from the midwest or East Coast will drive up through Alberta to get to BC-97N and those driving up from the West Coast may take Yukon 1 W. Both routes will merge in the Yukon and go through Whitehorse.
One of my favorite drives is going up BC-97 which will take you through Muncho Lake. Its an incredible stop over with a lodge (gas & food) in the middle of no-where. Prepare yourself for the high cost of everything here. When we drove through in 2014, gas came out to $7/gallon. For this reason if you are driving up to Alaska some people haul gas with them. Be sure you have a mapped out route and know where gas stations are located. Once you get into this area there is ZERO phone service, so the only people who can help you are those passing by. We broke down north of Muncho Lake and had to rely on a stranger to drive us to the nearest service area where they had a pay-phone.
In my personal experience driving to and from Alaska offers incredible sights, wildlife and experiences you would never get flying on an airplane or taking a cruise. Some areas are so remote that it feels like a completely different world. If you do plan on driving maps out stops and take your time. Here are a few things you MUST bring with you:
Extra gas. Sometimes finding an open gas station can be difficult. Long stretches of road with zero services along with no cell phone service can cause for problems.
Cash. Some areas are ran on generators. We stopped at a small resort that ran a generator during the day which allowed for us to call out using a pay-phone. If their power is out, good luck using your debit/credit card.
Extra Spare Tire(s). While driving up to Alaska in 2011, we experienced a flat tire on a trailer we were hauling. Being excited to get on the road, we totally forgot to have a spare tire for the trailer. That oversight wasn't realized until we were north of Whitehorse, outside of cell phone range. Thankfully an old couple from Kanas was passing by with their motorhome. The old man had a complete tire repair kit and was able to plug the hole and fill the tire with air. If it wasn't for people like them, it would have ruined our trip trying to figure out how to get a flat tire fixed without waiting days.
Map. If you are the type that relies on your phone's map, then be prepared to experience life without that map. If you're technically savvy you might know how to download your map to use while 'offline', just know that in many areas driving to Alaska have zero cell phone service, zero wifi, and thus no way to use your map. Even if you don't have a map its not hard to get lost (literally just 1 main road to get to Alaska - follow that and you will be fine).
Maybe I'm old fashioned and don't like to be told what I can do and when I can do it? Those who travel by car or plane can set their own schedules and do whatever they want.
That is why flying into Anchorage is the second best way of seeing Alaska. If you are on a tight schedule and only have a week then you don't want to waste time driving as driving to Alaska can take 5+ days depending on where you are coming from and that is just one way.
Once you land in Anchorage you will want to rent a car. That way you can travel to Seward, Homer, Denali, Fairbanks, Delta Junction and see everything in-between. For those who don't want to drive you can always get on a tour bus or the train.
Taking a cruise can be fun, especially with all you can eat, drink and sight see. This option is great for those who don't really want to plan and just want to go. The problem with this in my opinion is that you are tied to a set schedule. If you don't care about being on land for just 1 day then maybe this is a great option. Juneau is a beautiful port city as well as being able to see the glaciers up close. The other problem with this option is that Alaska is so huge that it can take weeks/months to explore. Taking a cruise you have hours/days to explore as much as possible. Good luck driving to Hatcher Pass or hiking to Upper Reed Lake (one of my favorite hikes).
If you love Alaska check out our 2020 Alaska Calendar. We hope that our calendar inspires you to come back to Alaska!
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