(Planning thread that led to this Trip Report)
Once again, thanks to everyone who offered advice and suggestions relating to this trip and helped to ensure a truly memorable three and a half weeks. It’s a special place, one that presents challenges as well as rewards – it is most definitely frontier country in places – but a state that (finances permitting!) we will return to in the not too distant future.
Despite being pretty seasoned road-trippers (this was our 48th state), I confess that I found the whole concept of planning this visit more than a little daunting. Alaska was completely unknown to us and while this lack of familiarity was part of its appeal, it also meant that we started out with a blank canvas other than the fact that we knew we wanted to see Denali.
So, by way of thanks to those who helped us develop and route and pick out some highlights along the way, and more importantly to create a record of our experiences in case this helps other travellers, I have pulled together a day-by-day diary of our 2019 Alaska Adventure.
One thing to point out first: This trip was planned and executed on the basis of it being a once in a lifetime visit. We were fortunate enough to have built up sufficient cash to do everything we wanted within reason so it ended up being expensive. Very expensive.
It’s certainly possible to do things more economically but be under no illusion. Alaska is not cheap. If you want to be able to travel some of the less well-paved highways, you will need an SUV and you will need permission from your rental company to travel these roads. Most of the usual names do not permit their vehicles to be used on the Denali Highway, the McCarthy Road, the Dalton Highway etc.
As we wanted to visit McCarthy (which can only be reached via a 60 mile gravel road), we booked a Jeep Wrangler 4x4 for three weeks from specialists Alaska 4x4 Rentals and it came to over $4000 (of which nearly $1000 was taxes etc.). You then need to allow for CDW and SLI coverage on top; we arranged ours in the UK through a company called Insurance4carhire .
You can of course forget these roads and do the trip in something standard but a quick look at the Hertz site suggests three weeks in a standard vehicle would have cost us $2600 for a Compact or $3600 for an Intermediate SUV. If it’s going to cost that much anyway, you may feel, as we did, that a few hundred dollars more is a price worth paying for the flexibility to go further afield. As I say, it’s possible to make savings but you’re unlikely ever to think you’ve got a bargain in Alaska.