This highway will bring you from the 'lower 48', through Canada, to Anchorage and/or Fairbanks and beyond.
It travels mostly through Canada, and is now 100% paved.
Plan to take 1 week if you are departing from Seattle, longer from other departure points.
If you'd like to get to Anchorage without flying or taking the Alcan Highway, you can catch a state-funded ship from Washington State and travel north for a reasonable fare.
Stops in Valdez, Whittier, Seward and Homer. Whittier is the closest stop to Anchorage.
You will save the 10% airport tax if you pick up your rental car in Anchorage itself, rather than at the airport. This is 10% off the entire rental.
We took a cab to our hotel (cost was under $20 including tip) and didn’t pick up the rental car until we left Anchorage, which saved a couple of days car rental as well.
If your hotel is downtown, there’s no need for a car in Anchorage; everything is within walking distance (except the Alaska Native Heritage Center and there’s a shuttle to that).
We were able to turn in the car at the airport when we left, even though we'd picked it up downtown.
Most people who are on a do it yourself trip to Alaska will rent a car or RV when they arrive in Anchorage. So here is some advice that will save you some headaches and a little money.
1. Give yourself time to shop around and BOOK EARLY – I can not stress this enough. I have had visiting relatives and friends that have gotten outrageous prices and/or stuck with a vehicle that didn't fit their needs when they tried to book in May for a mid-summer trip. If you are coming June to September and want the best prices in town start looking in March. If you have a bunch of people traveling together that want a passenger van then you should book as soon as you have a trip plan - vans book up fast!
2. AVOID RENTING YOUR CAR FROM THE AIRPORT – The money you save on taxes and inflated pricing is more than worth the cab ride to an agency elsewhere in town. The Spenard area is loaded with rental agencies and is a five dollar cab ride from the airport. You will find that the prices are significantly lower and you save over 15% on taxes alone (total taxes when renting at the airport are roughly 33%).
3. Get unlimited mileage and damage insurance. You will most likely put on a lot of miles hopping place to place and Alaska's roads have a tendency to really beat up cars. Check your VISA card and home auto policy to see if you are covered before you get additional insurance.
The Alaska Railroad runs from Anchorage south to Seward and north to Fairbanks. It provides a very scenic and popular way to see America's last frontier, including some areas where there is no other road. Although I did not ride the Alaska Railroad here in Anchorage, I did have taken a trip on it from Talkeetna north to Denali, and considered it to be one of the highlights of my visits to Alaska. Regular passenger service and special tours are both offered on this railroad which has been ranked as one of the best in the United States.
The beautifully preserved old steam engine on the pedestal in front of the depot was used in construction of the Panama Canal, then worked here in the Anchorage rail yard as a switch engine until its retirement.
411 West 1st Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
Anchorage Depot Hours:
Mon. - Fri. 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sat. 6:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
The Depot Gift shop is also open during these hours.
Alaska has six times more pilots per capita and 14 times as many airplanes per capita as the rest of the United States. The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport serves 5 million passengers each year. Lake Hood, in Anchorage, is the largest and busiest seaplane base in the world with an average of 234 takeoffs and landings daily, and more than 800 on a busy summer day. Merrill Field records more than 207,000 flights each year and more than 1,200 on a peak day in July. This is because of the many remote villages and parks in Alaska which can not be reached by road and are easily accessible only by air.
Tourists = carriage rides, no matter where in the world you go. You can take a ride around downtown Anchorage in a horse-drawn carriage if you're feeling nostalgic or lazy or tired - for a fee.
Or, you can catch the free local People Mover bus, Downtown Anchorage Short Hop (or DASH), bordered by 5th, Eagle, 7th and K. If you take the People Mover outside the DASH area you will have to pay a fare, though. If you do have to travel sans auto, the Anchorage bus system is quite good - I lived outside the downtown area, but had no trouble getting around.
If you take a cruise to Alaska, you miss so much. If you really want to SEE Alaska, you need to travel in an RV - taking your food, water, bed and wheels with you wherever you go. Alaska is still very much untamed, GEORGEOUS wilderness that can only be seen rightly when you can GET INTO IT.
We rented our RV from Great Alaskan Holidays. There are a number of RV rental places, but we liked this company because they didn't charge for every little extra and gave rs a quality RV.
(Folks, we have to tell you - we felt SO BADLY for the RVers we saw driving the huge billboard "RV-4-RENT" vehicles in Alaska. The company uses their RVs for advertising themselves while you drive them around and have them painted up as billboards. Our camper only had a insignificant little sticker on the back that said, "Great Alaskan Holidays.")
We met a family who wanted the Alaskan cruise experience and the RV experience, too. So, they took a north-bound (only) criuse, then rented an RV to see Alaska, then flew home to Ohio. They also had a TourSavers book, so they did their research-work! (See my Must-See Activity Page)
As one of the major air carriers on the West Coast of the United States, you can get to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines...
I took this picture from the tarmac while deplaning from a Pen Air flight from Dillingham to Anchorage. It was snowing and it reminded me that that plane was getting ready to leave for sunny California!
I set off at 8am walking and back at after 10pm still walking.
I stopped only to eat & drink and to watch a film on bears and another on wolves.
I saw most of Anchorage in a day.
I love those BIG blue trains.
I felt that only for steam trains before.
I have flew to Anchorage once and yes, it is very comfortable but expensive. I don't want to pay 170 dollars round-trip from Fairbanks, so we usually slipt the gas and drive. Some people are afraid of the roads in winter, but usually most part of these Glenn Highway are in good condition.
Between Cantwell and Denali the wind can be very very strong and you feel taht in your car. My advice is to keep speed low and concentrate to driving. Sometimes it is hard because of amazing breath taking vies, but don't forget the mooses, especially at dark time.
The speed limit is almost all the way 65mph and remeber to take gas in the beginning of your trip, because between Cantwell and Talkeetna there is absolutely nothing. No gas stations, nothing.
But after all the road is in good condition and you see beautiful Alaska Range, including McKinley of the weather is fine.
If you need to rent a car or truck in Anchorage I’m an expert in this area. Believe me! When I lived in Dillingham and traveled to Anchorage all the time, I rented so much I could have bought a new car! [It is the reason I moved to Reno, cost too much to travel out of Bristol Bay and yet I wanted to travel out of Bristol Bay.] For budget travelers, consider off-season travel, or making reservations on-line. In the winter, Thrifty’s Anchorage car rental rates are right in-line with rates across the United States, you won’t pay more because you are in Alaska.
I found over the years that Thrifty Car Rental has one of the lowest rates, and though you can usually find some company to save you a few dollars a day, you will get less service, less car, and more hassles. Every single time I had to use another company I was disappointed. [Ask me about renting the PT Cruiser if you want to know about a humorous story.] Thrifty typically offers the Dodge Status ( mid-size) and Dodge Intrepid (full-size). These are both very comfortable cars, and provide room if you rent for the size of your party.
I think the reason they provide such good service is because the locally-run franchise has loyal employees who have been around for years. This Thrifty franchise started as a small shop when Anchorage was small, and even though they have expanded and grown over the past decades, they have definitely kept the ideals of friendly, quality service over less-personal, quantity service I’ve normally received when renting vehicles across the United States.
Because of its enormous size and sporadic human settlement, Alaska has the highest number of licensed pilots per population. Next to Anchorage's International Airport, there's a floatplane airport by Lake Hood and Spenard Lake. These small planes can be dragged around by a car. Here I saw a traffic sign that says "Stop for Airplane" for the first time.
Trucks are often used, but you can get away with regular cars too. Pictured to the left is my second car of the winter of 2002, the first one being totaled on an icy road.... just make sure you have studded tires and insurance if you are going to brave the winter driving!
To gain acess to the bases you must have one of the sets of the following items:
1. Military ID with offical window decal
2. Military ID with temporary pass
3. Other ID with a crapload of paperwork
This is a picture of the Government Hill gate, which you can access by turning on to "A Street" (one way street) and following it to it's end. You cannot obtain decals or temporary passes at this gate, but they are acceptable to gain access.