Tips for Driving The Alaska Highway

We receive frequent questions regarding driving the Alaska Highway.  How long will it take?  What route should we take?  What services are available?  These are just some of the most common questions.  Alaska Tour & Travel does not offer any lodging or tours along this highway but we thought we should steer those interested to the best travel guides to help with the trip! The Alaska Highway is commonly called the Alcan Highway as it begins in Canada and ends in Alaska.  It was constructed in 1942 to serve as a link between Alaska and the contiguous United States (known locally as the “Lower 48”).  The highway has seen vast improvements since its construction, not only in road conditions but in services provided for travelers.  Now the highway is somewhat of a tourist destination in and of itself, not just a way of getting to Alaska!  Alaska Highway travelers truly experience the vastness of Alaska and are amazed at the scenery and wildlife offered by the last great frontier. (more…)

Best Transportation Options for Alaska Travel

How to travel through Alaska is a difficult decision.  Should you travel by rail, by bus or by rental car?  Taking a train allows you to travel in style. You can get up, walk around and have a meal in route.  On the motorcoach you travel faster for less money and the bus can stop for photos along the way.    We think that we have the perfect solution!  Alaska Tour & Travel recommends traveling one way by rail and the other by motorcoach.  This solution offers many benefits which include cost savings, time savings and getting to see the most diverse Alaskan scenery!

For example, if you would like to visit Denali for the wildlife, Talkeetna for views of Mt. Denali and Seward for glaciers we recommend the following itinerary.  Travel by rail from Anchorage to Denali, spend two nights and take a tour into Denali National Park.  Then travel by Park Connection Motorcoach to Talkeetna, spend one night and enjoy a flightseeing trip around Mt. Denali.  The next day travel once again by motorcoach from Talkeetna to Seward, spend two nights and travel on a day cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park to see glaciers and hopefully catch sight of a whale.  Then return to Anchorage by rail.  This loop allows you to experience the benefits of both modes of transportation and you get to enjoy the scenery on both the railway and the road routes. Our packages can be customized however you would like them so you are free to use only motorcoach service or only rail service if that is what you prefer.  (more…)

Our Own Alaska Pilot

Karen Hessert, has worked for Alaska Tour & Travel for over 10 years, and has lived in Alaska for over 20 years.  Last summer Karen decided it was time to fulfill her dream of becoming an Alaskan pilot and late in the year she received her private pilot license.  Karen recently said “as I reached another milestone in my journey I looked back and am amazed at all the skills I have acquired as well as the spectacular adventures I have experienced.  Whether I am at Merrill Air Field doing touch and go’s around Anchorage, going out to the practice fields near Big Lake or going on another cross country trip to Fairbanks, Seward, Soldotna, Gulkana or other areas within South central and Interior parts of Alaska I am reminded each time of the precious scenery Alaska has to offer.  Absolutely stunning views and I have the best seat to witness it all.” (more…)

Alaska Railroad Answers

Some of the most common questions that we receive at Alaska Tour & Travel are about the Alaska Railroad.  It is amazing how many people believe that the Alaska Railroad runs through Canada all the way to the lower 48 States.

The history of the Alaska Railroad  involves many ownership changes. The Alaska Railroad was started in Seward in 1903 under the name of Alaska Central Railroad.  They completed 51 miles of track before going bankrupt in 1907.  In 1909, the Alaska Northern Railroad Company purchased the railroad and completed 21 more miles of track.  In 1914, the federal government purchased the line with the intent of creating a direct route between Seward and the town of Fairbanks in the interior of Alaska.  President Harding drove the final spike that completed the railroad in 1923.  In 1985, the State of Alaska purchased the railroad from the Federal Government.

The railroad is a valuable link between the interior of Alaska and the ice free ports of Seward and Whittier.  The railroad continues to operate both freight and passenger services.  The passenger service offers not only transportation from point A to point B but has the benefit of incredible Alaskan scenery along the way. Alaska Tour & Travel offers many rail vacation packages that feature travel on the Alaska Railroad. (more…)

U.S. Passport Day

Passport Day in the United States is April 9th and in recognition of that day we thought we’d take the time to answer a few questions we get regularly about what travel documents are needed to travel to Alaska. Alaska became the 49th state of the United States on January 3rd, 1959 however Alaska is separated from the rest of the contiguous United States by Canada. Check out our map if you want to see how Alaska borders Canada, not the Northwest United States! This international border creates a unique passport situation. All foreign travelers need a passport from their country to enter the United States. As a U.S. citizen, whether you need a passport for your Alaska vacation depends on how you are getting to and from Alaska. (more…)

The New Anchorage Museum

You may not think a visit to a museum would normally be on your list of must see places to visit in Alaska, but a visit to the Anchorage Museum earlier this week gave me reason to believe otherwise.  I am really excited about visiting the Anchorage Museum this summer as it has been under renovation and expansion for the last three years. The Grand Opening occurs on May 22nd for the new Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, the Imaginarium Discover Center, and the Thomas Planetarium among other new features of the museum. (more…)

Whittier Car Rentals and Cruise Transfers

whittier-cruise-terminalPlanning on taking an Alaska cruise with Princess Cruises this summer and also renting a car from either Whittier or Anchorage?   We are currently offering a web special that includes a free motorcoach transfer to or from Whittier with the Park Connection, with a mail-in rebate, when you purchase your car rental through Alaska Tour & Travel.   A terrific savings due to the high cost of one-way rentals from Whittier plus you get the free ship transfer! (more…)

Alaska’s Highways

seward-highwayRecently, I was fueling my car when I was asked by a visitor driving a car rental how to get to highway #1.  I clearly looked confused and responded with, “well, where are you going to?”  Having lived in Alaska for over 40 years, I have never learned all of the official highway number designations. Never the less, after the visitor from Germany responded saying “Alyeska”, I was able to explain how to reach Alyeska, based on navigational directions and street names not highway number.  In this case, highway #1 in southcentral Alaska is called the Seward Highway which starts in Anchorage and ends in Seward.  In other parts of the Alaska, Highway #1 may be referred to as the the Alaska, Sterling, or Glenn Highway.

And I’m not alone, when visiting Alaska you’ll quickly realize that asking for directions by highway number is a futile effort as most residents of Alaska don’t know what highway number they live nearest.  To help you prepare for your trip to Alaska, I”ll provide a brief summary of Alaska’s primary highways, by popular name, that most visitors to Alaska may expect travel on if starting their trip in Anchorage. (more…)

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