December 14, 2019

How To Plan A Trip To Alaska?

Alaska is ‘America’s Last Frontier’ because of its distance from the other 48 states in the United States. It is sparsely populated with a rugged landscape and climate. It is also famously known as ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ as the sun shines all 24 hours during summers. Due to its untouched frontier, the place has beautiful glaciers, wild landscapes and plenty of wildlife. This place is a must-visit location on the bucket list of many travelers within and outside of the country. There are so many things to do in this massive state that exploration can make it overwhelming. The travel time between different destinations is also more. Read below to know more about this place before you plan your itinerary.

When is the Best Time to Visit Alaska?
The best time to visit Alaska depends on personal preferences. Here is a breakdown of the different seasons and how the plan your trip according to the weather:

- Spring (April to May): The snow starts to melt in this season and the long nights give way to longer days. If skiing is what you enjoy, travel in April. The temperatures in May start to rise and it gets warmer and is a great month to visit as the tourists are yet to head to the place in full swing.

- Summer (June to August): This is the most popular season for travelers. The weather is warm and getting around the places is easier as the access roads will be open. Expect it to be crowded and it will also be a more expensive time to travel.

- Fall (September to October): There is a gradual decrease in temperatures as the season descends to winter. By mid-October, the state has a blanket of snow with some occasional snowfall in September. If you like a less-crowded time, this is the best time as most of them would have left and you get to see the fall colors.

- Winter (November to March): This is a great time to visit if you love winter sports. The state is covered with snow and tourists can enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and snowboarding. If the conditions are good one can catch the Aurors as this is the best season to view it.

Most tourists prefer to visit between Mid-May and Mid-September as it is the best time to visit. The temperature during this time will be in the 50°C to 70°C and the sun comes out and stays in places above the Arctic circle for the whole day.

If hiking is on your agenda, opt for August as the ground is dry and the bugs (are a major headache in this region) are less. April to September is for people who like to cruise.

The winter is the least preferred time by tourists because of the harsh weather but it is the best time to see the Northern Lights. The famous Alaskan Winter festivals happen during this time, you can catch them if you visit in Winter.

Accommodation options in Alaska
The accommodation options in Alaska include camping, hostels, hotels, Airbnb, etc. Hotels are the most expensive type of accommodation especially in the peak season of summer. Hostels and private Log Cabins like Sasha’s place are cheaper compared to hotels. Larger cities like Anchorage, Homer, Steward, Juneau have more options than other smaller cities.

Where to go in Alaska?
Alaska is a massive state and unless you have a whole lot of time on hand, it is not possible to cover all the places. The state is broken into 5 regions:

Southcentral: This is the most populous region in Alaska and also has the best amenities for tourists. It is also the home for Anchorage which is the state’s largest city and a cultural hub. Most of the flights land here and has well-maintained highways which connect to the other 48 states. Many tourists make Anchorage the base camp for further exploration. During winter, this city has good skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, and dog sledding. There is also the stunning Kenai Peninsula that offers whale-watching which is the best in the world.

Southwest Alaska: It is more rugged terrain and it boasts miles of coastline of the Pacific. One can spot active volcanoes in this region and also houses bears and birds. It also features a traditional dance festival. Kodiak Island is located in this region and offers world-class angling.

The Interior: Mt MacKinley at 20,320 feet is North America’s tallest peak and is located in the central interior of Alaska. There is also the home for the most rugged Fairbanks city. Tourists can see 24 hours of sunlight and twilight in June and in winter the skies form the aurora borealis. To the south of Fairbanks lies the Denali National Park and Preserve which is a tundra covered expanse with mountain lakes.

The Inside Passage (Southeast Alaska): It has many islands and fjords that partially connects the mainland of Alaska to the lower 48 states. This passage was forged millions of years ago and has a relatively mild climate. This place is home for wildlife like humpback whales, sea lions, bald eagles, and wildlife viewing is a major attraction in this place. A major attraction in this place is the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve with glaciers and snow-peaked mountains.

Far North: The far north lies to the North of Fairbanks and has the untamed Arctic which leads all the way to the Arctic ocean. During summer, the sun does not set and visitors get to see untouched Alaska. It also has a lot of wildlife which includes bears, moose, wolves, musk, ox, etc. The Arctic National Park is situated in his region and gas tow ice-covered peaks amidst this huge park which is four times the size of Yellowstone. The attractions here can only be reached by air. Nome, famous for the Sled Dog Race is another popular destination here along with the Inupiat Eskimo village of Kotzebue.

What not to miss in Alaska?
There are many things to see in Alaska and hence making a list of things to see is huge. But there are a few things to not miss. Some of them are:
- Anchorage which has the best art and native culture museums
- A Denali National Park tour which is more of a flightseeing
- A Prince William Sound glacier cruise and the Kenai Fjords
- Towns of Homer or Talkeetna to get the flavor of the region
- Turnagain Arm scenic drive
- The auroras of winter and the midnight sun of summer
- A bear-viewing tour in summer.

Getting around
Many places in Alaska are inaccessible by road and hence getting around this place is a problem. Trains are available for limited places with only two rail lines in Alaska. But travel is feasible only during May and September with only Anchorage having a decent road system. So the best possible travel options are:

Cruise: Is the most popular way to visit Alaska. Ships sail from April to September with roundtrips from Vancouver or Seattle. The cruises mainly focus on the Inside Passage.

Charter boat: It is suitable for people traveling in large groups and comes with a captain and a cook. It also offers flexibility and intimate cruise options.

Ferry: Alaska Marine Highway offers a full-year service and is the best option to reach less accessible areas of Alaska’s coast.

Plane: It is the best option with the main airlines offering services to about 20 destinations.

Car: It is the most flexible but time-consuming option. Since the distances between places are large fuel costs can add up.

Alaska can get quite cold even at peak summer, the weather can turn anytime hence it is important to be prepared. Follow all the safety measures to have a safe and comfortable trip to the Last Frontier.

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