Alaska is big, beautiful and a visit here is truly a trip of a lifetime. There are plenty of ways to experience America’s largest state, from luxurious cruise liners and intimate small ships to overland expeditions or the Alaska Marine Highway (the local ferry system). Personal travel manager Sue Kuti has created an Alaska cheat sheet that will surely tempt you to see it all for yourself.
Denali, which is also known by its former official name, Mt McKinley, is North America’s highest mountain, standing at 6,190 metres tall. It forms the focal point of Denali National Park and Preserve, which attracts more than half a million visitors every year. It’s just one of the many scenic highlights of a state that covers 1.7 million square kilometres (almost the same area as Queensland) and includes immense glaciers, dense forests and vast rivers.
Katmai National Park is another much-loved park which is an active volcanic landscape, but is probably best known as a salmon habitat and home to the thousands of brown bears that feed on them.
Alaska offers activities to tempt every type of traveller, from the most sedate to the most adventurous: hiking, mushing, kayaking, leisurely cruising and fishing are just a few. With so much on offer, you may find it difficult to choose, but generally your choices will be dictated by time, budget and style of travel.
Spend some time in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and home to an excellent Native Heritage Centre. If you want a glimpse of the Gold Rush era, head for Dawson City and Whitehorse. Wildlife lovers should include a visit to Chilkat to see eagles in flight and salmon swimming upstream.
When you visit will also be dictated by your budget, but also by what you want to see. Peak season in Alaska is mid-May to Mid September, when the days are longest and the temperatures are their mildest. Shoulder season is early May plus late September and October, when there tends to be fewer visitors but the weather can be more variable. If you’re hoping to see the Northern lights, go skiing or watch ice carving and sled dog competitions, winter is your best bet.
This is the state-owned ferry system, which provides year-round transport for many Alaskan communities. You can travel on this as a tourist either with or without a vehicle, but you will need to study the schedule carefully to take advantage of the stops.
Many large cruise companies sail the Inside Passage and the Gulf of Alaska from May to September. It’s an easy and convenient way to travel, giving you the opportunity to explore from the sea and enjoy excursions ashore, and you only need to unpack once.
These are small ships that usually accommodate 30-50 passengers. They give you unparalleled access to the wildlife-rich shores and allow you to experience the coastal glaciers from close up. They are not the cheapest option, but they are comfortable and provide a unique experience.
This road is a year-round way to explore – either on a coach holiday or as a self-drive itinerary.
If personal travel manager Sue Kuti has inspired you to discover the best Alaska has to offer you can contact her here and she will help you sort through the options to create an itinerary that combines all of the elements you.