Rightfully earning its name as The Last Frontier, the 49th state is packed with staggering mountains, glaciers, beautiful wildlife, lively cities, mining communities, towering icebergs, and many things in between. Many people think the best way to see Alaska is by cruise and we cannot argue how incredible Alaskan cruises are, but with cruise lines not sailing right now, the only way to see Alaska is by land. And to be totally honest I feel land travel makes Alaska even more meaningful. It allows you to have a more immersive travel experience than ever imaginable. Here are my top tips on how to have the best Alaska experience on land.
The "Big 3" in Alaska is seeing glaciers, bears, and whales. Visiting Anchorage gives you the chance to enjoy a wide variety of luxury adventures, including excursions like glacier dogsledding, fishing, guided hikes, bear viewings, and more. All activities will give you the opportunity to get a more immersive travel experience. And trust me when I say there will be no glacier shortage on a land trip through Alaska. In fact you will probably see more on a land adventure than on a cruise. FUN FACT: there are 60 glaciers just within 50 miles of Anchorage!
Here are a few highlights that are best seen on land:
• Whittier: Explore Prince William Sound and see glaciers up close and personal.
• Seward: Take a private day boat tour to explore Kenai Fjords National Park
• Exit Glacier: This glacier descends 3,000 feet in just a few miles, creating an all natural ramp for mountaineers exiting the icefield
• Portage Glacier: Stop by Portage Lake on your way to Whittier
• Matanuska Glacier is easily viewable from the highway with some beautiful hiking trails, and a great opportunity for a guided glacier hiking tour which is just a day trip from Anchorage.
• Bear Glacier: This is one of the best spots for a kayak trip and it's right near Seward.
There’s no end to the whale watching and other marine wildlife available, even on a land tour of Alaska. Day cruises from Whittier and Seward often have numerous animal encounters (different times of year make specific animal viewing experiences more likely).
Another destination is Homer, in the Kenai Peninsula, which is easily drivable from Anchorage. If you're wanting an in-depth road trip experience, then Homer is for you. From Homer you can take a boat tour of Kachemak Bay which will have dolphins and whales too. Valdez is also a lesser-visited town that has some day cruises available as well. Spend two nights in Homer to fully explore the beauty of this area.
Denali National Park gives you the opportunity to take a bus into the vast interior and bears are one of the amazing animals you may see! One option for bear spotting is a flightseeing tour to areas with large populations of bears.
Some of the most popular areas for planes/treks to see bears are Katmai and Kodiak. They tours are easy to do from Anchorage or Homer.
Alaska is an amazing playground if you are looking for adrenaline activities like zip lining, white water rafting, bear viewing, mountain climbing, glacier hiking, etc. But...thousands of people visit Alaska every year and not everyone enjoys extreme excursions. There are other memorable ways to experience Alaska and we're here to help you decide which is the best way for you. You don't have to be adventurous to enjoy Alaska.
There are gentle walks in gorgeous meadows accessible from city start points, guided small group day tours in a comfortable van to see the major sites, or gorgeous lodges with views while you sip your coffee or beer on the patio. See Alaska in a new way with train journeys where you just sit back and enjoy the onboard cafe while spotting moose and bears along the tracks. You can combine train journeys with private drivers and guides so that you don't miss a thing. Itineraries can be designed to include a combination of all- helicopter tour, private drivers, trains, seaplane to a private lodge, and car rental for one leg of the trip. You can even see first class museums, aquariums, and wildlife conservation centers.
For history buffs, Alaska also provides incredible opportunities to learn more about Native American culture. Hop onboard a steamboat river tour in Fairbanks, where young Athabasca teenagers show off their culture and their heritage. In Juneau, a highlight for museum lovers is the Alaska State Museum. These are just two examples of the ways Alaska proudly promotes its history and heritage.
If Alaska seems like the kind of travel adventure you want to take, we highly encourage no less than 7 days to give yourself a chance to truly have that immersive travel experience you've been longing for. This magnificent state is one to be seen and fully explored beyond the water.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know when and where you want your next trip to be!