Should I rent a car in Alaska or take the train and bus?

With perks to each mode of transportation in Alaska, choosing whether to rent a car or travel by train and bus comes down to how you'd like to see the state. Here's what to consider.

Alaska by Car

A good choice if you like the freedom to travel off the beaten path to places like Homer, Valdez, and McCarthy and/or are looking for an economical option for your family.

The network of highways that make up the road system in Alaska connect some of the best places to visit in the state. With a car, you can travel from Anchorage south to Seward, or north to Denali National Park, Talkeetna, and Fairbanks. It is also the only way you can go beyond, visiting quieter small towns and places like Denali State Park. All of these can be reached by standard rental car. The benefits of travel by car go further with a 4x4 rental , which is permitted on Alaska's remote gravel roads like the Dalton and Denali Highways.

Alaska by Bus and Train

A good choice if you want to relax and enjoy a scenic, comfortable ride while someone else does the driving. A bus-train combo is also a good way to maximize your transportation budget.

Riding the train in Alaska is a must, even if just for a day trip. Most visitors opt to ride from Anchorage to Denali National Park or to Seward, which is arguably one of the most scenic routes. The experience on board is welcoming and comfortable, with Adventure Class passengers enjoying spacious cars, and GoldStar Dome passengers treated to upper-level seating under full-length dome windows. Two privately run trains provide similar dome service. Alaska trains regularly pass through remote areas unreachable except by rail, giving passengers access to some especially beautiful scenery. Visit our Alaska Trains page for more information.

Operating in the same locations (minus Fairbanks), the Park Connection Motorcoach provides daily summer transportation aboard comfortable coaches. The coaches are equipped with seats that recline, power outlets, a lavatory, and large picture windows. Because these coaches travel on slightly different routes and have lower rates, the Park Connection is a nice complement to traveling in Alaska by train. Please visit our Alaska Bus Lines to learn more about the Park Connection.

To directly compare different modes of travel, use the Alaska Transportation Finder to see what's available based on date of travel and the departure and/or arrival locations. Our How to Get From page also provides detailed transportation info.