Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fall in Love with Alaska

If you are looking for a quick romantic getaway this fall, put Alaska on your list. Airlines often offer great specials for travel in the fall, making Alaska a perfect fall vacation destination. Anchorage is just a 3-hour flight from Seattle or 5-hours direct from Chicago. Why not get off work and fly to Alaska for your next romantic getaway?

Enjoy your first night in Anchorage at one of our downtown hotels, with several offering spectacular views of Cook Inlet and the Chugach mountains.  After September 15, many of our hotels offer reduced rates throughout the autumn and winter. Downtown Anchorage has four 4-star hotel properties, all with fine dining options and comfortable accommodations. Indulge yourself without making a dent in your pocket book.

After a relaxing breakfast, take a two-hour drive north through the Matanuska Valley to the quaint community of Talkeetna. Talkeetna, which means “River of Plenty” in the local Dena’ina language, is nestled on the confluence three rivers. A short walk down Main Street to the riverbank will reward you with breathtaking views of Mt. McKinley and the surrounding Alaska Range. At over 20,320 feet, Mt. McKinley towers above the surrounding peaks. Flightseeing tours to Mt. McKinley are offered year-round from Talkeetna. The Sheldon Amphitheater, Ruth Glacier, and the Great Gorge will take your breath away. Some have described these flights as life-changing. Others come to Talkeetna in the fall for late-season silver salmon fishing. Guided fishing trips are available from Talkeetna up until September 30th. In the “off season,” weekend train service on the Alaska Railroad provides an alternative to driving.

Along with its stunning views, Talkeetna is known for its hospitality. Enjoy all the comforts of home and modern amenities in a private cabin in town or near the river at Susitna River Lodge. Private cabins are a great option for those seeking the service and amenities of a hotel, but in a scenic and intimate setting. Some properties offer kitchens and BBQ grills for those wishing to “dine in.”

Speaking of dining, Talkeetna has several great options to entice your palette. Open year-round, the Talkeetna Roadhouse has been serving breakfast and lunch to travelers and locals for over 75 years. Their baked goods are out of this world. For dinner, take a stroll over to the Twister Creek Restaurant for some birch glazed Alaskan halibut or beer-battered Alaskan cod. Twister Creek is owned by the award-winning Denali Brewing Company. The brewery is on-site and offers up to 10 beers on tap throughout the year.

After a night or two in Talkeetna, it is time to continue on your journey. Drive southeast to Palmer, in the heart of the Matanuska Valley. The surrounding 5,000 foot peaks of the Chugach and Talkeetna mountains tower above the city of Palmer. Hatcher Pass, a favorite local hiking destination, is just 12 miles from town. Visitors and locals alike enjoy the stunning mountain views from Hatcher Pass. Blueberries, crowberries, and cranberries are easily accessible for picking along the hillside when in season. Cranberries are usually ripe through late-September.

After a day of exploring the Matanuska Valley, it is time to wind down for the night. One of Southcentral Alaska’s best kept secrets is Knik River Lodge. Just 50 miles north of Anchorage, Knik River Lodge offers private cabins with deluxe bedding and modern touches like flat screen TVs. The restaurant onsite offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a unique setting. Nearby trails offer incredible views of the valley and Knik Glacier.  

Whether for a short romantic getaway or a longer adventure, Alaska is the perfect place to visit in the fall. Visit our website or contact us at mytrip@alaskatours.com to plan your custom trip to Alaska.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How Much Does It Cost to Visit Alaska?

An Alaska vacation is within the reach of all travelers, regardless of budget. The cost of traveling in Alaska varies considerably, depending on the time of year, the mode of transportation, the type of accommodations, and which activities you choose.

The least expensive time to visit Alaska is during the winter.  We recommend the months of December – March. This is a great value season where you can go skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing through Alaska’s pristine wilderness. It is also the best time to view the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis). If you stay in a moderate hotel and take a few local tours, you can estimate about $150 per person per day, based on double occupancy. However, if you take a scenic flight or stay at an all-inclusive remote lodge, for instance, you would need to increase your budget to about $500 - $700 per person per day.

Summertime (June – August) is the  most popular and most expensive time to visit. A 7-night cruise will cost anywhere from $500 per person to $5000+ per person, depending on the type of cruise ship, travel date, and the type of stateroom.

Land tours with 3-star hotels, train travel, and popular day tours generally cost around $300 per person per day, based on double occupancy. If you prefer to have nicer accommodations and travel aboard the glass domed train, it would be about $350 per person per day.

Self-drive tours with a rental car, moderate hotels, and a few excursions are usually a bit less expensive at around $225 per person per day. With nicer hotels and roadside lodges, it is approximately $275-$350 per day.

Alaskan lodges provide an exclusive experience in Alaska’s remote backcountry. The lodges each have a different focus, such as bear viewing, fishing, or just getting away from it all. Most lodges are located off of the main road system and are accessible only by plane or boat. The majority of these lodges will provide a more personalized, all-inclusive experience where all meals and some guided activities are included with your stay.  Although prices vary depending on the location and level of service provided, you can expect to spend about $500-$1500 per person per day for the unique wilderness experience offered only by an Alaskan wilderness lodge.

For those on a tight budget in the summer, camping is a great option. Bring a tent or rent one in Anchorage, rent a car, and explore Alaska on your own. We recommend taking a few tours, like a glacier cruise or rafting trip, to get the full Alaskan experience. Public use cabins are another inexpensive way to stay in Alaska, but reservations fill up early, so you’ll need to plan well in advance to stay in the most popular cabins. RV camping is another fun way to see Alaska, but renting a motorhome usually ends up costing about the same as staying at a hotel.

Traveling during the “shoulder season” in late May or early September, the price of an Alaska tour is about 10% less than the peak summer prices.

Please keep in mind that these are rough estimates and do not include your flights to Alaska or meals. If you are a solo traveler, costs would be higher than the double occupancy estimates above. If there are three or four people sharing the cost of the rooms, then your prices would be lower. Children ages 11 and younger are also usually less expensive than the adult rates.

Please contact us at mytrip@alaskatours.com to get a price quote on your Alaska vacation!