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Alaska Tour & Travel ~ Ask An Expert

Do you have a question about Alaska travel? We will do our best to get an answer for you, or point you in the right direction if it is not an area of our expertise. Just email us here or give us a call at 800-208-0200. You can check out answers to questions people have been asking lately below including question about Alaska facts, our booking policies, trip planning and Alaska transportation. You may also want to check out our FAQ pages, our site search and the Q&A category on our Alaska blog.

What are the average temperatures in the summer?
Average temperatures mid-May to mid-September can vary from the 40s to 70s Fahrenheit depending on your location and the time of year. Our warmest months are June, July, and August.

How many National Parks are in Alaska?
According to the National Park Service there are 14 designated parks and preserves within the State of Alaska. Alaska's most visited National Parks are Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, Glacier Bay National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

What is the currency used in Alaska?
Alaska is part of the United States so we use the U.S. Dollar.

What is Alaska's state bird?
Many people assume that the Bald Eagle is Alaska's state bird, which is not correct. The Alaska state bird is actually the Willow Ptarmigan.

How are the mosquitoes in Alaska?
Mosquitoes are the worst during peak season June, July, and August. Most of the towns do not have a large population of mosquitoes. If you plan on traveling into the backcountry or in wooded areas make sure to wear bug spray along with long sleeved pants and shirts.

Does Alaska Tour & Travel charge a fee for setting up our tour?
We do not have a surcharge or fee for our service. Our rates are offered at the same retail or rack rates set by the tour or hotel operators we sell.

What age is considered an adult or child for tour and hotel pricing?
Most of the tours and hotels have a child rate which applies to children 11 years old and under. Most hotels do not charge extra for children 11 years old and under.

When is my final payment due?
Final payment is due 45 days prior to your first day of travel.

Will my final payment be automatically charged?
Final payments are automatically charged to your credit card on file 45 days prior to arrival. If you would like to change the credit card number on your account or send a check please notify us prior to 45 days of your arrival.

Do the tours include meals?
Most of our packages are considered independent packages which means they include transportation, activities, and hotels. Since you are traveling independently you have the option to choose were you want to eat along the way. A few of the full day activities or tours include a meal and, if so, those will be noted in your itinerary.

What is your cancellation policy?
Our packages are fully refundable until 45 days prior to travel. Between 45-31 days prior to your first day of travel a 10% cancel/change fee applies. Between 30-15 days prior to your first day of travel a 50% cancel/change fee applies. Within 14 days of travel your package is non-refundable non-changeable. Certain services have more restrictive policies so check your travel documents for further details.

Do I need a passport to travel to Alaska?
If you are a U.S. citizen and plan to fly in and out of Alaska from the United States a passport is not necessary. If you will be arriving or departing Alaska by cruise ship a passport is required.

Can you explain what a single, double, triple and quad means for the hotel rooms?
Single, double, triple, quad refers to the number of adult occupants in each hotel room. This does not refer to bed types. Most hotels do not charge additional for children age 11 and under.

Will I be able to see the Northern Lights?
The best time for viewing the Northern Lights is mid winter however they are sometimes visible on clear nights in September.

When should I confirm my Alaska reservations?
For best availability we recommend confirming your Alaska vacation about six months prior to travel.

How do I purchase travel insurance?
Travel Insurance can be purchased with one of our agents over the phone or by visiting our travel insurance web page.

Are credit cards accepted in Alaska?
Visa, MasterCard, and Discover are accepted at most businesses in Alaska. Some businesses in rural Alaska such as in the Arctic (Prudhoe Bay) only accept cash so we do suggest bringing some cash for smaller shops and restaurants that may be unable to accept credit cards.

What kind of meals are offered on the Prudhoe Bay and Arctic Circle trips?
Meals in Coldfoot and Prudhoe Bay are available for purchase and served buffet-style, they range from $12-$23 for most items.

What happens if my day cruise or flightseeing tour is not able to depart due to weather?
Normally, if any of our tours are cancelled by the provider due to a weather issue they will notify us of the cancellation and we will refund you directly. Be sure to contact us once you get home to confirm.

Will I see Mt. Denali?
The opportunity to see Mt. Denali increases the longer you spend in the Denali Park or Talkeetna area. Generally speaking, there is a greater opportunity to see Mt. Denali from the Talkeetna area or South Denali then from Denali National Park, so if time allows we recommend spending time in both the Denali National Park area as well as the South Denali or Denali State Park area.

Is there a hotel inside Denali National Park?
All of the hotels near the Denali Park entrance are located outside of the Park. Most are located between the Denali Canyon area one mile north of the Park entrance and the McKinley Village area about seven miles to the south. There are a few backcountry lodges located deep inside Denali Park at the end of the 90 mile Park road. This is a great experience and we highly recommend the Kantishna Roadhouse for those looking to stay inside Denali Park.

What do you mean by South Denali?
South Denali refers to the region south of Denali National Park and includes Denali State Park and region around the town of Talkeetna.

Where can I go salmon fishing?
Alaska offers some of the best Salmon fishing in the world. The Matanuska Valley has hundreds of rivers and streams that offer fantastic fishing. We offer fishing in the Talkeetna area, as well as fly out fishing from Anchorage. Another excellent area for Salmon Fishing is the Kenai Peninsula. For Deep Sea fishing we recommend both Seward and Homer. Check our Alaska fishing page for further details.

How long should I plan on staying in Denali Park?
We recommend at least two nights in Denali which will allow you at least one full day of exploring the National Park area.

In addition to bus trips into Denali Park, what other activities should we consider while we are there?
Denali Park offers many great activities, including guided hiking, rafting, Iditarod dog kennel tours, dinner theatres and scenic flights by either helicopter or fixed wing planes.

Where can I go see glaciers if I don't like to go out on boats?
Alaska has many glaciers that are visible without taking a boat. One of the best ways to see glaciers is from the air. In Talkeetna we offer scenic flights over the Alaska Range which has some of Alaska's largest land locked glaciers. In Seward, Exit Glacier is part of Kenai Fjords National Park and can be visited by just a short walk from the visitor center. Glaciers can also be seen from many of the state's roads including the Seward, Glenn, and Richardson Highways.

Should I spend the night in Whittier?
For accommodations near Whittier we recommend the Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood which is only a thirty minutes drive from Whittier. The town of Whittier is a very small community and consequently has limited overnight accommodations. That's why we recommend staying in the nearby town of Girdwood where you can find great accommodations, but still have easy access to the great day trips offered in Whittier.

This is my second trip to Alaska, do you have any suggestions if I want to visit someplace new?
A great place to visit on your second trip to Alaska is the Wrangell St. Elias National Park area and the lower Kenai Peninsula area where the town of Homer is located.

Where can I see the best views of Mt. Denali?
From within Denali National Park and also from South Denali, near the town of Talkeetna. Of course in either location your being able to view Mt. Denali will be subject to weather and cloud coverage. We recommend doing one of the all day bus tours into Denali National Park or one of the flightseeing tours over the park to best view the mountain. In Talkeetna the best way to view Mt. Denali is by air, thus we recommend doing one of the flightseeing tours that are offered. Both the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge and McKinley Princess Lodge have excellent views of Mt. Denali from their decks on a clear day.

What's the best place to have lunch or dinner in Anchorage?
Downtown Anchorage is fortunate to have many great options for lunch or dinner. To designate one in particular as "the best" may be purely subjective since people have different preferences. Some of our staff's favorites are Simon and Seaforts, Glacier Brew House, Orso, Marx Brothers Cafe (they also are in the Anchorage Museum), Fletchers (in Hotel Captain Cook), Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse, Sacks Cafe, Snow City Cafe and the Snow Goose Restaurant. For a personal recommendation, be sure to ask your reservation agent for further details.

Can you go dog mushing in the summertime?
If its always been your dream to be pulled by a dog team, then have no fear because your dream is about to come true! Yes, you can go dog mushing in the summertime. The most accessible way to do so is by touring one of the kennels that takes their guests on a sled-dog ride on their summer training sleds. We book these type of mushing tours in both Seward and Talkeetna. They might not be on the snow but you definitely get the sensation of what it feels like to be pulled by a dog team!

When is the best time to see whales in Alaska?
We offer many day cruises out of the Seward area that have great whale viewing. Killer Whales are present in Alaska May thru September. For Gray and Humpback Whale viewing April and May are the best times but they are often seen all summer.

How do I get to Alaska?
There are three different ways to get to Alaska. One way is flying from the lower 48 into Anchorage or Fairbanks. The second way is by cruise ship from Vancouver to either Seward or Whittier, and the third way to get to Alaska is by driving the Alaska Highway.

Are cruise transfers or shuttles available between Anchorage and Seward or Whittier?
We recommend using the Park Connection motorcoach which offers twice daily service between Seward and Anchorage, as well as between Whittier and Anchorage on cruise ship days. The Alaska Railroad is another good choice. See our Whittier Cruise Transfers or Seward Cruise Transfers page for more details.

Can you sleep in the rail cars on the Alaska Railroad?
Sleeper cars are not necessary on the Alaska Railroad because all of the trips take place during the day.

Is there a train to Alaska?
The only way to reach Alaska from the contiguous United States is by driving the Alaska Highway, cruising the inside passage, or by flying into Anchorage or Fairbanks.

Can I drive to Juneau?
Southeast Alaska is full of small towns most of which are isolated from the road system. The only way to access these places would be by boat or by plane. The Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System is a great way to visit these areas.

How long does it take to drive between cities?
Driving time can vary but here are a few quick estimates. Anchorage and Denali 5 to 6 hours, Anchorage to Seward 2 to 3 hours, Anchorage to Talkeetna 2.5 hours, Anchorage to Fairbanks 9 hours, Anchorage to Homer 4.5 hours, Anchorage to Copper Center 4 to 5 hours, Talkeetna to Denali 3 hours, Denali to Fairbanks 3 hours.

How are the roads?
Summer driving conditions are very mild. Most highways are paved two lane highways and speed limits are between 55 and 65 mph.

Do I have to fly in and out of the same airport?
Alaska's major airports are located in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Many of our tour packages start and end in Anchorage. We also have packages that start in either Anchorage or Fairbanks and end in the opposite city. By contacting one of our reservation agents we can help customize any package to meet your arrival and departure needs.

What is the average gasoline price in Alaska?
Gas prices in Anchorage and Fairbanks tend to run just above major cities in the continental United States, and often rise as you travel to more remote locations in Alaska

Does the train (or motorcoach) run daily?
Both the train and the motorcoach run daily mid- May to mid- September.

Which is better, the train or the motorcoach?
We recommend both modes of transportation. For variation it is nice to enjoy the train going one direction and the motorcoach in the opposite direction when traveling to Seward or Denali.

Can I do a one way car rental?
Alaska Tour & Travel does not offer any one way car rentals. If you are arriving or departing from Seward or Whittier, it is better to take the Park Connection Motorcoach or the Alaska Railroad to or from Anchorage and rent your car in Anchorage.

If departing by cruise ship, will the train/coach drop off at the cruise terminal?
The Park Connection Motorcoach departing Anchorage at 3:00pm for both Whittier and Seward will drop off directly at the cruise terminal.

Where does the Park Connection Motorcoach drop off in Anchorage?
The Park Connection Motorcoach drops of at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art in downtown Anchorage and the Anchorage Airport. Our motorcoach arriving in Anchorage in the evening after 3:00pm drops off at the Egan Convention Center in downtown Anchorage and the Anchorage Airport.

How do I get from the airport to my hotel at the start of my trip?
Most of the hotels we work with in both Anchorage and Fairbanks offer a complimentary airport shuttle.

What is the difference between the Gold Star and Adventure class on the Alaska Railroad?
Gold Star is the highest level of service on the Alaska Railroad. The Gold Star car has a complete upper dome which allows for optimum viewing. Also, unlike the Adventure cars the Gold Star car has a large vestibule or deck on the second level which offers outdoor viewing and clear photo opportunities. In the Gold Star class you will also receive a complimentary gift and unlimited non-alcoholic beverages.

Does Alaska have any "National Scenic Byways" I should experience if I'm going to rent a car?
Alaska has several highways recognized as "National Scenic Byways". Including the Seward Highway between Anchorage and Seward, the Parks Highway between Talkeetna and Fairbanks, the Richardson Highway between Fairbanks and Valdez, and the Glenn Highway between Glenallen and Palmer.

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