Top 10 Places to Visit in Alaska by Bike

Top 10 Places to Visit in Alaska by Bike

Alexandra Ruticova

Air taxi, water taxi, helicopter ski and of course the fat tire biking.

This is the place where you will find such peace and astonishing beauty that you will feel to always come back.

1. Denali National Park

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Denali National Park is located in central Alaska with the Denali Mountain at its heart. Denali, one of the top Alaska destinations, is part of the Alaska Range, and, with its highest peak at 20,310 feet, it is the highest mountain in North America.

For a day-trip, you are can either start you bike ride at the park entrance, or drive to Savage River and begin cycling farther into the park from there. Alternatively, you may buy tickets for a VTS Shuttle Bus, ride the bus into the park, and get off at whatever point you choose to start cycling. This allows you to tailor just what parts of the Park Road you ride! Cycling is a great way to see Denali National Park and get some exercise at the same time. Cyclists are allowed to bike all 92 miles of the Park Road.

The road is paved to mile 15 (Savage River) and is graded gravel beyond. Much of the roadway beyond mile 31 is narrow and there are no shoulders.

Travel restrictions for motor vehicles begin at mile 15, so traffic volume will ease up after this point.

2. Ketchikan

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Ketchikan is located within the Tongass National Forest, a 17M-acre rain-forest that features some of the most mystical natural tableau on the planet.

And the Misty Fjords National Monument, a nature preserve where glacier-sculpted granite fjords rise up to 3,000 feet above sea level, is just a short 30-minute flight away from their waterfront.

There are many ways to explore the beauty that surrounds you here. Seeing Misty Fjords National Monument with cy blue lakes, waterfalls, snowcapped peaks and glacial valleys always seem like being in a movie decor. “The Mistys,” as they affectionately call them: can be seen from a floatplane, where you get a true eagle’s eye view; and on a cruise tour, where you can actually feel the vibration of nature. Both are jaw-droppingly incredible.

Seeing the sights is easy in Ketchikan. Even if you just stand in the middle of town and look out over the waterfront, Pennock Island off to the west and Deer Mountain to the east, you've already taken in more natural beauty than most people do in a month. Sightseeing tours abound, in both Spanish and English. All you have to do is choose your preferred mode of transportation—motor coach, boat (catamaran or duck), van, car, taxi, or trolley. If strolling is more your speed, choose a guided walking tour. You will also find adventure tours here, if you are an adrenaline junkie.

So, hop on the bike and start exploring by yourself, or take one of their great tours! The bike rental rates are: for full day - $30 for 4 hours or more and half day - $20 for less than 4 hours.

Either you explore by yourself or take a tour, you need to ride for more hours, and this mean you have to have comfort on your bike. Don’t spoil your trips, plan ahead and test the maximum comfort on your bike.

3. Glacier Bay National Park

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Ice-sculptured fjords, lofty mountain peaks, an abundance of marine wildlife and, most of all, massive tidewater glaciers, have made Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve one of Alaska's most spectacular settings and a must-stop for every cruise ship sailing north through Southeast Alaska.

The 3.3 million acre park is indeed an icy wilderness. You’ll often see seals hauled out on the ice chunks, here, if you’re in front of the Margerie Glacier, and you’ll also be within sight of the Grand Pacific Glacier. Most of the ships head up the West Arm, towards the Margerie Glacier because it is the most impressive glacier, which is advancing 12 to 14 feet a day and calves frequently. Most of the activities in the park are water-focused with the most popular being boat tours, kayaking, river rafting, fishing, glacier viewing and whale watching.

Arguably, there is no grander place on earth to Flightsee than Glacier Bay National Park and Southeast Alaska. Take an “air taxi” and fly by the hour or by the destination across Southeast Alaska- the choice is yours. The custom air charters (available in Gustavus, Ketchikan, Sitka, Haines, Skagway and Hoonah) will take you anywhere you want to go in style and with safety as their utmost concern.

4. Talkeetna

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Snuggled at the base of Denali or Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in the country, Talkeetna is a historic town that is an excellent starting point from which to experience true Alaska.

Once you’re here, you can take the Air Taxi, there are tours for every budget, it is anunforgettable experience.

For example, an one-hour tour filled with spectacular views of the Alaska Range and Denali, including the Don Sheldon Amphitheatre and the Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier and the deepest canyon in North America. Don’t forget to bring cameras with extra batteries and memory cards, binoculars are helpful for glacier landings, long pants & closed toe shoes are always recommended.

Add a light/medium jacket between May to mid-September and heavy jacket, hat, boots and gloves from mid-September to April. They supply sunglasses if forgotten and over-boots for glacier landing flights. Also, they’ll hold backpacks/purses as airplane as space is limited. Activities popular for visitors to Talkeetna include flight seeing, fishing, riverboat tours, hiking, Nordic skiing, mushing, mountain climbing.

Talkeetna is a classic Alaskan destination to enjoy no matter what time of the year you visit.

Everything spectacular you might think of, you will find it here!

5. Skagway

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If you've never been to Alaska, you might not think 'rain-forest' first and foremost.

In fact, the Tongass National Forest is not only the largest National Forest in the country, but is part of the largest temperate rainforest in the world! There's no better way to explore this diverse landscape than on a bicycle with an informative guide explaining not only the ecology, but the history along the way.

The Rainforest Bicycle Tour is a 5-mile ride on relatively flat terrain surrounded by Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and red cedars.

Cruise through the rain-forest and out into the tidal flats of Dyea, a forgotten ghost town that once rivaled Skagway in the days of the Gold Rush. This tour is a great way to get out of the busy port and into Alaska's beautiful landscape on one of these small-group Skagway tours. It has 3 hours duration, 5-mile biking on flat, dirt terrain, surrounded by Alaska's lush temperate rain-forest.

Some people love the view of Alaska from the side of a ship, or from above in a bush plane. But Sockeye Cycle proves that there's nothing quite like the view of Alaska from atop two wheels, as you glide through the gorgeously unique scenery.

Is has plenty of a multi-day trips (like the 3-day “Valley of Eagles” tour out of Haines, a 9-day trip around Western Alaska and a 12-day trip into the Yukon), and they also have plenty of options if you only have one day to ride. 

One of the most popular trips out of Skagway is the White Pass Train and Bike Tour, where you combine a 90-minute ride on the historic WP&YR narrow-gauge railroad, through the coastal mountains, with a 15-mile, mostly downhill bicycle ride back to Skagway. The trip will pass by waterfalls, mountains and even glaciers along the way. 

You don't have to be a super-experienced cyclist to enjoy the ride. The only requirements are that you wear a helmet, a well-adjusted and comfortable bike saddle, plus being confident riding a bicycle with hand brakes.

6. Homer

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Quirky, charming little town on the shores of Kachemak Bay on the southern Kenai Peninsula in South Central Alaska.

If you already took an air taxi, now you can take a water taxi – the custom water transportation is available from the Homer Spit to destinations across the bay including Seldovia, Halibut Cove and Kachemak State Park with access to hiking, biking, camping and kayaking. Hop on a water taxi to Kachemak Bay State Park and hike through a boreal forest to Grewingk Glacier.  Enjoy spectacular views, Grewingk Glacier Lake, and if lucky, see the ice calving off the glacier. Did you knew that , Homer is the gateway to the best bear viewing in the State of Alaska? The bear viewing by helicopter, float plane or boat is something you can try here.

As for cycling, you have some great options.

Rent a bike and go on East End Road that offers a 5-mile paved bike trail starting at Lake Street. Another paved option is the 4.5-mile Spit trail starts at the intersection of Kachemak Drive and the Homer Spit, and ends at the tip of the Spit. East and West Hill Roads take you to roads looping above town, across Skyline Drive and Diamond Ridge Road, with ocean and mountain vistas. These roads are narrow and have no bike paths. So, you have to be cautious.
Across the Bay, you can find some fine mountain biking on wilderness trails. Start in Seldovia and ride the road out to Jakolof Bay, about 10 miles, and then take the eight-mile, mostly uphill ride toward the foot of Red Mountain and back.

It will take about three hours. If you’d rather skip the ride from Seldovia, you can have a water taxi drop you at Jakolof Bay dock. 

7. Fairbanks

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The mysterious curtain of swirling, flowing, ever changing purple, yellow, green, and red lights that brighten the night skies is known as the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis.

Fairbanks is rich with trails suitable for year-round mountain biking, and though many of our roads are hilly and rough-surfaced, we still enjoy our races and group road rides. Several Fairbanks-area businesses rent road bikes, mountain bikes and even fat-tired bikes used for riding on snow-covered trails.

It’s is known that Fairbanks’ cyclists were among the first to adopt fat tire bikes for riding on snow-machine trails.

A good half-day bike trip is the 16-mile bike path that follows Farmers Loop. Other road bike excursions from Fairbanks include trips to the town of Ester (about 20 miles round-trip from downtown Fairbanks) and Fox (about 25 miles round trip).

Popular mountain bike areas include Birch Hill Recreation Area and the University of Alaska Fairbanks trails. Both are used by skiers in the winter and are popular with bikers in the summer.

8. Seward

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Located at the foot of majestic Mount Marathon on the shore of Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula, Seward is one of Alaska’s oldest and most scenic communities.

Experience trophy sport fishing, glacier and wildlife cruises, sailing, hiking, kayaking, flight seeing, summer dog sled rides. Don’t miss the Kenai Fjords National Park! This is one of Alaska's best wildlife spectacles and some of its most beautiful fjords and glaciers. Humpback and killer whales, sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and puffins crowd the park's waters. You can choose from a variety of Kenai Fjords boat tours.

You must also visit the Resurrection Bay. You can also get water-taxi drop-offs at secluded coves around the bay where you can beachcomb, rent a private cabin, or kayak to sea lion haul-outs, bird rookeries, and tidewater caves. From Seward's Lowell Point, you can slice through the glassy waters, past sea otters, harbor seals, and eagles.

Hikers will find several excellent trails all around the Seward area. Caines Head Trail, Lost Lake trail, Tonsina Point Trail and others offer a variety of trail types and attractions.

9. Tongass National Park

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Largest national forest in the United States and a unique change to see breath-taking vistas of "wild" Alaska.

Spanning across 500 miles of Southeast Alaska, and bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains, the Tongass is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, and is home to a majestic array of islands, mountains, forests, glaciers, salmon streams, fjords and bays. Hike or take a sled-dog ride on a glacier, stroll along boardwalk trails, fish in streams or the ocean, or relax at a remote cabin. If spying some truly wild wildlife is on your bucket list, visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Juneau, Anan Wildlife Observatory in Wrangell, Fish Creek Bear Viewing Area in Hyder, or Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area on Admiralty Island, or immerse yourself in native culture at the stunning Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, located just steps away from the cruise ship docks in downtown Ketchikan.

One more thing, before we go to our next Alaskan destination. You will probably ride for 4-6 hours, so be cautious and prepare the maximum comfortable ride. Avoid the saddles that cause constant pain and discomfort, and, yes, most of the ride discomfort comes from the saddle.

10. Alaska Highway

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The Alaska Highway is a 1,500-mile long wide-open road from Dawson Creek in British Columbia to Delta Junction in Alaska.

It was carved from rock and deep forests in only eight months.

If you feel like to challenge yourself, cycle the entire length of the famed Alaska Highway, from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction.

Forests and mountains, open skies and scenic wonders, peace and quiet. The cycling tours available here offers to finish it in 25 days. You will spend 8 nights in motels and 16 nights in campgrounds, the meals are included (15 x breakfast , 20 x lunch, 16 x diner), camp gear included and also guides and full van support. But, you have to arrive in Nisku-Edmonton (Canada) at least one day prior to your trip departure. The say one of the itinerary starts at 7:00 a.m.

We loved Alaska, and next time we will try the fat tire bike! Have you tried it already?