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Alaska

Getting there

By plane

Flying is the cheapest and by far the simplest way to get to Alaska. Anchorage and Fairbanks are serviced by most major airlines. Anchorage is the main entry hub,served by several major carriers to the rest of the United States and sometimes flights from Germany, Japan, or Korea.
Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, and Juneau are also served by daily jet service through Alaska Airlines flights originating in Seattle and terminating in Anchorage. Other communities within the state are served by an extensive system of regional and local air services connecting to Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Ketchikan. Air travel is the cheapest and most efficient form of transportation in and out of the state. Anchorage recently completed extensive remodeling and construction at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to help accommodate the upsurge in tourism.

By Boat

The Alaska Marine Highway System operates a ferry service from Bellingham, Washington up the beautiful Inside Passage to Haines. Plan your travel early as this service tends to fill up fast. A connecting ferry can take you to Whittier (although this service is much less frequent) from which the Alaska Railroad connects to Anchorage. Some private companies operate shuttle vans between Whittier and Anchorage as well, and the combination rail/highway tunnel allows road traffic in alternating directions every half hour. There is only one rental company in Whittier, Avis, which operates seasonally and with a limited number of cars. If you're arriving by ship without a car and want to drive to Anchorage, make reservations well in advance for one-way rentals and be prepared to pay an extremely high rate and a substantial one-way drop fee. Unless you've got five people and tons of luggage, it's usually better to make alternate arrangements (train or bus) to Anchorage and rent a vehicle there.
Various cruise lines sail up the Inside Passage as well, typically ending in Seward or Whittier. Additionally cruises depart from cities such as Seattle, Vancouver, and even San Francisco.

 
By car

Alaska is connected to the contiguous U.S. (known in Alaska as the "Lower 48") through Canada via the Alaska Highway. The highway is paved and maintained year-round. Sometimes it's a little too maintained, creating a uniquely Alaskan and Canadian situation: at any given time in the summer, you're bound to hit at least several dozen miles of road construction. Since the roads in construction zones usually have only one working lane, the construction companies operate "pilot cars" (usually pick-up trucks with yellow rotating beacons and large signs that say "Follow me"). They drive back and forth between the two ends of the construction zone and lead the vehicles safely to the other end. Depending on the length of the construction zone, the wait can be anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours. Since there's only one main road, you can't really drive around the construction.
Some rental car companies may offer one-way rentals in and out of the state in the shoulders of the tourist season (one-way into the state before summer and one-way out of the state after summer).

By Bus

Greyhound Canada provides service to Whitehorse, YT from points in Canada. The Alaska Direct Bus Line provides service from Whitehorse to Anchorage, Fairbanks and Dawson City.
Some of the cruise lines also offer bus transfers from Skagway and/or Haines to Anchorage.

 

Getting around

Most cities and villages in the state are accessible only by sea or air (Alaska's extremely well-developed Bush air services).

By plane

Although Anchorage itself is accessible via most major airlines, Alaska Airlines has a virtual monopoly on jet air travel within the state, meaning prices are extremely high. The airline offers frequent jet service (sometimes in combination cargo and passenger Boeing 737-200s) from Anchorage and Fairbanks to regional hubs like Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue, Dillingham, Kodiak, and other larger communities as well as to major Southeast and Alaska Peninsula communities. Smaller communities are served by the three main regional jet and turboprop commuter airlines: ERA Aviation, PenAir, and Frontier Flying Service. The smallest towns and villages must rely on scheduled or chartered Bush flying services using general aviation aircraft such as the Cessna Caravan, the Piper Navajo, or the smaller Cessna 207, the most popular aircraft in use in the state. But perhaps the most quintessentially Alaskan plane is the seaplane. The world's busiest seaplane base is Lake Hood, located next to Ted Stevens airport in Anchorage, where flights bound for remote areas carry passengers, cargo, and lots of items from Costco and Sam's Club.

By Boat

One of the best ways to see Alaska is by cruise ship. Cruise ships bring you wonderfully close to glaciers, whales and rocky coasts. Larger boats offering more amenities, while small ships and yachts carrying 12-100 passengers go where the big ships can't, getting you up close to Alaska's nature and wildlife. Many vessels include naturalist guided hikes and sea kayaking right from the ship, perfect for active, casual travelers.
Cruise ships have 2 main itineraries: The Inside Passage Route going roundtrip from either Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, Canada and the Gulf Route running Northbound and Southbound cruises between Seattle/Vancouver and Seward/Whittier.

 
By train

The Alaska Railroad runs from Seward through Anchorage, Denali, and Fairbanks to North Pole, with spurs to Whittier and Palmer. The railroad is famous for its summertime passenger services but also plays a vital part in moving Alaska's natural resources, such as coal and gravel, to ports in Anchorage, Whittier and Seward. The Alaska Railroad is the only remaining railroad in North America to use cabooses on its freight trains. The route between Talkeetna and Hurricane (between Talkeetna and Denali) features the last remaining flag stop train service in North America. A stretch of the track along an area inaccessible by road serves as the only transportation to cabins in the area. Residents board the train in Talkeetna and tell the conductor where they want to get off. When they want to come to town, they wait by the side of the tracks and "flag" the train, giving it its name.

By car

Alaska is arguably the least-connected state in terms of road transportation. The state's road system covers a relatively small area of the state, linking the central population centers and the Alaska Highway, the principal route out of the state through Canada. The state capital, Juneau, is not accessible by road, which has spurred several debates over the decades about moving the capital to a city on the road system. One unique feature of the road system is the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, which links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage with the relatively isolated community of Whittier. The tunnel is the longest road tunnel in North America at nearly 2.5 miles and combines a one-lane roadway and train tracks in the same housing. Consequently, eastbound traffic, westbound traffic, and the Alaska Railroad must share the tunnel, resulting in waits up to 45 minutes (or more) to enter. Anchorage International Airport is serviced by all of the major national rental car chains as well as a number of independents, while Fairbanks is served by fewer agencies. Some smaller towns around the state may also have a national chain company presence.

By Bus

There are several bus and shuttle services that can take you between cities on the road system. You will see many tour busses from major tour lines, although their tickets are usually only sold in a package tour. There are other companies that do sell individual tickets. The Alaska Park Connection sells tickets between Seward, Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Denali. Alaska Direct Bus Line travels from Whittier to Anchorage, north to Tok and Fairbanks, and also to Whitehorse. Alaska/Yukon Trails has lines from Anchorage to Denali to Fairbanks, and they also have routes from Dawson City, Whitehorse, and other smaller towns. Homer Stage Line has busses from Anchorage south to the Kenai Peninsula, stopping in cities like Cooper Landing, Homer, Kenai, Seward, and Soldotna. Seward Bus Lines has routes from Anchorage (incl. the airport) directly to Seward.