Alaska is an inviting destination, offering some of the world’s most remarkable and unspoilt scenery. Yet the interior isn’t merely a vast frontier of ice and snow. There’s a landscape of unspoilt woodlands and forests just teeming with wildlife. Alternatively, the epic southern coastline reveals a stretch of alluring beauty filled with distinctive marine life.

Notes on Visiting Alaska

While the below options offer amazing access to the heartland of Alaska, it’s important not to forget that a visit to Alaska is best enjoyed with some forethought. For the long months of winter, much of the interior can be nearly impossible to access; late spring, summer and early autumn is always the best time to visit, when Alaska truly comes alive and wakes from its wintry slumber. For this reason, it’s important to note that the below-mentioned options are subject to seasonal availability. For example, the cruise ships and ferries only run for a limited time from spring to autumn. For this reason, a trip to Alaska is best enjoyed when planned well in advance.

Epic Train Journeys on the Scenic Railway

Perhaps the most relaxing and direct way to penetrate the vast wilderness of Alaska is via one of Alaska Rail’s scenic trains. Alaska Rail runs a number of tourist-designed train trips, which include in-depth live commentary, glass-top viewing carriages, historical narratives and dining cars. There are options for daytrips or longer full-blown vacation packages, taking travellers right into the Alaskan heartland. These amazing trains snake right through wilderness, ice and snow giving passengers access to incredible locations like Denali National Park, Spencer Glacier, Seward and the Kenai Fjords. For the range of options available, visit the Alaskan Rail Website.

Adventure Driving on the Alaskan Highway

For travellers who enjoy getting up-close to the wild while controlling their own pace of travel, driving the Alaskan Highway by car or motor home is the perfect option. The Highway starts in Dawson Creek in the Canadian state of British Columbia and travels a lengthy distance of 2236 kilometres (1390 miles) North West to the centre of Alaska, 157 kilometres (98 miles) south of Fairbanks. Despite the reputation for being quite a gruelling trek, the Alaskan Highway is actually a well-maintained section of bituminised road with many fuel and accommodation stops along the way; well developed since the harsher early days.

One week is the minimum amount of time to take driving the Highway – 10 to 18 days is ideal to sufficiently experience the scenery without feeling overly rushed. Again, summer and the surrounding months are the best time for travel – but be warned: it can be cold at all times the year in Alaska, so take winter gear in summer, regardless.

Cruising the Vast Southern Coast

While images of the harsh Alaskan interior are dominant in the imaginations of would-be travellers, the southern coast is the area most likely to persist in the memory, once visited. Cruising through the waters of southern Alaska is a great way to see this epic stretch of coastline. Start in the south eastern pocket nearest to mainland USA, where a large majority of Alaskan’s live; Ketchikan, Skagway, Haines and the capital Juneau, with a strong emphasis on the native population and their culture.

Then, heading west, the coastline offers travellers a myriad of scenic brilliance: the USA’s largest national park, along with rain forests, snow-capped volcanoes, crumbling glaciers, secluded islands and a rare collection of marine life (whales, otters, fur seals, puffins) in their natural habitat. The strip, known as the Alaskan Marine Highway, can be traversed either by using local ferries or by tourist cruise. Local ferries allow visitors to travel at their leisure and is cheaper, while a cruise will have a set itinerary.

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Alaska is an inviting destination, offering some of the world’s most remarkable and unspoilt scenery. Yet the interior isn’t merely a vast frontier of ice and snow. There’s a landscape of unspoilt woodlands and forests just teeming with wildlife. Alternatively, the epic southern coastline reveals a stretch of alluring...