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The Best Alaska Vacations for 2021

For much of the world, Covid-19 has brought months of social distancing and limits on large gatherings. Understandably, until vaccination programs are complete, many travelers are searching for a much-needed vacation that offers an ongoing sense of space. Luckily, that is just one of many things Alaska has in abundance.

At one-fifth the area of the Lower 48, Alaska is an ideal destination for anyone seeking wide-open spaces, spectacular scenery, incredible wildlife encounters and great accommodation. Even better? There are plentiful self-drive, train or wilderness options to suit your style.

Alaska By Design Travel Designers Teagan and Abbie ready for their flight in Alaska

Alaska's Covid-19 Travel Restrictions & Entry Requirements

Good news! Alaska has relaxed its entry rules in recent months making it an accessible option for many visitors. That said, entry requirements are subject to change at short notice, so we advise you to keep a close eye on local advice and guidelines to ensure your trip to Alaska goes smoothly.

How to Travel Around Alaska

It’s possible to drive for hours without passing another vehicle in Alaska and every turn offers a new, breathtaking vista. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to cross paths with bears and other wildlife or to spot whales and orca from the rugged coastline. Much of Alaska’s best scenery is only accessible by car, so a road trip opens the door to more options including some spectacular national parks. Having a car gives you the greatest freedom, total flexibility and independence to explore the USA’s least densely populated state at your leisure and is the ultimate socially-distanced way to travel.

Alaska By Design Travel Designer Sam all set to board Alaska Railroad

If you’d prefer not to drive, Alaska Railroad stretches from Seward in the south –gateway to beautiful Kenai Fjords National Park– all the way to Fairbanks in the north, close to the Arctic Circle. That’s a distance of almost 500 miles with stops along the way like Whittier for access to Prince William Sound, Talkeetna for flightseeing over North America’s highest peak and Denali National Park. Standard class, known as Adventure Class, offers large picture windows, comfortable airline-style seats and on some routes, access to the Vista Dome car. GoldStar service offers glass-domed ceilings for truly panoramic views, an outdoor viewing platform and a full-service dining room.

If you’re looking for a complete escape, Alaska offers some fantastic wilderness lodges many of which are only accessible by light aircraft. Here you can spend your time reading, walking, fishing, photographing the incredible scenery and wildlife or simply allowing yourself to unwind in secluded, idyllic surroundings with great accommodation and locally sourced food.

Below you'll find our recommended best Alaska vacations for 2021 — a year where space is everything!

Alaska Highlights Self Drive Tour

10 Days I View full itinerary details

If this is your first time to Alaska or you plan on visiting only once, then this itinerary will likely tick the most boxes. From the spectacular coastline of Kenai Fjords National Park to the towering heights of Denali, this itinerary really does cover all the best highlights of Alaska.

  • DAY 1 Anchorage to Seward
  • DAY 2 Seward | Kenai Fjord National Park Cruise
  • DAY 3 Seward to Talkeetna
  • DAY 4 Talkeetna to Denali National Park
  • DAY 5 Denali National Park Backcountry Tour | Coach | Flightseeing
  • DAY 6 Denali National Park to Fairbanks | Sternwheeler Riverboat Cruise
  • DAY 7 Fairbanks to Valdez
  • DAY 8 Valdez | Prince William Sound Columbia Glacier Cruise with lunch
  • DAY 9 Valdez to Sheep Mountain Lodge
  • DAY 10 Sheep Mountain Lodge to Anchorage

Alaska’s Scenic National Parks Road Trip

16 Days I View full itinerary details

For those with a little more time to explore Alaska, this 16-day road trip sees you stay within Denali and Wrangell St. Elias National Parks with options to get into Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks for world-class grizzly bear viewing. On top of that, this trip includes a sojourn in beautiful Prince William Sound.

  • DAY 1 Anchorage to Seward
  • DAY 2 Seward | Full Day Northwestern Fjord Cruise
  • DAY 3 Seward to Homer
  • DAY 4 Homer | Day at Leisure
  • DAY 5 Homer to Girdwood
  • DAY 6 Girdwood to Talkeetna
  • DAY 7 Talkeetna to Denali National Park Entrance | Denali National Park Entrance to Denali Backcountry Lodge | Coach
  • DAY 8 Kantishna | Denali Back Country Lodge
  • DAY 9 Denali Backcountry Lodge to Denali National Park Entrance | Coach Denali National Park Entrance to Fairbanks
  • DAY 10 Fairbanks | Day at Leisure
  • DAY 11 Fairbanks to Chitina | Chitina to McCarthy | Flight
  • DAY 12 McCarthy | Kennicott | Root Glacier Hike
  • DAY 13 McCarthy to Chitina | Flight | Chitina to Valdez
  • DAY 14 Valdez | Prince William Sound Columbia Glacier Cruise with lunch
  • DAY 15 Valdez to Sheep Mountain Lodge
  • DAY 16 Sheep Mountain Lodge to Anchorage

Image courtesy of Alaska Railroad

Alaska Aurora Rail Adventure

8 Days I See full itinerary details

A visit to Alaska is not only restricted to the summer months, and one such way to make the most of the clear, crisp winter weather is to travel by train. This itinerary takes you from Anchorage past Denali National Park to the northern city of Fairbanks where a stay at remote Bettles Lodge offers excellent aurora viewing possibilities.

  • DAY 1 Anchorage | Arrival
  • DAY 2 Anchorage to Talkeetna with Winter Dog Sledding | Coach
  • DAY 3 Talkeetna to Fairbanks | Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 4 Fairbanks to Bettles Lodge | Flight
  • DAYS 5 – 6 Bettles Lodge
  • DAY 7 Bettles Lodge to Fairbanks | Flight
  • DAY 8 Depart Fairbanks

Image Courtesy of Stillpoint Lodge

Stillpoint Lodge

4 Days I See full itinerary details

Easily accessible from Anchorage by helicopter or float plane, Stillpoint Lodge offers rustic charm amongst forested surroundings. Numerous activities help you to make the most of your time in the Alaskan wilderness, and you'll have access to both Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks - famous for some of the best grizzly bear viewing in Alaska!

  • DAY 1 Anchorage to Stillpoint Lodge| Private Transfer + Water Taxi
  • DAY 2 – 3 Stillpoint Lodge | Freedom of Choice - Choose 2 of 5 Excursions
    Option 1. Fly-out Alaska Brown Bear (Grizzly Bear) Viewing
    Option 2. Freshwater Fishing
    Option 3. Saltwater Fishing Salmon or Halibut
    Option 4. Boat, Hike & Glacier Lake Kayaking
    Option 5. Boat, Bike & Hike Adventure
  • DAY 4 Stillpoint Lodge to Anchorage | Private Transfer

Image Courtesy of Sheldon Chalet

Sheldon Chalet Ultimate Mountain Adventure

7 Days I See full itinerary details

Travel doesn’t come more remote or awe-inspiring than this! Hidden deep in Denali National Park, Sheldon Chalet sits atop an exposed nunatak, combining incredible engineering with indulgent luxury in a once-in-a-lifetime stay. The experience begins before you arrive with a truly breathtaking flight into the park from Talkeetna, offering rarely seen views of the Alaska Range and North America’s highest peak.

  • DAY 1 Anchorage | Arrival
  • DAY 2 Anchorage to Talkeetna | Alaska Railroad | Jet Boat Tour
  • DAY 3 Talkeetna to Sheldon Chalet | Helicopter
  • DAY 4 Denali | Sheldon Chalet
  • DAY 5 Denali | Sheldon Chalet
  • DAY 6 Sheldon Chalet to Anchorage | Helicopter
  • DAY 7 Depart Anchorage

Image Courtesy of Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

5 days I See full itinerary details

Easily accessible via a 40-minute flight from Anchorage, Tordrillo Lodge is a true wilderness retreat. With activities such as heli hiking, glacier hiking and fishing on offer, this is a great base from which the more adventurous can explore Alaska’s great outdoors. If that doesn’t take your fancy, simply unwind on the deck or in the copper hot tub.

  • DAY 1 Anchorage to Tordrillo Mountain Lodge | Floatplane
  • DAYS 2 – 3 Tordrillo Mountain Lodge | Choose 2 of 3 Heli-Adventures
    Option 1. Heli Fishing
    Option 2. Heli Hiking
    Option 3. Heli Rafting
  • DAY 4 Tordrillo Mountain Lodge | Lake Clark National Park Bear Viewing
  • DAY 5 Tordrillo Mountain Lodge to Anchorage | Floatplane

Our Alaska Travel Designers have a wealth of other ideas to offer, so get in touch to discuss your dream trip. To request rates and check for early booking offers, contact us toll free at 1-855-465-1001 or email sales@alaskarail.com and the team will gladly provide you with a free custom quote.

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