Come fly with me and see Alaska from a pilot’s-eye view! One big reason to go flightseeing – and we do mean BIG – is the sheer size of Alaska’s landscapes. You’ll really get a sense of scale when you see our mountains, glaciers, and icefields from the air.
Alaskans have been flying since 1913, when the first biplane took off over Fairbanks. Aviation legends like Noel Wien, Ben Eielson, and Joe Crosson were our first bush pilots, flying to and from rural communities to deliver mail and cargo. Today, modern day bush pilots land helicopters and fix-winged planes on glaciers, beaches, and waterways, providing some of the most amazing flightseeing experiences imaginable.
When you see Alaska from the air, it changes your perspective. Rivers become arteries, forests and coastlines stretch before you for miles, and mountain passes lead to new adventures. The biggest challenge is deciding what you want to see and do.
Water: Day Cruises
Glaciers, mountains, wildlife, waterfalls…there’s so much to see when you take a day cruise.
Alaska has more than 46,600 miles of shoreline, so you’ll need a boat to really “sea” our state! Half- or full-day cruises are available in many parts of the state, ranging from riverboat journeys and jet boats up meandering rivers, to wildlife and glacier viewing trips along the rugged coasts. Day cruises, narrated by naturalist guides, allow you to view the scenery from the comfort of the indoors. Don’t just go on a sunny day, though – overcast days are best for seeing the glaciers’ brilliant blues, and whales love the water rain or shine.
Rail: Train Trips
Alaska’s two railroads are waiting to take you on a great adventure – and will show you some of Alaska’s amazing history.
The White Pass & Yukon Route railroad offers excursions from Skagway to White Pass Summit, going from tidewater to more than 2,800 feet. You can experience the history of the 1898 Gold Rush from a historic White Pass & Yukon Route rail car, tracing the path of prospective miners who toiled up the steep slopes of the Klondike Trail in pursuit of golden dreams. If you’re looking to take a step back in time, consider hiking all (or part) of the 33-mile-long Chilkoot Trail. Backpackers making the 3- to 5-day climb can relax by taking the train back down to Skagway for a well-earned rest.
Serving Southcentral and Interior Alaska, the Alaska Railroad carries residents, visitors, and freight between Seward and Fairbanks. Completed in 1923, the Alaska Railroad travels through some of the most spectacular scenery in the state. Take a day trip to Whittier for a glacier cruise, take a hike at Spencer Glacier, or use the Alaska Railroad as your main transportation, stopping off in Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Denali National Park. Fun fact – Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, was started as a tent town, serving construction workers building the original rail connection between Seward and Fairbanks.
Road: Driving Trips
Approximately 86 percent of our communities do not have outside road access, so we use the term On the Road System to describe communities connected to each other by road - generally the main highway systems connecting Southcentral and Interior Alaska. Fortunately, many of our national parks, cities, and attractions are on the road system!
Alaskans are also proud of our non-traditional highway: The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS). The iconic blue and gold state ferries carry passengers and vehicles between coastal communities throughout the Inside Passage, Southcentral, and Southwest Alaska. The AMHS is the only marine route recognized as a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road!
So, drive up to Alaska on the famed Alaska Highway, put your vehicle on the ferry, or rent a car or RV while you’re here – driving is a great way to take your time exploring the state.