*If you have any questions that aren't answered in this post, please leave them in the comments section where I do my best to answer all Alaska related questions directly!
Tours in Alaska - How Are They Different?
Tours in Alaska are pretty straightforward and very similar to tours in different states, countries, or cities - but there's 3 things I wanted to share with you to make your excursion the best it can be!
7 Tours to Add to Your Alaska Vacation
1. Bear Encounter - Known as the best bear viewing experience in the entire world, this one day trip leaves from Homer, Alaska. After your short 1-ish hour flight over to either Katmai National Park or Lake Clark National Park depending on the time of year and the salmon run. For the next few hours you'll get up close and personal with the bears, and it's an experience I promise you'll never forget! The price tag is a little spendy for a day trip, but after having done it myself last fall I promise it's worth it! (Video of my bear viewing experience!)
2. White Water Rafting - This is for the adrenaline junkies. It's said that Sixmile Creek is one of the most technical rivers to raft in all of North America, and this half day trip is not for the weak hearted. You'll begin by getting suited up, then taking a quick swim test in the river before beginning a journey down through the whitewater. I'll be honest, there are multiple canyons, most of which are classified as a class IV and one which is a class V. And I bet you can guess which one I fell out in. Either way it's an incredible adventure for visitors that plan to spend some time around the Kenai Peninsula or Anchorage area! (Video of my rafting experience!)
3. Whale Watching - Alaska is known around the world for it's incredible whale viewing opportunities. Depending on where in Alaska you're planning to visit, there are multiple experiences I've gone on that I would recommend. If you're on the Kenai Peninsula then Major Marine Tours is the way to go - I've been on 3 tours with them and it's always an incredible experience. Even though they have a half day option, I recommend the full day excursion for your best chance at seeing wildlife and calving glaciers! If you're in Juneau then I recommend Harv & Marvs - hands down the best whale experience we've ever had, we saw more than 30 whales on our tour! If you're exploring the Valdez area, then I recommend the Stan Stephens tour. This is a bit more glacier focused, but we also saw quite a few orcas - and this is the only tour we saw a calving glacier! These 3 are all great options - it really just depends on which area of Alaska you'll be during your trip! (Video of Harv & Marv's Whale Watching experience!)
4. Denali Sightseeing Tour - This might be the only tour on my list that I haven't actually done myself. Tyler and I were booked on multiple trips before but as you can imagine this tour is very weather dependent, and unfortunately the date just kept getting changed for our flight. However, I've had multiple friends go through this 1 hour tour that had an insanely incredible view of the peak of Denali! A peak that only 30% of visitors to Alaska are able to see themselves.
5. Northern Lights - One of the most sought after experiences in Alaska, I truly believe the Northern Lights should be one thing that everyone needs to see in their lifetime. Only visible in Alaska during months that it gets dark (September - April), the best times to see the Northern Lights are in the Spring and Fall. It is essential to NOT book a Northern Lights tour in the Summer months - we've heard horror stories where visitors book a viewing tour for a summer night - it simply doesn't get dark enough to see them during this time. We've always done the Northern Lights on our own in Alaska, but this would be the one tour I recommend from Anchorage, and the one I would recommend from Fairbanks. (Watch this video for our best Northern Lights viewing tips!)
6. Glacier Experience - The best way to get up close and personal to the glacier is through the Matanuska Glacier Tour. This tour is also the most reasonably priced, and you get to make your way over a glacier via a 1-ish mile hike! As one of the only tours that allows you to walk on top of the glacier itself without a huge price tag, you'll also learn more about glaciers, "walking rocks," glacial mud and benefits, and even get to taste fresh glacial water! Just bring a refillable water bottle! (Since I last visited Matanuska, prices have increased quite a bit, and is now quite similarly priced to this glacial helicopter tour that we would recommend for a bit more of an adrenaline pumping experience!) (Watch this video showcasing my experience at Matanuska!)
7. Visit the Arctic Circle - Make your way to one of the least visited areas of Alaska, the "Far North." This adventure begins in Fairbanks, so it'll be a bit tougher to visit for guests who are only visiting the Kenai Peninsula or Anchorage areas. On this full day tour you'll travel on the infamous Dalton Highway and up towards the Arctic Circle, during the winter months you can even search for the Northern Lights on the way home! Afterwards you even get a certificate stating that you made it all the way to the Arctic Circle!
Other Alaska blog posts you might be interested in :
-> 11 Best Waterfalls in Anchorage and Beyond
-> Where to Rent Bear Spray in Alaska
-> 15 Easiest Glaciers to Visit in Alaska
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In 2021 my husband Tyler convinced me to move to Alaska. After living there for a year (then leaving to take a year long world trip) we realized there was no place we loved more. So now we're back - and I'm here to share all my best tips and hidden gems to make
Your Alaskan Adventures the best they can be.
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