These 6 Alaskan Destinations Just Got Easier to Visit

Ask anyone who’s taken a cruise tour of Alaska and they’ll tell you Denali has nothing in common with Ketchikan. Alaska is a gigantic state—more than twice the size of Texas—and spans numerous climates, ecosystems, cultures and types of communities. It’s no wonder that a week or two isn’t enough to cover the state.These 6 Alaskan Destinations Just Got Easier to Visit

But the size isn’t the only complicating factor for exploring Alaska: Numerous towns aren’t accessible by road, meaning flying is the only reasonable choice unless you’ve got plenty of time to spare while waiting for ferry schedules to align. Now, you can earn or burn miles when flying Ravn Alaska, a regional airline that operates regularly-scheduled flights from its hub in Anchorage to more than a dozen communities statewide.

A new agreement between Ravn Alaska and Alaska Airlines brings additional flexibility to Ravn travelers. Starting immediately, flyers can optionally choose to earn miles with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan when flying Ravn, adding to a program they already be a member in. And, next year, Mileage Plan members will be able to redeem their miles for flights operated by Ravn Alaska.

The option to earn Alaska Airlines miles on Ravn flights will surely be a boon to local Alaskans. For travelers, though, the redemption side is likely to be more interesting. Ravn Alaska services several hard-to-reach destinations that have nothing to do with cruise ports or tour buses. If you’re looking for a good excuse to see a different side of the state, this is your chance. These six spots are some of our favorites.

King SalmonThese 6 Alaskan Destinations Just Got Easier to Visit

Technically, King Salmon was already on Alaska Airlines’ route network, making it possible for travelers to fly for free using miles. However, the trip from Anchorage to this Katmai National Park gateway is seasonal. Ravn’s operations extend the available dates and give travelers more options.

Though the town is small, it has two main claims to fame. The name may give away the first one: This is prime fishing territory, where anglers can try their luck at catching five species of salmon. The other draw for visitors is bear watching along the Brooks River. Viewing platforms at Brooks Camp (accessible by boat or float plane from King Salmon) provide incredible opportunities to see brown bears feeding under waterfalls or feasting along the riverside.

Like much of Alaska, these specialty experiences don’t come cheap, so the option to redeem miles for free transportation can soften the blow to your wallet.

ValdezThese 6 Alaskan Destinations Just Got Easier to Visit

Valdez is the underrated cousin to the busy summer ports in Whittier and Seward. Since cruise ships don’t typically stop here, Valdez has kept a lot of its local Alaskan feel while still offering some of the best excursions in the state. Halibut fishing is popular here, as are glacier cruises, kayaking amongst icebergs and opportunities to see abundant marine life. Come winter, it has some of the best backcountry skiing and snowmobiling in the country.

Though you can reach Valdez by road from Anchorage, having the option to skip the road trip makes this a new destination idea for anyone with limited time. Once you’re in town, there are plenty of activities you can reach easily on foot, allowing you to skip the rental car altogether.

Miles and points loyalists can use rewards to book their stay, too. The Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn has rates starting at 20,000 points per night.

Dutch Harbor (Unalaska)These 6 Alaskan Destinations Just Got Easier to Visit

Head west to the Aleutian Islands to visit Unalaska for activities that seem stereotypically, well, Unalaskan. Here, travel is not just about the outdoors (though you’ll find plenty of that, too). Instead, come for insight into Alaska’s rich history.

The starting point for all visitors should be the Museum of the Aleutians, an impressive collection that walks you through a breadth of local history including exhibits on Unangax̂, Russian-American and WWII influences. For many, though, the World War II sites represent an important but often overlooked part of the war. National park sites, including Fort Schwatka and Battery 402, help to provide context on the Aleutian Islands campaign.


Alaska is known for its expansive stretches of wilderness and if that’s what you’re after, Dillingham may be one of the best places to find it. This small city, accessible only by air, sits near the border of Wood-Tikchik State Park. At 1.6 million acres, it’s the largest state park in the country with no dispute over its wilderness possibilities. Several town outfitters rent out kayaks, canoes and rafts to help you get around.These 6 Alaskan Destinations Just Got Easier to Visit

Travelers keen to see wildlife can extend their visit to include other neighboring areas from their base in Dillingham. Togiak National Wildlife Refuge is home to moose, brown bear, wolverine, wolves and numerous other animals. Round Island takes dedication to reach, but once there, there are chances to see Pacific walrus, whales, sea lions, seals and hundreds of thousands of seabirds.


The small town of Aniak offers the quintessential Alaskan experience: fly in and then head out for any number of outdoorsy experiences. Float trips, fly fishing, hiking, wildlife watching and hunting are all fair game, provided you know what you’re doing (and/or hire an experienced guide). What all of these activities have in common is a backdrop of spectacular scenery.

For most visitors, Aniak will be more of a jumping-off point than the destination itself. Home to only 500 residents, you might imagine that town itself isn’t much of a draw. Keep that in mind while you’re planning: Except for your arrival and departure days, you’ll probably be camping or staying in bush lodges. Still, this Alaskan destination is ready for adventure.These 6 Alaskan Destinations Just Got Easier to Visit


About four hours by road from Anchorage, Homer has long been a favorite spot for travelers “in the know”. However, the new partnership with Alaska Airlines means travelers can now get there even easier with just a quick connection at Ted Stevens International Airport. A weekend getaway from Seattle or Portland is a real possibility.

What makes this small town stand out from others in Alaska is that it offers a true vacation experience with shops and restaurants along the Homer Spit while still retaining an off-the-beaten-path feel. It’s easy enough to spend your day on the water—this is the halibut fishing capital of the world and whale watching is awesome in Kachemak Bay—before coming back to relax at your lodge.

Homer’s popularity means there are plenty of accommodation options here, ranging from hostels to wilderness resorts. In the middle of the range, you’ll find a Best Western and the option to redeem points.These 6 Alaskan Destinations Just Got Easier to Visit


There’s really one reason travelers head to Unalakleet but for anglers that’s all it takes. Sitting where the Unalakleet River and Bering Sea meet, this is prime fishing territory all season long. Salmon are big business here, with the area being known as one of the greatest salmon runs on the planet. That’s not all, though: Arctic char, grayling and Dolly Varden are also native to these waters.

While you can fish throughout the summer, you’ll want to take note of more specific timeframes if you’re after a certain fish. For many, the prolific pink (humpy) salmon run starting in early July is a chance to hook more fish than you can fathom. For others, the silver (coho) salmon run later in summer is more compelling. This is truly world-class fishing.

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Bottom Line

The ability to redeem miles for more flights within Alaska puts a new set of destinations onto the map, each one providing another excuse to explore the state. While redemptions through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan won’t be available until 2022, you can start building your balance and planning your dream trip now.

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