Your Essential Guide to Car Rentals in Alaska

If you are planning to travel through Alaska by road, take a moment to assess your travel needs to ensure you select the right vehicle for your trip. The diverse terrain and variable weather conditions of Alaska require careful consideration. If you plan to explore remote areas or travel off-road, choose a rugged SUV or a 4×4 vehicle capable of handling rough terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. Those who remain on highways and paved roads can benefit from a fuel-efficient compact or midsize car, which offers better mileage and maneuverability. You may want to consider an RV with a lot of storage space if you are traveling with a group or large family. Whatever your itinerary entails, selecting a vehicle that is tailored to your specific needs will enhance both your safety and enjoyment throughout your Alaskan road trip.

Your guide to car rentals in Alaska

How to choose a car rental company in Alaska?

Choosing a car rental company in Alaska involves weighing the advantages and considerations of major national brands and local gems. Major national brands such as Hertz, Avis, and Budget offer familiarity and convenience, with a broad range of vehicles often available at airports and major cities. However, this convenience may come at a premium, and their offerings may lack the specialized knowledge of local conditions.

Find the best rates for car rentals in Alaska by comparing prices

On the other hand, local rental companies provide competitive rates and personalized service, catering to the unique demands of Alaskan terrain. While their fleets may be smaller, they often boast vehicles tailored for rugged conditions, making them ideal for off-road adventures or winter driving.

Opting for a local company can offer a more authentic Alaskan experience, especially for those venturing beyond the usual tourist routes. Nevertheless, these local gems may not be as readily accessible, primarily situated in major cities like Fairbanks and Anchorage rather than at airport terminals. Therefore, the choice ultimately hinges on the traveler’s priorities, whether seeking convenience or a deeper immersion into Alaska’s rugged beauty.

Things to know before renting a vehicle in Alaska

Before finalizing a car rental agreement, it’s essential to carefully consider various factors to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. Once you’ve selected your preferred rental company and vehicle, delve into the details of the contract to understand the associated costs and terms.

  • Age Requirements: Age requirements are crucial, as many companies stipulate a minimum age of 21, with additional fees for drivers under 25.
  • Insurance Coverage: Review the rental company’s insurance coverage and consider supplemental options based on your risk tolerance and existing insurance policies. It is important to clarify any restrictions on driving on unpaved roads, as many insurance policies may be voided in such circumstances.
  • Fuel Policy: The majority of rentals come with a full-to-full fuel policy. Ensure that you are aware of the refueling options and any associated charges.
  • Mileage Limits: Most rental companies offer unlimited mileage, while others impose daily or weekly limits. Make sure your plan aligns with the distance you plan to drive.
  • One-Way Rentals: Please be aware that returning the car to a different location may incur additional fees. Make sure you plan your Alaska itinerary accordingly to minimize these costs.
  • Restricted Roads: You should be aware that some rental agreements forbid travel on certain roads, such as McCarthy Road and the interior of Denali National Park. Make sure you clarify any restrictions that apply to your route with the rental company.

Tips for driving safely and comfortably on Alaskan roads

Driving in Alaska is a whole new ball game with its long stretches of highways, mountain passes, and icy roads. Safety and comfort are paramount when navigating the roads of Alaska. For a smooth and secure journey, here are some essential tips:

  • Road Conditions: Keep an eye out for changing road conditions, particularly during the winter months. Ensure that you drive at a moderate speed and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. You should be aware that Alaska’s road infrastructure differs from traditional freeways found in other parts of the country. Most highways consist of two lanes, separated by a solid yellow line that prohibits passing. A passing lane occurs approximately every five miles, necessitating that one waits for a safe opportunity to overtake.
  • Weather Awareness: The weather in Alaska is unpredictable. Keep track of the latest weather forecasts and prepare for sudden changes. You can listen to weather radio, which frequently provides updates on the weather. Prepare for the possibility of road closures due to adverse weather conditions.
  • Wildlife Encounters: It is quite common to encounter wildlife on Alaska highways, and some of these encounters can be fatal. It is important to exercise caution when encountering wildlife on the road, such as moose and bears. Be careful and slow down, especially at dawn and dusk when animal activity is heightened.
  • Limited Cell Service: Alaska is one of the largest states in the US with a low population density. Providing cellular coverage to the entire state is practically impossible. It is important to realize that cell phone coverage may be limited in remote areas. You may wish to purchase DrimSim since it automatically connects to the available operator in that region. It frees you from being bound to a particular provider whose service might or might not be available where you are going. In order to navigate effectively, you may wish to consider downloading offline maps or investing in a local GPS device.
  • Essential Supplies: For long journeys, pack an emergency kit with blankets, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, and non-perishable food and water.

You may also like to read – How to Plan a Road Trip by Yourself: A Comprehensive Guide

Additional considerations for a smooth trip to Alaska

While the essential considerations outlined above lay the foundation for a successful car rental experience, it’s vital to factor in additional elements to ensure seamless travels:

  • Winter Driving: If you plan to travel during the winter months, ensure that your vehicle is equipped with winter tires in order to enhance traction on snowy and icy roads. Make sure you are familiar with winter driving safety protocols, such as maintaining a safe following distance and avoiding sudden braking.
  • Off-Roading: When planning an Alaska adventure, inform the rental company in advance if you plan to go off-road. Ensure that the chosen vehicle is appropriate for rugged terrain, as some companies may restrict off-road excursions.
  • Camping and Outdoor Activities: For outdoor enthusiasts planning camping or outdoor pursuits, consider renting roof racks or cargo carriers to accommodate additional gear.
  • Scenic Train Rides: Consider incorporating scenic train journeys into your travel itinerary. Several rental companies offer one-way car rentals and train packages, allowing you to explore diverse regions without having to repeat your route.

The cost of gas in Alaska and the location of gas stations

The cost of gas and the availability of gas stations in Alaska require strategic planning, especially in remote regions.

  • Gas Station Availability: Gas stations, particularly in remote areas, may be sparse. Make sure you plan your route carefully and identify gas stations along the way. Fuel up whenever possible, especially before traveling to remote areas. Filling up a jerry can is also a good idea if you are unsure of the distance and don’t want to chance it.
  • Gas Prices: Alaska usually has higher gas prices than other parts of the country. Plan your trip accordingly and include fuel costs in your budget.
  • Payment Methods: Credit cards are not accepted at all gas stations. Carry cash as a backup payment method, especially in areas where card acceptance may be limited.

Troubleshooting and Roadside Assistance

In spite of thorough planning, it’s essential to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances, especially when traveling in remote places of Alaska. Traveling on desolate roads with flat tires can dampen your spirits quickly, so you should equip yourself with a flat tire repair kit. Roadside assistance is also provided by most rental companies in the event of a breakdown. Make sure you are familiar with the coverage provided and how to access assistance promptly. Taking proactive measures and staying informed can help you navigate Alaska’s roadblocks with ease and confidence, ensuring a smoother travel experience.

RV Rental in Alaska

When traveling in a group, an RV rental in Alaska is often the best way to go. Not only do you have all the comforts of home while on the Alaska road trip, but you can also take advantage of the extra space an RV provides. There are several advantages to renting an RV in Alaska.

First and foremost, an RV provides all the comforts of home while on the road. This means that you can save money by cooking your meals rather than eating out every day. An RV is also great for traveling with children or pets, as you have plenty of extra space to store their gear and toys. Additionally, an RV rental in Alaska comes with its own set of wheels, which makes it the perfect vehicle for exploring the many scenic highways and mountain passes that the state has to offer. Besides saving money on hotels in Alaska, RV rental also allows you to travel whenever and wherever you want, wherever you want.

There are several RV parks in Alaska that offer travelers a place to stay while they’re visiting the state. Some of the best RV parks in Alaska include:

  • Denali View RV Park in Healy, which offers stunning views of Denali National Park
  • Chena River RV Park in Fairbanks, which is close to many local attractions
  • Eagle’s Nest RV Park in Girdwood, which is located next to the Chugach Mountains

Car rental prices in Alaska

A rental car in Alaska is significantly more expensive during the peak season than during the off-peak season. It may cost $200 per day for a midsize car during the peak season, while $50 – $80 for the same vehicle during the off-peak season. The best way to get a low rate on your rental car is to book it well in advance. There are no cancellation fees in the event your plans change.

Make sure you compare rates from multiple rental companies. One company may charge a flat rate with unlimited miles, while the other may charge per mile.With so many rental companies to choose from, it is sometimes difficult to find the best deals. Discover Cars offers a handy tool for comparing car rental prices in Alaska. It helped me rent my car at a great price.

Rental Car Insurance

While on an Alaskan vacation, rental car insurance can be a great way to ensure that you are properly covered. Depending on your coverage, your insurance policy will cover bodily injury, liability, and theft. I would recommend having comprehensive car rental insurance. When choosing a policy, it’s important to compare the options available so you can make an informed decision. There is no obligation to purchase this type of cover unless it perfectly suits your needs for peace of mind.

For foreigners driving in Alaska, make sure that either your travel insurance policy covers US rental car insurance or that you purchase damage protection from the rental company. Rental insurance from the car rental company can be quite expensive, sometimes more than the rental fee.

You may also like to read – Foreign Driver’s Guide to Rental Car Insurance in the US


By understanding your needs and selecting the right car, you can turn your Alaskan car rental into an exciting aspect of your trip. Take advantage of the open road, explore the Last Frontier at your own pace, and make lasting memories.


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