Alaska is our biggest state - by far. It's larger than half of Europe, but only has three highways, which is why one in 100 Alaskans have a pilot license! With ocean cruise lines unable to sail in Alaska again this year (thanks to some pretty outdated laws), 2021 is actually a golden opportunity to see the best Alaska has to offer - while having it practically all to yourself. U.S. flagged small ship lines are still able to sail in Alaska, and I recommend UnCruise Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions for intimate encounters with Alaska's natural wonders - on ships with fewer than 100 guests. They're perfect for getting up close to Alaska's breathtaking coastline, and you may just fall in love with small ship cruising.
Fewer cruise guests means fewer travelers at the most popular inland sights too, and even Alaskan residents have been getting out to enjoy their own state without crowds. This is your chance to drink in pristine views and thrilling wildlife viewing in an uncrowded, unhurried way. Bring me your adventure bucket list, and we'll tailor a trip to where you want to go, not just where the cruise lines typically take you. If you're looking for a Northern Lights experience, head north to Fairbanks, which offers the best chances for clear skies, especially in winter. Of course you'll be spending time at Denali National Park, and below are some more unforgettable ways to experience our great state of Alaska.
IS ALASKA RIGHT FOR YOU?
Cruise ports are emptier, so there's great availability right now for the most in-demand experiences!
Summer is always a popular season, but September is an especially wonderful time to visit. Hotels are more affordable, and the legendary mosquitos have disappeared from the bush; it's warm enough to do outdoor activities, and the skies are dark enough to see the Northern Lights.
You won't find the traditional luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, St. Regis, etc. Instead we can arrange exclusive remote lodges, or more rustic accommodations with local flair.
Don't try to cram too much into a short time because the weather can be very changeable; it's what will dictate your activities each day. Build in enough time to stay flexible because most of what you came to see and do in Alaska isn't indoors! We'll plan your must-see activities earliest in the trip, so you won't miss out if they need to be pushed back a day or two due to weather conditions.
START IN ANCHORAGE
There are lots of direct flights from Seattle to Anchorage, so flying there is an easy though long journey. Alaska is only four hours behind the east coast, and one hour behind Pacific Time, so at least jet lag isn't a huge factor. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is five miles from downtown Anchorage, where you'll find comfortable accommodations downtown with Captain Cook, Marriott, and Hilton. You'll want to spend four or five days staying in Anchorage because it's a convenient home base for exploring north and south of the city - especially during long summer days when the sun rises around 3:45 AM and goes down at midnight. If you stay outside of Anchorage, I also recommend the Alyeska Resort, which is one hour south of Anchorage, and the Knik River Lodge, which is one hour north of the city.
Luxury vehicle & private guide: Enjoy door-to-door transfers between locations and private experiences throughout your trip.
Self-drive: We'll create your ideal itinerary, take care of the hotels, and book your experiences while you enjoy the wide-open roads at your own pace in your rental car.
Floatplanes, trains, helicopters: Spectacular scenery!
All of the above! We'll build your itinerary from the ground up, so you can opt for private guided days around Anchorage, take the train south to Seward, then drive your rental car up to Denali National Park. However you'd like to travel, we can arrange it!
POPULAR DAY TRIPS FROM ANCHORAGE
Prince William Sound: Float in a small chartered boat or kayak by towering icebergs as they fall into the water below (a must-see in Alaska!) and spot humpback whales as they surface for air while you explore the pristine waters of Prince William Sound.
Dog sledding: Steer a dog sled with a team that raced in the Iditarod - atop a glacier! Arrive carefully by helicopter atop a glacier, where your team awaits you.
Bear viewing: Board a fixed-wing floatplane for a stunningly scenic flight to a remote bear-viewing camp for close encounters with grizzlies on their home turf as they grab their salmon feasts leaping up waterfalls in Katmai National Park and Preserve.
WHERE TO STAY
Sheldon Chalet: This is the height of exclusivity, located inside Denali National Park! This new luxury property opened for guests in 2018 and has a three night minimum stay to fully appreciate the epic scale of your extraordinary surroundings. Five bedrooms accommodate a maximum of 10 people, perfect for a buy-out like Julia Roberts did recently. You can only arrive by helicopter because the property is right in Ruth Glacier's Great Gorge, which is as deep as the Grand Canyon! This is an all-inclusive, open bar stay with meals locally-sourced and prepared by a renowned private chef. Activities include ice climbing, snow shoeing, sauna, and more - but no TVs or WiFi. It's also one of the best places ever to view Aurora Borealis, especially from November-January.
Tutka Bay Lodge: Stay at the entrance to a nine-mile fjord on Kachemak Bay, near Homer, Alaska. Watch whales, hike through an old-growth forest, go kayaking, try deep-sea fishing, view bears on the Katmai Coast, or join an evening wildlife tour on the bay. The lodge offers complimentary massage, yoga, cooking classes, and wine and cheese tastings in its peaceful cove.
Stillpoint Lodge: Experience Alaska at its finest in this beautiful, secluded resort, the perfect balance of grand architecture, Alaskan artistry, Scandinavian styling, simple, nature-inspired design, and a hint of Zen... with upscale luxuries and eco-friendly amenities. The seaside village of Halibut Cove is rich with history, and many residents are hardworking fisherman or artists (or both!) who exhibit their work seasonally at fine art galleries along the boardwalk.
Winterlake Lodge: Situated on the western edge of the Alaska Range, Winterlake Lodge is nestled on 15 acres along mile 198 of the historic Iditarod Trail. It overlooks peaceful Finger Lake, where guests arrive by floatplane in the summer and ski-plane in the winter. Fly-fish or raft remote rivers, travel by helicopter to dramatic active glaciers for summer dogsledding, or hike historic trails with access to Mount Denali views. Being a sister property to Tutka Bay Lodge, guests here also receive complimentary massage, yoga, cooking classes, and wine/cheese tastings.
WHY USE A TRAVEL ADVISOR?
Nine Muses Travel can custom build a completely private itinerary just for you, your family, or your group. We can arrange rental cars or SUVs, depending on the group size, and ensure the most scenic drives, flights, and train rides. Your trip can be as guided or unstructured as you wish. We help arrange the best accommodations to maximize your time in Alaska, with expert advice on how to get the most out of this incredible part of our country.
Nine Muses Travel works with exceptional land operators who add unparalleled value:
RISK-FREE bookings you can change (dates & destination!) for any reason up to 7 days prior
World Travel & Tourism Council "Safe Travels" stamp of approval
Expert guides: historians, naturalists, artists, unique locals with insider tips & insights
Flexibility with your touring - See and do as much, or as little, as you prefer!
24/7 real-time support
I design journeys that inspire by highlighting local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.
Founder & President