Alaska is the Biggest!
Alaska is the largest state in the Union at approximately 586,400 square miles (roughly 365,000,000 acres). Alaska stretches 1,390 miles north to south, 2,210 east to west. Mean elevation is 1,900 feet. The Aleutian Islands are 1,100 miles long. Alaska has the most eastern, western and northern most points in the United States. Alaska has 33,000 miles of coastline, 29 active volcanoes, more than 1/2 of the world's glaciers, 1/5 the land mass of the Continental US, the tallest mountain (Mt. McKinley at 20,327’), 3 million lakes, 24 hour days, 24 hour nights and 4 time zones.
Alaska may be the largest state, but there are only 4 states with less road miles: Vermont, Delaware, Rhode Island and Hawaii. Alaska is larger than Texas, Montana and California combined. In another perspective, Alaska is also larger than the 22 smallest states added together. With a population of just over 700,000, statewide, Wyoming is the only state with less people than Alaska. Only 1% of Alaska is privately owned.
Getting to know your way around Alaska
Without a doubt, the best source of current information for travelling to Alaska, no matter how you get here, is the Milepost. I personally use the hard copy version which is close to 800 pages and covers every road in Alaska and every route to Alaska through Canada to get here. Also the Alaska State Ferry system information is listed. Well worth the investment. There is a digital version also, as well as apps for iPhone and Android.
Another extremely informative site is Trip Advisor. Great current information with reviews for hotels, restaurants and just about anything else you want to know about anyplace in Alaska from folks that have visited before you.
If you have the time and enjoy cross country travel, you definitely need the Milepost, see above. Whether you are driving up on 2 wheels or 4, it’s an experience that most only dream of. Being thoroughly prepared could mean the difference between this being either the best or worst trip you ever went on in your life. Driving through Canada is not the same as driving in the USA. Make sure you check out the requirements and restrictions for travel through Canada. People are turned back and not allowed passage on a daily basis. Example: If you have ever had a DWI or felony conviction, no matter how long ago, you will not be allowed passage. Fly or ferry are your only options.
All the major carriers fly to Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Alaska Marine Highway System
This is a beautiful, relaxing trip from Bellingham, Washington to Whittier, Alaska. Takes about a week, one way, and you can bring your vehicle with you. Some folks drive up and take the ferry home or vice versa. There is a ferry also available from Bellingham, Washington to Haines, Alaska but you will have to travel through Canada from Haines to get back to Alaska so be sure to double check on what you can and cannot bring with you when traveling through Canada.
In Anchorage, House of Harley and Motoquest are your options.
In Fairbanks, refer to Alaska Riders.
Most of the major hotel chains are in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Best Western is the most common chain hotel in both the larger and several smaller communities and all are biker friendly. If you’re a Harley enthusiast, Best Western has a Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) membership which puts all current national HOG members in Platinum status upon joining.
In the smaller communities, don’t pass up the mom-and-pop independent establishments. Most will beat the going price of the chain hotels every time. Be prepared however to pay close to twice as much, or more, as you would at home. During summer months, $140.00 a night is a good deal and closer to $200.00 is common. There are some independent hotels in Anchorage and Fairbanks under $100.00 a night but be careful here. A few are OK, most are not. Generally speaking, the smaller the community the better the independent hotels and motels. Trip Advisor reviews are helpful here.
Places I have personally stayed and would recommend will be on the Tour of Honor listings. Book your hotel rooms as far in advance as possible.
Hostel type lodging
Recommended by several people I know for this type of lodging in Alaska as reliable. I am not personally familiar with it though. Check it out at http://www.alaskahostelassociation.org/
The House of Harley in Anchorage, has a mini park type area for motorcyclists, with picnic tables, etc where you can set up your personal tent and stay while in Anchorage. Access to rest room facilities is available 24/7. You do not need to be riding a Harley to stay here for free.
Trip advisor is your best bet here but places I am personally familiar with and recommend will be on the Tour of Honor listings.
Unique to Alaska
There are 100s, if not more, “one of a kind” and “only in Alaska” places to visit. These also mentioned on site listings when you will be passing close by in your travels.
If you have any questions or requests for information about your Alaska adventure, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo provided by Jack "Alcan Rider" Gustafson. For more of his amazing Alaska photos, visit http://alaskajack.smugmug.com