Should You Visit Alaska With a Tour Group?

Alaska Land Tour Pros and Cons

Tourist Viewing Icebergs From A Boat On A Tour To Columbia Glacier Out Of Valdez, Alaska
Michael DeYoung/Getty Images





Alaska land tours are extremely popular, whether they are offered in conjunction with cruises or as stand-alone vacations. Many people also choose to plan their own trip and explore Alaska on their own. If you are considering a trip to Alaska's interior, should you go with a tour group or plan your own trip?

Advantages of Visiting Alaska With a Tour Group

Savings Through Economies of Scale

Tour operators and cruise lines can book many hotel rooms at the same time, buy Alaska Railroad and whale watching tickets in large quantities and use tour buses to transport people quickly and effectively. This could mean that it will cost you less to take an Alaska land tour than it would to do the same trip on your own.

No Transportation Worries

If you visit Alaska with an organized tour, you will not have to worry about getting from Point A to Point B. Your tour operator will plan your itinerary and do all of the driving. Even better, if your tour bus breaks down, you will not need to figure out how to fix it.

Local Knowledge

The best Alaska tour operators, such as John Hall's Alaska, hire Alaska residents and work with local hotels, restaurants, attractions and park rangers to provide memorable experiences for their guests. Their tour directors know where you are most likely to see wildlife and the best times to view the Northern Lights, among other things.

Alaska is a popular travel destination not only because of its pristine beauty and unique history but also because the people who live in Alaska today continue to foster a culture that respects nature and encourages concern for others and rugged individualism. Booking an Alaska tour that enables you to meet local residents will give you the opportunity to learn more about the hardy people of The Last Frontier.

Assistance When Things Go Wrong

Your Alaska tour operator can help you resolve problems that occur during your trip, particularly if you become ill or sustain an injury. Your tour director will know where you can find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals or anything else you need.

Total Relaxation

Because you don't have to worry about travel details, you can sit back and truly enjoy your Alaska vacation.

Disadvantages of Visiting Alaska With a Tour Group

Itinerary Considerations

If you travel to Alaska with a tour group, you can select a trip that takes you to all or most of the places you want to go. You will have to choose your trip's beginning and ending dates based on tour operators' offerings.  While tour operators fine-tune their itineraries based on customer preferences, you might not be able to find a tour that takes you to every place in Alaska you would like to visit at the time you would like to go.

Less Flexibility

On a guided land tour, you can't change your travel plans. There's no time to linger in Denali National Park if you didn't see the mountain during your one-day visit, for example. You will have to board your bus and proceed to the next stop on your tour.

Early Wake-up Calls

Alaska is BIG. It takes time to get from place to place, which is why most tour operators begin each day of an Alaska land tour quite early, sometimes before sunrise. If you enjoy sleeping in or need extra time to get ready in the morning, you might not find an Alaska land tour appealing.

Less Time For Outdoor Adventures

While Alaska's incredible landscapes inspire many travelers to plan a trip to The Last Frontier, camping, fishing and multi-day hiking are unlikely to be part of an Alaska tour group itinerary. If you want to take a long hike, camp or go fishing, planning your own Alaska adventure might be a better choice.

Travelers who want to spend more than a night or two in Denali National Park will probably find themselves frustrated with traditional tour group itineraries. If you want to linger in Denali National Park and don't mind sleeping in a tent, consider planning your own Alaska adventure.

Accommodation Options

Alaska tour group participants want to learn as much about Alaska as they can, but that does not mean that they prefer camping to staying in hotels. If your ideal Alaska vacation includes camping or staying in nontraditional lodgings, such as hostels or an Airbnb, traveling with a tour group might not be your best choice.


As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, TripSavvy believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

Was this page helpful?