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Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Itinerary Ideas

Welcome to our Alaska road trip planner.

The beautiful state of Alaska is on many visitors’ bucket list. 

It is known for its rugged, untouched natural beauty, amazing wildlife, incredible mountain and glacier scenery that leaves most visitors speechless. 

If you are looking for an adventure-filled getaway that will leave you breathless with excitement, then Alaska is the place to go.

Also Read: Best Places to Visit on the West Coast USA

In this road trip planner, you will find several ideas for an Alaska itinerary 10 days to Alaska 14 day itinerary as well as the best places to visit on an Alaska road trip and things to do in each destination! 

Use our tips on how to plan your Alaska road trip, to plan the most memorable vacation ever around Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Seward. 

When to plan your Alaska Road Trip

Plan your Alaska Road Trip for late May to early September. Alaska is an amazing place to visit during this time.

Most of the roads are clear of snow, the daylight hours are long, and most attractions are open since it is peak season.

Summer is also the best time to see Alaskan wildlife including brown bear, moose, caribou, fox, otters, sea lion, and more on a Alaska cruise or road trip.

However, you can also visit Alaska in other seasons.

The best time to see glaciers close-up or witness one of Alaska’s most popular attractions – whales migrating through Cook Inlet – is in the springtime (April to June).

In the fall, you can see Denali bursting with colors. In fact, Alaska is one of the best fall destinations to visit in September.

Winter brings plenty of snow and ice climbing opportunities as well as aurora borealis, however it gets dark early and roads are treacherous to drive.

From November through March, the temperature is very severe. Average lows around 0°F (-18°C) with highs below freezing (32° F or 0° C) are pretty common.

Whatever time of the year you go, you will want to pack at least one warm jacket for your Alaska 10 Day itinerary.

This Alaska itinerary considers travel in the summer when most attractions are open.

Where to Start your 10 Day Alaska Driving Itinerary

Most visitors will fly into Fairbanks or Anchorage airports, with Anchorage being the most common.

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska and home to most of its major businesses. 

The city has a large number of services and amenities including car rentals, hotels, rv park, and general stores making it the perfect place to begin your Alaska road trip.

See our visual Alaska road trip planner here.

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

Planning the best Alaska trip itinerary is like trying to plan for a cross-country vacation. 

There are so many options of where you can go on an Alaska land tour and what you want to see that it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. 

That being said, here is a list of the best places in Alaska to visit on your next getaway. 

Also Read: Best Places to Visit in USA

Anchorage – 1 Day

Anchorage Alaska is a frontier town with an old-fashioned charm and modern amenities. There are plenty of things to do in Anchorage, Alaska for visitors.

Take a stroll around downtown Anchorage, go souvenir shopping in the Ship Creek area, or enjoy a delicious meal.

Visit the Alaska Aviation Museum to learn about the aviation history of Anchorage. At the Anchorage Museum, you can see interesting exhibits on Alaskan history and culture.

Families love visiting the Alaska Zoo, home to several animal species including polar bears, bald eagle, and wolves.

You can also take a tour to see an aerial view of Anchorage along with Mt. Denali, Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound, Knik river, and Knik Glacier.

After seeing the city, you have two options to continue your Alaska trip itinerary from Anchorage. 

You can either drive south towards Homer / Seward and the Kenai fjord on the southern loop or go north towards Denali National Park and Fairbanks and complete the northern loop via Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. 

In this itinerary, we recommend visiting Denali first followed by the Kenai peninsula.

Skyline of Anchorage, Alaska
Skyline of Anchorage, Alaska

North Loop from Anchorage

The north loop of the Alaska road trip is on AK-1 up to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, then AK-4 to Delta Junction, then AK-2 to Fairbanks, and finally AK-3 back to Anchorage. 

Start your drive from Anchorage and drive to Palmer. 

Optional: Palmer 

Palmer, Alaska is a small town in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

The city has an abundance of natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Year round activities in Palmer include fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, boating, snowmobiling and dog sledding.

Palmer Train Station
Palmer Train Station

Hatcher Pass – 1 Day

Hatcher Pass is a popular mountain pass with an elevation of 2,200 feet. This area is home to some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife Alaska has to offer.

You can access it via Highway 260, a scenic drive located in the Chugach Mountains.

The Hatcher Pass Scenic Byway (aka Fishhook Road) offers breathtaking views of mountains, lakes and glaciers that stretch as far as the eye can see.

The scenery changes dramatically as you go higher up, with each mile marker bringing new vistas: emerald lakes, jagged mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, mossy rocks, and lush foliage.

We definitely recommend visiting Hatcher Pass on your Alaska trip.

Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Hatcher Pass, Alaska

Matanuska Glacier

The Matanuska Glacier, located in the Matanuska Valley, can be reached via driving along the Glenn Highway from Anchorage.

The Matanuska Glacier is one of the fastest-moving glaciers in the world. It’s also one of the most accessible glaciers to add to your Alaska itinerary.

The glacier is 34 miles long and two miles wide and offers visitors spectacular views from its jagged edge.

Visitors can hike or bike out onto this icefield for stunning views surrounded by nearby mountains and valleys.

After seeing Hatcher Pass and the Matanuska glacier, you have a couple of options. Take the Alaska Route 4 to Valdez or Route 10 to Wrangell-Elias National Park. Or if you have less time, continue along Route 1 to Delta Junction.

Matanuska glacier and mountains, Alaska
Matanuska glacier and mountains, Alaska

Optional: Valdez and Worthington Glacier

Valdez Alaska is a city in the south-central region of Alaska.

Valdez has an interesting history. It was originally established by gold miners who came to the area for its rich resources and developed it into a major seaport.

Valdez is a popular destination for tourists who want to explore the natural beauty of Alaska.

In the harbor of Valdez, you can see the historic trans Alaska pipeline.

Fun highlight of Valdez is the Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site. 

You can drive along the scenic 32 Mile Road on the Richardson Highway to reach the glacier. Along the way you can see the picturesque waterfalls of Horsetail Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. 

A view of Worthington Glacier from the road in Alaska
A view of Worthington Glacier from the road in Alaska

Optional: McCarthy and Kennicott

McCarthy, a historic Alaskan frontier town, is the gateway to exploring Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. 

It is best known for the McCarthy Road, one of America’s most scenic drives. 

The road begins on Chitina Highway and winds its way into the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve before ending at Kennicott, Alaska’s most famous ghost town.

Kennicott was once a booming copper mining town and home to several buildings including saloons, hotels, and banks. Today you can take a stroll through them and admire the scenery.

Kennicott Mine in McCarthy, Alaska
Kennicott Mine in McCarthy, Alaska

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park – 1 Day

The Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, located in interior Alaska, is an amazing place. This is the largest national park in America and covers over 8 million acres.

The park and prices the active volcano of Mount Wrangell as well as the Chugach mountain ranges. 

It has spectacular scenery and is one of the most remote, wild, and pristine places in the world. 

The park has everything from volcanoes, glaciers, mountain peaks, rivers, ice fields, historic mining sites, and amazing wildlife. 

We definitely recommend adding it to your Alaska itinerary if you have the time.

Wrangell-St Elias National Park, Alaska
Wrangell-St Elias National Park, Alaska

Optional: Delta Junction

The town of Delta Junction is located on the banks of the Yukon River in the Alaskan interior and can be reached via the Alaska Highway. 

The city is surrounded by beautiful mountains and rivers. 

Delta Junction is popular for fishing salmon or trout, hunting big game animals such as moose or bear, and other outdoor activities like hiking or kayaking along the rivers that surround this quaint little town.

From Delta Junction to Fairbanks, you will be driving on Alaska Route 2, which is a part of the Alaskan Highway.

Highway to Delta Junction, Alaska
Highway to Delta Junction, Alaska

Optional: North Pole, Alaska

North Pole, located about 15 minutes away from Fairbanks, is a must-visit destination for families. 

Here you will find holiday decorations, candy cane street lights, and even a Santa Claus house no matter when you visit. 

Kids love the excitement of seeing Santa Claus and enjoying Christmas year-round in North Pole. 

Fairbanks – 1 Day

Fairbanks is located near the Arctic Circle and a must visit on any Alaska itinerary. 

The city has been inhabited for more than 100 years and is home to several tourist attractions, including the 4th largest gold mine in North America. 

One of the most popular attractions is the Chena Hot Springs. These geothermal springs are always hot and perfect for swimming and soaking. The nearby ice museum is also worth a visit.

Tourists looking for outdoor activities can enjoy a dog sled ride through Fairbanks’ winter wonderland. In the winter, Fairbanks is most famous for the spectacular northern lights displays.

Tracks in the snow at Fairbanks, Alaska
Tracks in the snow at Fairbanks, Alaska

Denali National Park and Preserve – 2 Days

Denali National Park is the best place to start a road trip in Alaska.

It’s an easy drive from Anchorage on the Denali Highway and you can see mountains, wildlife, glaciers, and lakes in one day of visiting Denali.

Visitors to Denali National Park are treated to beautiful views of snow capped mountains from high up on the slopes as well as Dall sheep and moose wandering through meadows.

Begin your trip at the Denali Visitor Center and learn about the natural and cultural history of the park. See the Alaska Railroad Depot located right outside. 

The Denali Park Road is 92 miles long but only the first 15 miles can be driven in a private car. To see the rest of the park, you need to go on bus tours. 

A trip to Denali National Park isn’t complete without experiencing one of America’s most beautiful lakes: Wonder Lake.

The lake is a perfect spot for fishing, swimming, and canoeing with its crystal clear waters and scenic views.

Visitors can also hike around the shoreline, camp at the Wonder Lake campground, or explore other parts of the park on foot or bike.

Savage River is another great area to explore in the park. 

North America’s highest peak, Mt. Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) is also located in the Alaska range in Denali National Park and can be seen from almost anywhere.

Denali National Park,Alaska in summer
Denali National Park,Alaska in summer

Optional: Nenana River Rafting

The Nenana River is a great way to see the natural beauty of Alaska. The river forms the border of Denali National Park and can be accessed from there.

The Nenana River runs through a deep canyon with granite walls on both sides and has plenty of class IV and V rapids, making this one of the most popular white water rafting destinations in America. 

The river rafting is best in July and August when water levels are at their highest.

You will spend your day floating down the glacier-fed waters through forests and mountains. You can spot wildlife including moose, beaver, and bears. 

We definitely recommend this exhilarating adventure for outdoor adventurers.

Nenana River during Sunset
Nenana River during Sunset

Optional: Denali State Park

Denali State Park is located to the east of Denali National Park along the Parks Highway. 

This beautiful park is filled with stunning views of Mt Denali and has plenty of overlooks for wildlife viewing and photography. 

The park has a variety of hiking trails that offer scenic vistas and wildlife encounters with moose, caribou, bears, deer and more!

The park is also popular for backpacking, hiking, biking, fishing and camping.

From Denali, make your way south towards Homer. Along the way, you will see Talkeetna and Wasilla. You will again pass Anchorage and can refill on any supplies. 

Talkeetna

Talkeetna is a small town in Alaska with beautiful scenic views and wilderness. 

It is located about 125 miles northeast of Anchorage on Highway 3 near Denali National Park and Preserve and has been popular with tourists for decades.

Tourists come from all around the world to experience Talkeetna’s natural beauty – it boasts some of the best fly fishing in America as well as has plenty of hiking and biking trails. 

A stream in Talkeetna Mountains
A stream in Talkeetna Mountains

Wasilla

Wasilla is a city in Alaska with an eclectic mix of natural beauty and adventure. 

The small town has been home to many famous figures including Sarah Palin. It is also famous for dog sledding races. 

Enjoy the town or go fishing at Moose Creek or enjoy the lush hiking trails near Wasilla. See the Alaska Museum of Transportation and Industry or visit the Farmer’s Market.

Overall, Wasilla is a great stop on the way from Denali to Anchorage on the Alaska itinerary.  

Mountain Views in Wasilla, Alaska
Mountain Views in Wasilla, Alaska

Southern Loop from Anchorage

After seeing the northern attractions near Denali, drive south from Anchorage on Highway 1. The road here closely hugs the Turnagain Arm and is extremely scenic. 

You will have the Chugach Mountains on one side and the coastal water views on the other side. You can spot marine life and enjoy the spectacular drive towards the Kenai peninsula.

Stop at Girdwood or take a detour towards Whittier if you have 2 weeks in Alaska before visiting Seward and Kenai fjords or Homer. 

If you are short on time, proceed directly to Seward. 

Pastoral panorama of Chugach Mountains
Pastoral panorama of Chugach Mountains

Girdwood

Girdwood, Alaska is an amazing place to visit for its beautiful scenery and natural attractions.

The town is situated at the base of Mount Alyeska and enjoys amazing vistas. 

While in Girdwood, you can hike to Eagle Glacier, explore a historic gold mining site, enjoy the views from the Alyeska Resort Aerial Tramway, and hike through the rain forests.

Eagle Glacier
Eagle Glacier

Turnagain Arm

The Turnagain Arm is a fjord that extends off the coast of Prince William Sound in Alaska. 

The arm stretches for about 100 miles and reaches depths of over 3000 feet. 

It is often said to be one of the most scenic areas on earth with crystal clear water, mountains, glaciers, and wildlife all around you.

Tourists can find many things to do while visiting this area like kayaking, hiking or taking an excursion boat tour. 

Turnagain Arm Waterfall
Turnagain Arm Waterfall

Whittier

The town of Whittier, Alaska is a small fishing village located on the edge of Prince William Sound and within walking distance to Portage Pass. 

It is a great detour on your way to Seward if you have the time and are planning a 2 week Alaska road trip itinerary.

Whittier is surrounded by some of Alaska’s most beautiful mountain ranges including Mount Saint Elias (18,008 feet), Mount Logan (14,551ft), and Mt. McKinley (20,320 ft).

Visitors can enjoy the alpine scenery, go hiking, or visit the Portage Glacier.

A view from Whittier overlooking Prince William Sound
A view from Whittier overlooking Prince William Sound

Portage Glacier

Portage Glacier, located in the Chugach National Forest, is one of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers.

Visitors need to take one hour long cruise ship tours to see the glacier.

Or you can also hike up to Portage Pass to see the glacier draining into Portage Lake.

A view of Portage Glacier and Portage Lake
A view of Portage Glacier and Portage Lake

Optional: Ferry to Valdez

From Whittier, you can also opt for a ferry to Valdez, which will take you near the Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site.

Seward – 1 Day

The coastal town of Seward, located in southeast Alaska, is a must visit destination on your Alaska tour. 

It was founded in 1902 as a gold mining town and since then has relied on fishing for economic activity.

The first thing that most travelers notice upon arriving in Seward is the stunning scenery, consisting of mountains, hills, waterfalls, and glaciers.

The city of Seward has a lot to offer its visitors. Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center to see marine life native to the Alaskan waters including otters, sea lions, harbor seals, and walruses.

Another popular activity is kayaking with whales in Resurrection Bay. The beautiful Kenai Fjords National Park is just about 25 miles from Seward and is a must visit.

Fall cruise ship in Seward, Alaska
Fall cruise ship in Seward, Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park – 2 Days

Just outside of Seward, you can visit the famous Kenai Fjords National Park.

Located on the Kenai Peninsula, bordering Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet, Kenai Fjords National Park is a place of stunning natural beauty.

The park is home to glaciers, a diverse range of natural habitats from tundra to temperate rainforests, and abundant wildlife. The park is a must for nature lovers.

The park’s most famous attraction is Exit Glacier which covers over 8 square miles of land and was formed 10,000 years ago.

Exit Glacier hiking trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Visitors can hike the 2 mile trail through forests and over streams to an overlook at the edge of the active glacier.

Along the trail, you can also spot marine life including seals and whales. You will also have a breathtaking view of Exit Mountain on the hike.

Alternatively, you can also opt for a helicopter flightseeing tour of the Exit Glacier from Seward; the tours include glacier landing.

The national park is a paradise for wildlife lovers. Visitors can view wildlife such as brown bears, caribou, moose, seals, and sea otters.

The many fjord lagoons here also make for stunning photo opportunities on your Alaska vacation.

You can also take a wildlife and glacier cruise or go kayaking to see the park from the water. On the cruise, you can also spot colonies of seabirds.

Stay in a wilderness lodge to make the most of your Kenai peninsula experience.

A hiker over Exit Glacier
A hiker over Exit Glacier

Homer – 1 Day

If you love natural beauty and outdoor activities, then you must visit Homer, Alaska. The Homer area has stunning views, pristine lakes and rivers, and abundant wildlife. 

It’s location near Kachemak Bay makes it one of the main tourist destinations for visitors to South Eastern Alaska. 

There are many things to do while visiting Homer: whale watching, fishing (sport and commercial), hiking, kayaking, etc.

Homer is also one of the best places to camp on the beach in the US.

On the way to Homer on Alaska Route 1, you can see the turquoise blue waters of the Kenai River. You can also go white water rafting on the river.

The charming coastal community of Halibut Cove, which can be reached only via plane or boat, is also just 7 miles away from Homer, Alaska.

Sunset at Beluga Lake in Homer
Sunset at Beluga Lake in Homer

Optional: Katmai National Park & Preserve

Katmai National Park and Preserve is located near the Gulf of Alaska. The park can be reached only via plane or boat; there are several air taxi flights from Homer to Katmai. 

The park protects both an active volcanic region as well as the Alaskan brown bear population. You can also see grizzly bears and moose in the park.

Visitors to Katmai can explore this fascinating landscape by hiking, taking a boat cruise down Lake Brooks or Naknek River, or camping within the park. 

Alaskan Bear in Katmai National Park
Alaskan Bear in Katmai National Park

More Alaska Road Trip Itineraries

If you have even more time for an Alaska two week itinerary or 3 week itinerary, then consider the following Alaska itinerary ideas to expand your trip.

Dalton Highway Detour

The Dalton Highway, located in the heart of Alaska, spans roughly 360 miles. It begins at Fairbanks and takes visitors north along Alaska Route 11 along a gravel road. 

The Dalton Highway was originally built to connect the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System with the Richardson Highway and connects only two towns: Deadhorse and oilfields at Prudhoe Bay. 

The road goes through ice-covered tundra and snow and can be extremely treacherous if you are not prepared.

The average tourists do not attempt this route, but those who do can attempt to visit the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve on a long and strenuous hike from the highway. 

Dalton Highway in Alaska
A

Arctic Circle and Gates of the Arctic National Park

The Gates of the Arctic National Park is a very remote and rugged place. The park has been referred to as “the most wild place on earth” by naturalist John Muir. 

Located in northern Alaska above the Arctic Circle, this national park covers over six million acres and does not have any roads or other amenities.

Only way to reach is via a hike from the Dalton Highway or by flying in from Fairbanks.

The park has many different types of terrain that visitors can explore including mountain ranges, tundra plains, rivers and lakes, ocean coasts, and even lava flows!

Snowy mountains in the Gates of the Arctic National Park
Snowy mountains in the Gates of the Arctic National Park

Juneau and Glacier Bay National Park Detour

If you have more time on your Alaska 2 week itinerary, consider visiting Juneau and Glacier Bay.

Juneau and Glacier Bay are accessible by boat or plane only but it’s worth the flight if you have time. 

Juneau is the capital city of Alaska and the second largest city in the state behind Anchorage.

It is a beautiful place that is home to some of the world’s most impressive natural wonders. It also has a rich history and culture.

It is known for its Victorian style architecture, quaint neighborhoods, and the serene waterfront. 

There are many things to do in Juneau including hiking, biking, glacier kayaking, fishing for salmon in Mendenhall River, and visiting the Mendenhall Glacier. 

You can view wildlife from a boat cruise and see whales, sea lions and otters or explore the historic buildings at the Gold Creek Homestead Museum on your Alaska trip itinerary.

Glacier Bay National Park is located on the coast of Alaska, south of Juneau, and on the edge of Glacier Bay. 

The park preserves the rapidly retreating glaciers. It includes glaciers, ice fields, alpine environments, and the coast.

The park is a popular nesting site for seabirds such as puffins, kittiwakes, murres and gulls.

You can also spot abundant wildlife including brown bear, humpback whale, seals, sea lions, and bald eagles.

Janeau, Alaska
Janeau, Alaska

Alaska Itinerary 5 Days

If you are short on time, then plan an Alaska 5 Day Itinerary to see the highlights. 

Spend a day in Anchorage, then drive towards Denali and see the park in a day. Spend a day in Fairbanks and drive south towards Seward and see Kenai National Park. Return to Anchorage. 

For Alaska 6 Day Itinerary, spend an additional day in Denali or Kenai peninsula or visit Hatcher Pass.

You can also plan a day trip to Homer and Girdwood to plan an Alaska 8 Day Itinerary or Alaska 7 Day driving itinerary. 

If you have very little time, and are planning an Alaska 4 Day itinerary for a long weekend then we recommend picking either Denali and Fairbanks or Seward and Kenai National Park. 

Alaska 7 Day Itinerary

Another option if you want an Alaska 7 Days itinerary is to either complete the northern loop: Anchorage – Hatcher Pass – Matanuska Glacier – Wrangell Elias National Park – Fairbanks – Denali.

Or complete just the south loop from Anchorage: Girdwood – Whittier – Seward – Kenai National Park – Homer before returning to Anchorage for your 7 day Alaska itinerary. 

This gives you enough time to see the attractions in detail and keep the rest for another trip. 

Ultimately, the best road trip itinerary Alaska depends on your personal interests and desired travel pace. 

But whichever itinerary you choose, you will have a memorable trip to ‘The Last Frontier’. 

Alaska Railroad

You can also choose to see some parts of the state via the Alaska Railroad.

The most scenic routes include Denali Star between Anchorage and Fairbanks and Coastal Classic between Anchorage and Seward.

Any of these routes make a great addition to your Alaska itinerary.

We hope you liked our post on the Road Trip Alaska by car itinerary. 

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