Exploring Alaska On A Budget - 11 Tips For Affordable Adventures

Alaska On A Budget

It’s possible to see beautiful Alaska on a budget! In fact, saving money while touring the state known as the Last Frontier is easier than most people think. With so much natural beauty, Alaska offers endless hours of fun, adventure, and views for just the cost of a pass to a national park.

Little tricks that include timing when you come, knowing how to keep food costs low, and figuring out how to get around without your own car can all help you to have an incredible trip on a tight budget.

Here’s a look at 11 tips for planning a trip to Alaska on a budget that will help you to avoid glacier-sized travel costs!


1) Learn The Secret For Saving Money That Your Cruise Ship Won’t Tell You

One little tidbit that only Hoonah residents know is that visitors of Icy Strait Point (ISP) can actually save a ton of money by hopping just 1.5 miles from where cruise ships dock to reach the town of Hoonah. While it’s located just a short walk or drive from the main port area, Hoonah offers tours, shopping, and food at much lower prices!

In fact, one of the best ways to save money on an Alaska vacation without cutting out excursions is to book an adventure with Hoonah Travel Adventures. When you explore with us, you can select from our curated tours and nature experiences led by expert guides. Have the adventure of a lifetime while visiting Alaska when you book:

  • Guaranteed Whale Watching at Icy Strait Point

  • Wilderness Tour and Brown Bear Search

  • Icy Strait Fishing Adventure

  • Icy Strait Kayak Adventure

  • Chichagof Island Birding and Nature Adventure

At Hoonah Travel Adventures, our van-based tours and kayaking trips let you experience remote islands where the bears outnumber the people without paying for a pricey private helicopter tour. If you don’t have your own vehicle because you don’t want to pay for car rentals, you’ll love hearing that Hoonah Travel Adventures is the only company in Hoonah offering return-anytime shuttles that let you eat, shop, and explore Hoonah at your leisure without a clock hanging over your head! Our shuttles depart every 30 minutes.

Ask about our discounted rates for military, teachers, and LEOs! Book your adventure today!

Icy Strait Point - Alaska


2) Come To Alaska During Shoulder Season

One of the best tips for how to visit Alaska on a budget is to avoid the peak travel season. Travel in Alaska peaks during the period lasting from June to August. “Shoulder season” is considered a slightly off-peak time to visit while still getting decent weather for travel and excursions.

May and September are both considered shoulder times in Alaska. Booking during these months makes it easy to find deals on Alaska hotels and airfare from Alaska Airlines.

There are several reasons why May and September are less popular compared to peak summer. First, Alaska’s busy season simply follows the same busy season for all travel destinations. With most schools around the country in session in May and September, fewer people have the time to make the trek up from the lower 48 states.

Another reason fewer people come in May and September is that the weather is slightly cooler. However, travelers who don’t like crowds can use that to their advantage while they enjoy a version of Alaska that doesn’t have quite as many visitors. Shoulder-season visitors also enjoy fewer mosquitoes compared to visitors who arrive in June or July.

Alaskan Wilderness - Visit Alaska In The Shoulder Season


3) Utilize Grocery Stores

Like the rest of the country, Alaska is a place where preparing your own meals can be cheaper than dining out. While the state is known for its vast wilderness, Alaskan cities do have Costco, Fred Meyers, and other popular grocery chains.

You don’t even need to eat prepackaged foods to save money. Salmon and potatoes are two healthy foods that are often reasonably priced in Alaska.

Grocery Store In Alaska


4) Consider Getting The America The Beautiful National Park Pass

For just $80, the America The Beautiful National Park Pass makes all of the country’s national parks open to you! As home to eight of the most popular national parks, Alaska is truly a place where you will make use of the cost! While one pass will get you into all 16 parks in Alaska, the cost is worth it just to see:

  •  Lake Clark National Park

  •  Denali National Park

  •  Gates of the Arctic National Park

  •  Glacier Bay National Park

  •  Katmai National Park

  •  Kenai Fjords National Park

  •  Kobuk Valley National Park

  •  Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve

Visit Alaska's National Parks


5) Spend A Day At The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

With tickets costing just $22 per person for access to a 200-acre expanse at the head of Turnagain Arm, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a can’t-skip attraction for anyone planning a trip to Alaska on a budget.

Spend a day surrounded by majestic creatures like reindeer, lynx, wood bison, brown bears, eagles, and moose. Get up close and personal with these incredible animals while learning about them. It’s a perfect opportunity to connect with nature and support the important work of wildlife conservation.

Bisons In Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center


6) Consider Tent Camping On Your Alaska Trip

If the rates at Alaska hotels are freezing you out, consider staying at one of the many campgrounds at Alaska state parks. Camping fees per night range from $15 to 30.

It’s not just a budget-friendly option, but also a chance to truly connect with nature. So grab your camping gear, embrace the wilderness, and create unforgettable memories under the starry Alaskan skies.

Memorable Alaskan Camping Trip


7) Travel On The Alaska Railroad

Traveling Alaska on a budget for many seasoned visitors means using the Alaska Railroad to get between the southern coast and the center of the state. Mainline service runs from Seward and Fairbanks. That means that you can easily use the line to get to both Anchorage and Denali National Park for a flat rate!

In addition, you can enjoy the scenic journey through the breathtaking landscapes of Alaska. Sit back, relax, and let the train take you on an unforgettable adventure. Marvel at snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and charming towns along the way. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply seeking a unique travel experience, the Alaska Railroad is a must-do.

Travel On The Historical Alaskan Railroad


8) Utilize Farm Stands And Food Trucks

Whenever you’re passing through a town in Alaska, always be sure to ask the locals about where the locals eat! Depending on the season, you may be able to get everything from fresh-picked berries to rockfish tacos from a stand or pop-up truck. Prices on roadside food can be substantially lower compared to grocery and restaurant prices. The #OsoGordito foodtruck in Hoonah, Alaska has won acclaim with it famous Halibut Tacos, Hand Cut Fries and other mouthwatering plates! If your cruise ship stops at Icy Strait Point (ISP) make sure to head into town for a meal at Oso Gordito.  

Local Food Trucks


9) Book A Bed And Breakfast

One of the ways to get good deals on Alaskan accommodations without sleeping outside at a campsite is to check into a locally owned bed and breakfast. These hidden gems offer great deals and a cozy atmosphere. In many cases, the cheaper rooms come with the stipulation that you’ll be sharing space with the owner of the residence.

Imagine waking up to a delicious homemade breakfast and getting insider tips on the best local attractions. It’s like staying with a friend who knows all the secrets of the area. So skip the expensive hotels and embrace the warmth and hospitality of a bed and breakfast. It’s a budget-friendly option that adds a personal touch to your Alaskan adventure.

Alternative Alaskan Accommodations For Adventure Seekers


10) Discover Free Museums

Beautiful Alaska has a number of free museums for visitors to enjoy. For example, the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center in Fairbanks offers free admission.

The popular Anchorage Museum also offers free admission from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of every month. The best advice is to reach out ahead of time to any museum you’d like to visit to see if free days are offered during your stay.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a must-visit attraction that offers an affordable experience for the entire family. Situated in Anchorage, Alaska, the center serves as a vibrant cultural hub, dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich heritage and traditions of Alaska Native communities.

Alaska Native Heritage Center


11) Focus On One Spot

If your ultimate goal is to see Alaska on a budget, get in the mindset of seeing hidden gems instead of heading to all of the popular tourist spots. You may also want to focus on one gorgeous portion of Alaska instead of sinking all of your travel dollars into trying to get across the state using various modes of transportation.

One spot that’s worth every penny is the Icy Strait on the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska. This breathtaking destination is a favorite among savvy travelers who want to make the most of their trip without breaking the bank.

So, get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of this lesser-known gem and create unforgettable memories without draining your travel funds.

Icy Strait Point, Hoonah, Alaska


Visiting Alaska Doesn’t Have To Cost A Bundle

Ultimately, the best way to see Alaska on a budget is to prioritize the experiences that you want to remember for a lifetime. When you skip the pricey tourist traps near the cruise ships in Icy Strait Point to head over to Hoonah, you can enjoy life-changing experiences for far less!

At Hoonah Travel Adventures, we put authentic Alaskan adventures in your budget. Book an unforgettable excursion with us today!

3 hours
Group Size
Up to 30

Guaranteed Whale Watching in the Icy Strait Point, Alaska Area - LEO, Military, Teacher Discount!

Our Hoonah whale watching tour begins when we pick you up at the Icy Strait Point Excursions Hub. We drive along Shaman Point to the Hoonah City Harbor where our charter boat is waiting. Along the way, you may spot some of our local wildlife, including bald eagles, blacktail deer, and more. Hoonah is home to the largest concentration of Alaskan brown bears in the world, so keep your eyes open!

We then board the boat and leave Hoonah Harbor. While traveling along the shorelines, sightings of bears, deer, coastal ducks and geese, blue heron, puffin, terns, cormorants, and more are common. In the water, you may get a chance to spot humpbacks, orca, sea otters, sea lions, porpoises, and seals.

Large numbers of humpback whales come to Hoonah to feed in the nutrient-rich waters of Point Adolphus, Glacier Bay and Icy Strait every summer before migrating south again in the winter. The whale population begins to arrive in Hoonah in May and stays through September. Humpback whales are large baleen whales that can reach over 50 feet in length and weigh as much as 50 tons. They are most famous for their whale songs, thought to be used by males as a mating call. Humpbacks are amazingly active and typical whale sightings include diving, blows, and flukes (tails). Lucky whale watchers may get to see breaching or bubble-net feeding, a cooperative feeding method where a pod forms a circle and dives under the water. They blow air to create a wall of bubbles that force krill and plankton to the surface where the whales can eat them. Observing humpbacks practice bubble-net feeding is a real treat and a truly thrilling experience. We have a $100 whale sighting guarantee! If a whale is not sighted on your tour your will be credited $100.

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3 hours
Group Size
Up to 10

Wilderness Tour and Brown Bear Search - LEO, Military, Teacher Discount!

Chichagof Island, or Shee Kaax, is an island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. At 75 miles long and 50 miles wide, it has a land area of 2,048.61 square miles, making it the fifth largest island in the United States. Chichagof Island has the highest population of bears per square mile of any place on Earth and its dense rain forests are some of the last grizzly strongholds!

The community of Hoonah, with a year-round population of approximately 750, is located in the northern part of Chichagof Island. The vast majority of the island is made up of pure, uninhabited Alaskan wilderness teeming with wildlife! The Ursus arctos, or brown bear, is the king of the forest, but Sitka black-tail deer, bald eagles, minks, martens, beavers, ducks, and seabirds thrive on the island and are sometimes spotted on this tour.

This Alaskan wilderness and bear search tour is only offered May through September because those are the months that afford the highest probability of bear sightings. In late April and May, the bears are coming out of hibernation and looking for food. In June, the bears are mating and eating grasses on the tidal flats. Older males fight each other for dominance and mating rights with the females, who at times are not receptive and force the male to give chase.

In July, the salmon start their migration from the ocean up the rivers and we find the bears feeding in coastal rivers and streams. In August and September, the salmon have made it further up the rivers to shallow streams where the bears chase them.

Depending on the month and the weather, the wildlife can be found in different locations throughout the island. Your guide spends a lot of time in the forest and knows where to look.

Join us as we search for these amazing creatures!

This tour is located on the Tongass National Forest under special use permit from the Forest Service, USDA.
Hoonah Travel Adventures LLC is an equal opportunity provider.

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3 hours
Group Size
Up to 6

Icy Strait Fishing Adventure

Fishermen come from around the world to cast their lines in the waters of Southeast Alaska in search of halibut and salmon. Join the ranks of these traveling fisherman and book a trip with us today!

3 hours
Group Size
Up to 12

Icy Strait Kayak Adventure

The reasons to Kayak with us are endless! A few reasons might be to experience unspoiled nature and stunning scenery amid a mountainous back drop! Or simply the serenity and peace that speaks to ones soul while gliding silently across the water in this majestic, remote location.

3 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
2 to 10

Chichagof Island Birding & Nature Adventure

In the lush vegetation of Chichagof Island, near Hoonah, Alaska, where Brown Bears outnumber humans, birding is an adventure! Your expert bird guide is also a naturalist, and you will learn about the natural and human history of the area, the plants, animals, fish, forests, and rivers. Pigeon Guillemots, Bald Eagles, Varied Thrushes, Steller’s Jays, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Red-breasted Sapsuckers are some of the favorites, but this is so much more than just another birding tour. Come experience the vibrant ecological web created here, in Hoonah, Alaska, near Icy Strait Point where the towering temperate forests of Chichagof Island tangle with the rich marine life of Icy Strait.