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  • Writer's pictureTracey Smith

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Alaska Transportation options while on vacation.

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles: How to get around Alaska on vacation.


Getting around Alaska on vacation can be an exciting part of your adventure, as the state offers stunning landscapes and diverse activities. We recommend flying into Anchorage, it is Alaska’s largest city and a good place to start your adventure.



1.     Plan Ahead: This is the most important tip.  Alaska is vast and can be challenging to navigate, especially in less populated areas. Plan your itinerary carefully, considering distances and travel times.  In general, when trying to figure out travel times on the main road systems, plan on a mile a minute and that will get you pretty close to your travel time.


2.     Rent a Car: Renting a car is our top choice as it gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore Alaska at your own pace. Beautiful and stunning scenery is everywhere. The majority of folks stay on the main road system and four-wheel drive is not necessary, however if you plan to venture into more remote areas with gravel roads consider renting a four-wheel-drive vehicle .

TIP: Make sure you are aware and looking for wildlife as moose, bear, and caribou can often be near or crossing roadways.


3.     Alaska Railroad: The Alaska Railroad provides a scenic way to travel between cities like Anchorage, Talkeetna, Fairbanks, and Seward. It is a great option if you don't want to worry about the long drives and want to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views.  The train operates seasonally, and it is advisable to book tickets in advance, especially during the summer tourist season.

 NOTE: It takes twice as long to get to your destination by rail vs. car.

Denali: 8-hour train ride vs. 4.5-hour rcar ride. Seward: 4- hour train ride vs. 2.5-hour car ride.

 

If you want to experience a train ride on a portion of your trip, I recommend taking it to Seward, as it is a beautiful coastal ride and the fact that Seward is a year-round community which offers taxi and uber options that Denali does not.

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If you opt for the convenience of taking the train to Denali, you will need to rent a car or arrange shuttle service to get to/from the train depot and McKinley Creekside Cabins and back to the park entrance for any tours or shopping you want to do. 

Transportation options for Denali if taking the train:       A. Rent a car in Denali from Keys to Denali, 1-800-683-1239      B. Arrange shuttle service from Sheep Shuttle 1-907-683-7503 or          Denali Transportation Services 1-907-522-5820.       C. You must make arrangements in advance.

 

4.     Domestic Flights: Alaska is vast, and many destinations are best reached by air. Alaska Airlines is the major carrier in the state, connecting our major cities and towns to smaller remote communitite.

 

5.     Ferry System: The Alaska Marine Highway System operates ferries that connect coastal communities. This is an excellent way to explore the Inside Passage and visit places like Ketchikan, Juneau, and Sitka.Make reservations in advance, particularly during peak travel times.


6.     Bus Tours: Denali offers both guided bus tours and the park transit bus, offering a comfortable way to explore the park.


7.     Biking and Hiking: Once at your destination consider renting a bike or exploring on foot. Alaska offers numerous hiking trails, from easy walks to challenging backcountry adventures.


8.     Local Public Transportation in Alaska’s bigger cities and small towns offer public transportation options such as buses and taxis are available. However, public transportation will be limited or not available in more remote areas including Denali Nataional Park.  Make sure to reach out to your hotel to see what options are available in the area. In Denali we have Sheep Shuttle and Denali Transportation Services


9.     Crusing Coastal: If you are interested in a coastal experience, consider a cruise. They providing opportunities to see glaciers, wildlife, and picturesque coastal towns.  Tours on the road system will be offered in Whittier, Seward, and Homer.


I hope you have enjoyed this article on Planes, Trains, & Automobiles:

How to get around Alaska on vacation.


Alaska's landscapes are breathtaking,

so take the time to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

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