Can you live in Alaska without a car?

Alaska is the most remote state in the US and the biggest. With several parts of the state being uninhabitable and roads limited, living here requires self-sufficiency. So, can you live in Alaska without a car?

Yes, it’s possible to live in Alaska if you don’t have a car. But it might be a bit challenging since you have to plan your movement based on schedules. There are several other options such as the Alaska Railroad, Park Connection, Ferry, Employers Shuttle, Public Bus Systems, Cab, Air, and Bike.

However, if you choose to get a car, choose one suitable for the Alaskan weather and road conditions. Here, we discuss whether you can live in Alaska without a car.

Options for Getting Around in Alaska

You can take advantage of several options to get around Alaska without a car. They include:

1.     Alaska Railroad

The Alaska Railroad is one of the most efficient ways to get around the different cities and important areas in the state. This scenic rail line mostly offers regular services between Anchorage and Whittier or Seward. There’s also the service between Anchorage, Denali National Park, Fairbanks, and Talkeetna. Some trips are just once a day during the summer and even less regular in the winter. So, you have to plan your trip in the northernmost city to take full advantage of the train trips.

There are even places in Alaska that you can go without a train. A good example is Spencer Glacier Whistlestop. This glacier is an amazing tourist spot in the state that’s only accessible by the Alaska Railroad.

2.     Park Connection

It offers buses and motor coach services between Anchorage, Denali National Park, and Talkeetna during the summer. So, it allows you to take a trip from one place to the other without any stress. The same service offers coaches that go between Anchorage and Seward or Whittier. While it’s mostly for tourists, residents can also take advantage of it if they go in any of those directions.

3.     Ferry

The Alaska Marine Highway is also an option for getting around the state. There are several places you can go by ferry, especially if you’re visiting the southeast Alaska towns. You can get to Haines, Skagway, and Gustavus from Juneau in hours. Some of these ferries only operate a few times a week, so you’ll have to plan your movement accordingly.

4.     Employers Shuttle

Some employers in Alaska also offer shuttle systems for their workers. So you might want to check if your employer has that system before moving to Alaska without your car. For instance, the Denali park system has this shuttle service in place. It doesn’t just get employees from their homes, but it also operates throughout the six-million-acre park. So tourists can also take advantage of navigating the park and getting around.

5.     Public Bus Systems

Cities such as Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Fairbanks have bus systems for residents. In some of these cities, the bus system has BusTracker apps. This allows you to plan your movement based on the service. Anchorage is the biggest Alaskan city and has several routes that the buses ply. Get around the city easily and find all the amazing spots with the public transport system.

6.     Cab

If you don’t own a car in Alaska, you’ll use a cab often. The major cities here have several cab services. Even the smaller ones like Sitka have some cab companies. But it’s in Anchorage that you’ll have the best option. After all, it’s the biggest city here with a population of over 300,000. You hail a cab on the streets or call the companies.

7.     Air

Air travel is quite common in Alaska, especially in its most remote parts. Puddle jumpers and seaplanes operate in Juneau, and they’ll get you to the smaller cities in southeast Alaska. The airline tickets are mostly reasonable, and from Anchorage, Juneau, or Fairbanks, you can get to other parts of the state apart from where you live. There are 239 airports in the state, with two being international airports.

8.     Bike

If you’re moving to Alaska without a car, make sure you have a bike. A bike is an ideal way to get around any city you live in, especially during the summer. There are a lot of bike trails in Alaska, and it’ll save you the trouble of getting a cab or walking when going short distances. You can fly your bike from the mainland US if it meets the airline requirements. You can also transport it by ferry from Washington state. Of course, you might still buy the bike in Alaska. But it would be much more costly.

What Kind Of Car To Drive In Alaska? 

Although cars aren’t compulsory to get around, it isn’t better to have one. Owning a car in Alaska will make your life much easier. But cars here are more expensive since they have to be imported from the mainland US. Also, not all cars will function effectively in Alaska. So you’ll have to find a car that’ll perform well both in the summer and winter.

If you’re moving from a warm state like California, your car might need some tuning up before it can work effectively in Alaska. Your lifestyle in Alaska will also matter. A car that’s good for commuting in Anchorage might be useless when it goes against the hills in remote areas. So, you might even be better off selling your old car and buying a new one in some cases.

If you’re driving a car in Alaska, you should ensure it has front-wheel drive with studded tires. These kinds of cars will be sufficient in most parts. But if you live in hilly areas, you might have to change to a 4-wheel drive. Station wagons and SUVs could also be good if they’re 4-wheel drives with studded tires and chains. However, pickup trucks are the most common choice of vehicles here and the most efficient. You’ll need a truck owner to get you out if you ever get stuck.

In Conclusion

Living in Alaska is an adventure, and it helps to have a car so you can fully experience that adventure. But this isn’t compulsory. You can live here without a car and navigate the state using other options.