My sister and I rented a car from Hertz from the airport and did not have to use public transportation. But I felt I needed to write about this amazing public transpo service they have in Anchorage.
This local transit system is at 6th Ave between G and H St and can take visitors to specific atraction and activities. The Buses run on the hour and one way fares are as follows:
Youth 5-18 yo $1.00
Unlimited day pass available for adult and youth at $4. These can be bought on the bus, but bring exact change.
You can get route and schedule info straight from a phone system (push-button) at 343-6543 (24 hours service). Live operators are available M-F 8AM-5PM.
This a great service that Anchorage has for its thousands of visitors, especially during the winter when people may be more uncomforatble about driving. Lucky for me and my sister, we visited during the spring - and would do so again in the future!
Upon arrival by Alaska Airline flight I picked up a reserved unlimited miles rental car at the airport. Economy small cars are not normally provided by rental agencies here (probably due to road and weather conditions) so you will get an intermediate size car or larger. I used Alamo, with a discount from my Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association membership which included 20% off the bill and one free day. So, rental averaged about $53/day for a Pontiac G6 four door. Expect a customer facility charge, a concession recoup fee, vehicle rental tax of 8% and state vehicle rental tax of 10%. I replenished the fuel used to a full tank before turning in the car. Fuel was about 12 cents more per gallon than southern California's fuel prices, using Shell credit card comparison.WARNING: Be sure to do a walk-around before leaving the rental car garage to confirm and agree on any existing damage, dings or windshield chips on the car you are renting. Most agencies have a form marked for this purpose.
I found it refreshing to see most of the commercial Yellow Taxicabs in Anchorage were all-wheel drive Subaru Outbacks. Strange to see a yellow colored one with taxicab light on top as I also drive a Subaru Outback and am very pleased with its all-weather performance. In winter snow and ice conditions prevalent in Alaska, an all-wheel drive vehicle should be dependable in getting through the conditions. I inquired of friends the cab fare from the airport to the Hotel Captain Cook downtown where they were staying-it was $20 for that ride.
Many of the private trucks I saw (common in Alaska) were four wheel drive or all-wheel drive models. Welcome traffic features were the courtesy and care uniformly shown by Alaskan drivers compared with the California drivers I am used to, and the timed traffic lights downtown making through travel on one-way streets expedient and easy. Never heard a horn honk all week in Anchorage!
A rental car is almost a must to see all that Anchorage and the surrounding areas have to offer, especially if you are an independent traveler and plan on seeing more of Alaska.
A few tips:
-- There is a large tax that applies to all rental cars rented in the state. It is a long story, and involves politcal paybacks, etc. Just be sure you know whether it has been included in the price quoted.
-- It used to be that you could rent from a company away from the airport and avoid some of the airport surcharges. Some of the major brands have branches downtown and if you go thru them there they don't charge the airport surcharge. With the completion of the rental car parking garage at the airport, all the majors are there now. The walk from the baggage claim to the rental car counters at the new facility is a long one. I'd suggest sending someone to get the car rather than dragging all your bags if you aren't traveling light. But remember that if you plan on driving the car you have to be at the counter and show your driver's license.
-- Shop around for the best rate. I've been using Orbitz.com and Expedia.com lately (02/2008) and they seem to be finding lower rates. It is a different company each week. Last week Avis this week Thrifty.
-- Avoid Rent-A-Wreck and other offbrand companies in the winter. Nothing worse than having your clunker break down in sub-zero weather - no matter how much you save.
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.
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.
The People Mover System, as the local bus service is known, is actually quite good. The current mayor has put a lot of effort into improving service and it shows. If you are in Anchorage for a bit you can get just about anywhere in town by bus. The main hub is right downtown on 5th street next to JC Penneys and the 5th Ave Mall and is not a very safe spot for the lone traveler. Schedules vary depending on who main the route is with frequency anywhere from every 15 minutes to every hour.
Fare is 1.75 one way, or .50 for seniors 60+ and handicap. All buses are handicap accessible now and most have a rack for bicycles.
Parking downtown can be hard to find and expensive, so many workers leave their cars at home and take the bus. With the price of gas above 3.50/gal ridership is growing.
A downside (or upside depending on your outlook) is that you will experience a cross slice of humanity rarely seen by tourists. There is a large number of folks just struggling to find their next meal and you most likely will run across them on the bus.
We did a 7 day cruise from Whittier, Alaska, to Vancouver, British Columbia.
Our ship was the "DIAMOND PRINCESS'
Boarding at Whittier went smoothly and quickly on a very miserable day.
On board, and we had an inside cabin which was very nice, always kept clean and tidy by our nice steward.
Meals were excellent, and we had a huge choice. Entertainment was very good as well.
The Cruise directors can make or break a cruise, and ours on this cruise were excellent, laughs galore with them. There were plenty of things to do onboard if you wished, lots of people to mix with, and great ports for full days of sightseeing, etc.
We had no complaints, everything ran smoothly, and nothing was too much trouble for the crew.
Would definitly sail with them again.
If you plan months ahead of time the flight to Alaska from the main States are very low, but I do have to let you know that to drive would be crazy, Alaska is very far and deep, better you fly to Alaska then rent a car to get you around this vast region.
With almost 200 flights arriving each day, Anchorage has connections from around the globe.
Flight times to Anchorage:
Los Angeles........5 hours
New York City......8 hours
P.S. Anchorage International Airport is only 6 miles (9,65 km) from downtown.
Unless you stay in SouthEast Alaska, all roads and airplanes come through Anchorage. They really are the transportation hub for Alaska. Anchorage is served by several major airlines, including Alaska Airlines, NorthWest, United, American, and even SouthWest.
Air service from Anchorage to the "bush" ( and it ain't the bush if you can drive there) is through a variety of regional carriers such as PenAir, Frontier and ERA. Alaska goes to several of the larger bush communities such as Nome, Barrow, Kotzebue, Bethel, Dutch Harbor, etc.
The train is part of America's heritage. Leave the driving to them and enjoy the scenery. Alaska RailRoad is eyecatching with its royal blue and gold motif. Be sure to get a "Ride Guide" for details of the scenery by mile post for $5.
WALKSING THROG THE CITY , IF YOU WANTTO SEE THE NICE PANORAMA OF ANCHORAGE AND THE SOUROUNDING MOUTAINS .
FOR THOSE WHO WNTS TO MAKE ONLY A SHORT TRIPP BY FEET AND SSE THE MOST INTERESTING POINT , FOLLOW THE FOOTPRINTS ANT THE INFOCENTER
TO ANCHROAGS YOU LL COME BY AIRPLANE , WE FLY WITH CONDOR , IT TAKES 10,5 HOURS TO COME TO THE GATE OF ALASKA WITH THE STOPP OVER - WHITEHORSE THAT MAKES 11,5 HOURS , FROM THE AIRPORT U CAN BOOK AIRTAXIS TO DENALI AND OTHER SMALL DESTINATIONS OF ALASKA
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)
The Denali Star Train was our ticket out of Anchorage. It leaves for Denali at 8:00 am so that's why we had to spend the night in Anchorage. The train station is close to downtown, so pretty convenient. The Denali Star ended up being a great way to get up to the National Park. I'm so glad we didn't drive. We probably would have hit a moose or something. The ride on the Denali Star is very scenic and incredibly relaxing.