Traveling to Alaska

If you are obtaining an summer job in Alaska, you have some interesting transportation decisions to make. It’s possible to drive, take a ferry, fly, or use a combination of these transportation methods.

While it was once known as a great feat to challenge the Alaskan Highway and finish with the car in one piece, the highway to Alaska is now much like any other 1,500-mile stretch of road. The “Al-Can” Highway still has occasional stretches of “highway quality gravel,” but it is continually improving. The drive is quite scenic and passes mountains, rivers, and hundreds of lakes. The famous Milepost Guide is an excellent resource for anyone driving to Alaska.

To avoid backtracking, you can take the Cassiar Highway in one direction and the Alaskan Highway in the other. The Cassiar is significantly rougher, but both roads cut through spectacular scenery. Be sure to take a spare tire and drive safely.

If you have some extra money and plenty of time, consider riding the ferry to or from Alaska. The Alaskan Marine Highway has regular service between Bellingham, Washington (90 minutes north of Seattle), and Haines, Alaska, with several stops along the way. These huge ferries glide through the fjords of Alaska – winding around islands, and past mountains and tidewater glaciers. The scenery is amazing, and passengers usually see lots of wildlife.

The ferries offer movies, bars, restaurants, and private cabins, but many budget travelers simply “camp out” on deck with their sleeping bags. This is perfectly OK with the ferry operators. Call the Alaska Marine Highway information line at (800) 642-0066 for additional details and scheduling information. Make reservations well in advance if you plan to take an automobile, as car space on the ferries is limited.

Flying is a safe, quick way to get to Alaska. U.S. carriers providing interstate passenger service to Anchorage include: Alaska Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and United Airlines. Look for special rates and book your ticket well in advance.

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