Alaskas mountain ranges,
glaciers, and vast wilderness create natural barriers to transportation.
For most Alaskans, flying is a necessary part of life. Alaska
has about six times as many pilots and 14 times as many aircraft
per capita as the rest of the U.S. Lake Hood in Anchorage
is the worlds largest and busiest seaplane base. In
1996, one out of every 58 Alaskans was a registered pilot.
In Northern and Interior Alaska,
snowmobiles are often used during the winter and have largely
replaced the traditional dogsled. Off-road
ground transportation is much easier in this region during
the winter when the wet, pond-covered tundra is frozen and
snowy. Alaska Natives from this area traditionally preferred
to travel during the winter and spring months before the land,
rivers, and ponds began to thaw. "All terrain vehicles"
are also important in many rural communities where there are
few roads and the terrain is difficult.
For coastal residents, the Alaska
Marine Highway is very important. This ferry system, which
carries passengers and automobiles, connects 28 Alaska towns
and stop in British Columbia and Bellingham, Washington.
images of dog sleds circa 1900 from the National Archives
The Alaska Railroad is another
travel alternative. Covering 470 miles, it joins Seward, Anchorage,
Fairbanks, and points in-between. The Whitepass Railroad connects
Skagway with the Yukon.
Alaska offers many unusual ways to travel, most residents
own vehicles. There are
82 vehicles for every 100 people in Alaska while the U.S.
as a whole has 75 vehicles for every 100; similarly, there
are 73.8 drivers in Alaska in every 100 people as opposed
to 67 drivers in every 100 in the U.S. as a whole.