You'll probably get to Anchorage at the start of your trip by air, as the city receives by far the most flights linking Alaska to the rest of the world, on many airlines. The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is a major hub. Seattle has the most frequent flights connecting to Anchorage, with numerous domestic carriers flying nonstop all day. Within Alaska, most flights route through here, even for communities that are much closer to each other than they are to Anchorage. Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaair.com) is the dominant carrier for Alaska destinations and the only jet operator to most Alaska cities.
Various commuter carriers link Anchorage to rural destinations not served by jet, offering a convenient, time-saving alternative to driving to communities such as Homer, Kenai, or Valdez. Given the extraordinary taxes and fees imposed on rental cars at the Anchorage airport, you may also save money by flying to these towns and renting there. Era Alaska (tel. 800/866-8394 or 907/266-8394; www.flyera.com) is the state's largest prop carrier, serving more than 100 destinations from the Gulf of Alaska to the Arctic. Tickets can be booked through Alaska Airlines on some code-share routings.
Unless your hotel has a courtesy van or you rent a car, a taxi is probably the best way to get downtown from the airport. A taxi ride downtown from the airport runs $18 to $20. Try Alaska Yellow Cab (tel. 907/222-2222). Shuttle vans serve the airport, with arrangements changing frequently. Ask at the visitor information desk in the baggage claim area. The People Mover city bus connects the airport and the downtown transit center hourly. Take Spenard Route 7A (every other Rte. 7 bus on weekdays).
There's only one road to the rest of the world: the Glenn Highway. It leads through the Mat-Su Valley area and Glennallen to Tok, where it meets the Alaska Highway, 330 miles from Anchorage. Thirty miles out of Anchorage, the Glenn meets the Parks Highway, which leads to Denali National Park and Fairbanks. The only other road out of town, the Seward Highway, leads south to the Kenai Peninsula.
Alaska/Yukon Trails (tel. 800/770-7275; www.alaskashuttle.com), a van and minibus service, runs between Anchorage and Fairbanks, with a stop at Denali National Park and Talkeetna. From Fairbanks, they run tours to Dawson City and Whitehorse. In Anchorage they stop at the airport, hostels, and downtown. A one-way ticket to Denali costs $75 and to Fairbanks $99. Various other van and bus services offer transportation to and from Seward, Homer, Talkeetna, Denali National Park, Fairbanks, and other points; options are listed in the sections on each of those places.
A recreational vehicle is a popular way to explore the region. It's possible to rent in Alaska or to come to Alaska with your own RV without making the time-consuming return trip by shipping your RV back from Anchorage to Tacoma, Washington, and flying to meet it (since southbound ships are relatively empty, you get a special rate). Contact Totem Ocean Trailer Express (tel. 800/234-8683 in Anchorage, or 800/426-0074 in the Lower 48; www.totemocean.com).
In addition, some firms offer one-way rentals beginning or ending in Anchorage. Alaska Motorhome Rentals (tel. 800/323-5757; www.bestofalaskatravel.com) offers several city pairs, allowing visitors to drive one-way from Seattle, to rent after riding the ferry partway, or to rent between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Sample rates: Skagway to Anchorage carries a drop-off fee of $795 to $995, plus the cost of the rental, $209 to $249 a day in the high season, plus mileage (or pay $35 a day for unlimited mileage), gas (budget generously), and tax. Check the website for discounts. The same company has another operation, Alaska Highway Cruises (tel. 800/323-5757), that provides packages to cruise one-way, tour Alaska in an RV, and fly home.
The Alaska Railroad (tel. 800/544-0552 or 907/265-2494; www.alaskarailroad.com) connects Anchorage with Seward and Whittier to the south and Fairbanks, Denali National Park, and Talkeetna to the north. It's a fun way to travel, with commentary in the summer, good food, and clean, comfortable cars. However, the train is priced as a tourism excursion and costs more than ordinary transportation. Most trains run only in the summer, but a snowy 12-hour odyssey to Fairbanks runs once a week all winter. The summer fare to Fairbanks is $210 one-way; the winter fare is $159 one-way, $127 for Alaska residents.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.