Off-season hotel rates are often much lower, but most travelers prefer to visit Alaska in summer, when days are long and temperatures are mild. During shoulder season (May and September) travelers may find slightly lower rates, but some businesses and attractions may be closed. Camping is always an option, and, if you're willing to sleep in bunks you can check out the state's many hostels, some of which have family rooms.
Nearly every Alaskan town (with the exception of most Bush villages) has at least one B&B, and dozens of choices are available in the larger cities. At last count, Anchorage had more than 175 B&Bs, including modest suburban apartments, elaborate showcase homes with dramatic vistas, and everything in between.
Alaska Private Lodgings (907/235-2148. www.alaskabandb.com.)
Alaska's Mat-Su Bed & Breakfast Association (www.alaskabnbhosts.com.)
Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association (907/272-5909 or 888/584-5147. www.anchorage-bnb.com.)
Bed & Breakfast Association of Alaska (www.alaskabba.com.)
Bed & Breakfast Association of Alaska, INNside Passage Chapter (www.accommodations-alaska.com.)
Fairbanks Association of Bed & Breakfasts (www.ptialaska.net/~fabb/.)
Kenai Peninsula Bed & Breakfast Association (www.kenaipeninsulabba.com.)
Hostels offer bare-bones lodging at low, low prices—often in shared dorm rooms with shared baths—to people of all ages, though the primary market is young travelers, especially students. Most hostels serve breakfast; dinner and/or shared cooking facilities may also be available. In some hostels you aren't allowed to be in your room during the day, and there may be a curfew at night. Nevertheless, hostels provide a sense of community, with public rooms where travelers often gather to share stories. Many hostels are affiliated with Hostelling International (HI), an umbrella group of hostel associations with some 4,500 member properties in more than 70 countries. Other hostels are completely independent and may be nothing more than a really cheap hotel.
Membership in any HI association, open to travelers of all ages, allows you to stay in HI-affiliated hostels at member rates. One-year membership is about $28 for adults; hostels charge about $10-$30 per night. Members have priority if the hostel is full; they're also eligible for discounts around the world, even on rail and bus travel in some countries.
There are HI hostels in Ketchikan and Sitka. Many other Alaskan hostels are not affiliated with HI, including options in Anchorage, Denali, Fairbanks, Girdwood, Haines, Homer, Juneau, McCarthy, Petersburg, Seward, Skagway, Slana, Sterling, Talkeetna, Tok, and Wrangell. Most of these are only open seasonally, but hostels in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Girdwood, Homer, Juneau, Skagway, and Talkeetna provide year-round lodging. Hostels.com has contact information for all Alaskan hostels.
Alaskan motels and hotels are similar in quality to those in the Lower 48 states. Most motels are independent, but you'll find the familiar chains (Best Western, Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Motel 6, Super 8, and Sheraton, among others) in Anchorage.
Westmark Hotels is a regional chain, owned by cruise-tour operator Holland America Westours, with hotels in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, Tok, and Valdez in Alaska, plus Beaver Creek, Dawson City, and Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon Territory.
Princess Tours owns a luxury hotel in Fairbanks and lodges outside Denali National Park, near Denali State Park, near Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and on the Kenai Peninsula. All hotels listed have private bath unless otherwise noted.
To get away from it all, book a lodge with rustic accommodations in the middle of breathtaking Alaskan wilderness. Some of the most popular are in the river drainages of Bristol Bay, throughout the rugged islands of Southeast Alaska, and along the Susitna River north of Anchorage.
Some lodge stays include daily guided fishing trips as well as all meals. They can be astronomically expensive (daily rates of $250-$1,000 per person and up, plus airfare), so if you're not interested in fishing, avoid these.
Lodges in and near Denali National Park emphasize the great outdoors, and some even include wintertime dogsledding. Activities focus on hiking, rafting, flightseeing, horseback riding, and natural-history walks. For getting deep into the wilderness, these lodges are an excellent alternative to the hotels and cabins outside the park entrance.
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