The same wilderness that makes Alaska unique also means you have to think about your Alaska budget differently from other destinations. Some of Alaska's most dramatic sights can only be accessed by plane or boat, and most unique experiences require expert guides and gear (river rafting, glacier hiking, dog sledding).
Unlike resort or city vacations where your hotel choice can define your experience, you’ll want to reserve more of your Alaska travel budget for Alaska day tours that let you explore the otherwise inaccessible wilderness.
Alaska Day Tours & Activities
Day tour costs range from as little as $80 for a 2-hour raft trip to $650 for an all-day, fly-out bear-viewing safari. Is it really worth it? We think so.
If you can afford it, we don't think you'll regret any of the recommendations on alaska.org. But watch our day tour video previews so you can decide for yourself. And, if your budget is limited, review our cost-cutting strategies and ways to effectively discount your Alaska vacation.
What to Budget for Different Tours
|Tour/Activity||Budget (Per Person)||Length||Value|
|Fixed-Wing Flightseeing||$150 to $350||1 to 3 hr||Highest|
|Helicopter Flightseeing||$250 to $400||1 to 2 hr||Medium*|
|Helicopter Flightseeing and Glacier Dogsledding||$350||2 hr||Medium*|
|Glacier and Wildlife Cruise||$60 to $200||2 to 8 hr||Highest|
|Rafting or Kayaking||$80 to $150||2 to 4 hr||Highest|
|Bear Viewing||$400 to $650||4 to 8 hr||High**|
|Fly-In Fishing (Guided)||$350 to $400||Full Day||Varies****|
|Ocean or River Fishing Charter||$135 to $250||1/2 or Full Day||Medium|
|Museums and Cultural Attractions||$10 to $35||2+ hr||Varies|
|Fly-In Wilderness Lodge||$100 to $1200 per night||Days||High**|
|Boat-In Wilderness Lodges***||$250 to $500 per night||Days||High**|
|Roadside Adventure Lodges||$150 - $350 per night||Days||High|
* Helicopters are more expensive to operate and the tours are shorter.
** Expensive, but if you can afford it, unique and memorable.
*** Lodges across the Bay from Homer or Kenai Backcountry Lodge
**** Varies based on crowds and fishing conditions. But the flight in is always special.
Unlike day tours, many visitors consider Alaska lodging to be one of the least compelling values of an Alaska vacation. Alaska hotels are really just a place to sleep (except wilderness lodges), and yet they can be pricey.
But don't feel gouged—it's just the laws of economics. Alaska hotels need to recover 365 days of costs in a 120-day season.
Expect to pay $150 – $175 for a basic hotel room in most Alaska destinations
Luxury Alaska hotels run $200 – $250 a night. The difference is larger rooms, better location, and more amenities (restaurants, health club, business center, etc.)
One way to reduce costs is to stay at smaller boutique hotels, like the Anchorage Grand where the rooms have kitchenettes, or Alaska B&B's, which can cost $100 – $200 per night, depending on room size and whether you have a private bathroom. In addition, you'll meet real Alaskans and get their friendly advice on things to do. The Alaska B&B's listed on alaska.org are all great finds, with great decor, rooms, and hosts.
Alaska On A Budget—How To Save $1,500 On Your Alaska Vacation
If you want to see Alaska on a budget—you can! Take a few of the higher-value day tours listed below, then rent a car and create your own adventures. It's easy to do in Alaska: the most famous Alaskan adventures ever done were on a shoestring budget.
Lodging: Save $50 – $100 per night by staying at less expensive hotels or B&B's. Or, for the truly hardcore, bring a tent and sleeping bag.
High Value Day Tours: Alaska glacier cruises, rafting, hiking, and museums offer great value for what you'll see and their length. Fixed-wing flightseeing is $150+ for a short tour, but so unique and memorable we still recommend you do it.
Fishing Charters: Save $225 by doing an ocean or river fishing charter rather than a fly-in.
Glaciers: Save $350+ by visiting a roadside glacier rather than a helicopter tour.
Shoulder Season: Visit Alaska before June 13 or after August 20 for 10 – 25% discounts on some tours and lodging.
Alaska Bear Viewing: Save $350+ by hoping to see bears from a distance on a Denali Park Road Tour rather than taking a fly-in bear viewing tour for guaranteed, up-close viewing. However, if you want to splurge big on one thing, treat yourself to fly-in bear viewing. Justify the expense as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.