How Much Does It Cost To Go To Alaska? (2024)

moose kissing

(Last updated in January 2024)

How much does it cost to go to Alaska? You’ve come to the right place to find out.

Budgeting is extremely important when planning a trip to the 49th state, because you can easily drop a few grand in a hurry if you’re not careful. Even a budget itinerary can cost a couple of thousand dollars.

In this post, I break down exactly how much it costs to visit Alaska, based on my repeated visits to the state over several years.

I also present a detailed list for how much you can expect to pay for each aspect of an Alaska vacation, including food, lodging, rental car, tours, Denali National Park expenses, and miscellaneous spending.

My first trip to Alaska was a few years back. Prices have changed a bit since then, so I’ve updated my costs to make them comparable to today’s dollars.

Lodging and food costs are up quite a bit. Flight costs went down for several years, and have gone back up recently, so they’re back to where they were when I wrote this guide.

So overall, the estimates are accurate for planning an Alaska trip in 2024. Read on for our Alaska cost guide!

moose alaska

This article assumes the following: A two-person, seven-day summer vacation with round-trip airfare from the continental U.S. into Anchorage. Adjust your costs accordingly if you’re coming with a larger group, for a different length of time, during a different season or into a different city like Juneau or Fairbanks.

For each category, I’m presenting the expected costs based on what type of traveler you are: Cheapskate (it’s possible to do Alaska on a budget), Average Joe (welcome, everyone), or Moneybags (congrats, you lucky son of a gun.)

If you’re more of a visual person, at the end of this post, you’ll find an easy to read chart showing specific costs for each type of traveler.

How much does it cost to go to Alaska? Here comes the budgetary breakdown.


Flying to Alaska can cost an arm and a leg. When I first began researching flights from Chicago about six months before our trip, they were about $1,000 ($500 each way) per person.

I kept checking airfares, and about 3-4 months before the vacation, I found a redeye flight on July 4 one-way from Anchorage to Chicago for only $260 each and booked it immediately.

alaska airlines plane
Flights costs are one of the biggest variables when it comes to figuring out how much your Alaska vacation will cost.

After waiting a few more weeks, I located a non-stop flight to Anchorage for about $360 each. That meant we ended up paying $620 each for the round-trip. Not too bad!

Don’t forget to factor in baggage costs. Most airlines going to Anchorage require a $20 or $25 checked bag fee.

Airline fare costs have been up and down since I first published this article. It’s still possible to find round-trip flights to Anchorage from many large cities in the U.S. for $500-600 total. Especially in May and June!

Things get a bit more expensive in July and August. Flight costs are on the rise again, but if you plan ahead and track flight costs every week, you can still get a good price.

Moneybags ($2400): You can pay a ton of you randomly book your flight without studying and holding out for a good deal.

Average Joe ($1600): Purchase when you find a decent fare for the dates you want to visit. A round-trip fare of about $700-800 per person is average.

Cheapskate ($1000): Check airfares daily, pounce when they are most affordable. Choose your dates of travel based on which days are the cheapest to fly. You may be able to find something for around $500 round-trip, as we did, if you get lucky. Try to get an airline with no checked bag fee.

We spent: $1285 ($620 each for airfare plus $45 for checked bags).


If you’re truly trying to do Alaska on a budget, lodging is one area in which to save a bundle. Campgrounds in the $25 range exist all over the state, so if you’re willing to sleep in a tent, you can sleep for cheap.

Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Talkeetna have hostels, with dorm beds running as low as $40/night.

If you’re not willing to stay in campgrounds or hostels, expect your lodging costs to be massive. Basic hotels here can sometimes exceed $300 per night, and luxury lodges cost even more!

Airbnb could be a good middle ground, if you’re willing to give it a shot. You can find private rooms in someone’s house for less than $100/night, or pay closer to $150/night if you want the entire place to yourself.

Airbnb also has cabins and tiny homes across the state that you can get for as little as $60/night.

These days, I always use to find cheap lodging, because in my view they do the best job of compiling current prices from hotels, hostels, and B&Bs. Click to search for your Alaska travel dates.

Moneybags ($2000): Luxury lodges all the way! You can easily drop more than $300 per day in housing in the summer.

Average Joe ($1000): Staying in basic motels and Airbnbs can keep things affordable.

Cheapskate ($250): Sleep in your tent in campgrounds, and book cheap Airbnbs. Many hostels even rent tent space in the yard outside for less than the cost of a dorm bed.

We spent: $253 (staying at campgrounds, hostels, and cheap Airbnbs.)


By far our biggest hit was the price of a rental car. While a rental car is expensive, it’s a must if you want to do the ultimate Alaska road trip.

Rental car prices in Alaska soar after mid-June, when peak tourist season hits. In the last week of June, the average price for a week-long rental was in the $800 range. Just two weeks earlier, the price was in the $400 range. That’s a huge difference.

rental car

If you’re trying to calculate how much it costs to go to Alaska, by far the most important factor is the time frame you choose. As illustrated, coming just a couple weeks earlier can literally save you hundreds of dollars on car rental costs.

We made a car reservation for $600 a couple months in advance, but we kept checking the latest rates.

Since it was a refundable reservation, we were able to cancel and re-book when at the last minute the price dropped to $471 for the full week. That was a significant savings!

Need a rental car? I recommend, which allows you to compare prices and availability for all the top rental companies to find the best possible deal. And they offer free cancellation!

Moneybags ($1500): Wait until the last minute and pay whatever the going rate is for a luxury vehicle. Rent at the airport and pay the airport surcharges. Or, rent a car one-way from Anchorage to Seward or Fairbanks and take the train back for the scenery. Or, go big and rent an RV!

Average Joe ($900): Lock in a good deal when you see one on Hotwire or some other site.

Cheapskate ($420): Visit Alaska in May or early June for good deals before prices soar. Study rental car prices and pounce when prices are cheapest.

We spent: $591.

alaska railroad trespassing

Aside: Should I take the train?

If you’re thinking that you might just take the Alaska Railroad to save money instead of renting a car, think again. Prices for the railroad are high during the summer months – $95 each way per person between Anchorage and Denali, which totals $380 for a round-trip for two.

With multiple people, it’s actually cheaper to split the cost of a rental car and gas. The only way taking the train makes financial sense is if you are traveling solo.


Gasoline prices in Alaska are high, although I honestly didn’t notice much of a difference coming from Chicago, which has some of the highest prices in the country.

There’s no real way to keep your gas costs down except by driving less, so accept that going in and budget accordingly. As of this writing, gas prices are rising again, so your costs may increase a bit from my estimates here.

Moneybags ($250): Drive all over the place and buy as much gas as you need.

Average Joe ($150): Try to fill up in cities where prices are lower.

Cheapskate ($80): Drive as little as possible – only between Anchorage, Denali and Seward. Skip the rest of the state to keep gas costs down.

We spent: $205. We drove all over the state, probably more than most people do, which is why we paid a bit more than the average traveler would.



Let’s assume you’re going to see the wildlife and awesome scenery at Denali National Park, because it doesn’t make sense to visit Alaska and not see this wonderful wilderness.

As of 2024, the Denali entrance fee is $15 each for a seven-day pass. You’ll also need to pay for a shuttle bus if you plan on going more than 14 miles into the park, since that’s as far as cars are allowed. Shuttles start at $26 for the Toklat River bus.

You should definitely take a bus of some sort, because most of the wildlife and mountains are beyond Mile 14. You can also camp inside Denali at various campgrounds, which is an affordable way to see the park. You must make your reservations online.

The Savage River Campground now costs $35/night per site, which is way more than when I first stayed there!

You can even go ziplining in Denali if you’re so inclined. The options for activities are endless.

Moneybags ($600): Take a private bus ride like the Kantishna Experience Tour and spend a night or two at one of the lodges in the park.

Average Joe ($175): Take the Wonder Lake shuttle bus and spend two nights in a park campground.

Cheapskate ($100): Pay the entrance fee only and camp for free in the backcountry near the park entrance, or pay the fee to camp at Savage River. You’ll see very little of the park this way, though.

We spent: $115 for a camper bus ride, one night in a campground and one night of backcountry camping.


We lived almost exclusively on fast food during our trip, because meals are one of the hidden costs of a trip like this. If you’re going to stay on budget, you have to pay as little as possible for sustenance. Remember, it’s possible to eat both healthy and cheap while traveling.

Fast food can be found in all the major cities – Anchorage, Fairbanks, Palmer, and Wasilla. Even some of the smaller towns, like Talkeetna and Seward, have Subway sandwich shops. The $5 footlong is more than $10 here, though, so plan accordingly.

We did splurge for a couple of nicer meals at local restaurants. You have to eat at least one seafood dinner when you’re in Alaska, right?

Moneybags ($900): The cost of eating at expensive restaurants all the time can add up.

Average Joe ($600): Eat a few nice meals, otherwise buy meals at fast food or cheap local establishments.

Cheapskate ($200): Stock up on pop-tarts and fruit at Walmart for breakfast. Eat fast food lunches and dinners.

We spent: $218.


ice museum welcome

When it comes to attractions, you can be a real cheapskate if you want. But why would you go to Alaska and skip the chance to take a bush plane flight, or a whale-watching cruise, or a glacier hike, or some cool museums?

Moneybags ($2000): Take the Grand Denali flightseeing tour around the summit of Mt. McKinley ($475 each), the most luxurious whale-watching cruise you can find, and go to every attraction that interests you, from museums to reindeer farms.

Average Joe ($1000): Choose a cheaper flightseeing option ($200 each). Choose a mid-level cruising option out of Seward and an ice trek tour on a glacier (look for online sales and discounts). Check out a museum or two in Anchorage.

Cheapskate ($50): Skip flightseeing entirely. Skip the guided tour at Matanuska Glacier and instead walk around the site on your own, paying only the entry fee. Go to free attractions in Anchorage. Skip the whale-watching cruise and hang out at Beluga Point with binoculars to look for whales from shore.

We spent: $880.

NOTE: Another way to save on sightseeing tours, day trips, and excursions is to use our partner, Get Your Guide. Check out some of their most popular Alaska tours below. And see our guide to the top Anchorage tours and activities.



To be comfortable and safe in Alaska, you’ll want hiking boots, a winter jacket (even in summer), heavy-duty mosquito repellent, and probably some camping gear.

Don’t forget about bear spray, which is not allowed on planes. You’ll have to purchase it in Alaska, and it will run you at least $25.

Moneybags ($800): Buy brand-new shoes, luggage, backpacks, clothing, or cameras.

Average Joe ($300): Bring camping gear from home. Buy new shoes but otherwise bring clothes you already own.

Cheapskate ($100): Bring all your used gear from home. Buy only the essentials in Alaska.

We spent: $242.


alaska on a budget - moose gift shop

Of course you can’t visit Alaska without bringing home a few souvenirs. You’ll need some cash in case you decide to check out a bar, buy a new shirt, or just need to stop for aspirin or other miscellaneous expenses.

And you should seriously consider purchasing The Milepost, a huge, massively helpful guide referred to as “the bible of Alaska travel.” It breaks down every main road mile-by-mile, letting you know exactly where to find the nearest restroom, scenic viewpoint, and popular wildlife-watching spot.

I’m not big on guidebooks, but I promise, this one is worth it. A new version is published each April. Here’s the link for the 2024 guide.

Moneybags ($500): Buy Sarah Palin vanity license plates for ironic reasons, buy souvenir magnets and mugs, moose dung swizzle sticks, “I Love Talkeetna” hats, Denali bumper stickers, and local native artwork.

Average Joe ($200): Buy souvenir tshirts, coffee mugs and other trinkets. Go to a few bars in Anchorage.

Cheapskate ($100): Buy only basic necessities and maybe a magnet or postcard.

We spent: $145.

How much does it cost to visit Alaska? The chart

Here’s the visual breakdown. Keep in mind these totals are for two people for a seven-day vacation, traveling from the continental U.S. to Alaska.

These estimates should give you a ballpark idea of what you might be paying when you visit there.

You can see that it’s possible to pay more than $5000 per person for a luxury trip, while you can pay as little as $1150 each if you take the cheapskate option. The average tourist will pay about $3000 each.

how much does it cost to go to alaska? -  costs chart budget

We ended up paying $3,934, which breaks down to $1,967 each. It wasn’t the cheapest vacation I’ve ever taken, but it might have been the most memorable.

What About Taking a Cruise to Alaska?

There’s one other (possibly) cheap way to visit Alaska, and that’s by taking a cruise. Seattle, especially, has several cruises that run on a weekly basis to Alaska.

Most of these cruises go through the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, Skagway, and Juneau, as well as Glacier Bay National Park.

If you choose a cruise, obviously you’ll be seeing a completely different part of the state. There’s no way to drive from Juneau to Anchorage or Denali.

How much do Alaska cruises typically cost? There’s a huge range of prices, based on whether you want a first-class cabin or the tiniest interior cabin.

In general, expect to pay at least $1000 for a week-long roundtrip cruise from Seattle to Alaska and back.

Often, you’ll see promotions for $499 cruises from Seattle. But when you dig into the fine print, you find out that prices are based on double occupancy (solo travelers can forget about getting a good deal) and that they don’t include port taxes or cruise staff gratuities, which are huge.

Taxes run more than $200 per person, and gratuities are usually at least $100.

These prices also do not include any excursions. When you stop at the various ports, you’ll want to leave the ship and do at least a little exploring, so your wallet will take another hit there.

Ultimately, when it comes to taking a cruise to Alaska, you can do it for as little as $700 including taxes, if you are a couple traveling from Seattle and you go on zero excursions and book the cheapest interior room. That’s a lot of “ifs.”

More realistically, expect to pay about $1000 per person, even for the cheapest cruise booked during a sale. Cruising is a very different experience than flying to Anchorage and renting a car, so think about which option most appeals to you and your budget.

Would you consider traveling to Alaska? If you’ve already been, do you think these estimates for Alaska vacation costs are accurate?