Lonely Planet Alaska 10th Ed.: 10th Edition Paperback – Apr 5 2012
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About the Author
I am a Lonely Planet author based out of where I am. Born in Washington DC and raised in the rural Maryland tidewater, I've been exploring the world and writing about it since I was 17. It's a blessedly interesting way to live one's life. Also, it's good fun. I just read two good quotes. So with thanks to Italy, ancient and modern: "Tutto il mondo e paese." And "Ambulare pro deus." If we ever meet on the road, let's share a drink and a story.
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Top Customer Reviews
Organisation aside, the tect was good once you had found something so that was pleasant. Always found LP guides were the best.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I was raised Alaskan and this book taught even me a thing or two about the area I was from. It is a well researched book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone Alaska bound.
I can tell that my overall Alaskan experience was increased and improved thanks to this book,. This is not the first time that I use a Lonely Planet guide.This one was definitely vivid and very informative to the point where I was able to make decisions during legs of the trip based on information and advice contained in this guide..The historic facts anx other background information bring more context and interest and I will absolutely recommend this book to anyone planning to visit the last frontier..!!
My biggest complaint about the book is how little it seemed to provide insider information or tips. Compared to most other guidebook brands I've used (Fodor's, Frommer's and the Hawaii Revealed series), it seemed more like a reasonably well-organized compilation of facts than real opinions. A typical entry says something like "There are 3 outfitters you can use for kayaking in this area. Here is the price and contact information for each." Ok, I mean, that's useful information, but it can easily be found on the internet and it would be much more insightful to have their thoughts about which outfitter might be best or worst and why. Or if it's the case that all outfitters are comparable, then say that, so people aren't left wondering. There are a few useful tidbits, but for the most part the book seems like it could have been written by a savvy internet user who has never visited Alaska, and that's definitely not something you want to be thinking when you're reading a guidebook. They do mark certain things as "top choice" but there's often little explanation given as to why.
I also felt like the organization could use some work. The general breakdown by chapter ("Juneau and the Southeast", "Prince William Sound", "Denali", etc) was fine, but I felt like within those chapters the author jumped around a bit and it was hard to find all the pertinent information about a particular place. For example, there is a discussion of Mendenhall Glacier on p. 129 that references a few good hikes, but then there's a separate section on "Mendenhall Glacier Trails" on p. 119 that describes different trails. They are cross-referenced, but only in one direction, and I found it odd to jump around like that. The book's index is very weak too.
There were also a couple other (more minor) things I did not like about the book. In the section on "Bear Viewing" they say "head to known bear-watching spots such as Ketchikan, Kodiak Islands, or for the elusive polar bear, the Alaska Zoo." Seriously?? You can actually see wild polar bears in Barrow, Alaska. I'm pretty sure most people don't come to Alaska hoping to see a bear in a ZOO. I also have to admit that compared to other guidebooks with glossy pages and color photographs, Lonely Planet's paper, largely black & white pages felt a little low budget and their prices don't seem to reflect the cheaper production cost.
Know that the book has a heavier anti-cruise slant than most guidebooks, although that is not a surprise since Lonely Planet has a reputation as being geared more towards adventurous, independent travelers (also the other guidebook I used in planning our trip - half of which was a cruise - was Fodor's Alaska Ports of Call, which is obviously aimed at cruise travelers). The prices for many things are also significantly higher than those given in the book. The book was written in 2012 and I doubt prices rose that much in 2 years, my guess is they weren't current even when the book was published.
A few things I do really like about the book:
--the "21 top experiences in Alaska" section at the beginning (although I may be biased, because our itinerary, which was largely sketched out before I bought the book, managed to hit about 15 of them)
--the suggested itineraries in the beginning of the book seem like great starters if you haven't planned an itinerary
--The interviews scattered throughout with park rangers, tour operators and other knowledgeable locals