As the largest city in Alaska, Anchorage is the perfect place to use as a base for exploring the city itself, as well as for forays deeper into the USA’s wildest state. Expect fractured coastline, wildlife conservation centers, Chugach State Park and a whole host of other excellent nature preserves. Other National Parks – among them Kenai Fjords and Denali – tend to require more than a day trip from Anchorage, but there are plenty of excellent ways to get a taste of the Alaskan wilds without leaving the modern comforts of the city too far behind.
Anchorage day trips vary wildly in terms of duration, itinerary and destination, although all will incorporate some aspect of the city’s surrounding wilderness, which is rugged and inescapable. Large mammals abound in these parts too like caribou and brown bears and the best tours will help you look out for them along the way. Here are five of the best day tours from Anchorage to the surrounding area, taking multiple factors into account, including the value for money, opportunities to see wildlife, comfort of the transportation, and the reviews of previous guests.
From $171/per person
The Turnagain Arm is a waterway branching off from the Cook Inlet that can be found south of Anchorage. The drive along its northern shore offers some spectacular vistas. Better yet, take the train, which follows the same route as the road. This tour offers a round-trip journey from the city to Seward, a small port city. You’ll get the chance to spend around seven hours here, with plenty of boat trips (for an additional fee) to nearby Kenai Fjords National Park available. This tour includes return rail transportation with an on-board tour guide. Food and activity fees in Seward are not included.
From $185/ per person
As the title of this extremely well-liked tour suggests, this day trip indulges in exploring the remarkable natural world that can be easily accessed from Anchorage. During the five-hour tour, expect to see glaciers at various sites, including in Chugach National Forest, receive a free photography lesson, view mountains and all while keeping an eye out for wildlife. You’ll have the chance to see bison, wolves, beluga whales, eagles and brown bears. Tours usually run daily but depend on the weather in winter.
From $205/ per person
Another tour that makes the most of the fantastic natural beauty surrounding Anchorage is this longer, more in-depth option. Over eight hours you’ll head into the Chugach Mountains for panoramic views and be guaranteed of some wildlife encounters at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a refuge for wounded or orphaned animals. In the summer, be sure to look out for Beluga Whales in the Turnagain Arm. Another highlight is the cruise on Portage Lake to see the Portage Glacier.
From $211/ per person
Get out into the Alaskan wilderness on this small-group day trip from Anchorage. With hotel pick-up and drop-off from anywhere in Anchorage, you’ll spend eight hours exploring glaciers and mountain lakes, which includes taking a cruise to the Portage Glacier. Your guide will add local insight, explaining how features like Turnagain Arm were shaped, either slowly or suddenly due to the region’s geological processes. At the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, you’ll get a closer look at big mammals – some of which you may see from afar in the wild – like musk oxen and caribou.
From $337/ per person
Bears, Trains and Icebergs may sound like a sequel to the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but is in fact an excellent tour that focusses on making the transportation as much a part of the tour experience as the destinations. Ride the scenic train from Anchorage to Spencer Glacier, where you’ll have the chance to go paddling in a glacial lake. There will also be time to see bears and other animals at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Unlike the other tours on this list, lunch is included in the price.