On this page we have the answers to many of the frequently asked questions that we receive. Such questions fall into two two categories:
What is it like touring in Alaska? (About Alaska)
Why is Alaskabike the tour company of choice (Why Alaskabike?)
You will find many answers in the tables below.
Of course, questions by phone or email are always welcome!
Frommer's picks Alaskabike as one of the top ten bicycle tours in the world!
Selected three times to be Bicycling Magazine's "Tour of the Month!"
Selected by Outside Magazine as one of "The Top 50 Bicycle Tours in the World!"
We are Alaskans...
...first and foremost. And it does make a difference.
Outside companies base their tours around the 'best known' parts of the state. Even in a state as large and empty as Alaska, it is possible to find a crowd. Industrial tourism flushes huge amounts of people into and out of a few small areas. Such areas necessarily become famous. And such fame draws even more people.
Away from these 'famous' areas is a huge and magnificent state with trails and roads much less traveled. After 20 years of taking thousands of travelers across this state, we have heard overwhelming agreement that out there lies much of the best bicycling in the world.
Between the two of us, we have lived over 65 years in Alaska. We have traveled to every section of the state. We know the land, we know the roads, and we know the people. It’s our home because we love it. It is very important to us that our guests get to see the why.
We don't care to run tours all over the world. Our passion is to be the very best at showing you our home, Alaska.
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Walt Rowland & Greg Rowland
Alaskabike is owned and operated by Walt Rowland.
Walt was raised in Southern California and came to Alaska in 1975 to work on the construction of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline. It was supposed to be just a summer job for college, but when he graduated he decided to move to Alaska and continue to work in the construction field. This work took him to many of the most remote areas in the state.
In 1985, Walt decided he didn't want to get old under a bulldozer and became a Stockbroker in Anchorage. Walt prospered in the brokerage business, until 1992, when he and a friend bicycled across Alaska for a vacation. He could never seem to get that experience out of his mind. Soon he followed his heart again, quitting the brokerage business, and in 1993, starting up Alaskan Bicycle Adventures.
Started in 1993 by Walt Rowland
Eleven years in business as Alaskan Bicycle Adventures.
Operated over 50 bicycle tours in 2000, more Alaska bicycle tours than all competitors combined!
Walt renamed the business 'Alaskabike' in 2004.
Walt's son joined the business as a full partner in 2016.
What does fully supported mean? Simply this. You ride your bike, and we take care of everything else! At Alaskabike, we feel the tour activities are plenty for you to do, so we set up roadside snacks, feed you lunches, and of course, forward your luggage to your hotel.
What's a Day Like?
On a typical high mileage day, we will meet for breakfast at 8:00 AM and be ready to ride about 9:30 AM. We generally divide the riding day into four legs of 12-22 miles each. After the first leg, we have a snack break at the van, where we have bananas, apples, candy bars, drinks, and all kinds of other goodies available. After the second leg, we have lunch, which may be in a lodge, or may be on the side of the road. After the third leg, we have another snack break, and then it’s onto our rooms and dinner. We eat our way down the highway!
A shorter mileage day proceeds much the same except after lunch we might hop in the van to go to a trailhead for a hiking excursion.
Riders ride at their own paces. At all times a guide is employed as 'sweeper' and rides at the back of the group to catch any flat tires or other problems. Some groups string out over quite a distance. Others are much the same speed and stay as a pack. No matter. You get to ride at a pace you find comfortable.
Your guide knows the road. He knows the hills. After a few days, they will know you too. We are always glad to answer questions like, "Do I want to ride this next leg?"
We know how difficult the ride is, we know how scenic it is, and we can see how fresh you are. We do our best to make sure that you get all you want, but not too much
What if I get tired? After all, you are on vacation; there is no dishonor in taking a break.
If you ever don’t want to ride your bike or take part in any of the activities, we take care of that too! You will see the van roughly every two hours. You can feel free to get in the van at any time!
Bonus Miles! Most days will have the opportunity for you to ride even more mileage than the tour itinerary states. Let us know! We can usually give you all you want!
Usually, we don't spend much time talking about the hotels and lodges that we stay in on our tours... That's because our primary focus is on where we go and what we do. Our passion is to show you the best scenery, bicycling, and adventure that Alaska has to offer...
In Alaska, If you design your tours around four-star hotels you become very limited as to where you can go. Big, Fancy hotels will only exist in crowded areas. That's why most 'Outside' companies operating up here focus on rather small sections of the state...
... But that does not mean that we are indifferent to the quality of the accommodations!
All the hotels and cabins we use are clean and have private baths. We stay in the 'best available' at each location. Naturally, 'best available' is somewhat subjective. I have had motel owners passionately argue as to why their motel was better. I have read online reviews that disagree with me...
I don't shy away from the fact that 'best available' is MY opinion. I have stayed at all of these places not just once, but dozens of times. I know of what I speak; and over the last 23 years, I have experienced all the options.
My criteria for selecting 'best available' is simple. I ask myself, "Where do I want to stay?" And that is where we stay. After all, I do stay there... again and again!
In Anchorage, we stayed at the Hampton Inn.
It's a Hampton Inn. It’s very nice.
It’s close to the airport and has a 24-hour Airport Shuttle If you want to arrive a day early, or want to stay after the tour; we can reserve your rooms at our group rate.
If you have bicycle boxes or other luggage you don't need while on tour, the Bell Captain will store it for you.
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King bed on left...
This is the Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks. It’s legitimately fancy. It would be fancy where you live... Unless, of course, you live in Las Vegas. There it would just be 'nice'.
But for Alaska, it is super fancy!
Sometimes we stay at the Sophie Station Suites in Fairbanks. It is very fancy, but with much larger rooms than the Westmark. You trade a little 'fanciness' for more square feet.
They are both great places.
In Glennallen, we stay at the New Caribou Hotel.
I show more than I otherwise would of the New Caribou because, for a reason unknown to myself, the New Caribou has some negative reviews online.
I have been staying there for 23 years now and I think that the reviews are undeserved.
Yes, it’s expensive, but we take care of that. Yes, they leave the Bible open, but you can close it, or put it in the drawer.
The New Caribou is fine... It's a clean, nice place...
It’s a good shower and a clean room in the middle of nowhere...
The beds are better than average, and as you can tell from the genuine smile on my face... after a long day of biking and/or hiking... I am always happy to be in my room at the New Caribou!!
In Valdez, we stayed at the Mountain Sky Hotel.
That's it, immediately to the left of my right cheekbone. I promise to get a new picture for next year.
Below left are the desk and microwave and refrigerator, and below left shows the beds.
There are two good, and fairly equivalent, places to stay in Valdez. The Mountain Sky has slightly nicer rooms.
These are the cabins at the Denali Perch Resort, one of our two preferred places in the area. Most tours stay here, but a few stay at the Denali Cabins a few miles up the road.
Both places are well away from the crowded tourist areas.
All the cabins in which we stay are double occupancy with two beds and private baths.
That's our whole group posing at one cabin...
(They DID NOT all stay in one cabin... Remember: two people per cabin!)
That's our van in the parking lot at The Perch.
This is the Alaska 7 Motel in Delta Junction.
It has a very sophisticated satellite TV System. I haven't figured it out yet.
It has very good Wi-Fi... It’s at the end of the Earth!
There are not a lot of options in Delta Junction, and the Alaska 7 is as good as they get.
|“I didn’t spend a dime!”||All lodging, including the night before the tour departure, is included in the tour price! We can't expect you to miraculously appear in Anchorage at 8:00 AM, so your room the night before the tour departs is included in the tour price.|
|“What did you think of the food on the tour?”||Prices are based on double occupancy. For people who book singly, we will try to find a same-sex roommate. If we fail to find you a roommate, there is no extra charge. Single rooms may guarantee at extra cost depending on availability. Please email for details. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|“What did you think of your rental bike?”||Meals are ordered off the menu. You get to decide what you want to eat! Over the last twenty years, we have eaten in all the restaurants. We know where the best food is, and we take you there. We figure you'll get hungry during the day too, so we include lunch and roadside snacks! All meals, except on the ships of the Alaska Marine Highway, are included in the tour price. Alcoholic beverages are not included.|
"We had friendly, knowledgeable guides and beautiful scenery! I've never been on a fully supported tour before--it was great! I loved the variety of activities and I liked that you had the ability to choose your own meals from the menu! I had an amazing time! I would definitely do another bike tour like this!"
|All Transportation included. From your hotel in Anchorage back to the Anchorage location of your choice. There are no extra fees for excursions on your tour.|
|Bicycle Rental included. While you are free to bring your own bicycle, 95% of our guests use our Cannondale bicycles, so we include them in the tour price. Each bike is equipped with 21 or 24 speed Shimano index shifting, smooth rolling tires, and is Alaska Equipped with fenders, rack, water bottle and day pack.|
|We make our packages as inclusive as possible. We believe you should know in advance how much your vacation is going to cost.|
|Our tours are designed around what we believe to be the best locations and activities. None of our tours are designed to a formula that may work well somewhere else. Our formula is simple. Select the best locations and activities, and then design the logistics necessary to make it happen.|
|We will never run a tour without a seat in the van for everyone. Alaskan summers are beautiful, and most guests enjoy fine weather, but this is the sub-arctic and long experience tells us never to get too complacent.|
|Above and beyond all else, Alaska is our home, and we have a passion for this country. Traveling through this great land, and showing it to our guests is a dream come true, and our attitude show in everything we do!|
"Tastefully and exceptionally well-done trip. Definitely a five-star operation!"
--Phil Hawes, Denver, CO
Touring can be an expensive proposition, but sometimes it turns out to be more expensive than one expects. When deciding upon tour companies it is important to compare not only what is included in the listed tour price but to look at what is NOT included. For example, most companies start their tours like this. "Day 1. We meet in Anchorage at 9:00 AM and depart…" What is not mentioned here is that you cannot get to Anchorage at 9:00 AM! You must spend the night before, and the summertime rate at almost any hotel in Anchorage is over $200! At Alaskabike your accommodations in Anchorage the night before the tour are included in the tour price.
Most companies charge extra for their bike rentals. You could bring your own, but it costs about $100 to ship your bike to Alaska one way! We have found over 95% of our customers use our Cannondale bikes, so we include bike rental in the tour price.
We not only provide three meals per day on our tours, but also roadside snacks several times a day consisting of fresh fruit and a variety of nuts, granola and candy bars, juices, and soft drinks.
We have been on tours that started out inexpensive, but by the time all the options and 'not included in tour price' items were added in the cost almost doubled! That will not happen with Alaskabike! We strive to make our tour price as inclusive as possible.
It’s a standard industry practice to add one day to the number of nights in a tour description. For example, 8-day tour will usually contain seven nights. Usually, the number of nights will more closely match the actual days of the tour. At Alaskbike when we say a tour is seven days, we mean seven days of guided activities. Our final day includes a cruise across Prince William Sound, and then we get you to your hotel or the airport!
We at Alaskabike have personally biked every mile, hiked every trail, rafted every river, cruised every cruise, slept in every lodge, and eaten in all the restaurants that are used on our tours. We can also make the same claim about even more places and activities that are not on our tours! Along with the input of our guides, who know and love Alaska as we do, we put together the best possible tours to show off our spectacular state, give you a true sense of the "real" Alaska, and provide you with a great adventure.
And with our experience as residents, safety and respect for weather conditions greatly influence our choices. There are places we won't take you, that 'Outside' companies will because we don't consider these routes to be safe or properly supportable.
Having lived in Alaska for over thirty years, we have seen and experienced a great deal of what this state has to offer. We know where Industrial Tourism goes, and we strive to take you to the other places, to where Alaskans go when we want to get away. In our opinion what is best is not necessarily the most popular, most expensive, or the easiest. Perhaps you know from your own area, the most intriguing places are often not the most obvious.
At Alaskabike we will show you what we know to be the very best of Alaska!
Considering our remoteness, Alaska is blessed with wonderful roads. Considering our winters, it’s a good thing! Roads in Alaska do not go up to high elevations or they would be in permanent snow. If they were steep, they would be too icy to climb all winter.
Many of the pictures you see in our catalog look like they were taken at high elevations. Bear in mind that this far north, tree line is rarely as high as 2500 feet, and often much lower. That opens up a world of beautiful Alpine scenery without having to deal with lung-busting thin air!
Since virtually none of the land was in private ownership before the highways were built, there was never a necessity to build roads around someone's property lines. Therefore the roads very effectively finesse the terrain, winding as necessary to avoid hills and to keep grades even.
Alaska is certainly well known for its mountains. Fortunately, the roads in the North Country pass through the mountains rather than over them. For example, when we cross the Alaska Range at Isabel Pass (the highest point on our tours), the road only climbs to 3200 feet. As a rule, the steepest grades on our larger highways is 6% (same as on Interstate Highways.) And the greatest one-day elevation gain on either tour is only 1800 feet!
Most of the Richardson Highway has wide shoulders, such as these spot about 35 miles out of Valdez. This road cross section is typical of the entire highway, except for the section in the next photo.
On the northern Richardson Highway between Delta Junction and Paxson, the road is mostly shoulderless. When the Parks highway was completed in 1972, this section of road was bypassed by the vast majority of traffic. Since then vehicle traffic on this stretch of road has been negligible As a consequence all the lodges and gas stations closed long ago and we eat lunch out of the van.
|June 1-June 15||June 15-July 25||July 25-August 25||Aug 25-Sep 15|
|Typical Weather||Daily highs 55-70 degrees. Clearest time of year.||Daily highs 65-80 degrees.||Daily highs 65-75 degrees.||Daily highs 50-70 degrees. Cooler mornings.|
|Daylight||20 to 22 hours of daylight.|
18 to 22 hours of daylight.
|16 to 18 hours of daylight.||Sunset 9- 9:30 PM.|
|Low Temps <50F (10C)||Possible on passes||Unlikely||Unlikely|
Increasing likelihood >50%
|High Temps >80F (25C)||Unlikely||Possible||Possible||Unlikely|
Alaska has an exaggerated reputation for being rainy because most of the people who visit here come up on cruise ships!
They cruise the Inside Passage, where the warm waters of the Japan Current fill the air with moisture that falls on the coastal mountains of southeast Alaska. Yes, it rains a lot down there, but away from the coast, most of Alaska and the Yukon Territory is technically semi-arid, getting only 10 - 15 inches of precipitation per year.
Below is the monthly average rainfall for summer in Fairbanks and Anchorage as provided by the National Weather Service.
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Now that's not so scary, is it?
Rain is the most unpredictable part of Alaska's unpredictable weather. Statically, June is the driest month with the chance of rain increasing until late August when it tends to get dryer again. That being said, it is very common for a season not to follow this pattern, and the difference from one week to the next is likely to be greater than the difference between the months.
A typical 8-day tour will get about 1/2 day of rain.
Now, of course, all this doesn't mean it won't rain on you. This far north, anything can happen at any time. The best way to avoid rain is to have all the gear we recommend. Then, perhaps, the irony inherent in nature will send us perfect weather just to spite you.
That's an outcome we can all live with!
And you'll have a whole bunch of fancy rain gear... It'll come in handy somewhere!!
You never know what we might see out on the road.
We will almost always see moose, we often see caribou, and occasionally bears.
We are occasionally asked, "Will I be eaten by a bear?"
The answer is, "No, you will not be eaten by a bear."
Bears don't like people, so they keep away. While we occasionally glimpse a bear, we rarely get a chance to get a camera out before it disappears into the woods.
We often see foxes, rabbits, and porcupines. Very rarely we see lynx.
There are no snakes or reptiles in Alaska.
| ||Eagles are a common sight in many parts of Alaska. The close-up on the left is cropped from the picture on the right...|
We regularly see the big Trumpeter Swans.
We see Arctic Terns, the world's longest migrating birds.
Alaska has gotten a reputation for voracious mosquitoes. Like many 'reputations', this one has elements of truth, which are often exaggerated to a ridiculous extent. (See photo...)
Alaska has generated this reputation largely because of two of the largest attractions have been hunting and fishing.
If I wanted to attract mosquitoes I would go to a wet, wooded area and stand still. Hunters and fishermen do exactly that, and yes, they will get eaten alive.
I have been in Alaska for 33 years now, and the worst mosquitoes I have ever seen were in Idaho. In second and third places come Minnesota and Northern California. I'm sure many of you have seen places that can beat any of the ones I mentioned. The fact is, anyplace on the planet with woods and water will have mosquitoes!
The typical maximum airspeed of an Alaskan mosquito is about four miles per hour. (You won't find that kind of information in an encyclopedia.) I have been walking away from mosquitoes for years now, and I have observed the speed at which they can no longer keep up. When hiking, you can just walk fast or trot for twenty yards or so and you will lose them for a while.
On a bicycle, they can't keep up except when you have a tailwind that is going exactly the same speed as you are. How often does that happen?
Most of the other bugs I get asked about either don't exist in Alaska or are here in such small numbers as to not have annoyed me in 33 years. These include the dreaded Black Flies which exist on the east coast of the US.
PO Box 220803
Anchorage, AK 99522