Anchorage is Alaska's largest city, with over 40 percent of the state's entire population. The city itself is roughly the size of the state of Delaware, so getting around is definitely easiest by car.
Renting a Car in Anchorage
Anchorage is the transportation hub of Alaska, which means there are plenty of options for car rental companies. Here travelers will find companies like Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, National, Dollar, and a few local rental companies like Alaska 4x4 Rentals and Alaska Auto Rental. The full range of vehicle styles are available, from compact cars to large 4x4 and pick-up trucks.
It's cheaper to rent a car from the city than the airport, where an additional 11 percent surcharge is applied, plus an extra $6.50 per day for rental cars picked up and dropped off at the airport. Many car rental companies based in the city have shuttle services that offer hotel pick up.
It's also important to note that while it is one of the cheapest ways to explore the area, renting a car is quite expensive in Anchorage. It's possible to pay up to $150 a day during peak summer season. Much lower daily rates apply in the shoulder months of May and September, however, and during winter it is even cheaper.
Driving in Anchorage
Anchorage is really well-connected to other cities in Alaska. Two-lane highways connect Anchorage to Denali and Fairbanks. Driving conditions are best between May and September, but it is wise to always be prepared for inclement weather, and be sure to check forecasts before heading out on the road.
The Alaskan government suggests driving with an emergency kit that has batteries, water, nonperishable food, a flashlight, extra clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, a small shovel, a knife, jumper cables, and extra fuel for the vehicle.
Always yield to other motorists on the highway, especially in bad weather. The accepted rule on the road is if someone is tailgating, find a safe place to pull over and let them pass. It's also important to always keep a look out for wildlife. In Alaska, wildlife has the right of way.
What to do in Anchorage
Anchorage is a beautiful city packed with outdoor activities to explore. Far North Bicentennial Park is a 4,000-acre park with over 100 miles of multi-use trails. During the summer it's great for hiking and biking, and when the snow comes, plenty of people enjoy some easy skiing.
To see some wildlife without having to travel very far, head to the Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk. During the spring and summer, eagles can be seen nesting, beavers damming, and with luck, it might be possible to spot a moose.
Eagle River Nature Center is another spot, just outside downtown Anchorage, to see some Alaskan wildlife. Head out on one of the many trails for a hike through the mountain valley and keep watch for moose, bears, and plenty of birds of prey.
Anchorage is a hub for exploring Alaska with plenty of sights to explore and wildlife to see.