From its famous glaciers and northern lights to its abundant wildlife and majestic national parks, Alaska offers so much to see. But navigating its vast landscape can be a challenge without the savvy guidance of a local. After consulting traveler opinion and expert input, U.S. News compiled some of the best Alaska tours to consider when planning your bucket list itinerary. Whether you want to try your hand at dog sledding, fly over Denali or observe bears in their natural habitat, there’s a tour for you. Plus, many tour operators offer round-trip transportation to the various Alaska cruise ports, making these great options if you’re looking for a convenient excursion.
Note: Some tour providers on this list may be running more limited operations due to COVID-19 or may impose testing or vaccine requirements. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
Phillips Cruises – 26 Glacier Cruise
Price: Adults from $179; kids from $90
Duration: 5 hours
Cruise through Prince William Sound and see more than 26 named glaciers aboard a luxurious catamaran as you enjoy narration from the boat’s captain on this tour. With three decks and room for more than 300 people, the catamaran offers both outdoor and indoor viewing options with large panoramic windows. Cruisers also enjoy a hot meal, as well as coffee, tea and water – all complimentary. (Alcoholic drinks are available for purchase.) Reviewers highly recommend this tour, citing the crew’s knowledge and attentiveness to safety, as well as the delicious food, beautiful scenery and ample wildlife sightings.
Ticket prices start at $179 for adults and $90 for kids ages 2 to 11. Infants younger than 2 ride for free. Tours depart at 12:45 p.m. May through October and last five hours. Cruises depart from Whittier, about 60 miles southeast of Anchorage. The company also offers a shorter, four-hour Glacier Quest Cruise that travels through Blackstone Bay and features 10 glaciers.
Ketchikan Kayak Company – Kayak Eco-Tour
Price: From $139
Duration: 4 hours
On this small-group kayak tour with just six tourgoers, you’ll paddle through Clover Pass in Ketchikan, searching for wildlife like humpback whales, seals, sea lions, bald eagles and more. The four-hour tour includes about 2 1/2 hours on the water. Upon returning to the marina, you’ll enjoy smoked salmon and other snacks. Tourgoers say this is a great trip for families to learn about nature, and report seeing lots of amazing animals and sea life. Reviewers also say the kayaking pace is not strenuous.
Ticket prices start at $139 per person; the tour is only open to participants ages 6 and older. Tours run multiple times daily May through early October. The price includes round-trip transportation between the start of the kayak tour (Clover Pass Resort) and the cruise ship docks in in downtown Ketchikan, a city on Revillagigedo Island in southeastern Alaska. This company also runs a combo hike and electric bike tour.
You’ll have the chance to explore a glacier on foot via Alpine Air Alaska’s Glacier Landing Tour.(Courtesy of Alpine Air Alaska)
Alpine Air Alaska – Glacier Landing Tour
Price: From $429
Duration: 1 hour
Spend 60 minutes in a helicopter seeing some of the most beautiful sights in Alaska on Alpine Air Alaska’s Glacier Landing Tour. Limited to six passengers, the tour takes you over multiple glaciers with the chance to spend about 20 minutes exploring one on foot. The company also has a free shuttle service with pickup and drop-off from Girdwood-area accommodations. (Girdwood is about 40 miles southeast of Anchorage.) Reviewers describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and say the scenery is jaw-dropping.
Tickets start at $429 per person, though infants younger than 2 years old sit on an adult’s lap for free. Flights depart daily, year-round at multiple times a day. Alpine Air Alaska offers a variety of flights of differing lengths, as well as a dog-sledding tour, a tour of Prince William Sound and more.
Rust’s Flying Service – Discover Denali National Park
Price: From $445
Duration: 3 hours
Fly from Anchorage with an Alaska bush pilot to see Denali from the skies before landing for a 15- to 20-minute photo-op (weather permitting). On the three-hour flight, you’ll fly over Alaskan wilderness – keeping an eye out for wildlife – to see glaciers, ice falls and lakes. The company also offers a free shuttle to Anchorage-area hotels during the summer months. Tourgoers describe this flight as amazing and highly recommend it, calling it a “must do.”
Tickets start at $445 per person, not including transportation and fuel fees. Tours depart daily; exact departure times vary by day. Rust’s Flying Service also offers tours of Prince William Sound, Anchorage and an Alaska Glacier and Wildlife Tour.
Time your visit for early winter for peak northern lights viewing.Getty Images
Alaska Wildlife Guide – Arctic Circle & Northern Lights Tour
Price: From $260
Duration: 14 hours
Along this 14-hour tour, you’ll cross the Arctic Circle, take in Alaskan scenery and wildlife, and possibly see the northern lights as you make your way to and from Fairbanks aboard a 10-passenger van. The tour offers pickup and drop-off from Fairbanks or North Pole accommodations and includes a bag lunch and a “Cross the Circle” certificate. Reviewers call this tour amazing and praise their tour guides, describing them as knowledgeable and fun.
Tickets start at $260 per person and depart most days (except Sundays) at 2 p.m., returning about 4 a.m. September through mid-April. The company offers a variety of northern lights tours, as well as ice fishing tours, snowmobile excursions and more.
Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service – Fairbanks Snowmobile Tour
Price: From $149
Duration: 1 hour
Explore Fairbanks’ wilderness via snowmobile on this guided small-group trip. Keep an eye out for wildlife like moose, caribou, lynx and more, which you can best spot in the morning hours. Reviewers say that the snowmobiling is lots of fun and that guides are informative and safety conscious.
Ticket prices for one-hour tours start at $149 for single riders or $199 for double riders; you can also opt for a two-hour tour (tickets start at $279). Participants must be at least 5 years old to ride and must have a valid driver’s license to operate the vehicle. Prices include heated helmets, gloves, gaiters, jackets and boots. Tours run November through mid-April at multiple times through the morning and afternoon. This company also offers guided ice fishing tours and dog sled tours.
Keep your eyes peeled for orca whales on Major Marine Tours’ Kenai Fjords National Park cruise.(Courtesy of Major Marine Tours)
Major Marine Tours – 6 Hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise
Price: Adults from $180; kids from $90
Duration: 6 hours
On Major Marine Tours’ most popular cruise, travelers spend six hours in Kenai Fjords National Park, visiting an active tidewater glacier, whale watching, and spotting wildlife like seals, puffins and sea lions. A sandwich lunch is included on the narrated cruise, along with round-trip transportation from Anchorage by train or coach bus. Tourgoers report spotting lots of wildlife and describe the captain and crew as insightful and helpful.
Tickets cost approximately $180 for ages 12 and older, $90 for ages 2 to 11 and are free for children younger than 2. Tours depart at 8 or 11:30 a.m. daily May through mid-September (exact times vary by month). Major Marine Tours operates a variety of cruises within the national park ranging from four hours to more than eight hours.
1st Alaska Tours – 1-Hour Dog Sledding
Price: From $125
Duration: 1 hour
On this one-hour tour, you’ll see the Alaskan wilderness by dog sled, riding with a musher who competed in the Iditarod. Tourgoers describe the experience as fantastic, and highly praise the guides, who ensure participants feel safe. Reviewers also note that they have time to pet and interact with the huskies.
Optional round-trip transportation from Fairbanks accommodations is available for a fee. Tickets for tours without transportation start at $125; tours with transportation cost approximately $170. Both tours include use of a blanket. Tours run several times a day in the morning and afternoon December through March, though specific times vary depending on the month and season. Short on time? You can also book a 30-minute tour.
SkyFire in Focus Tours – Aurora Photography and Viewing Tour
Price: From $249
Duration: 6 hours
Learn how to photograph the otherworldly aurora borealis on this six-hour tour outside of Fairbanks. No photography experience is required and spectators (participants who just want to view the northern lights with no interest in photography) are welcome to join. Reviewers say the tour guide is excellent and extremely helpful. Tourgoers also report capturing great photos.
Tickets start at $249 per person, but those who are not photographing may be eligible for lower rates. You are encouraged to bring your own camera gear, as few sets are available to rent. Hot drinks and round-trip transportation from your Fairbanks hotel are included. Tours run from 9 or 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday from late September through mid-April. The company also offers a Denali Highway photography tour, as well as an Arctic Circle day tour.
Kenai Fjords National Park has a wide variety of rock formations.Getty Images/EyeEm
Kenai Fjords Tours – Kenai Fjords National Park Tour
Price: Adults from $180; kids from $90
Duration: 6 hours
Cruise through Alaskan waterways and glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park, spotting wildlife as you go, on this six-hour tour with lunch included. Passengers describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and praise the reasonable rates and boat amenities. This is a popular trip, so the company recommends securing your spot well in advance.
Tickets cost approximately $180 for participants ages 12 and older and $90 for children 2 to 11. Discounts are available for tickets purchased online in advance. Tours, which depart from Seward, operate May through September daily at 8 or 11:30 a.m., depending on the season. The company also offers a northwestern fjord tour and Resurrection Bay tour, among others.
Juneau Tours – Juneau Whale Watch Tour
Price: Adults from $145; kids from $130
Duration: 3.5 hours
Spend two hours on the water in search of whales, both humpback and orca, in Auke Bay. The tour, which runs for a total of 3 1/2 hours, also includes transportation from Juneau (at the Mount Roberts Tramway) to the harbor. Boats are limited to either 24 or 49 people and are equipped with heated cabins, large windows and open decks. Reviewers say they appreciate being in a small boat, love seeing the whales and give the staff high praise.
Tickets start at $145 for ages 13 and older, $130 for ages 2 to 12 and are free for infants younger than 2. Tours run daily from April through early October in the morning and afternoon. In addition to private whale watching tours, the company also operates seasonal shuttles to Mendenhall Glacier.
Above & Beyond Alaska – Mendenhall Glacier Trek
Price: From $200
Duration: 8 hours
Avid hikers may want to consider this eight-hour tour with Above & Beyond Alaska, which passes through Tongass National Forest to the Mendenhall Glacier. Upon reaching the glacier, you’ll walk along the edge, where ice formations, tunnels and tubes form (for preservation purposes, visitors are not allowed to walk on the glacier). The company warns that this is a strenuous 9-mile hike with steep, uneven terrain. The tour includes round-trip transportation from Juneau as well as all gear, such as trekking poles (note that participants must provide their own boots). Reviewers praise the tour, especially the knowledgeable, safety-conscious guides, and describe the experience as the highlight of their trip.
Tickets cost approximately $200 per person; participants must be at least 10 years old. Tours depart every morning from May through mid-September; exact departure times vary by day. This company also offers a Glacier Paddle Canoe and Trek tour, as well as animal-themed tours.
With the right guide and proper precautions, bear viewing in Alaska is a safe activity.Getty Images
Alaska Bear Adventures – Classic Day Trip
Price: From $825
Duration: 7 hours
Did you know that 95% of brown bears in the United States live in Alaska? If getting close to bears and observing them in their natural habitat is a bucket list adventure for you, consider this tour with Alaska Bear Adventures. The Classic Day Trip departs from Homer Airport with a 45- to 90-minute flight over the Alaskan wilderness before landing on the coast of Katmai and Lake Clark national parks. You then hike to a viewing point and spend up to three hours viewing the bears in the wild. Trips last up to seven hours total. Tour-takers say both the flight and the bear viewing is amazing and absolutely worth the cost. They also highly praise their guides.
Ticket prices start at $825 per person for groups of four or more and $850 per person for groups of up to three. Participants must be at least 10 years old. Tours are offered daily from the end of May through early September typically in the early morning and afternoon based on tides. Short on time? Alaska Bear Adventures also operates a four-hour tour, among other options.
Alaska Tales – Mendenhall Glacier Tours & Whale Watching
Price: Adults from $155; kids from $135
Duration: 4.5 hours
This 4 1/2-hour tour starts with a trip from Juneau to Mendenhall Glacier, where you have 45 minutes to explore the area, possibly taking a hike, visiting Mendenhall Lake or seeing a waterfall. Afterward, you’ll spend two hours whale watching with a naturalist who will explain whale behaviors and answer questions. Reviewers say the tour is amazing, with plenty of time to see everything. What’s more, participants describe guides as excellent and engaging.
Tickets, which include complimentary snacks and drinks, cost around $155 for participants ages 12 and older and $135 for ages 2 to 11; tickets are free for children younger than 2. Tours run daily May through mid-October in the morning and afternoon (exact times vary by day). If you’re short on time, you can also just book a whale watching tour.
Seavey’s Ididaride Sled Dog Tours – Wilderness Dog Sled Ride and Tour
Price: Adults from $99; kids from $50
Duration: 1.5 hour
Have you ever wondered how dogs who compete in the Iditarod race stay in shape in the offseason? Find out on this 90-minute dog sled tour through the Seward wilderness. You’ll ride on one of the company’s summer sleds, which are outfitted with wheels since there’s no snow. As you mush across 2 miles of scenic rainforest, you’ll hear stories from your guide about competing in the legendary race and caring for the animals. Afterward, spend some time in the dog kennels playing with husky puppies. Tourgoers highly praise this excursion, calling guides experienced and the puppies adorable. They also point out there are many great photo-ops.
Tickets start at $99 for ages 13 and older and approximately $50 for ages 2 to 12; children younger than 2 ride for free. Tours run mid-May through mid-September daily at 9 and 11:45 a.m. and at 1:45, 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. (though times may vary by month). The company also offers a day tour of Alaska.
Kayaking on the crystal clear waters of Resurrection Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, according to travelers.(Courtesy of Sunny Cove Kayaking)
Sunny Cove – Resurrection Bay Kayaking
Price: From $110
Duration: 4 hours
This four-hour trip includes 2 1/2 hours of paddling through the turquoise waters of Resurrection Bay, with an opportunity to see otters, harbor seals, eagles and salmon. Depending on the time of year, you may also stop for a short walk on the beach at Tonsina Creek to view spawning salmon (typically between mid-July and early September). Reviewers recommend this trip, assuring it’s suitable for novice kayakers. They also describe the scenery as fantastic and say guides are well-versed in Alaskan wildlife. Many also report spotting whales during their tours.
Tickets cost approximately $110 per person and include round-trip transportation from Seward. Participants must be at least 8 years old. Tours run May through mid-September at 7:30 and 11:30 a.m. daily. Sunny Cove offers many kayaking tours, which include a Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise & Glacier Kayak Combo tour and a Caines Head Kayak and Hike, among others.
K2 Aviation – The Denali Experience
Price: Adults from $230; kids from $180
Duration: 1 hour
On this hourlong flight through Denali National Park, tourgoers fly past the snow-capped summit of Denali (depending on weather conditions), see multiple glaciers, icefalls and other Alaskan scenery. Keep in mind: The plane is small, with seating for 10 or fewer passengers. Reviewers highly praise the staff at K2 Aviation and say the plane ride is smooth with beautiful scenery.
This flightseeing tour costs approximately $230 per person ages 13 and older, $180 for kids ages 3 to 12 and $115 for infants ages 2 and younger. Tours run daily year-round with multiple departures in the morning and afternoon from the village of Talkeetna, which sits about 115 miles north of Anchorage. K2 Aviation also offers this flight with a landing on Denali, as well as other routes through the park, including the Denali Flyer and Denali Grand tours.
Enjoy spectacular views as you raft down the Nenana River with Denali Raft Adventures.(Courtesy of Denali Raft Adventures)
Denali Raft Adventures – Canyon Whitewater Run
Price: From $120
Duration: 3.5 hours
Raft down 11 miles of the Nenana River, tackling Class III and IV rapids (moderate and difficult) on this approximately 3 1/2-hour tour. If you’re a first-timer, consider an oar raft, meaning you can sit, hold on and enjoy the view while the guide paddles. If you’d rather be a more active participant, choose the paddle raft, which means you’ll have to follow the guide’s instructions on when and how to paddle. Tourgoers say this is one of their favorite whitewater trips and note that the company emphasizes safety. They also say guides are fun and adept at navigating the rapids.
Tickets cost approximately $120 per person and include pickup from select Denali accommodations. Participants must be at least 12 years old. Tours run daily from mid-May through early September several times a day. Denali Raft Adventures also operates full-day rafting tours and scenic floats ideal for families.
Anchorage Trolley Tours
Price: Adults from $25; kids from $12.50
Duration: 1 hour
On this one-hour trolley tour of Anchorage, guides will share information about the city while taking you by some of the most scenic views and top attractions like the Alaska Railroad, Earthquake Park and Lake Hood. They’ll also help you keep an eye out for moose. Riders say the tour is a great way to learn about the top sights and the history of the city.
Tickets cost approximately $25 for ages 12 and older, $12.50 for ages 3 to 11 and are free for children younger than 3. Tours run hourly from 9 a.m. to as late as 8 p.m. (depending on the month) from mid-May through approximately the third week of September. If the hourlong ride isn’t enough, the company also operates 90-minute and two-hour trolley tours.
Admire the backcountry wilderness of the Kenai Peninsula on the Coastal Classic train route.(Courtesy of Glenn Aronwits/Alaska Railroad)
Alaska Railroad – Coastal Classic
Price: Adults from $116; kids from $58
Duration: 15 hours
Traveling what is often considered the most beautiful section of the Alaska Railroad, the Coastal Classic train departs from Anchorage, making its way to Seward, passing through the wilderness of the Kenai Peninsula and along Resurrection Bay. With a seven-hour layover in Seward, passengers can spend the time exploring the bay or Kenai Fjords National Park. Reviewers highly recommend the experience, praising the gorgeous scenery and the tasty onboard meal. Many travelers also recommend upgrading to the GoldStar Service fare for the chance to sit in the train cars with glass-dome ceilings and access to the upper level outdoor viewing platforms.
The train runs early May through mid-September with fares starting at $116 for adults and $58 for children ages 2 to 11, depending on the route. Children younger than 2 travel free when sitting on an adult’s lap. Alaska Railroad has five different trains, operating routes between Seward and Fairbanks.
Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour
Price: Adults from $210; kids from $130
Duration: 3 hours
Learn about crab fishing in Alaska from a crew who appeared on “Deadliest Catch” on this three-hour tour. Aboard the Aleutian Ballad, you will get to watch the crew pull in crabs, get a glimpse of the sea creatures that they release back to the ocean and spot wildlife on nearby land. You can even purchase red king crab on board. Tourgoers say this experience is tons of fun and worth the price. They also report seeing lots of bald eagles.
Tickets, which include complimentary beverages, cost approximately $210 for participants ages 13 and older and $130 for kids ages 5 to 12. Travelers must be at least 5 years old to participate. Tours are available most days late April through early October at varying times in the morning and afternoon. Trips depart from Ketchikan. The Aleutian Ballad is docked at the same pier as the cruise ships, meaning additional transportation isn’t necessary.
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