Camping in Alaska During the Winter With a Rental Car

Are you searching for the ultimate adventure? Whether you’re a thrill seeker looking for a new kind of challenge or an experienced camper ready to check winter camping off your bucket list, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about winter car camping in Alaska.

As a team made up of adventurers, outdoorsy types, and adrenaline junkies alike, we are uniquely qualified to show you the ropes from a local’s perspective. Before you embark on your next (or first!) winter camping adventure, read on for all of our expert tips, tricks, and more.

Why Winter Camping?

If you’ve never been camping during the winter season, it may not sound all that appealing. After all, it’s cold and miserable, right? Actually, not if you plan well. There are plenty of reasons why you should consider winter car camping in Alaska, including:

Kiss the Crowds Goodbye

Once Labor Day hits, the crowds quickly start to clear out of Alaska’s coolest (pun intended) camping spots. Winter is an ideal time to go if you don’t want your scenic camping trip to be diminished by someone else’s crying baby or campfire stories. Of course, there will also be significantly more parking options for your home away from home.

Take in Unique Views

Sure, wildflowers are beautiful. But, have you ever gone leaf-peeping in the Alaskan wilderness? If you plan your camping trip towards the end of fall or early winter, you can catch the tail end of Alaska’s natural fireworks show. And if you’re too late for the changing leaves? Our snow-capped mountains are a pretty phenomenal sight as well.

Go Backcountry Skiing

Take it from us, there’s no better winter camping activity than backcountry skiing or snowboarding. Depending on your campsite location, you can hike, snowshoe, skin, or even helicopter to those coveted untouched slopes and cruise down.

Of course, you will have to take certain precautions beforehand, like getting avalanche certified and investing in backcountry gear.

What You Need

If you want your camping experience to be enjoyable, you’ll need to pack the proper gear. Here is everything you need to go winter car camping in Alaska:

Good Sleeping Gear

Sleeping in the cold is brutal if you aren’t prepared, so your sleeping equipment is your best friend. Therefore, you shouldn’t skimp on it! I recommend getting a mummy-style sleeping bag (meaning it covers your head) that is rated to -20°F.

If you need some inspiration, Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost sleeping bag or Western Mountaineering’s Lynx sleeping bag are some of our favorites.

Additionally, we recommend packing a comfortable sleeping pad to place below your bag. Not only will this make your slumber a tad comfier, but it can act as another barrier against the cold. Another thing to consider is a sleeping bag liner, as it can increase the interior temperature of your bag by 10°F or so.

Means of Condensation Management

If you aren’t already familiar, tent condensation manifests as a thin layer of frost covering the inside of your tent. It also consists of moisture droplets that transfer onto your clothing and gear. As you can imagine, this is less than ideal for winter camping in Alaska.

The best way to prevent tent condensation is to help it escape by venting your tent. To do this, opt for a tent that has both a front door and an interior bug screen. You can completely unzip the outer door (which allows condensation to escape) while keeping the bug screen closed (which prevents snow from entering).

Ways to Generate Heat

The final way to stay warm during your winter car camping trip is to generate your own heat. Stuffing hand or foot warmers into your sleeping bag is a good start. However, if you don’t have any on hand (pun intended), heating a plastic water bottle will do the trick.

Since you are car camping (as opposed to backpacking), you have the luxury of packing heavier items for the trek. Therefore, bringing a propane heater or electric space heater might be worth the investment. You can also invest in candle lanterns, which provide both light and warmth.

Best Alaskan Car Rentals for Winter Camping

Planning to go winter car camping in Alaska this year? The most important thing you’ll need is a vehicle that has been prepped for driving in snow and ice. Because most people travel to Alaska by plane, renting a car from a reputable agency is your best bet.

Avis Alaska is the only statewide car rental agency, and we boast some of the best options for car camping. Not only does our team know which cars are best suited for Alaska’s varying terrain, but our flexible drop-off/pick-up policy makes trip planning a breeze.  Give us a call to make your car camping dreams a reality this winter season!

Top 10 Things to Do in Fairbanks

The city of Fairbanks is an ideal base for those seeking an authentic taste of life in Alaska. From there you can embark on wilderness tours in winter that include everything from dog sledding and ice fishing to viewing the aurora borealis. Several state parks in the area offer fun outdoor adventures year-round, as well as summer festivals for families. Whether you have just one day for Fairbanks activities or a long weekend, there are plenty of things to do:

1. Chena River State Recreation Area

This nearly 400-square-mile recreational area is located along the Chena River and offers authentic Alaskan outdoor adventures year-round. You can see an abundance of wildlife here including beavers, eagles, moose, wolves, and sometimes grizzly bears. Enjoy summer hikes in Fairbanks, catch-and-release fishing, rock climbing and camping. Fairbanks winter activities include skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling and more. Adults will love soaking in Chena Hot Springs to soothe sore muscles after an active day. Red Squirrel, Rosehip, and Tors Trail Campground Areas offer overnight stays. Address: 3700 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99709. Phone: (907) 451-2705.  

2. Pioneer Park

For families who arrive in Fairbanks during the summer, you’ll definitely want to visit Pioneer Park. It’s a theme park with historical features, offering kids a fun-filled day out. There are 15 educational and cultural attractions, including four museums, a mini golf course, playground, a carousel, and Mining Valley, a mock gold rush town. Families can attend performances at the Palace Theater and dine at the Alaskan Salmon Bake. Gazebo Nights is a concert series that adds music during the summer. Pioneer park is free to visitors and open year round, although many attractions are closed during winter. This offers a full day of Fairbanks summer activities for families. Address: 2300 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99701. Phone(907) 459-1087.

3. Fairbanks Autumn/Winter City Tour

This half-day tour is a must if you really want to experience Alaska’s culture and history. The tour includes the Santa Clause House in North Pole, Alaska, which all kids love, the Alyeska Pipeline Viewing Point where visitors learn about the amazing engineering feat of building the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. You’ll also go to the Morris Thompson Cultural Museum, with an array of fascinating exhibits. Mon-Sat the tour visits the Museum of the North, and on Sundays it goes to the Antique Auto Museum, which everyone loves. This offers a half day of Fairbanks activities for families year-round. Book through 1st Alaska Tours at https://1stalaskatours.com or phone (907) 590-5900.

4. Guided Fishing Excursion in Fairbanks (Full-Day)

If you feel like casting your rod for Arctic grayling, northern pike and other fish, this full day of fishing won’t disappoint. You’ll have your own guide who knows all the best spots along the Chena River. As a bonus you will learn special techniques and how to use both fly and spinning rods. Spend the day relaxing in the beautiful Alaskan outdoors and enjoy a tasty lunch on shore. This is a full day of Fairbanks activities year-round. Book through 1st Alaska Tours at https://1stalaskatours.com or phone (907) 590-5900.

5. Running Reindeer Ranch

Running Reindeer Ranch is located in the boreal forest of Goldstream Valley, north of Fairbanks. This is a private family ranch that allows visitors to mingle with reindeer, take photos and even pet them. Adding to the excitement, the owners have a lot to say about each member of their herd. It’s cold during winter, so make sure you are dressed warmly. Once you’re finished mingling with the reindeer, you are welcome to enter the Farmhouse for homemade cookies, and a drink. This is a daytime Fairbanks activity for families year-round. Address: 1470 Ivans Alley, Fairbanks, AK 99709. Phone(907) 455-4998.

6. Face the Outdoors: Aurora Viewing in Private Log Home

When visiting Alaska you shouldn’t miss the aurora borealis. Instead of being out on a cold winter night, why not enjoy the experience in the comfort of a private cedar log house located in Alaska’s interior? Groups of no more than 10 are transported from the crowds of Fairbanks to witness this amazing natural phenomena under the dark skies of Delta Junction. This is an extended stay Fairbanks winter activity for groups. Address: 763 Warren Way Suite 1586, Delta Junction, AK 99737. Phone(907) 590-1567

7. Dog Sledding & Mushing Experience

Enjoy the thrill of traveling on a dogsled like a native Alaskan. You and your party will hold on tightly while being towed by a mushing team of Alaskan Huskies on five miles of snowy trails 20 minutes from Fairbanks in North Pole, Alaska. You can make voice commands from the rear of the sled and take photos afterward while petting the Huskies. This Fairbanks winter activity varies from 30 minutes to 4 hours. Book through Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service at 3355 Repp Rd., North Pole, AK 99705. Phone: (907) 378-1851.

8. Santa Claus House in the North Pole

Santa Claus House is in North Pole, Alaska, a charming town just outside Fairbanks, “Where it’s Christmas Every Day” and where Santa and Mrs. Claus live. The streets are lined with jumbo candy canes and other Christmas decorations. Meet Santa inside his house and shop for holiday gifts. This is a daytime Fairbanks activity year-round for families. Address: 101 St. Nicholas Dr. North PoleAlaska 99705. Phone: (907) 488-2200 and Toll Free: (800) 588-4078. 

9. Ice Fishing Expedition in Heated Cabin with Fish Cookout

This experience is unlike any other fishing trip you’ve ever been on. You’ll be taken to a nice warm cabin located in a remote area a short distance from Fairbanks. Your guide will get your fishing gear all set up while giving you tips to make sure you actually catch some fish. You’ll also enjoy hot chocolate and a fish cookout that includes reindeer sausage. This is a half-day Fairbanks winter activity. Book through Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service at 3355 Repp Rd., North Pole, AK 99705. Phone: (907) 378-1851.

    10. Borealis Basecamp Igloo Experience

Where else but Borealis Basecamp can you spend the night in an authentic Alaskan igloo? These igloos have plenty of room inside for relaxing while viewing the aurora borealis. Beds are comfy cozy with luxurious bedding for a night of snuggling while gazing up at a star-filled Arctic ski through a huge 12-foot clear ceiling that lets in plenty of light during the day. Guests can dine at Latitude 65, an onsite restaurant. Packages and activities are available from 1 to 4 nights winter only. Address: 2640 Himalaya Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99712. Phone(907) 885-2845.

April in Alaska: Tips, Trips, and the Transition

April in Alaska is a beautiful time of year when the landscape comes back to life after a long and dark winter. The weather begins to warm up, the days start getting longer, and travelers can enjoy the breathtaking scenery without all the crowds of peak season.

If you’re considering visiting Alaska in April, aka “break-up season” if you’re chatting with a local, allow us to break down everything you’ll need to know. In this guide to April in Alaska, our travel experts are sharing insights on what to expect, how to prepare, and how to make the most of your next great Alaskan adventure. 

What is the Break-Up Season in Alaska? 

April in Alaska is not quite spring, but it’s no longer a true winter. During this time of year, many of our frozen lakes and snowfall begin to melt. As you can probably imagine, this causes an abundance of slush and ice that litter the roadways around Alaska. Many of the locals call this time “break-up season” because it’s the time when we slowly break up with the winter season and prepare for the warmer, sunnier springtime. 

So, what does this mean for April tourists? Be ready for anything. We recommend packing plenty of layers and stocking your Alaskan car rental with both a winter emergency kit (temperatures can still drop pretty low at night) and a spring rain jacket. If you plan on hiking, stow a pair of winter-safe shoes with good tread alongside your sneakers and sunglasses. 

When driving in April in Alaska, always exercise caution. It’s easy to become overly confident behind the wheel during the changing seasons (which is true whether you’re renting a car in Alaska or Oklahoma). However, we strongly advise you to remain vigilant, drive slowly, and anticipate slippery sections of roadway. 

Our top piece of advice is to drive with the same caution as you would if the roads were iced over—because they might be! 

April in Alaska Tourism

When you visit Alaska in April, don’t expect a bustling tour scene. Many tourism companies choose to close up shop during the winter months and stay closed until May, which is when many tourists start to return. 

While you might be able to catch the tail-end of winter touring season for some companies, you will have more options for touring if you wait until springtime is in full swing. That being said, there’s still plenty to do and see on an April in Alaska trip that wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding during peak season when all the crowds come in.

Springtime Outdoor Recreation in Alaska

Alaska weather in April is somewhat of a catch-all, which means there are plenty of outdoor recreational activities to explore. While winter activities like ice fishing and skiing are still usually in session, traditional fishing exhibitions are also starting to kick off. April in Alaska is the perfect time to start fishing for halibut and cod—and you won’t have to sit in a warmed-up hut to do it! 

Because the lakes are starting to melt, we recommend staying off the ice for your fishing endeavors (unless you’re accompanied by local professionals). It’s important to remember that just because the ice looks thick, that doesn’t mean it is. Spoiler alert:  breaking through sheet ice is just about as fun as you can imagine.

Sometimes, April tourists make the mistake of assuming that all winter sports are viable options just because many of the ski resorts are still open. While you might get lucky and encounter some fresh powder in April, it likely won’t be enough snow to bring your snow-shoeing dreams to life. Stay open-minded and embrace whichever activities come with the weather that April in Alaska chooses to bring you. 

Traveling to Alaska in April 

Wondering if you should you travel to Alaska in April? Truthfully, it’s all a matter of personal preference. While you might not make a skiing trip out of it, touring Alaska in April is still a worthwhile experience. In addition to the vast array of scenic trails, vibrant cities like Anchorage will offer plenty of shows to see, museums to visit, and local bites to enjoy. 

No matter when you plan on visiting, renting an Alaskan car rental will help you make the most of your experience. Not only will it ensure that you’re able to visit the incredible national parks, hiking trails, and excursions that Alaska has to offer, but you will be prepared to navigate any kind of weather that the Last Frontier throws your way. 
If you’re looking for the best car rentals in Alaska, look no further than Avis Alaska. As the only statewide car rental agency, we have spent the last 60 years helping travelers explore all that this magical state has to offer. Contact our team to book your Alaskan car rental today.

SUV vs. Sedan: Which is Best for Winter?

With temperatures regularly dropping below 0°F and snowfall a common occurrence, Alaskan winters can be brutal on drivers. If you’re planning a trip to Alaska during the winter season, choosing the right car is essential. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know which winter Alaska car rental is right for you?

In this guide on choosing the car rental that works best in winter, our Avis experts are breaking down everything you need to know before deciding between an SUV or a sedan. Stay tuned to find out what to look for and how to choose the best car for winter drives.

AWD vs 4WD vs 2WD

Vehicles with different drivetrain configurations have distinct differences in the way they drive and the conditions they are best suited for. AWD, or all-wheel drive, allows for the ability to provide maximum forward traction during acceleration. This system is helpful when driving in poor road conditions caused by heavy snow and ice. When an axle detects slippage, the system diverts power to the other axle to regain traction. AWD is most commonly found in SUVs, but is also present in certain types of cars and vans.

While the terms 4WD and AWD are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two systems. In most cases, 4WD (four-wheel drive) systems are designed for extreme off-roading drives like climbing up steep hills and through deep waters. This type of system typically uses a heavy-duty transfer case with a high and low gear range. For the average driver, 4WD vehicles function at a level that generally isn’t necessary.

2WD, or two-wheel drive, is the standard system on most passenger vehicles. This system is lighter and more fuel-efficient, as the engine sends power to two wheels at a time while allowing the others to spin. This type of system is best for operating a vehicle in mild weather conditions and can handle rain or very light slow. When it comes to driving in Alaska during the winter, AWD/4WD vehicles offer levels of traction control and acceleration that 2WD vehicles cannot compete with.

SUV For Winter Driving

When choosing the right winter Alaska car rental for you, it’s important to consider your needs. Do you plan on engaging in winter sports? Are you traveling with children? Are you on a tight budget? Keep in mind that not all SUVs are created equal.

If you require plenty of cargo space for equipment, a full-size SUV might work best. Otherwise, you would likely be better off with a mid-sized SUV. If you’re traveling with children and want to opt for the safer route but don’t have much cargo to worry about, a crossover would be a smart choice. Here are the pros and cons of SUVs to consider.

Advantages of SUV

  • Enhanced sense of safety and security
  • Better traction control
  • 4WD/AWD offers quicker acceleration
  • Additional cargo space
  • Better collision protection

Disadvantages of SUV

  • Decreased fuel efficiency
  • Increased stopping time

Sedan For Winter Driving

If you’re traveling solo or with another adult and don’t have any large cargo to haul around, a sedan is a solid choice for your winter Alaska car rental. This option would allow you to save money and stop for gas less frequently but would require extra care on the driver’s part to guarantee your safety. Here are the pros and cons of sedans to consider before choosing the rental car that works best in winter for your needs.

Advantages of Sedans

  • Increased fuel efficiency
  • Reduced stopping time
  • More cost-effective

Disadvantages of Sedans

  • Reduced traction control
  • 2WD cars have slower acceleration
  • Less cargo space
  • Reduced collision protection

SUV vs Sedan FAQs

Which is better: AWD or 4WD?

AWD and 4WD vehicles are both great options for Alaska car rentals during the winter months. While vehicles with 4WD are more capable of maneuvering extreme road conditions, an AWD vehicle will work just fine for the average driver looking to get around.

What are the best sedans for snow?

If you opt for a sedan car rental, it’s best to choose one with an AWD system that can handle snow. Vehicle makes like Nissan, Volvo, Subaru, Acura, and Mazda all offer some of the best AWD sedans available on the market. Contact our team to speak with an expert about the best AWD sedans in our Avis fleet.

What is the best SUV for snow?

Any of the 4WD/AWD SUVs in our fleet would be great options for your winter Alaska car rental. Vehicles with these types of drivetrains are best suited for maneuvering through snow, which is a necessity when driving in Alaska during the winter months. We offer a wide range of safe and comfortable vehicles that allow you to make the most out of your Alaskan experience. Stay safe this winter and reserve your rental today with Avis Alaska.

Renting A Car in the Last Frontier State: The Ultimate Guide

Alaska is known for its rugged mountains, breathtaking natural beauty, and abundant wildlife. Those alone make it a bucket list destination for travelers around the world. As the largest state in the country, navigating the Last Frontier can be tricky for even the most seasoned adventurers. Renting a car is essential for making the most of your trip to Alaska.

In this comprehensive guide to renting a car in Alaska, we explore everything you need to know before your visit. With over 60 years of experience in Alaskan car rentals, we have heard just about every question imaginable. So today, we’re covering it all.

By the time you finish reading, you will have everything you need to explore Alaska by rental car with confidence. We will discuss tips on how to save money renting a car and the best time to visit Anchorage. So, stay tuned to learn all about renting a car in the Last Frontier State. Now, let’s talk logistics.

How to Get Around Anchorage, AK

If it is your first time exploring the Last Frontier state, we recommend starting with Anchorage. Whether you’re traveling to Alaska with family or living it up on a solo adventure, Anchorage offers plenty to do and see for every type of traveler.

As Alaska’s largest and most populous city, Anchorage combines the otherworldly beauty Alaska is known for with all the comforts of home. With that said, Anchorage is extremely accessible. If you’re traveling to Anchorage by plane, there’s no need to worry about whether you will have transportation options.

From the Anchorage Trolley Tours to the Alaska Railroad to helicopter tours, there are several ways to explore this popular city. However, if you want the freedom to explore Alaska the way you want, traveling by car is the best way to go. Not only are there many must-see destinations that are only accessible by car, but opting for a rental car provides you with the freedom and reliability that other transportation methods do not.

Why Travel Alaska By Car?

Renting a car in Alaska is the easiest and most affordable way to see the full spectrum of beauty that this scenic state holds. The Last Frontier is home to many hidden gems that you can’t access by public transportation, which means your journey would only go as far as the train or People Mover allows.

Rental cars also provide travelers with a level of flexibility that just is not possible with public transit. You will never have to worry about rushing to catch the bus or having to leave a hotspot before you’re ready. With a rental car, you can experience the rugged landscapes at your leisure, with the freedom to linger and soak it all up.

Many of our customers ask us ‘is renting a car in Alaska more expensive than taking the train?’ and every time we are pleased to tell them that no, it is not. Traveling in Alaska by train is not cheap, especially for large groups, and takes significantly longer to reach your destinations. Not only that, but traveling by train also means you would need to find secondary transportation upon arrival—either by taxi, bus, or traveling on foot—making a rental car the easier and more budget-friendly option.

Things To Know About Renting a Car in Anchorage, AK

As you can imagine, driving around Anchorage (or anywhere in Alaska, for that matter), is quite different than driving in the continental United States. To make things easier and prevent a culture shock, here are some tips for exploring Alaska by car:

  • Watch for wildlife. Much of the Alaskan landscape is undeveloped and untouched. Therefore, you will likely be sharing the roads with a variety of wildlife. Bears and moose can be found roaming near Alaskan roadways, so stay vigilant as you take in the beauty of your surroundings.
  • Take the road less traveled. Alaska is teeming with nooks and crannies that are worth checking out. Therefore, we encourage you to take full advantage of the freedom your rental car provides and travel off the beaten path. Spend a day exploring one of the many must-see small towns that are located just a short distance from the highway. During your adventures, keep in mind that most Alaska car rental agencies require that rental cars be driven only on paved surfaces.
  • Take your time. Whenever you’re driving somewhere unfamiliar, it’s important to take your time. The terrain will likely be different from what you’re used to, but highway construction, camping on the sides of the roadway, and fishermen are all commonalities in Alaska.
  • Prepare for a long ride. Alaska is a massive state (think: three times the size of Texas) with sights that are incredibly spread out. So, prepare yourself for longer-than-usual car rides and appreciate the journey. We recommend packing snacks, filling up on gas first, and downloading your favorite road tunes.
  • Pack a map. Most of the tourists that visit Alaska keep a map with them, and for good reason! While cell phone coverage is fairly dependable throughout major towns and cities, it can become spotty in the more remote areas.

How to Save Money on Your Car Rentals in Alaska

As with anywhere, renting a car for an extended period can become costly if you don’t adequately prepare. Whether you’re renting a car for the long haul or simply looking to cut costs for a day or two of your trip to Alaska, here are some ways to save money on your Alaskan car rental:

  • Visit during the off-season. Planning a trip to Alaska in May or September will cost far less than it would in the middle of peak season (summer and/or winter).
  • Reserve in advance. Rental car rates tend to increase as you grow closer to your travel date, especially during peak season. Therefore, booking your rentals in advance is much more affordable than booking the week or day of.
  • Check back frequently. Most Alaska car rental company prices fluctuate throughout the day. Therefore, if something is out of your price range in the morning, check back later that afternoon—the price very well may have dropped. 
  • Don’t rent at the airport. You can often avoid airport surcharge fees by renting directly from the websites of local agencies, so make sure to do your research before the trip.

Best Things To Do in Anchorage, AK

Now that you have learned more about renting a car in Alaska, it’s time to for the exciting part—planning your Anchorage travel itinerary! Need some help? Here are some of the best things to do in Anchorage for families and solo travelers alike:

  1. Visit the glaciers. No trip to Alaska would be complete without seeing these natural wonders for yourself. Portage Glacier, one of Alaska’s most popular attractions, is accessible to all and is located just a short drive away from Anchorage.
  2. See the Northern Lights. If you visit between September and April, you can catch a glimpse of the iconic Northern Lights. Looking for a place to watch from? Eklutna Tailrace, Girdwood, and the Knik River area are all terrific options just outside of Anchorage.
  3. Bask in the midnight sun. From late March to late September, Anchorage has more daylight than anywhere else in the United States. That means plenty of time to hop in the car for an evening hike or bike ride with the kids.
  4. Visit national parks. Alaska is home to some of the most iconic national parks in the country. As the gateway to Alaska adventure, Anchorage is just a short drive away from Denali National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park.
  5. Browse the local art scene. There’s no denying that Anchorage knows how to put on a show. Alaska’s most populated city is full of art galleries, concert venues, and creative displays that are well worth a visit. While the downtown area is fairly walkable, keep in mind it can get quite chilly during the winter months.
  6. Go flightseeing. Anchorage offers tons of flightseeing tours to destinations that will take your breath away. Given that Alaska has the highest aviation rates in the country, it is no surprise there are many commercial flying services ready to fly you to those once-in-a-lifetime places.
  7. Try kayaking or paddleboarding. Eklutna Lake is great for exploring via kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard, and is located just a short drive from downtown Anchorage. For those who want to stay on land, Eklutna Lake also has fantastic options for biking and hiking.
  8. Go dog sledding. Anchorage is the perfect destination for crossing that dog sled adventure off your bucket list. While dog sledding peaks in the winter, summer dog sledding is available for those willing to head north to find snow.
  9. Visit the gardens. Anchorage flourishes in the summertime, and we mean that in the most literal sense. The “City of Lights and Flowers” is home to 80,000 flowers in 460 flower beds. To check out some eye-catching flora and fauna, Town Square Park and the Log Cabin Visitor Information Center are two of the local favorites.

Best Time To Visit Anchorage, AK

While there are perks to visiting Anchorage year-round, the best time to visit Anchorage really depends on your personal preference. To decide when to plan your trip, here’s a glimpse of what to expect during each season in Alaska.

  • Spring: In Alaska, spotting grey whales is often the first sign of spring. So, if you’re interested in embarking on a whale-watching cruise, spring is the perfect time to visit.
  • Summer: Because the sun rarely sets during the summer months, this time of year is ideal for outdoor adventures like fishing, kayaking, hiking, and biking.
  • Autumn: If you hope to see the Northern lights, then plan to visit Anchorage during the fall months. Hiking and biking are still enjoyable, and you can often find deals on accommodations and airfare.
  • Winter: If you’re a ski bum, then winter in Anchorage is your season. Alyeska Resort is Alaska’s premier ski resort and it’s right outside of Anchorage. The Arctic Valley and Hilltop ski areas are also located nearby.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s):

Still have a few unanswered questions about renting a car in Alaska? Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we are asked at Avis Alaska.

Can you Uber in Alaska?

Uber and Lyft recently made their way onto Alaskan roads. However, these rideshare services are not available everywhere. Before embarking on your trip to Alaska, it is always a good idea to research whether rideshares are readily available in the city you plan on traveling to.

Is it difficult to rent a car in Alaska?

Contrary to what some might believe, it is not at all difficult to rent a car in Alaska. Because most tourists arrive by airplane, there are plenty of rental car companies available. All you have to do is choose the one that best suits your travel needs.

Can you rent one-way cars in Alaska?

If you’re planning a one-way road trip in Alaska, you can rent a one-way car from most agencies. Many of the local rental agencies have offices in all major cities. This means you can rent a car in Anchorage and drop it off in Fairbanks (for example). Just keep in mind this is often a more expensive option.

How are the highways in Alaska?

Just like in the lower 48 states, the highways in Alaska are well-maintained and very drivable. However, be mindful that speed limit is typically around 55 miles per hour or less. Similar to other states, highway construction occurs seasonally, but it is manageable as long as you are cautious on the road.

Renting A Car in Anchorage, AK

Anchorage holds a high-ranking spot on the bucket lists of adventurers from all over for many reasons. Whether you’re planning to summit Denali, bask in the midnight sun, or enjoy mouthwatering local cuisine, Anchorage has something for every traveler.

No matter what your trip holds, renting a car is the best way to ensure that it goes smoothly. Experience the icy blue glaciers and arctic plains in all their glory by traveling with a reliable and affordable rental. With all the amazing things to do in Alaska, don’t underestimate having dependable transportation to get you around. For more advice on renting a car in Alaska (including where to go and what to do), contact our team at Avis Alaska. We look forward to welcoming you to the Last Frontier and can’t wait to help make your journey one you will treasure for a lifetime.

What to Do in Your Alaska Winter Car Rentals During an Earthquake

With the number of earthquakes in recent years, we decided it might be best to help out our Alaska winter car rentals clients. If you don’t come from a place that is earthquake-prone, the thought of tremors can be nerve-wracking. However, not all earthquakes cause damage and those that do, don’t have to be fatal. In fact, some quakes are quite small. You may not even feel them!

But in the event of a larger quake, it is important to know what to do. Have an action plan, and make sure everyone you’re traveling with knows about it. Whether you’re out and about in your Alaska winter car rentals or just having a relaxing night in, here’s how to behave during an earthquake.

When driving your Alaska winter car rentals

It’s not uncommon for motorists to miss earthquakes. They’re often so subtle that the movement of the vehicle disguises it.

However, if you do feel an earthquake while driving, the first thing you need to do is stop the vehicle. Pull over into a safe area as fast as possible – this may even just be the side of the highway.

It’s important to remember to watch for power lines, bridges, and any other structures that could potentially fall in a quake. Avoid parking near these. If possible, a wide open space is best.

Finally, stay in your Alaska winter car rentals. Don’t get out of the car during the quake for any reason. Turn on the radio to wait for updates on the quake. And when the quake is finally finished, make sure to be careful of aftershocks – you may even want to wait 10 minutes before driving off again.

If in the great outdoors

If you’re out and about on foot when an earthquake strikes, the action plan is much similar to that of driving. Stay still, and avoid being close to any structures that could fall or collapse. This includes buildings and trees, as well. Remember that being near a building is your most dangerous spot, even in the exits. So stay in the open and wait until the quake is over.

If indoors

If you’re inside when the earthquake strikes, there are a few things you can do to make sure you and your family stay safe. While most people have heard the old tale about staying in doorways, this isn’t necessarily true anymore. For older houses, perhaps it may still be your best bet. But newer houses are built stronger than they used to be, and the rest of the house is often just as safe as a doorway.

What to avoid: lighting fixtures, furniture that could fall, glass, windows, outside doors, walls, and elevators. Never use an elevator in an earthquake.

If you’re already in bed, it’s best to stay there unless there’s a heavy lighting fixture overhead that could drop. Otherwise, stay in bed, and keep a pillow over your head for protection.

If you’re not in bed, take cover under a sturdy table, desk, or other furniture that is unlikely to collapse. This will keep you safe from falling debris. Stay in your safe spot until the quake finishes.

If you don’t have a sturdy piece of furniture nearby, then your next safe spot is an inside corner. Crouch in here and cover your head.

Remember that it’s always best to stay still during a quake. Don’t move about unless absolutely necessary and always protect your head. Be prepared for aftershocks.

Finally, make sure to clean up any chemicals or hazardous materials that may have spilled during the quake. It’s good to do a once over in the building following a quake.

For safe, reliable vehicles that can transport you through the state without a care, reserve your Alaska winter car rentals from Avis today.

See Alaska’s Glaciers in Your Alaska Winter Car Rentals

Anyone who has been around the state in their Alaska winter car rentals knows that the Alaskan landscape is absolutely incredible. It has a haunting kind of beauty that stays with you for life, even long after you’ve left.

The glaciers, undeniably, are a major contributor to that everlasting feeling of beauty. If you’ve never seen a glacier before, you’re in for a treat. You’ll never forget the first time you view one, and chances are, you’ll want to go back for more.

But how can you see Alaska’s glaciers? By foot, by Alaska winter car rentals, or by boat! The way you choose to get there is entirely up to you and your preferences, but there are plenty of options. You can go solo or in a guided tour, of which there are plenty. Here are just a few.

See the glaciers from the air

Seeing the glaciers by air offers a truly unique experience. While you won’t be able to get up close and personal with the calving, you’ll get a better idea of the sheer size of these edifices. The glaciers are, after all, enormous. And seeing them by foot or boat doesn’t quite offer the same indication of their size.

Piedmont glaciers are the best ones to see by air. These can be found in Southeast Alaska and offer a fan-like spray of rock and ice across the base of the mountain range. By plane, you’ll be able to see the full extent of the formation.

By land

While you certainly can’t take your Alaska winter car rentals up on the glaciers, you can still see them by motor on land. ATV tours offer you the chance to glide over the glaciers and to see them intimately.

Of course, you can also hike the glaciers as well. You’ll never see anything quite like them or have a hike that is nearly as beautiful. Make sure to bundle up and bring a guide. It’s best to never hike the glaciers alone. But since you’re unfamiliar with the terrain, guided hiking tours are really your best bet for seeing the ice caves and glaciers.

By water

One of our favorite ways to see the glaciers is by water. There are several cruise options that go along the shoreline to let passengers see tidewater glaciers. You’ll be able to actually witness as parts of the glacier break off and drift into the ocean. The cracking of the glacier is loud enough to hear and is a sound that you’ll definitely remember forever.

Another benefit of seeing the glacier by kayak or cruise is the number of marine animals you’ll catch sight of. Sea otters, harbor seals, marine birds, even a whale or two if you’re lucky! These beautiful creatures truly round out the trip.

Combining Alaskan favorites

If you want to take part in one of Alaska’s traditional pastimes when seeing the glaciers, then the dogsled tour is the one for you. However, you’ll have to wait until the spring for this one. The dogsled tour only runs in the summer. But it’s worth the wait! And you may want to book early. You’ll often have a chance to see moose, Dall sheep, black bears, and mountain goats while sledding up to see Colony Glacier.

As mentioned, it’s best to book ahead. There is a range of tour options, and with early booking you’ll have the full range to choose from on your specified dates. This definitely isn’t one you’ll want to miss!

Book your Alaska winter car rentals from Avis today to ensure you have transportation when you want to see our great state’s glaciers!

Take Your Alaska SUV Rentals to See the Northern Lights!

Alaska is known for stunning views – but not just on land. The Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, offer a spectacular light show to anyone willing to stay up to watch it. While the best times are in September and March, you will still be able to take your Alaska SUV rentals out to see the lights.

If you don’t want to go on a random chase, then guided tours to the lights may be your best bet. However, you’ll want to bundle up and bring along a little energy! This certainly isn’t a day trip.

When to see the lights

As mentioned, September and March are the best months. This is because the Earth is tilted at just the right angle in relation to the Sun to make the lights clearer and stronger. However, you’ll still get a chance to see them during other months of the winter, from mid-September to late April.

The best nights to take your Alaska SUV rentals are those with clear skies. Aim for between 10 pm and 2 am, as around midnight is the best time to see the lights. Like we said – you’ll want to bring some energizer with you!

On an inland plain or mountaintop will suit best. You want to avoid light pollution when hunting for the Northern Lights. This includes light from the moon. Odd as it may seem, overly bright light from the moon can wash out the Northern Lights to the point where you will barely be able to see them.

It’s best to go a minimum of a week before or after the full moon, and certainly not during the days the moon is at its fullest.

Where to see the Aurora

The further north you go, the easier it will be to see the lights. The best latitude for Aurora Borealis viewings is between 65° north and 70° north. Head to remote northern regions to get the best experience. In fact, you may even want to cross the border into Canada. Coldfoot in Yukon Territory will offer stunning views of the lights and landscape.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to get out of urban areas. Even the smaller towns and villages of Alaska have some light pollution, and leaving their outer limits will allow you the most promising view of the lights.

If you want to stay in America, you can see the lights near Fairbanks, Barrow, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. While other places will offer you glimpses of the light show, these regions will provide the most likely clear view. They also offer the benefit of plenty of daytime activities to enjoy! Glaciers, rafting, fishing, hiking, tours of historic places, and more are on offer in these towns.

Take a Guided Tour

If you’d rather not take your Alaska SUV rentals out by yourself to find the lights, there are tours you can join. Which one you join will depend on your own preference. But there are plenty on offer that span from just a single day to several days and include other opportunities like a dip in Chena Hot Springs. Here is a good place to look at which tour might be best for you.

What to bring

It’s important that you bundle up and bring extra blankets in your Alaska SUV rentals. Alaska gets cold in the winter, and sitting for long periods of time waiting for the lights can get mighty chilly. Bring extra blankets to bundle under, and even a heating candle if you want extra assurance. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to bring along some cocoa and broth in thermoses!

No Northern Light trip is complete without the perfect Alaska SUV rentals. Reserve yours from Avis today.

Experience a Uniquely Alaskan Thanksgiving

The holiday season is here! It’s one of the best times of the year in Alaska. Between the hunts, the snow sports, the stunning vistas, and now – getting to enjoy all of this with good holiday food and family! There’s plenty going on across the state for Thanksgiving, and after that, Christmas. All you need is your Alaska car rentals and you’ll be set!

Great Alaska Shootout

What are the holidays without a little sport? Of course, most people will be watching football but there’s also the Great Alaska Shootout which is always worth it to see. The Shootout is hosted by the University of Alaska Anchorage over Thanksgiving week. The week is all about showing off college basketball stars, as they compete with one another in one of America’s longest-running college basketball tournaments.

And like most college sports, the energy is always high! It’s a great atmosphere and some amazing athletics will be shown off.

Tree Lighting Ceremony

The Tree Lighting Ceremony is a tradition that many American towns have. It’s always a beautiful, magical night that can get the whole family interested. This year, the Anchorage Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Friday, November 25 in Town Square Park.

Make sure to back plenty of blankets in your Alaska car rentals, though! It might be a chilly one. And hot cocoa never hurts! Kids will also love to see Santa and his reindeer there to celebrate the ceremony.

Reserve a table

Whether you’re a local or just visiting, it can be nice to take a break from chores for the holidays. Why not reserve a table for a restaurant Thanksgiving instead of cooking? There are plenty of places across Anchorage that are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. You’ll definitely want to make reservations though!

Some of these include Anchorage Marriott Downtown, Embassy Suites, Hotel Captain Cook, Sheraton Anchorage, Lakefront Anchorage, and Westmark Anchorage. Grab a couple of Alaska car rentals and the whole family, and give everyone a break for the holidays!

Uniquely Alaskan Thanksgiving

If you will be making your Thanksgiving dinner, why not have it in a uniquely Alaskan way? While many Alaskans do still celebrate with turkey, many others choose another bird for the day. Because of populous wildlife, Alaskans have options for their meal. Ptarmigan and goose, for instance, are popular choices for Thanksgiving and holiday dinners.

Similarly, Alaskans also include things like octopus, reindeer, whale, moose, and even salmon! Nigliq (a white fronted goose found in Alaska) soup is another interesting dish that goes nicely with turkey. It’s quite delicious and makes a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving dinner.

But what would Thanksgiving be without the cranberry sauce! Don’t settle for store-bought canned cranberries. Alaska produces some of the best high bush cranberries in the country. We’re proud of our berries, and wouldn’t want anyone to experience an Alaskan Thanksgiving without them!

If you can’t find berries in the markets, you may still be able to pick them. They can be found until early fall, so if you’re swift there may be some on the trees still. Fresh and delicious!

Always something to do

In Alaska, there’s always something to keep you and the family entertained. After all, the winter months are great for sport and activity in Alaska! As long as you have your Alaska car rentals, the opportunities are endless. Get out and about to ski! Or maybe you want to give dog sledding a try. Either way, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reconnect with your loved ones and take some time to relax and enjoy yourself.

Avoid stress! Reserve your Alaska car rentals early to beat the crowd.

Start Gift Shopping Early at Alaska Christmas Markets

Christmas markets and festivals begin early in Alaska. The first weekend of November alone has five festivals, four of which are just Christmas! It’s a wonderful time of year. You can begin Christmas shopping early in the markets, and get right into the spirit of the season. But be careful – you may end up filling your winter Alaska SUV rentals to the brim!

First week of November

As mentioned, Christmas markets begin the first weekend of November. With your winter Alaska SUV rentals, you may want to hit up many of them!

In Anchorage, enjoy the Holiday Food & Gift Festival on November 4 and 5. This takes place at Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center and features a range of handmade products and food. If you’ve got kids coming along, Santa and an elf will be there for photos. The market is open from 11 am to 5 pm and 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Also in Anchorage is the Christmas Towne Bazaar on November 4 from 10 am to 4 pm at South Anchorage High School. There are 130 booths and vendors offering everything from books by local authors and photography, to knitted goods and wood and metal crafts. Here is a perfect place to take the whole family, as there are kids’ activities to entertain the little ones.

Similarly, the Mat-Su Holiday Marketplace from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday. The market takes place at the Menard Sports Center in Wasilla. The market hosts more than 100 specialty vendors with a wide range of goods including jewelry, furs, original artwork, fleece, pottery, glassware, and many others. It’s a great place for bespoke Christmas gifts!

The Shop Til You Drop Holiday Bazaar in Chugiak on November 4 from 10 am to 4 pm at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center. You’ll definitely leave with your winter Alaska SUV rentals much fuller! You can spend the whole day there, with coffee and lunch available in the vendor. There are plenty of gifts that are great for everyone. You really can shop til you drop!

Second week of November

The fun continues into the second weekend of November starting with the Fairbanks Holiday Marketplace starts on November 10 and runs until November 12. It will be held at the Carison Center. This market is a great place to look for fashion items like shoes, earrings, and clothes. Home décor, photography, handmade soaps, and art also hold a prominent place at this market. Free parking available for your winter Alaska SUV rentals.

The Juneau Farmers and Crafters Market will be held on November 11 from 10 am until 3 pm at Glacier Highway. This is a great spot to get food for your Thanksgiving suppers and the other holiday festivities. This market boasts Juneau’s best of fresh eggs, produce, flowers, plants, herbs, teas, honey, syrup, wild local food, baked goods, jams and more. You’ll leave happy and full! Make sure to bring your grocery bags in your winter Alaska SUV rentals.

Anchorage, ever the bustling city, has two more markets this weekend: The Anchorage Holiday Craft Bazaar at Bayshore Clubhouse and The Alaskan Christmas Bazaar at Anchroage City Church. Both offer arts and crafts, but only the Alaskan Christmas Bazaar will have food for sale.

There are simply far too many markets to go through them all in detail! Other markets this month include:

  • Fairbanks Holiday Bazaar: November 18, Pioneer Park Civic Center, 10 am to 4 pm
  • Anchorage Arts and Crafts Emporium: November 18 – 19, Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday 11 am to 5 pm
  • Anchorage Noel Bazaar and Bake Sale: November 18, Anchorage Senior Activity Center, 10 am to 5 pm
  • Black Friday Holiday Bazaar: November 24-25, Kenai, Challenger Learning Center, 10 am to 5 pm
  • Juneau Public Market: November 24-26, Public Market in Centennial Hall, Friday noon to 7 pm and Saturday-Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm
  • Colony High School Christmas Bazaar: November 25, Palmer, Colony High School, 10 am to 5 pm

Get out there and enjoy! But don’t forget to book your winter Alaska SUV rentals early for your holiday shopping!