At roughly 663,000 square miles—twice the size of Texas, and one-fifth the size of the Lower 48—Alaska has a lot of terrain to explore. So if you’re making a once-in-a-lifetime trip, it makes sense to leave the planning to the experts. These 10 companies offer some of the best guided tours in the state, no matter what part you wish to explore!
Nobody knows Alaska better than Rust’s Flying Service, which has been exploring the state for more than 50 years. Whether you want to soar above massive ice fields, fly in to a secluded fishing hole, or capture that iconic image of an Alaskan brown bear catching a leaping salmon in its massive jaws, Rust’s can take you there.
Get up close and personal—very personal—with Alaska’s grizzly bears. Alaska Bear Adventure flies you by bush plane into Katmai or Lake Clark National Parks, where you’ll snap jaw-dropping photos of these giants fishing, roughhousing and raising their cubs.
Quirky Talkeetna is destination zero for flightseeing tours of Denali National Park and Denali, the mountain formerly known as Mt. McKinley, and nobody does it better than K2Aviation. Enjoy a breathtaking flight over the mountain’s peaks or, if you’re feeling adventurous, land on a glacier or hike “the great one.”
Step aboard the Aleutian Ballad, a commercial crab fishing boat made famous by the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” for a cruise around the calm, protected waters of Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage. Explore the bays and islands surrounding Ketchikan, take in the wildlife and even share in the excitement as crab pots are hauled on deck.
As beautiful as Alaska is on the ground, seeing it from the air truly takes your breath away. Nowhere is that truer than flying above Juneau, where the sheer beauty of its massive icefield is so jaw-droppingly gorgeous, you may just forget to pull out your camera.
Philips Cruises makes two guarantees on all its cruises—you won’t get seasick, and you will see wildlife. Of course, they can’t guarantee what form that wildlife may take, but whales, Dall’s porpoise, seals, sea otters, bald eagles, and other seabirds are known to come out and play. And getting to Whittier is part of the fun—an hour south of Anchorage, the only way in or out of this tiny town is through a 2.5-mile highway tunnel, the longest in North America.
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can’t take part in Alaska’s most thrilling event, the Iditarod. An open-air Pinzgauer takes you on an historical tour of Girdwood, up in to the mountains before arriving at the training camp of musher Nicolas Petit. After a brief tour of the kennels, settle in for an exhilarating ride behind these amazing athletes for a truly Alaskan experience. And did we mention there’s dogs—lots and lots of dogs—to play with?
Looking to net a king salmon in Alaska’s famed Kenai River? Or maybe some halibut in Homer? Whatever you’re angling for, and wherever you want to net it, Ninilchik Charters offers completely customizable trips in the never-ending quest for “the big one.”
Whether you have just a few days in Alaska or a few weeks, the Alaska Railroad has the perfect adventure to fit your itinerary, narrated by knowledgeable guides. Take in the majestic Chugach Mountains as you travel south to Portage to take in the glaciers, or continue onward to Seward for a few days of fishing and hiking. Or head north to Denali to explore North America’s tallest peak before heading back to Anchorage in stylish comfort.
A customized, naturalist-guided experience that includes wildlife viewing, sea kayaking, glaciers, fishing, and gourmet meals in a beautiful, isolated setting? No wonder Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge was named one of the world’s 1,000 places to see before you die.
Choose from scenic, gentle float trips (perfect for families with young kids) or brave the rolling rapids under the face of the Matanuska Glacier in the Mat-Su Valley, two hours north of Anchorage. Or get your heart pumping with a glacier hike or guided ice climb along the glacier.