Alaska is north of Canada and as wide as the entire US if you count it’s islands. It is way bigger that Texas and biggest state by area in the United States. If you are in the mood for some pristine alpine wilderness or bears, Alaska should be on your list! My Southeast Alaska road trip itinerary looked like:
- Day 1 (Aug 11) – Arrive at Anchorage
- Day 2 (Aug 12) – See Anchorage, drive to Talkeetna and spend the night there.
- Day 3 (Aug 13) – Drive to Denali State park, then National Park and stay there
- Day 4 (Aug 14) – Drive to Fairbanks, see Fairbanks and stay there
- Day 5 (Aug 15) – Drive to Denali state park again and stay at Talkeetna
- Day 6 (Aug 16) – Drive to Anchorage and stay there
- Day 7 (Aug 17) – Fly back to Seattle
I could have done a day trip to Seward and Kenai from Anchorage but could not fit that in. Some folks choose to skip Fairbanks but I don’t regret driving there. I think being remote makes it all the more interesting.
Though the most popular thing to see in Alaska is the Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska is huge. So, it makes sense to target either the south east or the northwest. I have never been to the northwest of Alaska, but a rough itinerary for that would look like:
- Day 1: Skagway Shore Excursion: Full-Day Tour of the Yukon
- Day 2. Tracy Arm Fjord – One of the commercial tours
- Day 3: Mendenhall glacier + West Glacier hike
- Day 4: Hike Mt Juneau – optional and VERY dangerous
- Day 5: Go to Sitka
- Day 6: Spend the day at Sitka
- Day 7: Fly back
Travel tips for an Alaska road trip
Anchorage and Juneau are not connected by road. Several big cities are not connected by road. That is why 1 in 6 Alaskans know how to fly bush planes. That is how they get around. My first itinerary included a lot of driving. Even 6 hours continuous. Its does not seem so bad if you have a very good car. I would suggest getting a large sedan or a saloon car for this trip. Parking is not a problem in Alaska and distances are long. I agree, taking a flight from Seattle to Anchorage and then from Fairbanks back to Seattle would have cut our driving out but the flights would have been more expensive as we were not getting a deal there.
Alaska is very popular in summer and fall. It is not cheap. So, please make all your bookings at least a month in advance. If you want to see northern lights, summer is not the best time. You may want to go in the winter. Fairbanks has some great displays.
Note: Do not pack too much in your itinerary as wifi is spotty and roads are in bad condition. You may spend time finding your lodge or fixing a tire. We had a flat tire at Fairbanks at 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday. It was troublesome finding help and driving in the dark. So, I suggest driving during day time.
Seattle to Anchorage was a 3.5 hour long flight. We arrived late and the car booking took a while as well. We stayed in a VRBO apartment which was reasonable and comfy. They were helpful when we arrived late and gave us a tour map too.
See Anchorage and drive to Talkeetna. We chose to see Point Woronzov and Westchester Lagoon on the way. We drove to Talkeetna after, walked around their cute downtown and stayed in some VRBO cabins, which were more like luxury campgrounds. Cabins is a loaded term I guess. We were expected to bring our own toiletries.
Drive to Denali State Park North View. Then to your lodge. We stayed at Grande Denali Lodge. It was too extravagant but we had no option then. We enjoyed the lovely view from our room.Where to stay: Grande Denali Lodge
Take the guided tour of Denali National Park. They have various options ranging from a 4 hour tour to a 12 hour tour. We took the 11 hour tour. We saw beautiful mountain ranges and 11 bears. Yes! 11 bears in 11 hours. We saw reindeer and moose too. We didn’t get a chance to see Mt Denali due to the weather but that’s Ok. I suggest taking the 11 or 12 hour tour. If you take your private vehicle, they will not let you drive more than 11 miles in. You’ll have a much better chance of seeing more animals the deeper you go in the park. There are lodges inside the park as well and there is danger of bears there. We drove to Fairbanks after. It was hectic .But it would have been worse to do all the driving the next day.
Take the Riverboat Discovery Cruise at Fairbanks and see their downtown. Drive to Talkeetna and stay at the lodge.
Drive to Anchorage. Enjoy the downtown and shop if you need to.Where to stay: Clarion Suites Downtown Anchorage
Fly back. We had a very good experience. Alaskans are friendly and knowledgeable by my experience. All in all, every turn seems like a viewpoint. Alaska is very pretty!
Author: Nazneen Malik. I try new things a lot. For my readers, I want to not define myself by my name, nationality, gender, race or profession. Feel my experiences. See what you think – Broad Without Borders