Alaska is a place where big really means big. With National Parks larger than some countries and colossal glaciers carving out its majestic landscapes, here nature unveils her dramatic beauty on an unrivalled scale. One of the key attractions of Alaska is its remoteness, and it’s well worth the effort to visit places few other human eyes will ever see.
Summer is definitely the main visitor season in Alaska, with most tours and vacations taking place between May and mid-September. The peak season is from the middle of June to August, and flights and accommodation are correspondingly more expensive at this time. Before and after the peak period, in what’s known as ‘shoulder season’, you can find better deals.
Few people travel to Alaska for vacations in the winter months. The harsh weather and freezing temperatures make many areas of the state inaccessible – and the very short days means there is very little daylight for sightseeing.
Flights to Alaska can be very seasonal, with more choice in the high season of the summer months.
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The largest airport in the state is the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, located around five miles to the southwest of downtown. It’s a medium-sized commercial hub catering for around three million passengers a year.
The other airports in the state include Fairbanks International, which handles around half a million passengers, and Juneau International Airport which receives 400,000. There are numerous other smaller airports for internal flights within the state, as flying is the most convenient means of travel in Alaska.
Several of the major US airlines operate regular flights to Alaskan airports, as well as providing more seasonal flights.
Alaska Airlines runs many of the internal flights from the larger cities, such as Anchorage to smaller hubs like Bethel and Kodiak. Prices can be high at certain times of year so book in advance to get the best deals. Some of the more remote locations are inaccessible by car, so flying can be your only option.
The Alaska Railroad runs from Seward through Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks, with some private companies operating luxury railcars. As the least connected state for car travel, it’s only a good idea to rent if you are sure you can get where you are going. The state capital Juneau, for example, is not accessible by road but Anchorage and Fairbanks both are.
One of the best ways to see Alaska is by boat, with regular cruises taking in glaciers, whale spotting and the pristine coastline.
This area south of Anchorage is well worth an extended stay, with plenty of public camping grounds and some beautiful landscapes to enjoy. Rent a car in Anchorage and you can explore under your own steam.
With vegetation and wildlife that you won’t find anywhere else on the planet, Denali is an absolute must on any Alaskan adventure. Climb to the top of the mountain and you’ll be treated to one of the most spectacular views in all of America.
Often known as the Panhandle, this diverse landscape is home to open spaces, mountains and vast tracts of forest. You can also ski, mountain bike and kayak here.
Alaska is huge, big enough to have its own special time zone (although it actually spans across five regular zones). The Alaska Time Zone runs one hour behind Pacific Time and is separated into standard and daylight savings time, depending on the time of year.