Every year a select group of adventurers answers the call of the wild. Our Alaska tours will have you exploring Denali National Park in search of caribou, grizzly bears and wolves, and kayaking upriver to the far-flung Maclaren Glacier. Maybe you’ll spot humpback whales in Resurrection Bay, or hike through the old-growth forest of Wrangell-St Elias National Park while wildflower-munching moose look on. In land this vast and remote, a small group tour allows you to fully immerse without sacrificing safety. Go on, take a walk on the wild side.
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport – which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Alaska, you may find yourself travelling by:
Our lodging inn at Resurrection Bay is so remote it can only be accessed by water taxi. These tiny boats allow you to get right up close to the surface, which is perfect when the waters are so rich in marine life.
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Alaska you may find yourself staying in a:
Canoe through remote alpine country to Maclaren Glacier and spend the evening under the stars. This is a true backcountry experience – in winter the area is only accessible by dog sledge or helicopter.
Stuck in a chilly latitude between 50 and 70 degrees north of the equator, Alaska is dark for a lot of the year. Really dark. The exception is from May to late June when the sun shines all day and most of the night. Peak season for Alaska tours is from mid-June to mid-August, when the daytime temperatures are a relatively warm 15–25°C (60–80°F) and there’s plenty of daylight for exploring.
Shoulder seasons (April, May and September) are a good time to travel if you prefer to share the wild with fewer people, and May comes with very little rain. It’s generally best to visit Alaska with an open mind about the weather: Alaskans have learned that if they don’t like it, they need only wait five minutes.
Perhaps fitting with its end-of-the-earth aesthetic, Alaska does have a reputation for being difficult when it comes to finding flights. Anchorage is the state’s main gateway, with flights coming in from other US cities like Chicago, Denver, LA, Vegas and Portland year-round. You can also find direct flights in the summer from Frankfurt, Reykjavik (how’s that for an epic itinerary) or Vancouver. You can, of course, visit Alaska from anywhere, it’s just a question of stopovers and stamina.
If world-class mountain vistas are your thing you may prefer to drive. The Alaska Highway used to be a bumpy dirt road, but these days it’s a paved vein that pumps adventurers in through the border of British Columbia. When you touch down and start your Alaska tour, we’ll handle all the internal transfers (in a private vehicle with heating).
All international visitors entering the United States need to apply for a visitor visa. You will also need to organise an in-person visa interview, which you can do by contacting the US consulate or embassy in your area. As this is a multi-step process, it is easiest to find the closest US embassy or consulate to you and contact them to ask how to proceed.
As this process can be lengthy, we recommend applying for your visa when you book your trip and/or at least three months before your planned departure.
Tipping is customary across the United States, including in Alaska.
The basic rule of thumb is to tip 15–20 per cent on any sit-down meal and a couple of dollars per alcoholic beverage ordered at a bar. Tips are also customary for other personal services. Since tipping is so ingrained in the US and can be complicated for outsiders to wrap their heads around, we recommend reading our comprehensive guide to tipping in the states.
Internet access in urban areas of Alaska is usually good but download speeds will be slower than you are used to. Internet access may not be available in rural areas and national parks. We suggest talking the chance to unplug and immerse yourself in the wilderness, but remember to give your friends and family realistic expectations of how often you will be able to communicate with them.
Cell phone coverage in Alaska is improving but still patchy. Expect to be able to use your mobile phone in towns like Anchorage, Valdez and even in some parts of Denali National Park. Much of the state – including large parts of Wrangell-St Elias and the Kenai Peninsula – still has little or no coverage.
Global roaming can also be activated when travelling through Alaska, but be sure to check with your service provider to find out about any fees you may incur when using this option, as it can sometimes be expensive.
Western-style, flushable toilets are the norm in Alaska, though in remote areas and national parks there may be drop toilets outside the main building.
Pint of beer = USD 6–10
Basic diner meal = USD 15
Hotdog from a street cart = USD 5
Drinking water from taps in Alaska is considered safe unless otherwise marked. For environmental reasons, try to use a refillable water bottle rather than buying bottled water.
Weather in Alaska is highly variable depending on the region, so check out the guide below for the area/s you’re planning to travel in. Keep in mind that no matter your location or the time of year, the diverse environment and geography of Alaska means the weather can change very quickly.
Southcentral (Anchorage, Seward, Homer, Valdez)
A subarctic climate makes Alaska’s southcentral region cool to cold throughout the year. Even in high June, when the sun is out almost 19 hours a day, expect temperatures to top out at around 18°C (65°F) and drop to around 10°C (50°F) in the evening. August and September are the rainiest months of the year with an average of 14 days rainfall in both. In the winter months of December, January and February, expect temperatures to drop below freezing.
Interior (Fairbanks, Denali National Park)
The mountainous interior of Alaska is known for wild variations in temperature, though summers tend to feature average highs of about 21°C (70°F) and average lows of –17°C (1°F) in winter. May, June and July all experience over 18 hours a day of sunlight in Alaska’s interior. Summer (June, July and August) is the rainy season, experiencing between two and three inches a month on average.
Don’t let the word ‘summer’ fool you into filling your suitcase with crop tops and short shorts. While Alaskan weather can be clear and beautiful in the warmer months, the nights still tend to be chilly and cool changes are known to come hard and fast.
The best way to dress for unpredictable weather is in layers. If you’re heading out for a day hike in Denali National Park, for example, think comfortable pants (preferably waterproof), a t-shirt and a lightweight waterproof jacket that can be tied around your shoulders and pulled on if it starts to rain, plus a bag packed with gloves and a beanie.
Comfortable shoes are essential in Alaska. Most of the activities on our tours involve some level of physical activity, so we recommend worn-in hiking or walking shoes.
Check the ‘Packing’ section of the Essential Trip Information for the tour you’re interested in for a comprehensive packing list.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Seward’s Day and Alaska Day are the only two Alaska-specific public holidays. For a current list of public holidays in Alaska, including those with moveable dates, go to: timeanddate.com/holidays
Overall, Alaska is generally a safe destination for LBGTQIA+ travellers.
Same-sex relationships are legal, as is same-sex marriage. However, Alaska has no laws protecting LGBTQIA+ individuals from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. While discrimination of employment and housing won’t affect LGBTQIA+ travellers, lack of legal protection can be indicative of higher levels of social bigotry.
While Alaskans are known for being politically conservative, the majority of people follow a ‘live and let live’ philosophy with a heavy emphasis on freedom. Public attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ people are mixed.
If you identify as LGBTQIA+ and have any concerns about travelling in Alaska, we recommend contacting the Alaska Pride Foundation, which is run by locals and provides support and information to LGBTQIA+ folks throughout the state.
In Anchorage, you’ll find a handful of gay bars, including The Raven, which calls itself the northernmost gay bar in the USA. Outside of Alaska’s progressive capital, the queer scene isn’t particularly visible. Of course, in a vast state of disparate communities and low-population density, that’s not exactly surprising.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at the time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s most recent report on state-sponsored homophobia before you travel.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, travellers with disabilities who are visiting Alaska should be able to manage if they plan ahead. Trains, ferries and buses are required to have accessible seating and platforms by law, and the vast majority of public buildings in cities and towns are accessible.
Alaska’s national parks are somewhat accessible to wheelchair users and travellers with limited mobility. The United States National Park Service maintains detailed accessibility information for Denali National Park and Wrangell-St Elias National Park.
Some of the remote places visited by Intrepid may not be accessible to people with restricted mobility, like the accommodation we use in Resurrection Bay (reached by water taxi) or the glacier camp along the Maclaren River (reached by kayak).
Travellers who use battery-operated hearing aids should consider bringing a stash of extra batteries as some parts of Alaska are remote and may not have places to buy them.
If you do live with a visual, hearing or other impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made. As a general rule, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
In Alaska, we stay in locally run accommodation like the Maclaren River Lodge along the Denali Highway to support local economies, and camp as a low-impact way to experience nature up close. We also visit locally run restaurants and shops where travellers will have opportunities to support community businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans. Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to being the best travel company for the world.