If you're anything like me, researching for a trip is a lot of fun. What types of things do you like to do? Where is it you want to go? How do you want to get there? To answer these questions you will need to access information from all possible sources. If you're doing it right your dining room will start to resemble the local library.
Start with the local Chamber of Commerce for each town you want to visit. You can request local information on most Chamber websites. Do remember these lists are not a complete listing of local businesses, but only those businesses who are members of the Chamber.
Early on you will need to arrange reservations for the Alaska Marine Highway System. The thought of traveling by ferry can be a bit intimidating at first, but it is really the best way to experience Alaska. I'll discuss more about this later on, but in the meantime visit the website.
Milepost, A.K.A "The Bible of Alaska," by tourists, not locals. Make sure you purchase the newest edition, generally available in March, as local business and road conditions change from year to year. Just as with the Chamber resource, not all local businesses are listed in the Milepost.
Netflix and Amazon are terrific sources for documentaries, provided that you stay clear of silly "reality" series currently popular on the Discovery channel. Try film titles instead such as: "The Wonders of Alaska," "Building the Alaska Highway," "Alaska: The Inside Passage." You will also find several YouTube videos with a Google search.
Amazon is a great source for books written for just about every audience and area. Just a word of caution about several of the more popular books that include the typical "must see" locations. The entries in many cases have been written by the business owner, which doesn't really provide an unbiased account. I've been disappointed several times with the difference in the description and my actual experience. The following titles I found to offer the best format for planning the trip and were useful on the road as well.
- Eyewitness Travel: Alaska - ISBN 978-1465428349
- Best Places: Alaska - ISBN 978-1570615313
- Off the Beaten Path: Alaska - ISBN 978-0762745340
- Alaska's Inside Passage - ISBN 978-1400009022
- Alaska, James Mitchner - ISBN 978-0375761423 - Offers a quick education on geography, history, people, and culture.
- The Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced - ISBN 0-8135-3505-0