Of the car rental destinations researched for Carornocar, Anchorage is one of the most interesting. This is because the natural assumption for any first-time visitor might well be that because Alaska has so much big open country, the obvious choice here would be to head straight for the rental car desk. Surely everyone needs a car in Anchorage – or do they?
For many, that is still going to be the primary choice – there’s no question about it, the vast state of Alaska offers some amazing driving opportunities. However, simply because of this great size, most of the state’s interior is completely untouched, and this in turn means that there are actually very few paved roads. In many cases, it is much easier to get around to remote locations by private air taxi!
So any road trip from Anchorage is actually going to be restricted to only a small number of route options. However, with a car you are still going to have the flexibility to stop where and when you want – something that’s not so easy by bus or train, when very limited schedules apply – nothing in Alaska works on a “hop on, hop off” basis!
So what about other ideas for exploring Alaska?
This is where things start to get really interesting. Once you plant the seed of the idea that hiring a car in Anchorage isn’t completely necessary, then a whole range of amazing non-car options starts to unravel itself.
These include some of the most scenic railway journeys that you can take anywhere in the world, together with the various different ways of taking to the waters. These include regular transport ferries as well as cruise offerings. On top of this you will find a plethora of hiking and biking options which don’t necessarily require you to use your own set of wheels to get to the start of the route.
In fact, if you are visiting a location like Denali National Park, then an Anchorage rental car is only going to get you to the park entrance. You will have to take a shuttle bus once inside the park anyway.
Should you rent a car in Anchorage? In order for us to say “you really don’t need a car in Anchorage”, we’d need to put forward at least a couple of options which show that you can see most of the main places of interest without one. Anchorage offers this and more. Not only is it really not worth hiring a car in Alaska for any more time than you absolutely need to, but you also have a huge choice of other options from hiking and biking to train and ferry trips. Buses also provide some vital links in between.
We have no doubt that the locals will tell you that a car is a must here. After all, that’s what they will use, but a car is also what they will already have. What we have to look at is whether or not it’s worth getting a rental car in Anchorage. That really isn’t so clear cut, since the cost is so high! Just because the locals will all use cars, the chances are they aren’t using the tourist trains or taking the ferries on a daily basis either. However, as a visitor, these services will make a huge amount of sense.
Ultimately, if you still think that you should hire a car in Anchorage, then we’d really suggest going for a shorter rental period. This will wortk out better value than having a car for the whole length of your stay. After all, it’s very easy to pick up or drop of a car downtown in the middle of the stay. Even if you need to go out to the airport, that’s not a problem either as Anchorage is a compact city.
Whatever your own choice may be, Anchorage is one place where it’s absolutely worth thinking again before heading straight to the car rental lot on auto-pilot.