GETTING THERE: Northwest, American, TWA (beginning June 1), United and Western airlines fly to Anchorage from Washington, all with intermediate stops. The cheapest round-trip excursion fare is about $420, with certain restrictions.
GETTING AROUND: Despite the state's enormous size -- 586,412 square miles -- there are only 2,517 miles of paved road, most of them in the south central part of the state and very few north of Fairbanks. Major car rental agencies serve the largest cities, with weekly rentals for a midsize car running about $300 in season.
The Alaska Railroad runs daily throughout the summer between Anchorage and Fairbanks, stopping at Denali National Park. Each Friday there is one round trip between Anchorage and Seward, and daily service is offered between Whittier and Anchorage. The rest of the year, service is reduced. For more information, contact the Alaska Railroad Corp., P.O. Box 7-2111, Anchorage, Alaska 99510, (907) 265-2494.
Air charter services fly virtually everywhere in the state, though they tend to be expensive. There are also regular bus tours available as well as boat cruises along the coast, all easily arranged through travel agents.
WHEN TO GO: The busiest touring season in Alaska is June through August when the weather is warmest. From November through February, the temperatures are prohibitive and few people visit, except during the Fur Rendezvous celebration in Anchorage beginning at the end of February. Billed as the "Mardi Gras of the North," it is an elaborate winter festival that includes sled dog races and a carnival.
WHERE TO STAY: Hotel rooms outside the few urban areas are sparse but diverse, from rough cabins with outdoor plumbing to bed and breakfasts and full-service motels. Modest rooms start around $30 double, and rates range up to more than $100 a night at the chain hotels in the cities.
INFORMATION: For planning a self-guided tour, start with the 108-page vacation planner available free by writing the Alaska Division of Tourism, P.O. Box E, Juneau, Alaska 99811, (907) 465-2010.
Another detailed guide with listings for motels, cabins, restaurants, rafting, tours and charter services is "Alaska Milepost." It traces the state's few navigable highways and lists mile-by-mile the inhabited areas, local attractions and lodgings. The "Milepost" is available in some bookstores for $12.95 or by mail (add $1 for fourth class or $3 first class) from the publisher, Alaska Northwest Publishing, 130 Second Ave. South, Edmonds, Wash. 98020.