Stories from Alaska

An insider's journey through Alaska's best kept secrets

5 Alaskan “Insider Tips” To Experiencing Alaska’s Top Attractions (Without The Crowds)

Luckily, when you visit Alaska, crowds are usually not a problem. But if you want to experience Alaska’s wilderness a little more to yourself and a little less with everyone else, here are some great Alaska travel tips to help see the best Alaska attractions without the crowds.

Alaska TIP #1: Don’t shrug those Alaska’s shoulders – arrive early or stay late – in Alaska’s shoulder season!

Take a tip from local Alaskans who love exploring their state – some of the quietest travel times and best travel deals are found during Alaska’s “shoulder seasons.” These are two short but special times in Alaska when tourism businesses are either just opening in late spring (early-May) or just about to shut down at the start of fall (mid-September). The majority of travelers, including families and students, prefer Alaska’s warmest, brightest summer months of June-August. When they return home and to school, that means plenty of empty rooms, seats and tours, as well as business operators who offer discounts.

(c) Jeff Schultz/Schultzphoto.com/ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

(c) Jeff Schultz/Schultzphoto.com/ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Alaska TIP #2: Get off the grid and relax in a Alaska wilderness lodge

Some of Alaska’s hottest destinations and most luxurious getaways are literally far, far away from the crowds – a handful of spectacular lodges tucked deep in the forest, across the tundra or on a distant island. It takes some unconventional travel modes to get there (boats and float planes), but that’s all part of the fun. Once there, these lodges feature splendorous rooms and out-of-this-world views, as well as top-notch chefs. Each lodge caters to a different audience – some are perfect locales for bear and wildlife viewing; some are a few strides away from world-class fishing; some are a short hop away from epic skiing; and others are the gateway to more outdoor adventures. You’ll find the Alaska lodge vacation which suits your style and your budget.

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TIP #3: Rough it up and go camping in an Alaska’s public use cabin

Alaska public use cabins aren’t exactly as luxurious as the Alaska wilderness lodges in Alaska Tip# 2, but they are located in some of state’s most faraway and popular places. They also offer plenty of quiet and access to other outings while being much more affordable. There are more than 200 public use cabins strategically scattered around Alaska, built and maintained by regional, state and federal agencies. Most Alaska cabins offer simple but authentic accommodations – wood cabins with wood tables, wood benches, wood bunks and wood stoves. These Alaska public use cabins are perfect places for backpackers, mountain bikers and kayakers, and some are set just a short water taxi ride or walk from a parking area.

TIP #4: Embrace Alaska’s small-town charm

Alaska’s top tourism towns are hopping hubs that are packed and popular all summer. But every Alaska town has its own unique history, special charm and welcoming wonders. There’s the mining magnetism of McCarthy, which also has a pretty awesome glacier. From Anchorage, it’s a short and beautiful drive to Hope, a quaint little town with a million-dollar view of Turnagain Arm. While many hone in on Seward, cool coastal towns like Homer, Valdez, Whittier and Ketchikan also have plenty of fishing, wildlife viewing and fun.

TIP #5: Go take a hike!

Some of Alaska’s biggest attractions are, well, big – mountains and peaks, rivers and valleys, glaciers and icefields. Hiking is a way of life for many Alaskans and even the state’s most urban areas have easy-to-access hiking trails that quickly guide you away from the crowds. You don’t need mountaineering gear to get an Alaska hiking high and a break from the bustle – almost every community has nearby trails for all fitness and adventure levels. There’s something special about sitting atop a 9,000 foot peak, looking out across an Alaska landscape with nothing audible but your breath and an occasional breeze.

(c) Jeff Schultz/Schultzphoto.com/ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

(c) Jeff Schultz/Schultzphoto.com/ALL RIGHTS RESERVED