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Alaska Activities +

A group exploring one of Alaska's many glaciers

Possibilities - this is not a complete list - only a starting point. Get Up Close with Glaciers Come see the truly ancient, enormous rivers of ice that sculpted Alaska's mountains and calving icebergs that hit the ocean with thunderous roars. How big are they? Often more than a mile wide and dozens of miles long. Alaska has so many glaciers that hundreds don't even have names. Opportunities: --Day-cruise --Simple glacier day hikes --Kayaking in fjords --Helicopter flightseeing --View from the roadside --Inside Passage/Gulf cruise Take-Off for Flightseeing Distinctively Alaskan, flightseeing by plane or helicopter is an ideal way to really feel the magnitude of Alaska. A variety of tours, excursions and charters are available, from 30-minute hops to full-day outings. Opportunities --Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the largest national park in the U.S. --The Inside Passage for views of forests, islands, glaciers, and sometimes whales --Glacier-landing tours --Tours of Mt. McKinley from Talkeetna Watch the Wildlife If you want to see wildlife, Alaska is the place to visit. Bald eagles gather by the hundreds. Moose cause traffic jams. Wild Dall sheep skip along roadside cliffs. State and national wilderness lands blanket the map. Opportunities --Flightseeing trips that specialize in wildlife viewing by air --Drive to or visit likely areas - especially wildlife refuges or national parks --Guided wildlife tours by motorcoach or bus --Guided tours that specialize in bear viewing, whale watching or bird watching --Guaranteed viewing and self-guided tours --Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center --Alaska SeaLife Center --Anchorage Zoo --Alaska Raptor Center Get to Know Native Cultures About 15 percent of Alaska's population is composed of distinct indigenous cultural groups, including Eskimo, Aleut, Indians, and numerous subcultures. Alaska Natives are interested in sharing their cultural traditions with visitors. There are a number of venues that provide opportunities to interact with Native Alaskans, to learn about traditions, crafts, music and other cultural distinctions. Opportunities --Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a "living Museum" in Anchorage --Take a guided tour to Barrow, site of the Inupiat Heritage Center --Go to the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak --Join a tour to Kotzebue, featuring the Museum of the Arctic and Culture Camp --Tour the famous Totem exhibits in Ketchikan Explore Russian America By the time America bought the Alaska Territory (for about 2 cents an acre), Russians had been living here for over 120 years. Sitka was the capital of Russian-America, and Alaska's first state capital. The Russians also had headquarters in Kodiak and outposts all along the coastline. The strength of Alaska's Russian heritage is still visible in the onion-shaped domes of Russian Orthodox churches that rise above many Alaskan towns. Opportunities --Visit museums with exhibits exploring Russia's role in the span of Alaskan history --Join historical tours in towns and regions with strong Russian connections --Walk among old Russian buildings, and learn about Russian and Native cultures at the Sitka National Historical Park Winter Activities Visiting in winter will give you a distinctively Alaskan experience. Activities that visitors often enjoy the most include: --Watching the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race --Anchorage Fur Rendezvous --Fairbanks World Ice Art Championships --Snow shoeing --Viewing the Northern Lights --Snowmobiling --Dog sledding --World class downhill skiing, heli-sking and cross-country skiing --Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race Explore the Wilderness You can experience true Alaska wilderness during the day - and sleep in a warm comfortable bed at night. Guided trips and tours take you to a variety of remote (and not-so-remote) places, where you can enjoy almost any outdoor interest, from kayaking and river rafting, to fly fishing and bear watching. Opportunities --Consider day excursions if you don't have a lot of outdoor experience --Try a wilderness lodge for remote adventure, combined with luxury accommodations --Fly-out to a remote fishing lodge for a uniquely Alaskan experience Catch Gold Fever The lure of gold touched almost every corner of Alaska. Juneau is named for the prospector who started Alaska's first big gold rush. The towns of Skagway, Haines, and Dyea offered gateways to the Klondike. Nome's golden sands beckoned tens of thousands. Opportunities --Join a ranger-guided walking tour through the restored buildings of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway --Pan for gold in Juneau, Fairbanks, Girdwood and Nome --Take a day-trip on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway to experience gold-rush era travel --Pan for gold or find some of the 44 abandoned gold dredges in Nome

Alaska Facts +

Helicopters are becoming the popular choice for flight see-ers

Size: Alaska's 570,373 square miles is one-fifth the size of the continental U.S. and over twice the size of Texas. Mountains: Of the nation's 20 highest peaks, 17 are in Alaska. That includes the legendary Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet. Glaciers: Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers, which cover almost five percent of the state. There are more active glaciers in Alaska than in the rest of the inhabited world. Pipeline: The Trans-Alaska Pipeline transports approximately 1.8 million barrels of oil a day from the North Slope to the port of Valdez in Prince William Sound. Oil moves at a rate of five to seven miles per hour and takes under six days to travel the 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to tankers in the port of Valdez. Time Zones: Alaska has its own time zone, which is one hour earlier than Pacific Time. The westernmost Aleutian Islands are on Hawaii-Aleutian Time, two hours earlier than Pacific Time. Alaska Marine Highway System: Alaskan ferries travel a route covering 3,500 miles and serving 30 Alaskan ports. Bald Eagles: The largest known concentration of bald eagles, over 3,000, converges near Haines from October through January to feed on late run salmon in the Chilkat River. Water: Alaska has 3 million lakes, over 3,000 rivers and more coastline (47,300 miles) than the entire contiguous United States. Parklands: Alaska has 15 National Parks, Preserves and Monuments, and 3.2 million acres of State Park lands.

Alaska is Affordable +

The setting sun casts a pink hue on snow-covered mountains near Wonder Lake

A common misconception is that a trip to Alaska is expensive. This idea is likely a holdover from the boom-days when the trans-Alaska pipeline was under construction. Back then everything was in short supply - from housing to coffee - so naturally costs ran high. The same thing happened during the gold rush, when a pound of bacon cost 40 cents (that's about $9 in modern-day currency). But today, Alaska has lower prices than many other places in the U.S. According to the national Consumer Price Index, Anchorage is a lot more affordable than San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston and Honolulu. And according to an annual AAA survey of vacation costs, Alaska is a less expensive destination than about one-fifth of the American states - an average of 22 percent less. In other words, Alaska is priced fairly near the middle. Lodging and Dining Costs Accommodations in peak season are typically $125 and up. And restaurants in Alaska charge similar prices as found in most major U.S. cities.Those numbers offer a good starting point for your budget planning. But you also need to consider your individual circumstances and whether meals are included as part of a tour package.Estimating EverythingThe average Alaskan visitor spends about $135 a day per person on lodging, meals, and activities - essentially everything except the cost of getting here and going home. However, with a wide range of travel styles - from luxury lodges to charming inns, from rustic cabins to backpacking-the cost of an Alaskan vacation can vary. Ultimately, the cost of your trip will be determined by your personal travel style and preferences. Transportation Costs Getting to-and-from your destination is often a large part of a vacation budget. The cost of getting to Alaska can vary widely, depending on your means of transportation. For example, transportation costs can be low, if you find a bargain airfare on the Internet. On the other hand, the cost of a package tour or cruise would include transportation - as well as lodging and meals, and might save money in the long run. The Bottom Line Research shows that you'll probably spend about the same as you've spent on past vacations that take you beyond your state borders. So whatever your budget, an unforgettable Alaskan experience really is within your reach! Ways To Save 1. Check the opening page of TravelAlaska.com for travel specials 2. Use the World Wide Web to search for "online" and "Internet-only" specials 3. Consider traveling in the "shoulder seasons" of May and September 4. Take advantage of early booking discounts usually in January & February 5. Save on transportation costs - focus your trip on one region 6. Ask about discounts for seniors

Alaska State Symbols +

A team of sled dogs race toward the finish line of the Yukon Quest

Tree: Sitka Spruce Fish: King Salmon Gem: Jade Mineral: Gold Sport: Dog Mushing Bird: Willow Ptarmigan Insect: Four-Spot Skimmer Dragonfly Flower: Forget-Me-Not Motto: North to the Future Song: The Alaska Flag Song Nickname: The Great Land Capital: Juneau Highest Point: Mt. McKinley, 20,320 ft. State Flag: Eight stars of gold on a field of blue, representing the Big Dipper and the North Star

Bear Safety +

A Grizzly bear grazing in fall tundra

Bear Etiquette --Make your presence known; avoid surprises. Sing, talk, wear a bell. Avoid thick brush. --Give bears plenty of room. Watch and photograph from a safe distance. --Be on the watch for bear kills. A bear will defend its food. Detour areas where you see or smell dead animals or fish. --Cook away from your tent. Keep a clean camp. Store your food in airtight containers away from the tentsite. Bear Behavior --A bear standing on its hind legs usually only wants a better view and more information. --On four legs, a bear may show agitation by swaying its head from side to side, making huffing noises, and clacking its teeth. --Flattened ears and raised hairs on the back of the neck can be an indication of aggressive intent. --If a bear runs with a stiff, bouncing gait, it may be false charging. --Direct eye contact is often interpreted by a bear as a challenge or a threat. Close Encounters If you do encounter a bear at close distance, remain calm. Remember, bear attacks are rare. Identify Yourself. Talk to the bear in a normal voice. Wave your arms to help the bear recognize you as a human being. The bear may come closer or stand to get a better look or smell. Back away slowly in a diagonal direction, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Resist the urge to run. You cannot outrun a bear. Like dogs, a bear will instinctively chase a fleeing animal. Bears often make bluff charges to within 10 feet. Continue to wave your arms and talk to the bear. If the bear gets too close, raise your voice and be more aggressive. Bang pots and pans. Never imitate bear sounds or make squelling noises. If a bear actually makes contact, fall to the ground and play dead. Lie flat on your stomach or curl up in a ball with your hands behind your neck. Remain motionless as long as possible. In rare instances, particularly with black bears, a bear may perceive a person as food. If the bear continues to bite long after you have assumed a defensive posture, fight back vigorously.

Bear Viewing +

A bear and a fish at Big River Lake where it meets Wolverine Creek

From Alaska Public Lands Information Centers brochure - Bear Viewing 2005. For a pdf of the brochure, go to Alaska Public Lands Information Center website . Polar bears, found in the Arctic regions of Alaska, are the most dangerous. They fear nothing and anything that moves is a potential meal. There are approximately 4,000-6,000 of these predators ranging the pack-ice and coasts of northern Alaska.Brown bears are big and powerful predators, but unlike polar bears they do not indiscriminately hunt anything that moves and are as likely to be found eating berries and grass as ground squirrels or moose. There are approximately 35,000-45,000 of these giants roaming throughout Alaska and they are the most sought after by bear viewers.Black bears are the most numerous and the smallest of the bears and are found throughout southeast, southcentral and interior Alaska. Numbering over 50,000, they are the ones you most likely will see in an urban setting. Black bears have even been seen wandering downtown Anchorage in search of food.The point here is that you do not have to travel far to see bears in Alaska and as such, any outdoor activity needs to take bear safety into account. This in mind, it should be noted that bear attacks are very rare in Alaska because most bears (other than polar bears) do not consider humans as food and try to avoid human contact. With proper bear safety precautions, your experience in the outdoors should be a safe and rewarding adventure.Bear Etiquette--Make your presence known; avoid surprises. Sing, talk, wear a bell. Avoid thick brush.--Give bears plenty of room. Watch and photograph from a safe distance.--Be on the watch for bear kills. A bear will defend its food. Detour areas where you see or smell dead animals or fish.--Cook away from your tent. Keep a clean camp. Store your food in airtight containers away from the tentsite.The following areas are known for their concentrations of bears and quality of bear viewing. In addition, many flightseeing and fly-in fishing companies will take you to undeveloped, incidental bear viewing areas. To connect with Alaska businesses, visit Wildlife Viewing in Things to Do. McNeil River State Game Sanctuary What You See: Brown bears fishing for salmon and interacting with each other. Best Viewing Times: Mid-June (at Mikfik Creek) or July to mid-August (at McNeil River). Location: Alaska Peninsula, southwest of Anchorage, adjacent to Katmai National Park. Access: By charter air service from Anchorage or Homer. Cost: over $300 round-trip from Homer. There is no road access. Management: Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Facilities: Primitive camping in designated camping area only. Four mile (6.4 km) round-trip hike to bear-viewing pad. Bring your own tent, sleeping bag and pad, hip boots, cookstove and cooking gear, clothes and food. Good physical condition is essential. Because of the hike and confinement to the viewing pad traveling with children is not recommended. Pets are not allowed. Reservations: Permits are required and awarded by lottery drawing. Applications are available in January each year. Applications must be postmarked by March 1st and received in the Sanctuary office no later than March 15th and must include a nonrefundable fee. Your name may only appear on one application. Applications must be mailed: they will not be accepted in person or by FAX. Up to three persons may apply as a party. Winners of the lottery pay a user fee. Through the standard application, you can also apply for a standby permit, which allows access to the viewing pad if a regular permit holder decides to stay in camp, but access is not guaranteed. There is a fee for applications for standby permits and for the actual permit. Permits are awarded by lottery. Information: McNeil River Sanctuary Manager Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game 333 Raspberry Road Anchorage, AK 99518-1599 (907) 267-2182 www.wildlife.alaska.gov Brooks Falls Katmai National Park What You See: Brown bears fishing for salmon and interacting with each other. Best Viewing Times: Peaks in mid-July and again in September (but be prepared for cool, wet weather). Location: Alaska Peninsula, southwest of Anchorage. Access: By commercial air service to King Salmon, then charter air service to Brooks Camp. Cost: over $500 round-trip from Anchorage. There is no road access. Management: National Park Service. Facilities: All visitors to Brooks Camp, including lodge guests, day visitors, and campers, must pay a user fee. The National Park campground is about one mile (1.6 km) from Brooks Falls by trail. Backcountry users are not charged a day use fee. Reservations for both camping and day use must be made prior to your visit through the National Parks Reservation Service. From the U.S. or Canada call toll-free 1-800-365-2267; outside those areas call 1-301-722-1257; or reserve through reservations.nps.gov.Brooks Lodge, with private accommodations and food service, is about 1/2 mile (1 km) from Brooks Falls. Reservations are required for Brooks Lodge. Contact:Katmailand, Inc1-800-544-0551 or (907) 243-5448 Information: Katmai National Park PO Box 7 King Salmon, AK 99613-0007 (907) 246-2106 www.nps.gov/katmPack Creek-Stan Price State Wildlife Sanctuary What You See: Brown bears fishing for salmon and interacting with each other. Best Viewing Times: July and August Location: Admiralty Island National Monument/Kootznoowoo Wilderness Area. Access: By charter boat or floatplane from Juneau. Cost: Approximately $200 round trip per person. There is no road access. Management: This U.S. Forest Service area is co-managed with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Facilities: A bear-viewing tower is accessible by trail one mile (1.6 km) from the beach. The main bear-viewing area is on the creek bank about 1/2 mile (1 km) from the beach. This is a designated Wilderness Area. No camping is allowed in the viewing area. There are no overnight accommodations, developed campsites, outhouses, picnic tables or other facilities. Leave No Trace camping is allowed on nearby Windfall Island and Swan Island. You must have your own boat to camp on these islands. Reservations: Advance reservations for permits are required between July 5 and August 25 when the number of persons allowed each day is limited. Half-price discounts are available for seniors and juniors. Applications, with attached check or money order, may be postmarked no sooner than February 20 (Feb. 10 from overseas). Permits are awarded on a 1st-come, 1st-served basis after March 1 and are for a 3-day maximum stay. From June 1-July 4 and August 26-September 10, permits are still required but do not require advance reservation.

Birdwatching +

A handsome puffin seems to pose for a portrait

Nearly 430 species of birds can be found in Alaska, including ducks, geese, swans and the millions of seabirds that nest in colonies along Alaska's coastlines. Some migratory birds travel up to 20,000 miles on their round-trip journeys to Alaska. The spring concentrations of shorebirds is one of the most impressive sights in the world. Alaska is the best place in the country to view our national symbol, the American Bald Eagle. The Chilkat River near Haines is home to over 3,000 bald eagles each fall when they arrive to feed on the late run of salmon. Alaska is a birder's heaven.May ushers in millions of birds to Alaska, and many communities celebrate with festivals that are designed to be both fun and educational.Homer's Kachemak Bay Shorebird FestivalCordova's Copper River Delta Shorebird FestivalTok's Upper Tanana Migratory Bird FestivalAnchorage's International Migratory Bird DayFor more detailed information visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.

Campgrounds +

Alaska is home to hundreds of campgrounds and RV parks

Federal and State campgrounds are available throughout Alaska. A few even have electrical hookups and dumping stations. For fee information contact the Alaska Public Lands Information Center at (907) 271-2737 or www.nps.gov/aplic/camping.htm.Private campgrounds are also available throughout the state. Visiting the Food & Lodging section of the website for private campgrounds. You can also contact the Alaska Campground Owner's Association, PO Box 111005, Anchorage, AK 99511-1005; www.alaskacampgrounds.net.

Chilkoot Trail +

Chilkoot Trail - Summit of Chilkoot Pass

A Southeast Alaska Inside Passage vacation would not be complete without learning about its fascinating Gold Rush history. While hiking either all or part of the Chilkoot Trail just outside of Skagway, visitors will find history at their feet, literally. Hundreds of discouraged gold miners ditched their supplies as they gave up their dreams of Klondike gold and headed home. Old pick axes, wagon wheels, shovels and countless other items are found along the 33-mile trail. Less adventurous travelers can walk just part of the trail, while hardcore hikers will want to take on the once-in-a-lifetime trek. You can get to Skagway by driving Highway 2 from Whitehorse in Canada or by taking a ferry or cruise into the town's port.The Chilkoot Trail is administered by the U.S. National Park Service and Parks Canada as part of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. A permit is required to hike both the U.S. and Canadian portions. The Park Service cautions that hikers must be properly equipped and prepared to be self-sufficient on this trail. Information on permits and fees, customs requirements, regulations, camping, weather, equipment and trail conditions are available from the Chilkoot Trail Center in Skagway at (907) 983-9234 or visit the National Park Service's Chilkoot Trail website.Visit the Skagway section of the site for more information and links to Skagway businesses.

Choose Your Season +

An RV driving through Denali National Park in the Fall

Peak Season is Mid-May to Mid-September. This is when most of Alaska's visitors travel. The days are longest, the temperatures warmest. Some activities or accommodations may only be available during this season. Shoulder Seasons: Early May, Late September and October There are fewer visitors in May, September and October. This is when you're likely to find discounts on travel and activities. The weather in the shoulder season is often very mild. Winter:November to April If you want to see the Northern Lights, go skiing or snow shoeing, attend Fur Rendezvous, watch ice carving competitions, or share the excitement of championship sled dog races...winter is the season for you.

Crossing the Border +

The sun shines off a wet roadway

As of January 2007, all persons traveling between the United States and Canada via air must have a valid passport. The Department of Homeland Security may also require passports for other modes of travel, including those traveling by land or sea, as early as January 2008. Please visit www.customs.gov for updated identification requirements in advance of your trip. You can take your dog or cat through Canada with proof of a current rabies vaccination. Inquire ahead regarding permits for other animals or birds. You cannot enter Canada if you have a criminal record (this includes DUIs).

Currency +

A totem pole stretches skyward

As part of the United States, American currency is the standard. Communities closer to the Canadian border will accept Canadian or American currency and some local banks will exchange currency.

Daylight +

A camper surveys his beach-side campsite

During the summer months, Alaska enjoys extended daylight hours throughout the state. The further north you travel, the more pronounced the difference. In Anchorage, for example, the sun rises at 4:30 a.m. and sets as late as 11:42 p.m on the longest day. And in Barrow, the northernmost town in Alaska, the sun doesn't set for 84 days! This phenomenon is aptly called the "Midnight Sun."During the winter, the sun moves lower across the horizon, giving the light a rich quality. While it's true that in Barrow there is no daylight for 64 days, places like Anchorage, on the shortest day in December, have 6 hours of daylight. From there, daylight begins to increase (up to 5 minutes a day) until it reaches 19 hours on summer solstice.Visit the Sunrise/Sunset website for daylight calendars for any location.

Disabled Visitor Services +

Visitors look at a birch canoe

Alaska offers a broad range of year-round vacation experiences for persons with disabilities. For resources and referrals, visit the State of Alaska ADA website.Visitors can also contact Access Alaska at (907) 248-4777, Challenge Alaska at (907) 344-7399, or Southeast Alaska Independent Living for more information.

Driving Regulations +

Traveling by RV is an excellent way to see the 49th state

Alaska and Canada will honor a valid driver's license from any state or country for 90 days after entry. Seat belts must be worn by all drivers and passengers while driving anywhere in Alaska. All children under the age of four, regardless of weight, must ride in a federally approved child safety seat while traveling in Alaska. When driving Alaska's highways please note that Alaska State law requires drivers on a two lane roadway outside of an urdan area to safely pull over when there are five or more vehicles immediately behind.

Firearms +

Bear hunting

You may carry firearms for protection or hunting in Alaska with proper permits. Airline passengers must declare their firearms and check them as baggage. Adults (18+) may take non-prohibited firearms into Canada for a lawful purpose. There are more restrictions on handguns than hunting rifles and shotguns. Visitors must declare their firearms on a special form and pay a fee of $25 Canadian for up to seven in transit to Alaska. For more information, visit the Canadian Firearms Centre website or contact them at (800) 731-4000. Unloaded rifles may be mailed to Alaska - if sent to a federal firearms licensee (be sure to check with the U.S. Postal Service for shipping requirements). Mailing handguns or ammunition is prohibited. For further information, contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms at (907) 271-5701.

Fishing Licenses +

Fishing Lures

Non-resident fishing licenses can be purchased just about anywhere from the corner store to the local supermarket to any outdoor center and, sometimes, right on-board your charter vessel. Or you can purchase your fishing license onlineat http://www.admin.adfg.state.ak.us/license/. Non-resident license fees are as follows: 1 day - $20 3 days - $35 7 days - $55 14 days - $80 Annual - $145

Getting Around Alaska by Air +

A flightseeing plane glides over pristine wilderness

Flying: Fast, Flexible Scheduled Air Service If you have a short time to spend in Alaska, fly between cities or take a pre-packaged tour. Most towns in Alaska have regularly scheduled air service, with connections from airlines based in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Alaska's airports follow the same security measures used at other U.S. airports, so always allow a little extra time.Air Taxis and ChartersThere are many good reasons to travel by small plane: a fly-out fishing experience, a visit to a Native community, access to a wilderness lodge, or the uniquely Alaskan activity of flightseeing. Helicopters are also widely used for flightseeing."Bush plane" services are generally called air taxis or air charters. These small air carriers serve thousands of Alaskans and visitors every year. They know what trips to recommend, and how to provide an unforgettable experience within your budget.

Getting Around Alaska by Ferry +

Alaska state ferry inside passage

Alaska Marine Highway System: Easygoing, Oceangoing Sail point-to-point on the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) and trace hundreds of miles of breathtaking coastline. The entire AMHS network is a National Scenic Byway. For you, this designation means exceptioanlly spectacular scenery along all the routes, and rich cultural history in the port communities.Designed for Alaska residents and with access to dozens of Alaskan communities, the ferry system is also a good choice for independent travelers. Bring your vehicle or bicycles, and when you arrive at a port, you're ready to go. You can also change your itinerary on the fly, adding stopovers at no extra charge. Seniors can save up to half off regular fares, depending on the season and route.Walk-on space is usually available - but vehicle spaces on most popular routes sell out in advance. As an option, consider renting cars at port destinations.There are also new, high-speed ferries available. Visit the Alaska Marine Highway System website at www.FerryAlaska.com for details.

Getting Around Alaska by Motorcoach +

Busloads of tourists pause atop Stoney Hill, known for its view of Mt McKinley

Motorcoach: From Casual to First-Class A number of tour companies provide motorcoach services for visitors during the summer. Some companies focus on point-to-point transportation, while others specialize in day trips or longer excursions.The terms to know are: bus, van and motorcoach. A bus or van is a smaller vehicle. A motorcoach is larger and comparatively luxurious, often with onboard facilities.The advantage of traveling by motorcoach is you don't need to worry about logistics or mapping out your route, and you are free to relax and enjoy the view.

Getting Around Alaska by Road +

Travelers stop to photograph a view of the Turnagain Spit from a roadside turnout

Driving: Take the Scenic Route We keep talking about Alaska's awe-inspiring scenery. You can see it for yourself by driving Alaska's highways. There are 9,241 miles of state and national highways in Alaska - and 1,382 miles that have earned the designation of "scenic byway." Mile-for-mile, Alaska has more scenic highways than any other state.One of the great things about driving in Alaska is that you really can't get lost. For example, only two highways leave Anchorage, one going north, the other going south. Sooner or later, you're bound to arrive someplace wonderful. And there's nothing especially difficult about driving in Alaska. Any valid U.S. or Canadian driver's license is honored here. Traffic laws are the same as in most other states. So if you feel comfortable driving at home, you'll feel comfortable driving here too.Bring Your OwnIf you have time, drive one way and return using the Alaska Marine Highway System or ship your vehicle on Totem Ocean Trailer Express.Rent a Car or RVYou can cover much of Alaska's road system in a standard rental car or RV. You don't need four-wheel drive to get around.

Getting Around Alaska by Train +

The Alaska Railroad travels through the Denali National Park

Rail: Cover Distances in Comfort The Alaska Railroad gracefully winds through indescribably beautiful landscapes - and since you're not driving, you can really enjoy the views. The rail corridor runs from Seward to Fairbanks, a distance of 500 miles. The train runs all year long, with seasonally adjusted schedules and routes. Railroad conductors and guides point out the highlights, offering commentary about scenery and wildlife along the way.The route between Fairbanks and Anchorage includes a pass along the eastern flank of Denali National Park. To the south of Anchorage, at Whittier, you can connect with the State ferry system.Alaska's Railroad offers unique, double-decker glass-domed cars that let you take full advantage of the scenery. Reservations can be made with the Alaska Railroad or through a variety of other cruise and/or tour companies.The White Pass & Yukon RouteIf you travel the Inside Passage, consider a trip on the narrow-gauge WP&YR. Built in 1898, at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, this 110-mile private railway linked the port of Skagway to Whitehorse in the Yukon, giving prospectors access to the gold fields beyond. Today, the White Pass offers narrated excursions in traditional parlor cars, traveling the "Scenic Railway of the World."For more information on travel by train see Transportation by Rail

Getting to Alaska by Air +

Jets land in Anchorage at sunset

Flying is Fastest Flying to Alaska is as easy and affordable as flying to many familiar vacation spots. More than a dozen airlines have service to Alaska. Direct flights are available from a number of major cities.Air Route Map & Flight TimesWHO:--Most U.S. airlines, several international carriersWHAT:--Round-trip or one-wayWHERE:--Depart any major airport. Arrive in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Ketchikan for connecting flights to other communitiesWHEN:--Year-roundHOW:--Contact your preferred airline directly--Make reservations online--Go through a travel agentWHY:--Fast form of travel--Spend less time getting here and more time vacationing--Get discounts by booking early or looking for online specials

Getting to Alaska by Cruise +

Fishing boats and a cruise ship docked in Seward

Cruises are Convenient, All-Inclusive Sail the world-famous Inside Passage aboard a ship that meets your personal needs, interests, and a budget. But these are not "typical" cruises designed around shuffleboard and swimming pools. Here the focus is on whales, bald eagles, Russian legacy, Gold Rush history, Native cultures, and spectacular coastal scenery.WHO:Large cruise lines and small specialty ship companiesWHAT:Round-trip or one-wayWHERE:--Inside Passage and Gulf of Alaska--Depart northbound Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, British Columbia--Depart southbound Juneau, Ketchikan, Seward, Skagway, WhittierWHEN:May through SeptemberHOW:--Use a travel agent--Reserve online--Contact cruise lines directlyWHO:--Convenient - unpack just once--All-inclusive pricing--The cruise line handles the logistics and details of travel for youTIME:Allow 4 days to reach Inside Passage destinations; or 7 days for cruises that reach ports around Prince William Sound (Seward, Whittier, Valdez)For cruiselines and agencies that book cruises please see Transportation By Sea

Getting to Alaska by Ferry +

An Alaska Marine Highway vessel makes it way through a bay

The Alaska Marine Highway is Relaxed, Flexible The state-owned ferry system is called a "Marine Highway" because it provides vital year-round transportation service for many Alaskan communities - and it sails through some truly breathtaking scenery.WHO:Alaska Marine Highway SystemWHAT:Round-trip or one-way, with or without a vehicleWHERE:--Over 30 ports (Inside Passage, Gulf of Alaska, and Aleutian Islands)--Depart northbound from Bellingham, Washington and Prince Rupert, British ColumbiaWHEN:Year-roundHOW:--Make reservations online or by phone: 800-642-0066, www.FerryAlaska.com--Make reservations early, especially for cabinsWHY:--Affordable--Informal, relaxed atmosphere--Flexibility to stop for a day or more if you want to explore an area--Incredible coastal sceneryTIME:Plan on 4 days to cruise the Inside Passage, and 7 days to reach Prince William Sound ports. Schedule extra days to take advantage ot stopover privileges.For more information about the Alaska State Ferry please refer to Transportation By Sea

Getting to Alaska by Road +

Mt. McKinley or "Denali" rises high in the background as RVs travel a highway near Trapper Creek

Driving is the Route to Freedom Some 50 years ago, the Alaska Highway (ALCAN) got a reputation as a rugged route for hearty travelers. Today the road is fully paved and modernized - only the scenery remains wild. Towns and traveler services (campgrounds, hotels, restaurants, service stations, etc.) appear at frequent intervals. The highway is open year-round, although some businesses close for the winter.WHO:Alaska HighwayWHAT:Round-trip or one-wayWHERE:U.S. and Canada. Main access routes head north from Seattle, Washington and Great Falls, MontanaWHEN:Year-round. Roads are clear in summer, plowed and sanded in winterHOW:--If you belong to an auto club (AAA for example) ask for free trip planning assistance--Detailed driving guides are also available for purchase at bookstores--Divide the drive into easy stages and reserve accommodations in advance during peak seasonWHY:--Travel at your own pace, with freedom to stop whenever you choose--See spectacular scenery--Save money by camping or staying in your RVTIME:Allow about 5 days for travel in each direction, plus time for travel in AlaskaFor more information on driving to Alaska or flying and renting an RV please see Transportation By Road

Glacier Viewing +

A day cruise passes through icy waters

One of the most photographed scenes of an Alaskan vacation is the towering blue face of a glacier. No wonder three of the top 10 most-visited attractions in the state are glaciers. Of the 100,000 glaciers in Alaska, many are easily accessible by car, including Worthington Glacier on the Richardson Highway, Matanuska Glacier on the Glenn Highway, Exit Glacier on the Seward Highway, Portage Glacier on the Seward Highway and Mendenhall Glacier on Glacier Highway. You can also pack numerous glaciers into a day with a boat tour of Glacier Bay National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park or Prince William Sound. Flightseeing trips over ice masses like Sargent Ice Field, Bagley Ice Field, Harding Ice Field and Juneau Ice Field allow you to experience the vastness of the glaciers from the air.The greatest concentration of glaciers in Alaska is in the Alaska Range and in the coastal ranges where the annual precipitation is high. These ancient rivers of ice are always in motion. A glacier is formed when snowfall accumulates and compacts under pressure into a dense ice mass. Most glaciers refract all colors of the spectrum except blue, causing them to appear deep blue. There are three different types of glaciers: Alpine or hanging glaciers, which cling to mountain tops; piedmont or valley glaciers, which result when one or more glaciers join and spread out; and tidewater glaciers, which are dramatic and spectacular when the leading edges of the glaciers calve (fall off) into the water. Some Alaskans have been known to use the icebergs floating in front of tidewater glaciers in their coolers or as a crackling cube in a cocktail. To connect with Alaska businesses, check out the Things to Do section. >Day Cruises and Multi-Day Cruises are where you will find tours to tide-water glaciers. Flightseeing for glacier viewing by air. You will also find some glacier viewing under Sightseeing & Tours and Adventure & Ecotourism for glacier raft and kayaking trips.

Golf +

Two men enjoy Alaska's great golfing

Traditional golfers will find well-maintained courses in incredibly scenic surroundings across the state including Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Soldotna, Kenai and Wrangell.Many courses boast a healthy wildlife population - moose, fox and sandhill cranes have been known to cross the fairways and have often been accused of "slow play."For a complete list of Alaska golf courses, go to AlaskaGolfLinks.com

Halibut +

A man poses with his prize halibut

Homer fishermen call them "barn door" halibut because of their huge size. Of course, not every angler who visits Alaska will catch the big one, but respectable halibut are definitely here for the taking from Alaska's cold waters. Charter a boat out of Homer, Deep Creek, Dutch Harbor, Seward or many places along the Inside Passage to the best fishing spots where the delectable white fish lurks below.To connect with Alaska businesses go to Sportfishing

Historic Mining Towns +

Visitors tour the old mine at the Independence Mine State Historical Park in Willow Creek Valley

Alaska has always attracted fortune-seekers and frontiersmen, as it did a century ago when thousands of prospectors stampeded north to Alaska in search of their fortunes. These adventurous pioneers left a trail of history in the form of abandoned mining towns, trails and larger-than-life legends. In just one year, 1897-98, over 60,000 adventurers made their way north to the rich gold fields of the Klondike. Today you can hike the famous Chilkoot trail, or visit the towns of Skagway or Dawson City and travel back in time. The Klondike was not the only gold strike luring furtune seekers north. Juneau,Nome,Fairbanks,Sitka and many other communities have remnants of a gold mining past. Panning for gold is a popular activity when visiting these communities.The vast resources of Alaska have lured entrepreneurs to Alaska for its deposits of minerals and ores. Early in the century one of the world's largest copper discoveries was made along the Chitina River in what is now Wrangell-St.Elias National Park. Now the largest ghost town in the world, Kennecott was once home to over 500 workers and their families. When the mine closed in 1938, everyone walked away, leaving behind a large-scale mining operation and dozens of supporting buildings and homes.Highlights, Relics & Historic BuildingsFar NorthColdfoot – See the old cemetery. The visitor center has exhibits on mining in the area.Nome – A few Gold Rush era buildings remain, including the Discovery Saloon and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. See mining equipment around town and at the city museum. The discovery sites on Anvil and Snow Creeks are just outside of town.Wiseman – Many charming log cabins remain, the Wiseman Trading Company has photographs and mining artifacts.Inside PassageDyea – Dock pilings and the cemetery for victims of an avalanche at Chilkoot Pass are among the remains of the town that was at the base of the Chilkoot Trail.Haines – Visitors can stay in buildings of Fort Seward, the last of the six posts established by the army to maintain order during the Gold Rush.Juneau – Many Gold Rush homes, businesses and mine buildings remain, including the remnants of the Alaska-Juneau Mining Company and the great Treadwell Mines.Ketchikan – See Gold Rush exhibits at the museum, visit Creek Street, the old town’s infamous red light district.Sitka – The seat of government until 1906. Gold was discovered here in 1871. The museum has Gold Rush exhibits.Skagway – Visitors can ride the White Pass & Yukon narrow guage railway to the summit of White Pass. Many buildings from the Gold Rush era, some restored, remain in this National Historical Park.Wrangell – Gold was discovered here in 1861. Supply town for prospectors heading to Cassiar, museum has Gold Rush exhibit.InteriorCentral – See the area’s only surviving roadhouse and a mining museum.Chicken – Log cabins and the schoolhouse featured in the book “Tisha” still stand.Circle Hot Springs – Many miners went to the hot springs to relax.Delta Junction – Rika’s Roadhouse is part of Big Delta State Historical Park.Eagle – A number of buildings remain, including Fort Egbert, the courthouse and water house. The historical society has tours and many exhibits.Fairbanks – Mining relics include the Chena Pump House, Ester Camp, Chatanika Camp, Gold Dredge No. 8, and the Davidson Ditch. The University of Alaska Museum has mining exhibits, including a spectacular gold case.Kantishna – Gold mining in the area started in 1905 and continues today. Stay at a roadhouse and explore the remains of cabins, equipment and mines in the area.Livengood – Some buildings remain in this ghost town. Manley Hot Springs – The Gold Rush era lodge and hot springs are still in operation today.Ruby – This Gold Rush town continues to serve gold miners today. Stay at the historic roadhouse and view displays of mining artifacts and photographs.Stevens Village – Visit the wood yard, where wood was cut to supply the Gold Rush steamboat traffic on the Yukon River.Tolovana – Stay at the restored roadhouse between Fairbanks and Manley Hot Springs.SouthcentralAnchorage – The Anchorage Museum of History and Art and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center have exhibits on mining. The museum also has a collection of Gold Rush paintingsChitina – Living ghost town, several mining era buildings remain. Learn about mining at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Visitor Center.Girdwood – Tour mine buildings and pan for gold at Crow Creek Mine. Indian Valley Mine, west of Girdwood, is open for visitors.Hope – Gold Rush buildings include the log community hall; there is a mining history museum.Independence Mine – State Historical Park, tour mine building, study exhibits in the Manager’s House and Assay Office, hike to the underground mine entrances.Kennicott – Stay at a lodge and see the buildings of the Kennecott Copper Mine and company town.McCarthy – Copper miners came to McCarthy for recreation. There are historic buildings, lodging and a small museum.Nabesna – Almost all the buildings still stand at the mine established in 1929.Seward – This was the southern end of Iditarod Trail, the museum has mining exhibits and a park with Iditarod trail display.Talkeetna – Visitors can see log cabins, stores, Talkeetna Roadhouse, Fairview Inn and a museum with mining memorabilia.Valdez – Learn about the Valdez Glacier Trail, Trans-Alaska Military Road and mining in the area at the city museum.SouthwestFlat – Gold Rush relics include mining equipment, buildings and houses.Iditarod – A ghost town, it was a supply center on the Iditarod Trail.

History +

Army infantry lined up in Skagway street, 1899

Russian whalers and fur traders established the first white settlement in Alaska in 1784 on Kodiak Island and later it Sitka. Much of the Russian influence still remains in Southwest and Inside Passage communities today. In 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russian $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska. Many Americans called the purchase "Seward's Folly" and considered it a waste of money. But it wasn't long before gold was discovered, triggering several prospector stampedes north.After the gold rush and during the depression era, most of America was preoccupied and thought very little of the vast Alaska territory. But during Warld War II, Alaska again became a valuable asset as a strategic staging area in the North Pacific. On June 3, 1942, the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor and proceeded to occupy the islands of Attu and Kiska. The yearlong war on American soil was just as much a war against the harsh weather as it was against the enemy. During this time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Alaska Highway in only eight months to supply a land route for military equipment and supplies.Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, creating the largest state in the union (more than twice the size of Texas). The nation again recognized the assets in this young state when oil was discovered and confirmed in 1968 at Prudhoe Bay, North America's largest oil field. Today, Alaska is treasured for it's breathtaking beauty and vast supply of natural resources.For more information please visit History, Culture & Educational>

Hunting Information +

Bear hunting

Hunting in Alaska provides the full range of experiences from mountain goats and deer to caribou and bear. It's famous for its huge moose, vast caribou herds, brown bears, Dall sheep, mountain goats and Sitka black-tailed deer. For many residents of the 49th state, hunting for food is a vital part of their lifestyle and emphasizes self-sufficiency and sustainable use. To preserve this exceptional environment for future generations, hunting regulations are strictly enforced. If you do plan to hunt during your visit to Alaska, please be sure you understand all the guidelines before you leave home. These hunting regulations and a wealth of other information are available from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation. For more information, visit their website.

Iditarod Trail +

A participant in the Iditarod leaves the start

Dog mushing is Alaska's official sport, and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race held every March is the longest, toughest test of a professional musher's endurance. You don't have to own a sled to check out the trails traversed by the mushers and their fleet of dogs. Drive down Joe Reddington Road in Wasilla to see Iditarod Trail Headquarters. You can stroll the famous trail or even take a sled ride with any number of tour operators offering summer and winter trips. Visit the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race website for more information.

Kenai River Salmon +

Fish jumping at Russian River Falls – near highway mile marker 52

What Kodiak is to bears, the Kenai River is to salmon...home to the largest salmon in the world. In fact, the Kenai offers anglers all five species of salmon, and anyone can access it by making sure to buy a fishing license, driving to the Kenai Peninsula and casting a line into its distinctive green-blue waters. Guided charters are also available along the length of the river.Go to SportfishingBusiness located on the Kenai Peninsula include Kenai, Soldotna, Cooper Landing and Sterling.

Kennecott Mine +

The ruins of the 1900-era Kennicott copper mine in Wrangell-St Elias National Park

For the history buff, Kennecott Mine is a must. The mine is located off the McCarthy Road and lies within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Perched on the side of Bonanza Ridge next to Kennicott Glacier, the mill town was built by Kennecott Copper Corporation in 1907. (An early-day misspelling made the mining company Kennecott, while the region, river and settlement are Kennicott.) When the copper market died down in 1938, the company essentially abandoned the site, leaving it as a virtual ghost town. Tours into some of the historic red buildings are available through private operators.Kennicott/McCarthy

Kodiak Brown Bears +

Three bears with wet fur search a marsh for food

Kodiak Island is home to world-famous brown bears. Known for their huge size and large numbers, sighting a Kodiak brownie is the highlight of more than one traveler's trip to Alaska. Visitors craving views of the big beasts can take the state ferry to Kodiak, catch a scheduled jet or hop on one of many privately operated bear-viewing tours.Kodiak Bear Fact SheetKodiak bears live exclusively on the islands in the Kodiak Archipelago. There are about 3,000 Kodiak bears; a density of about 0.7 bears per square mile. Kodiak bear populations are healthy and productive. They enjoy relatively pristine habitat and well managed fish populations. In most areas the number of bears is stable, but there are some places where bear density is increasing. Male bears are called boars, females are sows and youngsters are cubs. Kodiak bears are the largest brown bears in the world. A large male can stand over 10' tall when on his hind legs, and 5' when on all four legs. They weigh up to 1,500 pounds. Females are about 20% smaller, and 30% lighter than males. The oldest known wild Kodiak bear was a 34-year-old sow. The oldest boar was 27. Cubs are born in the den during January or February. Weighing less than a pound at birth with little hair and closed eyes, they suckle for several months, emerging from the den in May or June, weighing 15-20 pounds. Typical litter sizes are 2-3 cubs. Sows are sometimes seen with 5 or 6 cubs in tow, probably due to adopting cubs from other litters. Most cubs stay with their mothers for 3 years. Over 25% of the cubs die before they leave, with cannibalism by adult males being one of the major causes of death. Bears that have recently left their mothers, at ages 3-5, have a high mortality rate as they face the world on their own. Some of these subadults are the "juvenile delinquents" of bear society and are also the ones most likely to cause problems with people. Kodiak bears become sexually mature at age 5 and can continue to produce cubs throughout their lives. The average interval between litters is about 4 years. Kodiak bears begin entering their dens in late October. Pregnant sows are the first to go to dens, males are the last. Males begin emerging from their dens in early April, while sows with new cubs may stay in dens until late June. Some males may forego denning, staying awake all winter. Researchers from NASA and the medical professions are very interested in denning physiology. They are trying to figure out how bears can sleep for up to 8 months without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating, yet when they awaken they have lost little bone mass or muscle tone and have no signs of uremia. Understanding this could help astronauts during extended space flights or patients who are bedridden. Though Kodiak bears are often touted as the world's largest land carnivore (meat eaters), they are really omnivores (using a variety of foods). They actually spend more time eating grass, plants and berries than meat. Fish are an important part of their diets, but few Kodiak bears expend the time or effort necessary to chase and kill mammals. Bears use the most nutritious parts of their food to maximize their weight gain. Grass and forbs are only used while they are rapidly growing in the spring and early summer. Brains, flesh and eggs are preferred parts of the salmon. Internal organs of deer, elk and cattle are eaten first when one is killed or scavenged. Berries are used most often when they are ripe and sugars are at their highest level. Bears are naturally diurnal (active during the day), but when faced with competition for food or space, they adopt a more nocturnal (active at night) life style. Bears do not defend territories, but they do have traditional areas that they use each year (home ranges). Because of the rich variety of foods available on Kodiak, bears here have some of the smallest home ranges of any brown bear population. Mating season for Kodiak bears is during May and June. They are serially monogamous (having one partner at a time), staying together for a couple days or a couple weeks. As soon as the egg is fertilized and divides a few times, it enters a state of suspended animation until autumn when it finally implants on the uterine wall and begins to grow again. Although generally solitary in nature, Kodiak bears often occur in large groups in concentrated feeding areas. Because of this, they have developed a complex language and social structure to express their feelings and avoid fights. Traditionally, Kodiak Natives (Alutiiqs) hunted bears for food, clothing and tools. Arrows, spears and a great deal of courage were required hunting equipment. Bear heads were usually left in the field as a sign of respect to the spirit of the bears. Kodiak bears were commercially hunted throughout the 1800s with the price paid for a bear hide being comparable to that paid for a beaver of river otter pelt (about $10). Bears and cattle ranchers have waged an ongoing battle for the past 200 years. Original Russian settlers were encouraged to bring large aggressive dogs to protect cattle from bears. As early as the 1930s, biologists and ranchers were exploring ways to reduce the number of cattle killed by bears. At one point bears where shot from airplanes, and a 9-foot high bear fence was proposed to bisect Kodiak Island and create a "bear-free-zone." All active efforts at bear control in Kodiak ended in the mid-1960s. Concern over reduced bear populations prompted sportsmen to petition the Federal government to protect bears and their habitat on Kodiak. The results of their efforts were stricter regulations and creation of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in 1941. Today, hunters kill about 160 Kodiak bears each year under tightly controlled regulations. About 5,000 resident bear hunters apply each year for a chance at the 319 bear permits that are available for them. Hunters who are not residents of Alaska must hire a professional guide, paying $10,000-$15,000 per hunt. Over 70% of the Kodiak bears killed by hunters are males. Only one person has been killed by a bear on Kodiak in the past 75 years. About once every other year a bear injures a person Kodiak bear research, management and habitat protection is done cooperatively by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Largest Cities +

Anchorage, Alaska's largest city

Anchorage is the largest city in terms of population, with more than 254,000 residents. Fairbanks is the second largest with roughly 32,000 residents. In terms of total area, Sitka is the largest with 4,710 square miles, with Juneau being second largest with 3,108 square miles.To connect with Alaska communities visit the Community Links section of the site.

Made in Alaska +

A visitor finds a treasure to bring home from Nome

Wherever you go, you'll find unique Alaskan products and crafts. These can include:Gold nugget jewelry and items carved from ivory and jade Handmade clothing and toys Collectors items made from animal skins, fur or bone Woven baskets of beach grass, bark or baleen Alaskan delicacies - canned and smoked salmon, wild berry products and reindeer sausage Native seal oil candles, beaded mittens, fur mukluks and miniature hand-carved totem polesBe sure to look for the "Made in Alaska" logo, which indicates an item genuinely manufactured in Alaska. If you find a silver hand logo, it identifies the item as a Native Alaskan handicraft.Handcrafted items, made of walrus ivory and other by-products of subsistence hunting, provide an income source for Native Alaskan artisans and a valuable investment for the buyer. Be careful though - some wildlife products cannot be transported through customs without special permits. Visitors are advised to mail these souvenirs home to avoid confusion at the border.

Making Reservations +

A view of the Golden North Hotel

You will need to make as many pre-arrangements as possible for a trip to Alaska. Hotel and rental cars can be expensive and hard to find if you wait too long. So you'll definitely want to reserve these ahead of time. On tours, you will want to use sensible judgement. If the tour is exclusive or has limited space, you should reserve ahead of time. If it is an activity that happens several times daily, you can probably wait longer. Check with the tour company when you inquire for information about their reservation policies.

Mosquitoes +

Bring insect repellant of hikes and camping trips!

Much like wilderness areas in other parts of the U.S., Alaska has its share of pesky insects. Mosquitoes are perhaps the most widespread and persistent of insects in Alaska, occurring in Alaska's many miles of swampy tundra and lakes from early spring into the fall.Mosquitoes are generally active in the early morning and at dusk and most bothersome in areas with stagnant water and little or no breeze. You can't plan your summer vacation around the mosquito, but they are easily dealt with. Every corner store, supermarket and outdoor center will have a good selection of bug repellant, be sure to keep some on hand.

Native Culture +

One of the smallest of Tlingit dancers takes a break

Alaska's intriguing history is closely intertwined with that of the people who settled here thousands of years ago. Their diverse culture bears imprints of every group that has made Alaska its home, from the first Ice Age nomads to Russian fur traders to the gold miners who came to seek their fortunes.Today, Native Alaskans comprise almost 16 percent of Alaska's population. These indigenous people interweave today's modern lifestyle with their own cultural threads and spiritual beliefs, preserving the gifts of tradition for the coming generations.Alaska Natives speak several different languages and dialects and practice lifestyles tailored to the resources of their home region. There are many cultural facilities in Alaska where one can listen to stories told by Native elders, learn how totem poles are crafted and participate in an Eskimo blanket toss. Each region of the state has one or more centers that feature displays and hands-on exhibits of Native culture and arts and crafts.To get a closer look at Alaska Native culture and this important lifestyle, many villages offer packages to their remote communities to visit, enjoy local foods, take in arts and crafts demonstrations and learn more about the people who first inhabited this vast land.From traditional music and dance to beautiful Native art, there are many opportunities and venues for Alaska visitors to experience an integral part of Alaska's culture and history.History, Culture & Educational

North Pole +

Santa's house in North Pole

It doesn't take much imagination to figure out why this is a "can't miss" for travelers to the North. The community of North Pole is located just south of Fairbanks in Interior Alaska. Visitors usually stop and take a picture with the giant Santa Claus and have their Christmas cards postmarked "North Pole." During the Christmas season, the local post office is besieged with letters to Santa from children all over the world. There is more to North Pole than Santa Claus, however. Visitors should take time to explore Chena Lake Recreation Area for boating and swimming.

Outdoor Gear +

Hikers descend into the Valley of 10,000 Smokes

The specialized gear you will need to bring will be minimal. Remember that as a rule you need to dress in layers when you come to Alaska and don't forget your sunglasses. Even in wintertime, Alaska can have bright sunlight. Compounded with the snow is can be almost blinding. Any specialized gear needed for a tour will most likely be provided by the tour company. Other items not to be forgotten are a camera and binoculars.

Prince William Sound +

A Waterfall falls into a bay in the Kenai Fjords National Park

Prince William Sound, the northern extent of the Gulf of Alaska, rivals the Inside Passage for the steepest fjords and the most spectacular coastlines and glaciers. The Sound is a marvelous wilderness area of islands, inlets, fjords, lush rainforests and towering mountains. Flanked to the west by the Kenai Mountains and to the north and east by the Chugach Mountians, Prince William Sound covers 15,000 square-miles and has abundant wildlife, including whales, sea lions, harbor seals, otters, eagles, dall sheep, mountain goats and bears.At center stage of Prince William Sound is the Columbia Glacier. The bluish wall of ice, named after New York's Columbia University, is one of the most spectacular tidewater glaciers on the Alaskan coast, as it covers 440 sq. miles. The glacier's face is three miles wide and in some places 262 feet high. When passing the glacier by boat, the stunning scene includes hundreds of seals sunning on the ice pack, a backdrop of mountains and usually the thunder of ice calving off its face.There are countless other glaciers in the Sound and the best access is from Whittier, Valdez or Cordova. Board the state ferry or private day excursion boats in any of these communities for up close and personal views of these magnificent rivers of ice.

Public Transportation +

A woman takes a photo from the window of a bus in Denali National Park

Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Ketchikan operate public transportation systems.

Scenic Byways +

The Homer Spit and Kachemak Bay are the end of the road in Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

Driving in the Last Frontier is unlike driving anyplace else in the country. Spectacular views, majestic lakes and rivers, towering mountains, glaciers, wildflowers and wildlife are all an exciting part of the Alaska Driving experience. Whether you drive your own vehicle or rent a car or RV, you'll have a truly unforgettable vacation.The following routes have earned the designation of Alaska's "scenic byway," meaning they possess significant natural, historic, recreational, cultural and/or archeological resources. Enhance your Alaska vacation by exploring any of Alaska's scenic byways. Alaska also has two National Scenic Byways. It also has one All American Road, the Seward Highway, one of the top scenic roads in the U.S.Alaska Marine Highway: National Scenic BywayAlaska RailroadDalton HighwayGlenn Highway: National Scenic BywaySeward Highway: All American RoadParks HighwayRichardson HighwaySteese HighwaySterling Highway: Wye to Skilak LakeSterling Highway: Anchor Point to HomerTaylor "Top of the World" HighwayFor more information visit: Alaska's Scenic Byways

Shipping Seafood +

Commercial fishermen remove crabs from a crab pot

Inquire with the place you'll be staying in Alaska. Most places that have sport fishing available for visitors will have refrigeration and processing facilities nearby. Those same processors usually sell commercially caught seafood as well. It can be packed and sent to your home for a fee.

Sportfishing +

A fisherman enjoys early morning on a still lake

For the angler, Alaska offers some of the most diverse and incredible fishing opportunities in the world. It can be as easy as pulling off to the side of the road and dropping a line into a roadside river or chartering a boat to help you reel in one of Alaska's enormous halibut. Fly-in fishing, boat charters, luxury wilderness lodges and fish camps offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences for anglers.In all, more than 386 fish species inhabit Alaska's salt and fresh waters, including all five species of Pacific Salmon: King (chinook), red (sockeye), silver (coho), chum (dog) and pink (humpback). Rivers, lakes and streams throughout the state offer the chance to hook trout - rainbows, cutthroats and steelhead, challenging Arctic grayling and sheefish, or even the feisty Dolly Varden.Alaska is an angler's paradise. You could even come away with a world record; the Alaska record for King salmon was set by a fish weighing over 97 pounds. However, before you drop that line in the water, be sure you know the state's fishing regulations. A complete guide to freshwater and saltwater fishing regulations is available from Alaska Department of Fish and GameSpecial license stamps are required for King salmon - these stamps are available at local sporting goods stores.Go to the Sportfishing area of the site for more information and to connect with businesses.

Summer Activities +

Kayakers approach the Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm

Possibilities - this is not a complete list - only a starting point.Get Up Close With GlaciersCome see the truly ancient, enormous rivers of ice that sculpted Alaska's mountains and calving icebergs that hit the ocean with thunderous roars. How big are they? Often more than a mile wide and dozens of miles long. Alaska has so many glaciers that hundreds don't even have names.Opportunities:--Day-cruise--Simple glacier day hikes--Kayaking in fjords--Helicopter flightseeing--View from the roadside--Inside Passage/Gulf cruiseTake Off for FlightseeingDistinctively Alaskan, flightseeing by plane or helilcopter is an ideal way to really feel the magnitude of Alaska. A variety of tours, excursions and charters are available, from 30-minute hops to full-day outings.Opportunities--Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the largest national park in the U.S.--The Inside Passage for views of forests, islands, glaciers, and sometimes whales--Glacier-landing tours--Tours of Mt. McKinley from TalkeetnaWatch the WildlifeIf you want to see wildlife, Alaska is the place to visit. Bald eagles gather by the hundreds. Moose cause traffic jams. Wild Dall sheep skip along roadside cliffs. State and national wilderness lands blanket the map.Opportunities--Flightseeing trips that specialize in wildlife viewing by air--Drive to or visit likely areas - espeically wildlife refuges or national parks--Guided wildlife tours by motorcoach or bus--Guided tours that specialize in bear viewing, whale watching or bird watching--Guaranteed viewing and self-guided tours--Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center--Alaska SeaLife Center--Anchorage Zoo--Alaska Raptor CenterGet to Know Native CulturesAbout 15 percent of Alaska's population is composed of distinct indigenous cultural groups, including Eskimo, Aleut, Indians, and numerous subcultures. Alaska Natives are interested in sharing their cultural traditions with visitors. There are a number of venues that provide opportunities to interact with Native Alaskans, to learn about traditions, crafts, music and other cultural distinctions.Opportunities--Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a "living Museum" in Anchorage--Take a guided tour to Barrow, site of the Inupiat Heritage Center--Go to the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak--Join a tour to Kotzebue, featuring the Museum of the Arctic and Culture Camp--Tour the famous Totem exhibits in KetchikanExplore Russian AmericaBy the time America bought the Alaska Territory (for about 2 cents an acre), Russians had been living here for over 120 years. Sitka was the capital of Russian-America, and Alaska's first state capital. The Russians also had headquarters in Kodiak and outposts all along the coastline. The strength of Alaska's Russian heritage is still visible in the onion-shaped domes of Russian Orthodox churches that rise above many Alaskan towns.Opportunities--Visit museums with exhibits exploring Russia's role in the span of Alaskan history--Join historical tours in towns and regions with strong Russian connections--Walk among old Russian buildings, and learn about Russian and Native cultures at the Sitka National Historical ParkExplore the WildernessYou can experience true Alaska wilderness during the day - and sleep in a warm comfortable bed at night. Guided trips and tours take you to a variety of remote (and not-so-remote) places, where you can enjoy almost any outdoor interest, from kayaking and river rafting, to fly fishing and bear watching.Opportunities--Consider day excursions if you don't have a lot of outdoor experience--Try a wilderness lodge for remote adventure, combined with luxury accommodations--Fly-out to a remote fishing lodge for a uniquely Alaskan experienceCatch Gold FeverThe lure of gold touched almost every corner of Alaska. Juneau is named for the prospector who started Alaska's first big gold rush. The towns of Skagway, Haines, and Dyea offered gateways to the Klondike. Nome's golden sands beckoned tens of thousands.Opportunities--Join a ranger-guided walking tour through the restored buildings of the Klondike Gold Rush Natinal Historical Park in Skagway--Pan for gold in Juneau, Fairbanks, Girdwood and Nome--Take a day-trip on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway to experience gold-rush era travel--Pan for gold or find some of the 44 abandoned gold dredges in NomeOther PossibilitiesReserve a Forest Service cabin and camp for the weekend Plan a personalized outdoor adventure with the Alaska Public Lands Information Center Drive the highways of the state, including several scenic byways, for the ultimate road trip Take the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry from port to port Explore the National and State Parks located throughout the state Be on the lookout for wildlife, including eagles, moose, whales, bears, Dall Sheep, caribou, lynx, musk oxen and mountain goats

Temperatures +

Mountains reflect in Tern Lake

For complete temperature, climate and weather information for all regions of Alaska visit the Climate & Weather area of the site.

Things To Remember +

Travellers with cameras snap a photograph of wildlife from the deck of a boat

Alaska's largest towns and cities have major medical facilities, full banking services and other traveler conveniences. The electic current is standard U.S. 110-115V, 60 AC. Alaska observes all major U.S. holidays, as well as Seward's Day on the last Monday in March and Alaska Day on October 18. Almost all of Alaska is in the Alaska Time Zone, which is one hour earlier than Pacific Time. The western most Aleutian Islands and St. Lawrence Island are on Hawaiian-Aleutian Time.

Totem Poles +

A totem pole depicting a human figure

Beginning in Ketchikan and extending north throughout many of the Southeast Alaska Inside Passage communities, totemic art can be found in galleries and ancient totems tower among the trees and rest in museums.Sitka is home to Sitka National Historic Park, which boasts a collection of totems near the visitor center and along the walking trail. The pieces, primarily from Prince of Wales Island, were on display at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition.Ketchikan> has the Totem Heritage Center, which houses 33 totems retrieved from deserted Tlingit and Haida Villages. The Center is a national landmark and is the largest such collection in the United States. To get to either of these destinations, drive north to Prince Rupert, British Columbia and catch the Alaska state ferry, take a cruise ship shore excursion or fly via scheduled jet service.Visit the Inside Passage area of the site for more information and to connect with Alaska businesses.

Trans-Alaska Pipeline +

A family admires the 800-mile Trans Alaska Pipeline near Fairbanks

Astronauts say they can see it from space, but visitors to Alaska don't have to go that far to see one of engineering's modern marvels, the Trans-Alaska Pipelline. Winding from the Arctic region of Prudhoe Bay to the ice-free port of Valdez, the pipeline is visible near Fairbanks, Glennallen, Delta Junction, Valdez and along the Dalton Highway. The Dalton, which is known in Alaska at the North Slope Haul Road, is a 414-mile road built during construction of the pipeline to provide access to remote construction camps. The highway begins at milepost 73.1 on the Elliott Highway north of Fairbanks and ends at Deadhorse. Permits are no longer required to drive the gravel highway. Services are very limited and are only available at milepost 56 and milepost 175 at Coldfoot. Travelers should be prepared to drive slowly as the gravel road is very rough. There are four designated campgrounds along the Dalton Highway, and several informal campsites.

Trivia +

Alaska offers some of the best Aurora viewing in the world!

Lake Hood, located in Anchorage, is the world's busiest floatplane base. It averages 800 takeoffs and landings on a peak summer day. The state's record snowfall in a single season was recorded at Thompson Pass north of Valdez in 1952-53 at 974.5 inches. The nation's two largest national forests are located in Alaska. The Tongass in Southeast includes 16.8 million acres, and the Chugach in Southcentral has 4.8 million acres. There are more than 3 million lakes in Alaska. Lake Illiamna in Southwest Alaska is the second largest freshwater lake in the U.S. The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline has transported over 13 billion barrels of oil from the North Slope to the port of Valdez in Prince William Sound since its completion on May 31, 1977. Oil moves at a rate of 5.5 miles per hour and takes under six days to travel to tankers in the port of Valdez. Alaska is home to 80 percent of all the active volcanoes in the U.S. Dutch Harbor/Unalaska is the number one producing commercial fishing port in the nation. Alaska has 12 species of big game, including moose, caribou, black bear, Dall sheep, musk ox, wolverine, brown bear, wolf, mountain goat, black-tailed deer and elk. The highest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was 100 degrees F at Fort Yukon in 1915, and the lowest recorded temperature was -80 degrees F at Prospect Creek Camp in 1971.

Vacation Length +

Spectacular mountains rim nearly every coastal community in Alaska

If you have a week you have enough time for a thrilling, memorable Alaskan vacation. Almost any itinerary (see Sample Trips) can be adapted to match the amount of time you have. And with a wide variety of activities and tours to choose from, planning your perfect itinerary is easy. Here are some possible foundations for your travel plans.7 days--Fly to and from Alaska and spend most of your time exploring/experiencing.--Focus on one area of the state and take a variety of shorter excursions around that area.--Rent a car or RV and discover Alaska's unique roadside communities. You'll get a change to meet friendly people, see wildlife, and view unforgettable scenery. Stop where you want, for as long as you want.7 to 14 days--Fly round-trip to Alaska, or fly one way and take a cruise ship or state ferry in the other direction.--If you plan to travel by sea, add a few shore excursions to experience adventures such as flightseeing, kayaking, walking tours, guided rafting and fishing trips.--Add land-based day trips and tours to your itinerary. Plan on one low-key day for every two days of intensive touring.--Plan a one- or two-day visit to an Alaskan "bush" community for in-depth discovery of Alaskan history and Native culture.14 days or more--Combine two 7-day itineraries.--Travel to and from the state using different methods of transportation.--Drive to and from Alaska in your own car or RV and see several regions of the state by road, adding occasional flightseeing trips, land-based tours and day cruises.--Include a rail trip.--See more than one region.--Take a few days to visit the "bush" for explorations of gold rush history or Native culture.--Take a motorcoach tour from the lower 48 and allow the tour operators to handle all the details for you.

Weather and Clothing +

A hiker climbs a green hillside near Homer

For regional weather and clothing guides visit the Climate & Weather area of the site.

Whales and Other Marine Mammals +

A humpback whale breaches near the coast

Alaska's shorelines are home to an abundance of marine life, including stellar sea lions, walrus, whales, seals and sea otters. The world's largest colony of seals, numbering over one million, breeds undisturbed on the Pribilof Islands. Sixteen species of whales have been identified in Alaska's waters. Increasing numbers of visitors arrange whale-watching tours during migration in hopes of witnessing the massive mammal "breach" high above the water level. Sea otters are amusing creatures to watch. They are playful and are often seen carrying their young on their chest.For more detailed information visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.Connect with Day Cruise businesses.

Wild Berries Caution +

Native Woman with a basket of berries

Until you can identify them yourself or you are with a botanical expert, you probably shouldn't eat any of them. Alaska's trail systems are full of many different kinds of berries. Some are edible, some are poisonous. Don't eat any of them unless you are absolutely positive they are edible. There are many books you can buy for identifying berries and other types of flora.

Wildlife Viewing +

A blonde grizzly, or toklat, digs for food in a meadow

Alaska offers unparalleled opportunities to observe and photograph wildlilfe. The variety and impressive numbers of mammals, birds and marine wildlife in Alaska draw visitors from all over the world.Viewing TipsKeep a Low Profile Binoculars, a spotting scope, or camera with a telephoto lens allows you to see animals up close without disturbing their natural behaviors. Polarized sunglasses cut the surface glare on water and make it easier to see fish and aquatic life.When hiking, scan for wildlife before stepping into the open of meadows, shorelines and riverbanks. When driving, use your car as a blind rather than jumping right out. Move slowly and quietly.Leave pets at home. Small animals can become prey for eagles and large mammals. Dogs, even when leashed, resemble predators and may disturb wildlife.Enjoy watching animals' natural behaviors. Resist the temptation to attract their attention with sounds. If your presence is causing an animal to stop feeding or act restless, give it more space. Be especially respectful of nesting and denning areas, rookeries and calving grounds, and critical feeding areas.Look for CluesTracks, droppings, trails, and twigs provide clues about wildlife in the area - what they are eating, where they live and when they passed through. Noticing and reading these clues adds richness to wildlife viewing.Time it RightDawn and dusk are when many wildlife species are most active. Midday warmth energizes dragonflies and butterflies and creates thermals for eagles and hawks. Tides also influence coastal wildlife viewing opportunities.Many wildlife species move daily and seasonally in search of food. By learning about feeding habits, you'll have a better sense of where to look for which animals, and when.Help Keep Wildlife WildNever feed wild animals. Doing so can cause them to associate people with food, which can get them in trouble in the future. Human food can also make them sick.Leave 'orphaned' or sick animals alone. Young animals that appear to be orphaned usually have parents nearby. If you're concerned, call the Alaska Departmetn of Fish and Game.Be Considerate of OthersPeople use and enjoy Alaska's wildlife in a variety of way.s Respect private property and give hunters, anglers, and others plenty of space.For complete information on what, when and where to view wildlife visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.Connect to Alaska Wildlife Viewing businesses.

Wildlife Viewing Safety +

Baby moose running through the woods

Alaska is a wild land from our largest cities to our most remote islands. For safety, take a companion, let someone know your plans, and be prepared for emergencies with spare clothes, plenty of food and water, and a means of communication.Bears:Avoid surprising bears. Be alert along noisy streams, in thick brush, and when visibility is poor. Make noise (sing, clap, talk) when traveling. Always keep your belingings (backpack, food, fish, etc.) with you or in bear-proof storage.If you see a bear, stay calm. if the bear does NOT notice you, quietly leave, keeping your eyes on the bear. If it DOES notice you, face the bear, wave your arms and talk to it calmly. If it approaches you, stand still.If a bear is surprised at close distance, it may feel threatened and act defensively, especially if it has cubs or food. Stand your ground! If the bear strikes or bites you, lie on your front, protect your face and neck and remain still. In rare instances, bears may be predatory. Fight back if the attack is prolonged.Moose:Never approach, corner, or feed a moose. Moose, especially cows with calves, can be aggressive and need plenty of room. When in moose country, keep your dog in control. Pay attention to moose body language. Ears back, neck hair raised, and licking lips signal stress. Retreat quickly! If a moose charges you, hide behind a tree or something solid or run if you have a head start. If you're knocked down, curl up, protect you head, and lie still until the moose retreats.Visit the Alaska State Parks Staying Safe web pagebefore you head out.

Winter Activities +

Alaska has many miles of great snow machining

Winter is a time when Alaska sparkles and shines, when much of the land is covered by a blanket of soft snow - crystalline shapes glistening in the sun. Northern lights span the skies in the evening dazzling the eye and the snow invites the child in everyone to come out and play - you'll find plenty of friendly company to show you how and where to have the best winter fun.For those looking for downhill skiing opportunities, Alyeska Ski Resort, located 40 miles south of Anchorage, offers three double chairs, two fixed quads, one high-speed detachable quad and a 60-passenger tram to whisk you 2,800 vertical feet above scenic Turnagain Arm. Other world-class downhill skiing opportunities can be found at Anchorage's Hilltop Ski Area, Alpenglow at Arctic Valley, Juneau's Eaglecrest Ski Area, Fairbanks' Moose Mountain and Mt. Aurora Skiland. Alaska has produced two winter Olympic Medalists, 1994 gold medal winner Tommy Moe and 1992 silver medal winner Hilary Lindh, both of whom grew up skiing on these exciting Alaskan slopes.If cross-country skiing is what you're after, Alaska's many trails offer opportunities to trek through mountain valleys, ski beside the sea, or even take advantage of groomed and lighted trails. Cozy mountain lodges, throughout the Interior and Southcentral, are idyllic cross-country retreats - accessible by highway or by ski plane for more remote locations. Near Fairbanks, ski to a hot mineral bath at Chena Hot Springs. Or try Anchorage's Kincaid Park, site of the 1994 Olympic Trials. Other favorite Southcentral cross-country areas include Chugach State Park, Hatcher Pass Recreational Area and Turnagain Pass. For skiers visiting the Inside Passage area, the Tongass National Forest provides terrain for all abilities and Eaglecrest Ski Area's trackset trails are great for limbering up.Dog mushing is Alaska's official sport - annual sled dog races show off the extensive training the dogs and drivers endure to prepare themselves for the racing season. The first Saturday in March marks the start of the 1,049-mile (1,678-km) Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that runs from Anchorage to Nome. The Last Great Race on Earth grips the entire world for those nine days as racers vie for the championship title. Other incredible races include the Open North American Championship held in Fairbanks every March and the Yukon Quest International - considered by many to be the most difficult sled dog race - also held each year in Fairbanks.Throughout the winter season, many communities host winter carnivals and festivals. Take in the Tent City Winter Festival in Wrangell, the Iceworm Festival in Cordova or the Winterfest in Valdez in the third week of February. The Anchorage Fur Rendzvous, also know as the "Mardi Gras of the North," is a 16-day celebration that attracts thousands of celebrants to more than 120 events that include snowshoe softball, a carnival with rides and the World Championship Sled Dog Races. Fairbanks is home to the renowned World Ice Art Competition where stunning sculptures are carved from massive squares of ice. For more information on winter in Alaska visit theWinter section of the site.Wildlife viewing also offers an exciting dimension to winter, as many animals are easier to spot against a backdrop of white snow. At the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, an estimated 3,000 bald eagles feed on salmon from late October through February - these eagles are easily seen from the highway. Arrange a photo safari with a wilderness guide, or look for caribou, moose and wolves while enjoying a flightseeing tour.Other PossibilitiesCross country ski on either groomed trails or backcountry terrain Ice skate on frozen lakes and ponds in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau Ride in a dog sled on short tours or longer, overnight adventures Power your way through the snow in designated snowmobile areas Ice fish for trout and char on area lakes and rivers Watch the beginning or end of any number of sled dog races, including the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, sprint and mid-distance sled dog races statewide and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race See amazing works of ice art at ice sculpture competitions

Yukon River +

Clouds dot the sky above the Yukon River near Circle, AK

There are several ways to access one of the longest rivers in the North made famous by Robert Service.Drive to Whitehorse on the upper reaches of the Yukon or north to Dawson, Yukon Territory. From Dawson, drive the Taylor Highway into the small town of Eagle, Alaska. Eagle is perched on the south bank of the Yukon River below Eagle Bluff. The area is quiet and remote and offers canoe and raft rentals for visitors.From Fairbanks, drive to Circle, Alaska. Located 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Circle was the largest gold mining town on the Yukon River prior to the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush. Today Circle is a small, picturesque town with lots of summertime activities. Canoeists put in and take out on the Yukon, and visitors come and go on the Steese Highway.

Southwest (15)

Bear Viewing +

A bear fishes white waters while another looks on, hoping for a shared catch

Southwest contains some of the best bear viewing areas in the state including McNeal River State Game Sanctuary, Katmai National Park - Brooks Falls and Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge - South Frazer Lake. Many tour operators also offer bear viewing opportunities. For complete bear viewing information visit the Alaska Public Lands Information Center website and select Bear Viewing and Bear Facts off the menu.

Culture +

An Alutiiq dancer's headdress is beautifully adorned with beads and fur

Alaska's expansive Southwest region is home to the communities of Bethel, King Salmon, Unalaska, Dillingham, Kodiak and the Pribilof Islands. The area is as diverse as it is big. Unalaska, located on the Aleutian Island chain, is home to Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Ascension and the Bishop's House. The church hosts one of the largest collections of religious artifacts and icons in the United States.Kodiak Island, known primarily for its mammoth brown bears, boasts many cultural attractions in addition to housing one of the world's most legendary mammals. The Baranov Museum, a warehouse built in the 1790s by Alexander Baranof to store furs, is the oldest remaining Russian structure in the state. Kodiak is also rich with Alaska Native culture. The Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository reveal 8,000 years of Alutiiq history through artifacts and archeologocal digs. A new archaeological excavation gets underway every summer and volunteers are invited to participate.

Daylight +

Hikers enjoy the view from atop a mountain

On summer solstice in June, the sun is up by 5 a.m. and the sun sets well after 11 p.m. From summer soltice to winter soltice in late December daylight hours slowly shrink to the shortest day when its light by 10 a.m. and getting dark by 4:30 p.m. Then the tide turns and daylight hours begin the ascent to summer solstice again.Visit the Sunrise/Sunset website for a detailed calendar for any city.

Fishing Licenses +

Fishing vessels on the coast of Southwest Alaska

Non-resident fishing licenses can be purchased just about anywhere from the corner grocery store to sometimes right on-board your charter vessel. You can even purchase your fishing license online. Non-resident license fees are as follows: 1 day - $20 3 days - $35 7 days - $55 14 days - $80 Annual - $145

Making Reservations +

A remote lodge gives tourists a rustic experience

You will need to make as many pre-arrangements as possible for a trip to Alaska. Hotel and rental cars can be hard to find if you wait too long. So you'll definitely want to reserve these ahead of time. On tours, you will want to use sensible judgement. If it is a tour that is exclusive or has limited space, you should reserve ahead of time. If it is an activity that happens several times daily, you can probably wait longer. Check with the tour company when you inquire for information about reservation policies.

Mosquitoes +

Bring insect repellant of hikes and camping trips!

Much like wilderness areas in other parts of the U.S., Alaska has its share of pesky insects. Mosquitoes are perhaps the most widespread and persistent of insects in Alaska, occurring in Alaska's many miles of swampy tundra and lakes from early spring into the fall.Mosquitoes are generally active in the early morning and at dusk and most bothersome in areas with stagnant water and little or no breeze. You can't plan your summer vacation around the mosquito, but they are easily dealt with. Every corner store, supermarket and outdoor center will have a good selection of bug repellant, be sure to keep some on hand.

Native Alaskan Artwork +

A collection of native Alaskan handicrafts

Wherever you go, you'll find unique Alaskan products and crafts. Be sure to look for the "Made in Alaska" logo, which indicates an item genuinely manufactured in Alaska. If you find a silver hand logo, it identifies the item as a Native Alaskan handicraft.Handcrafted items, made of walrus ivory and other by-products of subsistence hunting, provide an income source for Native Alaskan artisans and a valuable investment for the buyer. Be careful though - some wildlife products cannot be transported through customs without special permits. Visitors are advised to mail these sourvenirs home to avoid confusion at the border.

Outdoor Gear +

Rafting a wild river

The specialized gear you will need to bring will be minimal. Remember that as a rule you will need to dress in layers and when you come don't forget your sunglasses. Even in the wintertime, Southwest Alaska can have bright sunlight, and compounded with snow, can be almost blinding. Any specialized gear needed for tours will most likely be provided by the tour company. Other items not to be forgotten are a camera and binoculars.

Shipping Seafood +

Commercial fishermen remove crabs from a crab pot

Inquire with the place you'll be staying in Southwest Alaska. Most areas in Alaska that have sports fishing available for visitors will have refrigeration and processing facilities nearby. Those same processors usually sell commercially caught seafood as well. It can be packed and sent to your home for a fee.

Sportfishing +

A proud fisherman displays his catch

All major types of salmon can be caught throughout Southwest Alaska. Also available to anglers is pacific halibut and a variety of rockfish. Rainbow, Dolly Varden and Steelhead trout are also in select areas. Refer to the Alaska State Department of Fish and Game for fishing runs and bag limits.

Summer Activities +

A memorial to the World War II heritage of Unalaska in the Aleutian Island chain

Eat your fill of famous Alaska King Crab at Kodiak's Crab Festival Observe brown bears in their natural habitat at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park See thousands of bird species converge on the Pribilof Islands Learn about World War II history in Dutch Harbor, the site of the 1942 Japanese bombing Raft the Nushagak River near Dillingham Fish for trophy-sized trout in Iliamna Lake Hike through the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes near King Salmon Visit the Walrus Island State Game Sanctuary near Togiak for the chance to see thousands of walrus Assist in an Alutiiq archeological dig on the Island of Kodiak and visit the Alutiiq Museum

Temperatures +

Salmon fishing on Kodiak Island

Average high/low FJan: 35/25Feb: 36/24Mar: 38/27Apr: 43/32May: 49/38Jun: 55/44Jul: 60/48Aug: 61/49Sep: 56/43Oct: 46/34Nov: 39/29Dec: 36/25

Transportation +

A fisherman and his pilot board a plane at sunrise

By AirSouthwest Alaska is accessed via major air carriers Alaska Airlines and Era Aviation. Numerous charter air operators also provide service including Branch River Air Service, Egli Air Haul, Inc., Highline Air Service and Sea Hawk Air.By FerryThe Alaska Marine Highway System serves Kodiak, Port Lions, Chignik, Sand Point, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass, Akutan and Unalaska. For detailed transportation information and links to air carriers and charter operators visit the Transportation area of the site.

Weather and Clothing +

Mountains reflecting in Lake Clark

The temperatures in Southwest Alaska range from lows in January in the mid-20s (F) to highs in July in the low 60s. Southwest Alaska has a cooler, more constant temperature. But as with any place in Alaska, the weather can be unpredictable. As a rule it is best to dress in layers, avoiding any heavy winter gear, unless of course, you visit Southwest Alaska in the winter. A light wind and water repellant coat is also good to have on hand.See Southwest Climate & Weather for a complete clothing guide.

Winter Activities +

Travellers try their hand at mushing

Tee off at the Pillar Mountain Golf Classic, an irreverent par-70, one-hole golf tournament up the side of 1400-foot Pillar Mountain in Kodiak Visit the Samuel K. Fox Museum in Dillingham, which houses a permanent collection of traditional Yup'ik Eskimo skin sewing, hunting and food gathering implements and artifacts, native baskets and the art work of Samuel D. Fox and others Tour the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area in Dutch Harbor Take the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry from Kodiak to Dutch Harbor, stopping at ports along the way

Far North (15)

Culture +

Native dancers and drummers performing indoors in Barrow

The Far North region of Alaska encompasses the communities of Nome, Kotzebue and Barrow. North of the Arctic Circle, these towns offer cultural attractions that are closely tied to the rich Native heritage of the area. Nome has a special combination of traditional Eskimo culture and a gold rush past. Travelers may want to rent a car and tour the 300-plus miles of road system surrounding Nome. Nome also marks the finish of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the longest such race in the world. The town of 4,000 swells to many times that size every March with the arrival of the much-anticipated race finish.Located on a three-mile spit of land on the Chuckchi Sea, Kotzebue has much to offer cultural travelers. Among its attractions is the NANA Museum of the Arctic, local history and cultural films at the park service and the Senior Center Cultural Center.Barrow is located at the tip of the Far North region, situated on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. A walking tour of the town includes a visit to the Cape Smyth Whaling and Trading Station, built in 1893. This is the oldest frame building in the Arctic. Also, visitors can see the Birnirk archaeological site, a group of 16 dwelling mounds representing the Birnirk culture (500-900 A.D.). Guests can witness the unique whaling culture of the Eskimos every spring when the annual bowhead whale hunt and festival gets underway.

Daylight +

An oil field by the light of the Arctic sunset

Daylight varies depending on your location in the Far North. For instance during summer months in Nome the sun rises at approximately 4:20 am and sets at 1:40 am though, given the long twilight that occurs it doesn’t get completely dark. In contrast, the city of Barrow has a sunrise approxitamely May 10 that doesn’t set until August 2, totaling 82 days of sunlight. During winter months Nome's shortest day of daylight is just under four hours while, in Barrow, the sun does not rise for 51 days, ranging from November to January.Visit the Sunrise/Sunset website for a detailed calendar for any city.

Fishing Licenses +

Whale bones form an arch on the beach near two traditional skin boats

Non-resident fishing licenses can be purchased just about anywhere from the corner grocery store to, often, right on-board your charter vessel. You can also purchase your fishing license online. Non-resident license fees are as follows: 1 day - $20 3 days - $35 7 days - $55 14 days - $80 Annual - $145

Golf +

Two men enjoy Alaska's great golfing

Bering Sea Lions Club of Nome sponsors the yearly Bering Sea Ice Classic, a nine-hole course played on the ice of the Bering Sea. Players are warned there is a stroke penalty if you hit a polar bear.

Igloos +

Mountainous Gates of the Arctic in summer

The translation of igloo is home, so Alaskans do live in igloos. However, Eskimo hunters created the icedome igloo most people think of when they hear the term, as temporary shelter while on their expeditions.

Making Reservations +

The rustic Bettles Lodge was  built in 1948

You will need to make as many pre-arrangements as possible for a trip to Alaska. Hotel and rental cars can be hard to find if you wait too long. So you'll definitely want to reserve these ahead of time. On tours, you will want to use sensible judgement. If it is a tour that is exclusive or has limited space, you should reserve ahead of time. If it is an activity that happens several times daily, you can probably wait longer. Check with the tour company when you inquire for information about reservation policies.

Mosquitoes +

Bring insect repellant of hikes and camping trips!

Much like wilderness areas in other parts of the U.S., Alaska has its share of pesky insects. Mosquitoes are perhaps the most widespread and persistent of insects in Alaska, occurring in Alaska's many miles of swampy tundra and lakes from early spring into the fall.Mosquitoes are generally active in the early morning and at dusk and most bothersome in areas with stagnant water and little or no breeze. You can't plan your summer vacation around the mosquito, but they are easily dealt with. Every corner store, supermarket and outdoor center will have a good selection of bug repellant, be sure to keep some on hand.

Native Alaskan Artwork +

A native man plays a drum

Wherever you go, you'll find unique Alaskan products and crafts. Be sure to look for the "Made in Alaska" logo, which indicates an item genuinely manufactured in Alaska. If you find a silver hand logo, it identifies the item as a Native Alaskan Handicraft.Handcrafted items, made of walrus ivory and other by-products of subsistence hunting, provide an income source for Native Alaskan artisans and a valuable investment for the buyer. Be careful though - some wildlife products cannot be transported through customs without special permits. Visitors are advised to mail these souvenirs home to avoid confusion at the border.

Outdoor Gear +

Eskimo ladies wearing kuspuks pose for a picture

The specialized gear you will need to bring will be minimal. Remember that as a rule you will need to dress in layers and when you come don't forget your sunglasses. Even in the wintertime, the Far North can have bright sunlight, and compounded with the snow, can be almost blinding. Any specialized gear needed for tours will most likely be provided by the tour company. Other items not to be forgotten are a camera and binoculars.

Sportfishing +

Beaufort Sea Ice in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Far North rivers and streams serve up salmon, trout, Dolly Varden, northern pike and grayling. Refer to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for fishing runs and license information.

Summer Activities +

Two people examining a dredge in Nome

Visit the Gates of the Arctic National Park Dip your toes into the Arctic Ocean on the coast of Barrow Watch herds of caribou migrate north of the Brooks Range Take a walking tour to Cape Smythe Whaling and Trading Station in Barrow, the oldest frame building in the Arctic Drive the Dalton Highway, following the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Look for polar bears on the ice floes around Barrow Visit North Tent City in Kotzebue, an active traditional fish camp that is set up each year to dry and smoke the season's catch Drive from Nome to the Eskimo village ot Teller, where guests can see the many remnants of Nome's gold rush past

Temperatures +

An Eskimo looks across a snowylandscape

Average high/low (F):Jan: 7/-19Feb: -11/-23Mar: -9/-21Apr: 4/-9May: 24/14Jun: 38/29Jul: 45/33Aug: 42/33Sep: 33/27Oct: 18/9Nov: 3/-7Dec: -5/-17

Weather and Clothing +

A native woman in a fur parka stands in front of a fish drying rack

Summertime: comfort requires a windproof jacket with a warm shirt or sweater for the 40-degree days. Warm and windproof clothing is advised. Layers keep in the most warmth, while allowing a way to respond to changes in the temperature. Rubber-soled, waterproof footwear is essential. Fall/Winter/Spring: long underwear, warm slacks and shirt, wool sweater, and a thick down jacket are necessary. A warm, windproof covering for head and hands is essential.See Far North Climate & Weather for a complete clothing guide.

Wildlife +

Polar bears are found in the northernmost reaches of Alaska

Thousands of caribou migrate through the Brooks Range area each year. They travel through millions of acres of wilderness park lands in the Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Kobuk Valley National Park, Noatak National Preserve, Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.Surrounded by Tundra, Nome provides access to nearly 300 miles of surrounding roads, which visitors can use to explore the countryside and discover pristine, untouched wilderness. While exploring the Seward Peninsula in the summer's extended daylight hours, you'll have the opportunity to discover wildflowers, moose, reindeer, caribou, birds and seals. The area also offers excellent fishing for salmon, arctic char and grayling.Another great Alaskan experience is to drive the gravel Dalton Highway (North Slope Haul Road) to Deadhorse. This 414-mile road parallels the northern most portion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Few services are available, but wildlife is abundant and fishing for arctic grayling is superb.Barrow offers the best opportunities to view polar bears in spring and fall during whaling seasons when whale carcasses attract the bears.

Winter Activities +

A polar bear wanders the frozen Arctic landscape

Mush dogs along the Iditarod Trail outside of Nome Watch fireworks explode over the Chuckchi Sea on New Year's Eve in Barrow See traditional Native Alaska games and competitions practiced in Kotzebue as athletes prepare for the Eskimo Olympics

Inside Passage (16)

Culture +

A native dancer dressed as a raven

Throughout the Inside Passage, cultural attractions abound. Sitka is home to Sitka National Historic Park, which houses an impressive collection to totem poles. Visitors to the park can wander forested trails while learning about stories the poles tell. Tour St. Michael's Cathedral, a bright blue, onion-domed Russian Orthodox Church that dominates Sitka's skyline. If visitors get their timing right, they can attend the Sitka Summer Music Festival. Held every year in June, it emphasizes chamber music and attracts an international group of professional musicians.Working along the coast of the Inside Passage is the town of Wrangell. Wrangell holds the distinction of being the only Alaskan city to have existed under four nations and three flags - the Stikine Tlingits, the Russians, Great Britain and the United States. The Wrangell Museum features cultural exhibits, such as the oldest known Tlingit housepost in Southeast Alaska, a rare spruce canoe and spruce root and cedar bark basket collections. Wrangell is known for its impressive collection of petroglyphs. The Alaska State Park at Petroglyph Beach features a newly constructed, fully accessible wooden boardwalk where guests can make rubbings from reproduced petroglyphs.In Ketchikan, the cultural traveler can find authentic totem poles. The Totem Heritage Center houses 33 totems and fragments retrieved from deserted Tlingit and Haida Indian villages. In fact, this national landmark houses the largest collection of original totems in the United States. Saxman Totem Park houses totems as well but includes carving demonstrations and performances by the Cape Fox Dancers at the Beaver Tribal House. Galleries galore are found on Ketchikan's bustling waterfront. The Blueberry Arts Festival, held annually in August, features arts and crafts, performing arts, a juried art show and other fun activities.Haines, meanwhile, has a rich tradition of Tlingit culture. The area was originally named Deishu, meaning beginning of the trail. The local Native community of Klukwan is considered to be the mother village and the cradle of the Tllingit people. In Haines, visitors can experience Native heritage in many ways. Known as an artists' haven, there are numerous art galleries. There, visitors can find beautiful pieces of Native artwork, from intricately carved jewelry to limited edition prints, hand-carved masks and basketry. The Sheldon Museum has an impressive collection of Chilkat Blankets and is a wealth of information for those interested in the history of the local Chilkat and Chilkoot tribes.Local Native-owned businesses offer custom tours through the Chilkat Valley and into the Village of Klukwan as well as daily catamaran service to Skagway. Alaska Indian Arts, located in historic Fort Seward, is a world-renowned center for totem carving and other Native arts. Open to the public and free of charge, visitors can enjoy watching master carvers at work while learning a little bit about the traditions of the Tlingit people. Nearby is the Totem Village, with a collection of totems surrounding a Tlingit Tribal House. This is where the Chilkat Dancers Storytelling Theatre performs contemporary interpretations of traditional Native legends. The show is performed most evenings throughout the summer and is a "must see."Juneau also is rich in Tlingit culture, specifically art - totem poles, carvings, weaving, jewelry and demonstrations. Many of Juneau's public and private business and buildings are decorated with Tlingit art, and the local Native corporation owns and operates visitor attractions and activities in Juneau as well as Glacier Bay National Park and Glacier Bay Cruise line. At the Mt. Roberts Tram, also Native-owned, visitors can view the award winning film "Seeing Daylight," a celebration of Tlingit culture and history. The Alaska State Museum has on display not only many artifacts of the local Native culture but also of the Native culture of the entire state.

Daylight +

A cruise ship lit up for the evening is approached by a floatplane in the harbor

"Land of the Midnight Sun" isn't just a clever term. On summer solstice in June, the sun is up before 4 a.m. and sets after 10 p.m. - that's 18 hours of daylight. Don't forget to get some sleep. From summer soltice to winter soltice in late December daylight hours slowly shrink to the shortest day when its light by 8:30 a.m. and getting dark by 3:30 p.m. Then the tide turns and daylight hours begin the ascent to summer solstice again.Visit the Sunrise/Sunset website for a detailed calendar for any city.

Fishing Licenses +

A fisherman shows off his catch

Non-resident fishing licenses can be purchased just about anywhere from the corner store to the local supermarket to any outdoor center and, sometimes, right on-board your charter vessel. Or you can purchase your fishing license online. Non-resident license fees are as follows: 1 day - $20 3 days - $35 7 days - $55 14 days - $80 Annual - $145

Inside Passage or Southeast +

Alaska state ferry inside passage

There's no difference. You can use these terms interchangeably. Southeast Alaska is also referred to as "The Panhandle" and the "Inland Passage."

Making Reservations +

A couple relaxes with a cup of coffee at one of Alaska's fabulous  bed and breakfasts

You will need to make as many pre-arrangements as possible for a trip to Alaska. Hotel and rental cars can be expensive and hard to find if you wait too long. So you'll definitely want to reserve these ahead of time. On tours, you will want to use sensible judgement. Tours that have limited space should be reserved ahead of time. Activities that are offered several times daily can probably be booked closer to travel. Check with the tour company when you inquire for information about their reservation policies.

Mosquitoes +

Bring insect repellant of hikes and camping trips!

Much like wilderness areas in other parts of the U.S., Alaska has its share of pesky insects. Mosquitoes are perhaps the most widespread and persistent of insects in Alaska, occurring in Alaska's many miles of swampy tundra and lakes from early spring into the fall.Mosquitoes are generally active in the early morning and at dusk and most bothersome in areas with stagnant water and little or not breeze. The good news is Southeast Alaska communities are coastal, therefore less stagnant water equals less mosquitoes.You can't plan your summer vacation around the mosquito, but they are easily dealt with. Every corner store, supermarket and outdoor center will have a good selection of bug repellant, be sure to keep some on hand.

Native Alaskan Artwork +

Three baskets woven by Aleut craftspeople on display at the Alaska State Museum

Wherever you go, you'll find unique Alaskan products and crafts. Be sure to look for the "Made in Alaska" logo, which indicates an item genuinely manufactured in Alaska. If you find a silver hand logo, it identifies the item as a Native Alaskan Handicraft.Handcrafted items, made of walrus ivory and other by-products of subsistence hunting, provide an income source for Native Alaskan artisans and a valuable investment for the buyer. Be careful though - some wildlife products cannot be transported through customs without special permits. Visitors are advised to mail these souvenirs home to avoid confusion at the border.

Outdoor Gear +

A couple relaxing by the fire

The specialized gear you will need to bring will be minimal. Remember that as a rule you should dress in layers and don't forget your sunglasses! Even in the wintertime, Alaska can have bright sunlight, and compounded with the snow it can be almost blinding. Any specialized gear needed for a tour will most likely be provided by the tour company. Other items not to be forgotten are a camera and binoculars.

Shipping Seafood +

A man poses with his prize halibut

Most areas in Alaska that have sports fishing available for visitors will have refrigeration and processing facilities nearby. Those same processors usually sell commercially caught seafood as well. It can be packed and sent to your home for a fee.

Sportfishing +

Fishing Lures

The coastal waters of the Inside Passage contain all the members of the Pacific salmon family as well as delectable halibut. Freshwater enthusiasts can reel in any kind of salmon as well, along with four species of trout, Dolly Varden and northern pike.Visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game site for run times and license information.

Summer Activities +

Travelers tour through Totem Bight Historic Park outside of Ketchikan

Visit the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Haines, home to the world's largest concentration of bald eagles Ride the tram to the top of Mt. Roberts in Juneau Learn about the Klondike Gold Rush in historic Skagway Play a round of golf at Muskeg Meadows in Wrangell Experience the vibrant Norwegian culture in Petersburg Raft in the shadow of Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau Ride the vintage White Pass & Yukon Route railway in Skagway See totem pole collections in Ketchikan Tour the blue onion dome of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sitka Dog mush on Norris Glacier near Juneau Hike the historic Chilkoot Trail from Skagway to Lake Bennett, British Columbia Watch glaciers calve in Glacier Bay National Park Ride the Alaska Marine Highway ferry throughout Southeast Visit Misty Fiords Ranger District, 3.2 million-acres of pristine coastal rainforest, glacially carved fiords, waterfalls, wildlife and fishing Make rubbings of petroglyphs in Wrangell Lace up your running shoes for the Klondike Road Relay, a 116-mile road relay race from Skagway to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

Temperatures +

Helicopters are becoming the popular choice for flight see-ers

The temperatures in Southeast Alaska tend to be more mild than the rest of the state. Summer temperatures can get into the 70s (F) but usually hover in the 60s. Winter temperatures are fairly mild, rarely falling below 20.Average high/low (F)Jan: 31/21Feb: 34/24Mar: 39/28Apr: 48/33May: 56/40Jun: 62/46Jul: 64/49Aug: 63/48Sep: 56/44Oct: 47/38Nov: 38/29Dec: 33/24

Transportation +

An Alaska Marine Highway vessel makes it way through a bay

By Air The Inside Passage is served by jet via Alaska Airlines to the communities of Yakutat, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan. Alaska Airlines also provides seasonal jet service to Gustavus at Glacier Bay National Park. Smaller commuter airlines provide scheduled and charter service to Haines, Skagway and other outlying communities. By Ferry The Alaska Marine Highway System serves the following communities in Southeast Alaska: Metlakatla, Gustavus Ketchikan, Hollis, Wrangell, Petersburg, Kake, Sitka, Angoon, Tenakee, Hoonah, Juneau, Haines and Skagway. Daily water taxi service is available between Haines and Skagway.Visit the Transportation area of the site for more details and links to the ferry and other operators.

Weather and Clothing +

A pedestrian passes a mural in Juneau depicting animal spirits

It is a general rule in Alaska that visitors should dress in layers, and Southeast Alaska is no different. The Inside Passage receives a fair amount of rain due to the fact that is resides within the Tongass National Forest, the nation's only temperate rainforest. It's also why the vegetation is so full and the landscape is so lush. The rain contributes to the significant beauty of the Inside Passage and visitors will tell you, a little rain never stopped anyone. See Inside Passage Climate & Weather for a complete clothing guide.

Wild Berries Caution +

One of the smallest of Tlingit dancers takes a break

Until you can identify them yourself or you are with a botanical expert, you probably shouldn't eat any of them. Alaska's trails systems are full of many different kinds of berries. Some are edible, some are poisonous. Don't eat any of them unless you are absolutely positive they are edible. There are many books you can buy for identifying berries and other types of flora.

Winter Activities +

A man and his dog set out to go skijoring

Attend the Wearable Arts Show in Ketchikan, featuring wild and wearable creations by local and visiting artists Count eagles by the dozens at the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival in Haines, an event celebrating the peak of the winter gathering of eagles and including educational seminars and tours Cross-country ski on groomed ski trails at Eagle Crest Ski Area in Juneau, Go "Julebukking" in Petersburg on Christmas Eve. Julebukking, according to Norwegian tradition, is when local merchants offer customers food and spirits in appreciation for the previeous year's business Visit Sitka's Alaska Raptor Center, Alaska's foremost bald eagle hospital and educational center Ski the Buckwheat Ski Classic in Skagway, a cross-country ski tour along the White Pass mountains designed for "the lazy, the infirm and the few who are fast" Visit the Tlingit Chief Shakes Island and Tribal House Historic Monument in Wrangell

Interior (15)

Culture +

Dancers in traditional ceremonial dress at the Chugach Heritage Center

Heading north from Southcentral Alaska is the Interior, a region rich with culture. Fairbanks is the hub of Interior Alaska and home to the University of Alaska Museum of the North. The museum is the state's primary repository of natural and cultural history and is internationally recognized for its comprehensive northern collections.

Daylight +

Busloads of tourists pause atop Stoney Hill, known for its view of Mt McKinley

"Land of the Midnight Sun" isn't just a clever term. Summers in the Interior can have up to 24 hours of daylight. Sometimes visitors can have a problem adjusting to the extended hours of daylight. Remember that even though it's bright outside, it can still be 11 p.m. - so don't forget to sleep. And if you have problems sleeping when it's light outside, you'll want to bring along a sleeping mask.Visit the Sunrise/Sunset website for a detailed calendar for any city.

Driving Tips +

Mt. McKinley or "Denali" rises high in the background as RVs travel a highway near Trapper Creek

If you drive to Alaska, first remember you will have to go through Canada to get here. Therefore, it is a good idea to bring a passport if you have one. If you do not, picture ID and a birth certificate will suffice. Also remember that it is a long drive and you should be prepared with all of the safety equipment necessary for an extended road trip. And if you plan to bring your pet along, be sure to get a certificate of health from your veterinarian.See Crossing the Border and Driving Regulations for more details. Also visit the Travel by Highway portion of the site.

Fishing Licenses +

Alaska is a paradise for anglers

Non-resident fishing licenses can be purchased just about anywhere from the corner grocery store to the local bait shop. You can also purchase your fishing license online. Non-resident license fees are as follows: 1 day - $20 3 days - $35 7 days - $55 14 days - $80 Annual - $145

Making Reservations +

A log cabin lodge stands in a small clearing

You will need to make as many pre-arrangements as possible for a trip to Alaska. Hotel and rental cars can be hard to find if you wait too long. So you'll definitely want to reserve these ahead of time. On tours, you will want to use sensible judgement. If it is a tour that is exclusive or has limited space, you should reserve ahead of time. If it is an activity that happens several times daily, you can probably wait longer. Check with the tour company when you inquire for information about their reservation policies.

Mosquitoes +

Bring insect repellant of hikes and camping trips!

Much like wilderness areas in other parts of the U.S., Alaska has its share of pesky insects. Mosquitoes are perhaps the most widespread and persistent of insects in Alaska, occurring in Alaska's many miles of swampy tundra and lakes from early spring into the fall.Mosquitoes are generally active in the early morning and at dusk and most bothersome in areas with stagnant water and little or no breeze. You can't plan your summer vacation around the mosquito, but they are easily dealt with. Every corner store, supermarket and outdoor center will have a good selection of bug repellant, be sure to keep some on hand.

Native Alaskan Artwork +

A couple admiring native artwork

Wherever you go, you'll find unique Alaskan products and crafts. Be sure to look for the "Made in Alaska" logo, which indicates an item genuinely manufactured in Alaska. If you find a silver hand logo, it identifies the item as a Native Alaskan Handicraft.Handcrafted items, made of walrus ivory and other by-products of subsistence hunting, provide an income source for Native Alaskan artisans and a valuable investment for the buyer. Be careful though - some wildlife products cannot be transported through customs without special permits. Visitors are advised to mail these souvenirs home to avoid confusion at the border.

Outdoor Gear +

A visitor takes a break from skiing to "chill" for a while

The specialized gear you will need to bring will be minimal. Remember that as a rule you will need to dress in layers and when you come to the Interior don't forget your sunglasses. Even in the wintertime, the Interior can have bright sunlight, and compounded with the snow it can be almost blinding. Any specialized gear needed for a tour will most likely be provided by the tour company. Other items not to be forgotten are a camera and binoculars.

Sportfishing +

A float plane flying low over a lake

Interior rivers and lakes serve up salmon, trout, Dolly Varden, northern pike and grayling. Refer to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for fishing runs and license information.

Summer Activities +

Alaska's river towns were historically served by sternwheelers like this one

Visit Creamer's Field in Fairbanks for spectacular bird watching opportunities Bone up on Alaska's natural history at the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks Tour Alaska's largest operational gold mine, Fort Knox, in Fairbanks Raft the Tanana River near Denali National Park & Preserve Soak in the naturally heated geothermal pools at Chena Hot Springs Take the tour bus into Denali National Park for views of North America's highest peak and abundant wildlife Get an up close view of Mt. McKinley on a fixed-wing or helicopter flightseeing tour Travel the Tanana River on the sternwheeler Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks Drive the Steese Highway to Circle for a rejuvenating dip in Circle Hot Springs Canoe the legendary Yukon River in Eagle Drive to Delta Junction to begin a driving adventure south on the Alaska Highway

Temperatures +

Clouds dot the sky above the Yukon River near Circle, AK

Average high/low (F)Jan: 2/-13Feb: 10/-10Mar: 26/1Apr: 44/19May: 61/35Jun: 71/47Jul: 73/50Aug: 67/45Sep: 55/34Oct: 32/16Nov: 12/-2Dec: 5/-9

Weather and Clothing +

A family admires the 800-mile Trans Alaska Pipeline near Fairbanks

Interior Alaska ranges from the 70s (F) in June and July down to sub-zero lows December through February. Dress for warm sunny days in summer. Winds are light, but be prepared for that occasional thunderstorm. Winter requires cold-weather gear from head to toe. Don't let that keep you away, Interior Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights in winter.See Interior Climate & Weather for a complete clothing guide.

Wild Berries Caution +

Hikers enjoy the view from atop a mountain

Until you can identify them yourself or you are with a botanical expert, you probably shouldn't eat any of them. Alaska's trails systems are full of many different kinds of berries. Some are edible, some are poisonous. Don't eat any of them unless you are absolutely positive they are edible. There are many books you can buy for identifying berries and other types of flora.

Wildlife Viewing Safety +

A moose feeds in a lake at Mile 124 of the Denali Highway

The first thing to remember is that the "wild" in wildlife isn't an arbitrary distinction. These animals are not tame and are not in a zoo. They roam free in their natural habitat and sometimes they roam free in yours. It isn't uncommon for a moose to be strolling down a residential street looking for a tree to prune. Wild animals in Alaska can be dangerous if they are provoked. They are also extremely protective of their young, so animals who have calves, cubs or some other kind of young, should be viewed at a good distance and with extreme caution.Visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game site for more details about wildlife viewing.

Winter Activities +

A young visitor to an ice sculpture contest tries on a new body

Soak in the hot springs at Chena View the Northern Lights, nature's most spectacular light show Take an overnight dog mushing trip through Denali National Park & Preserve Visit North Pole, home to Santa Claus and his reindeer, during the holidays for an authentic holiday experience Hedge your bets on when the ice will go out on the Tanana River during the Nenana Ice Classic Tripod lottery Watch the finish of the Tesoro Iron Dog, the world's longest snowmachine race, in Fairbanks Immerse yourself in Alaska Native culture at the Festival of Native Arts in Fairbanks

Southcentral (16)

Culture +

An Athabascans woman prepares fish to be dried

Alaska's Southcentral region, emcompassing Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, features some of the best the state has to offer for cultural travelers. Anchorage is home to the impressive Alaska Native Heritage Center, a unique cultural site dedicated to educating visitors about Alaska Native groups. The Center presents programs in academic and informal settings, including workshops, demonstrations and guided tours of indoor exhibits and outdoor village sites.After visiting Anchorage, cultural travelers may want to rent a car and drive south on the Seward Highway to the Kenai Peninsula. The Seward Highway was recently named an All-American Road and boasts some of the country's most spectacular scenery. A stop in hip and funky Girdwood, Alaska is a must on this road trip. Located at the base of Mount Alyeska, the ski town is home to a group of artists who like the small-town feel of the place. Visitors can visit any number of small, unique galleries year-round or time their visit to coincide with the Girdwood Forest Fair, a midsummer arts and crafts event.Continuing down the Seward Highway, visitors will eventually find themselves on the Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai area's growing reputation as a place of creative expression is well deserved as it develops visitor-friendly sites and centers. The Kenai Fine Arts Center, located in Old Town Kenai, provides studio space for members of the Peninsula Art Guild and the Kenai Potters Guild. The guilds host monthly art exhibitions, maintain an artist sales gallery, and offer a variety of art workshops for adults and children. The region is also rich in Gold Rush history. Visitors can raft down Sixmile Creek and see evidence of mining operations from days past.Upon reaching the end of the road in Homer, visitors will arrive in a cultural mecca of sorts. The tight-knit, artsy community of Homer prides itself on its beatnik image. Galleries and small artisan shops can be found everywhere in this oceanfront community.

Daylight +

Hikers in the Chugach State Park at sunset

"Land of the Midnight Sun" isn't just a clever term. On summer solstice in June, the sun is up by 4:30 a.m. and sets just before midnight in Southcentral Alaska - that's more than 19 hours of daylight. Don't forget to get some sleep. From summer soltice to winter soltice in late December daylight hours slowly shrink to the shortest day when its light by 10 a.m. and getting dark by 4 p.m. Then the tide turns and daylight hours begin the ascent to summer solstice again.Visit the Sunrise/Sunset website for a detailed calendar for any city.

Driving Tips +

Parks Highway

The vast majority of Southcentral Alaska is on the road system so traveling by car in this region is common. If you drive to Alaska, first remember you will have to go through Canada to get here. Therefore, it is a good idea to bring a passport if you have one. If you do not, picture ID and a birth certificate will suffice. Also remember that it is a long drive and you should be prepared with all of the safety equipment necessary for an extended road trip. If you plan to bring your pet along, be sure to get a certificate of health from your veterinarian.See Crossing the Border and Driving Regulations for more details. Also visit the Travel by Highway portion of the site.

Fishing Licenses +

A lone fisherman heads to a float plane

Non-resident fishing licenses can be purchased just about anywhere from the corner grocery store to the local supermarket to any outdoor center and, sometimes, right on-board your charter vessel. Or you can purchase your fishing license online. Non-resident license fees are as follows: 1 day - $20 3 days - $35 7 days - $55 14 days - $80 Annual - $145

Making Reservations +

Alaska Hospitality Roadside Lodge in McCarthy

You will need to make as many pre-arrangements as possible for a trip to Alaska. Hotel and rental cars can be expensive and hard to find if you wait too long. So you'll definitely want to reserve these ahead of time. On tours, you will want to use sensible judgement. If the tour is exclusive or has limited space, you should reserve ahead of time. If it is an activity that happens several times daily, you can probably wait longer. Check with the tour company when you inquire for information about their reservation policies.

Mosquitoes +

Bring insect repellant of hikes and camping trips!

Much like wilderness areas in other parts of the U.S., Alaska has its share of pesky insects. Mosquitoes are perhaps the most widespread and persistent of insects in Alaska, occurring in Alaska's many miles of swampy tundra and lakes from early spring into the fall.Mosquitoes are generally active in the early morning and at dusk and most bothersome in areas with stagnant water and little or no breeze. You can't plan your summer vacation around the mosquito, but they are easily dealt with. Every corner store, supermarket and outdoor center will have a good selection of bug repellant, be sure to keep some on hand.

Native Alaskan Artwork +

A collection of native Alaskan handicrafts

Wherever you go, you'll find unique Alaskan products and crafts. Be sure to look for the "Made in Alaska" logo, which indicates an item genuinely manufactured in Alaska. If you find a silver hand logo, it identifies the item as a Native Alaskan handicraft.Handcrafted items, made of walrus ivory and other by-products of subsistence hunting, provide an income source for Native Alaskan artisans and a valuable investment for the buyer. Be careful though - some wildlife products cannot be transported through customs without special permits. Visitors are advised to mail these souvenirs home to avoid confusion at the border.

Outdoor Gear +

Rafting a wild river

The specialized gear you will need to bring will be minimal. Remember that as a rule you need to dress in layers when you come to Alaska and don't forget your sunglasses. Even in wintertime, Southcentral Alaska can have bright sunlight. Compounded with the snow it can be almost blinding. Any specialized gear needed for a tour will most likely be provided by the tour company. Other items not to be forgotten are a camera and binoculars.

Shipping Seafood +

Commercial fishermen remove crabs from a crab pot

Inquire with the place you'll be staying in Southcentral Alaska. Most areas in Alaska that have sports fishing available for visitors will have refrigeration and processing facilities nearby. Those same processors usually sell commercially caught seafood as well. It can be packed and sent to your home for a fee.

Sportfishing +

Fishermen in Stream at Russian River Falls - near highway mile marker 52

Southcentral's coastal communities cater to the saltwater fishing enthusiast with all kinds of salmon and the famous Alaska halibut. Freshwater anglers can catch the salmon as they head up the rivers or cast for trout, northern pike or Dolly Varden in the myriad of lakes throughout the area.Visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game site for run times and license information.

Summer Activities +

The Alaska Railroad travels through the Denali National Park

Hike in Chugach State Park, a parcel of land that runs along Anchorage's eastern border Fish for all five species of salmon on the Kenai Peninsula Take a water taxi from Homer to the seaside communities of Seldovia and Halibut Cove Ride the Alaska Railroad along Turnagain Arm from Anchorage to Seward or from Anchorage to Fairbanks via Denali National Park & Preserve Raft the Kenai, Matanuska or Sixmile River Kayak the waters of Prince William Sound from Whittier Shop for Alaska Native art at the Alaska Native Medical Center gift shop Cruise among the icebergs of Portage Lake Drive the Seward Highway from Anchorage to Seward, one of only a handful of designated All American Roads See the terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in Valdez Watch giant cabbages of up to 90 pounds be weighed in at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer Cruise the College Fjords glaciers of Prince William Sound Visit the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage Kiss a moose at Big Game Alaska Wildlife Center in Portage Visit Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race headquarters in Wasilla Hike Hatcher's Pass in the Mat-Su Valley Visit the abandoned Kennecott Copper Mine at McCarthy

Temperatures +

A group of tourists frolic in a snow-covered field

While Southcentral winters tend to be on the chilly side, the summers are warm and sunny. Temperatures can climb to the 70s (F), so don't forget to bring a T-shirt and a pair of shorts. Average high/low (F)Jan: 22/9Feb: 26/12Mar: 34/18Apr: 44/29May: 55/39Jun: 62/47Jul: 65/52Aug: 63/49Sep: 55/41Oct: 40/28Nov: 28/16Dec: 24/11

Weather and Clothing +

A frozen river creates a slippery but beautiful attraction in winter

Southcentral Alaska enjoys warm, sunny summer days. But as with any place in Alaska, the weather can be unpredictable. As a rule it is best to have layers available for the chance of a foggy morning or summer shower. Avoid any heavy winter gear, unless of course, you visit Southcentral Alaska in the winter. A light wind and water repellant coat is also good to have on hand.See Southcentral Climate & Weather for a complete clothing guide.

Wild Berries Caution +

Native Woman with a basket of berries

Until you can identify them yourself or you are with a botanical expert, you probably shouldn't eat any of them. Alaska's trails systems are full of many different kinds of berries. Some are edible, some are poisonous. Don't eat any of them unless you are absolutely positive they are edible. There are many books you can buy for identifying berries and other types of flora.

Wildlife Viewing Safety +

Two polar bears shuffle across the Arctic ice

The first thing to remember is that the "wild" in wildlife, represents what you're really experiencing. These animals are not tame and are not in a zoo. They roam free in their natural habitat and sometimes they roam free in yours. It is common for a moose to be strolling down a residential street looking for a tree to prune. Wild animals in Alaska can be dangerous if they are provoked. They are also extremely protective of their young, so Animals who have calves, cubs or some other kind of young, should be viewed at a good distance and with extreme caution.

Winter Activities +

Alaska is home to incredible cross-country skiing

Heliski in the mountains surrounding Valdez Downhill ski and snowboard at Alyeska Ski Resort, Alpenglow or Hilltop Ski Area near Anchorage Play snowshoe softball or go ice bowling at Anchorage's Fur Rendezvous Festival Fish for winter King Salmon in Homer Ice climb the forzen waterfalls along Turnagain Arm near Anchorage Take the Grandview Ski Train from Anchorage to Grand View twice a year on the Alaska Railroad for backcountry cross-country and telemark skiing Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center

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