New land tours abound in the Last Frontier State

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Sure, you can visit Alaska by ship and go ashore for a few hours, as most visitors do. But land-based tour options abound, lending more in-depth experiences than simple shore excursions.

The following operators -- some household names, others not -- are offering new or expanded land programs in 2008.

Insight Vacations launched Glorious Alaskan Adventure, the company's first tour focused solely on Alaska. The itinerary, to operate from May through August, will be offered as a 10-day, land-only tour, starting at $3,899 per person, or as an 18-day, land-cruise tour starting at $4,695. Highlights include sightseeing in Anchorage and Denali National Park; a ride on the Alaska Rail from Denali to Talkeetna; and overnight stays in lodges inside Denali and Talkeetna national parks.

Call (888) 680-1241 or visit www.insightvacations.com.

Travcoa launched a seven-night trip, Alaska and the Iditarod, timed to coincide with Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The trip departs Feb. 28 and costs $5,995 per person. Visits to the kennels and homes of veteran Iditarod mushers are included, as is admission to a Musher's Banquet to meet mushers and their dogs.

The trip also includes a floatplane trip to Winterlake Lodge on Finger Lake, where guests can snowshoe, cross-country ski or take a dogsled excursion. Call (866) 591-0070 or visit www.travcoa.com.

Get Up and Go Tours in Anchorage launched its Alaska hiking and family adventure tours for 2008. New offerings include the seven-day Arctic Explorer tour starting in Prudhoe Bay and ending in Fairbanks. Hiking, canoeing and wildlife viewing are included. A highlight is a visit to Prudhoe Bay and its oil field complex, the origin of the 800-mile Alaska Pipeline.

Prices start at $850 per person and include meals, equipment and camping fees, ground transportation and park entrance fees. Call (888) 868-4147 or visit www.getupandgotours.com.

Abercrombie & Kent's new Alaska Inside Passage tour from Seward to Vancouver will be available July 29 to Aug. 9 aboard the 118-passenger Clipper Odyssey.

The cost is $6,995 per person, double, including guided group tours to areas that are mostly only accessible by Zodiac landing craft.

The company offers an early-booking discount of up to $500 per person when Alaska Inside Passage is booked by Dec. 31.

Call (800) 554-7094 or visit www.akodyssey.com.

Snorkel Alaska opened its snorkeling excursions off the coast of Ketchikan to non-cruise passengers. The excursion was voted "Ketchikan's Shore Excursion of the Year" by Princess Cruises from 2003 to 2006.

The clear waters off the coast of Ketchikan reward snorkelers with a surprisingly colorful array of sea life.

To keep warm, snorkelers wear quarter-inch-thick wetsuits. The total tour time is approximately three hours. The Mountain Point Snorkeling Adventure is available May to September in Ketchikan.

Visit www.snorkelalaska.com or call (907) 247-7783.

To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].

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