Road tripping through Alaska is one of the greatest experiences the US has to offer. Filled with nature, adventure, and endless sunlight, this is the perfect place for your summer getaway. There are so many things to do and see, you may be left wondering where to start. Don’t worry, the Official Alaska Road Trip Itinerary is here to save the day!
Alaska Road Trip Itinerary Overview: 3 main regions to visit
- Anchorage + surrounding area: Includes Girdwood, Whittier, and Portage Valley, known for amazing coastal views, glaciers, and hiking.
- The Kenai Peninsula: Includes Seward and Homer, known for deep-sea fishing, and the Kenai Fjords National Park.
- Interior Alaska: Includes Wasilla, Talkeetna, and Fairbanks, known for Denali National Park and Chena Hot Springs.
This Alaska road trip itinerary gives the option to either deep dive into a specific region or to catch the best of all three. Either way, it’s time to pack up and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
1. Anchorage + Surrounding Area
Best places to stay:
- Anchorage – Look for an Airbnb within walking distance of downtown.
- Anchorage – Bird Creek Campground is a lively area, located just off of Turnagain Arm.
- Girdwood – The world-famous Alyeska Resort has lots of activities for summer travelers.
- Whittier – The Inn at Whittier offers amazing views of this mysterious, little harbor.
- Whittier – Black Bear Campground is a lovely, remote area to camp. It’s also located next to the Trail of Blue Ice.
What to do in Anchorage:
- Coastal Trail: The paved trail runs 11 miles along the coast (one way) and starts in downtown Anchorage. You can either walk or grab a bike at Pablo’s Bike Rentals.
- Downtown Anchorage: This small, but energetic area features quirky shops, food carts, and local bars.
- 49th State Brewing Company: Enjoy a 360 degree view of the Chugach Mountains and the Cook Inlet while drinking delicious beer on the rooftop patio.
- Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary: Located 11 miles south of Anchorage, this wildlife viewing area is a must-see for any bird enthusiast.
- Hike Flattop Mountain: A local favorite, just 30 minutes outside of Anchorage. You’ll find several routes to the summit, but no matter which one you take, get ready for a steep climb.
What to do in Girdwood:
- Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: A must do on any Alaska road trip itinerary, this is a great place to experience the wildlife up close. During your visit, you’ll see bison, wolves, bears, moose, reindeer, elk, porcupines, and more.
- Alyeska Resort: In addition to stunning nature, this resort area offers plenty of activities like hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing.
- Crow Creek Mine: Explore the history of gold mining in Alaska, pan for gold, or go hiking. On Monday evenings you can also enjoy a salmon bake and live music.
What to do in Whittier:
- Portage Glacier: When traveling here from Anchorage, leave extra time to enjoy the viewpoints on Portage Glacier Rd. For the best one, look for the turnout on the right where the river touches the road on the left-hand side. Once you arrive, check out Begich, Boggs Visitor Center, and catch a boat ride to the glacier’s face.
- Explore Whittier: Follow Portage Glacier Road through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to the port town of Whittier. During your visit make sure to see the ruins of the Buckner Building, Shotgun Cove, and the restaurant at the Inn at Whittier. For more information check out: Alaska Trip Itinerary: Anchorage to Whittier.
- Trail of Blue Ice: This is one of the area’s most famous hikes. The trailhead starts in Portage Valley and runs 10 miles, roundtrip.
2. Kenai Peninsula
Best Places to stay:
- Cooper Landing: Quartz Creek Campground offers a central location amongst all the campgrounds in the area.
- Homer: The Kilchner Homestead (featured on the TV show, Alaska: The Last Frontier), is an experience like no other. You can either book the historic cabin through the website or look for camping space on Hipcamp or Airbnb by searching “Kilchner”.
- Seward: Miller’s Landing, a private campground and adventure outfitter. Look for their seaside cabins, where you can build your own campfire right on the beach.
What to do at Cooper Landing:
- A day on the river: One of the local favorites. Make sure to catch a fishing charter or river rafting trip to get some time on the turquoise-colored water.
- Hiking: With a trail system that offers hikes for all levels, this is a hiker’s dream.
What to do in Homer:
- Explore the town: Areas of interest include the Homer Spit, Bishop’s Beach, the Pratt Museum, and the Salty Dawg Saloon. Want more? Check out What to do in Homer.
- Fish at Halibut Cove: You’ll find a ton of charter companies operating out of the Homer Spit, offering half and full days trips.
- Kilchner Homestead: One of the last remaining original homesteads in Alaska, you can book a tour to learn about the history of the land and its lively residents.
What to do in Seward:
- Alaska Sealife Center: Learn about the abundant Alaskan sealife while overlooking Resurrection Bay.
- Waterfront Park and the Marina: Take a stroll by the waterfront and enjoy the striking views of the coastal mountains as they appear to almost melt into the ocean.
- Ray’s Waterfront: Following an amazing day of advertures, enjoy a seafood dinner overlooking the water.
- Miller’s Landing: Located a few minutes outside of the main town, this is a true adventurer’s outpost. In addition to stellar views, you’ll find a myriad of daytime activities like water taxis to Caines Head State Park, fishing charters, kayak rentals, and more.
- Kenai Fjords Boat Tour: During this 6-hour tour, you’ll see tidewater glaciers, sea mammals and birds, and, if you are lucky, humpback whales. For more information, check out: Your Ultimate Guide to the Kenai Fjords.
- Exit Glacier: The only part of the Kenai Fjords National Park accessible by foot, Exit Glacier is a can’t-miss destination.
3. Interior Alaska
Best Places to stay:
- Wasilla – There is plenty of camping available near the beautiful Knik River.
- Talkeetna – Check Airbnb for a list of available cabins, each with its unique experience.
- Denali – Check for hotels in Healy, an area just outside of the park with enough amenities to make your stay comfortable.
- Denali – Denali Grizzly Bear Resort, located just 6 miles south of the park entrance, is another great option. This facility offers campsites next to the lodge, as well as, several amenities like hot showers, a food court, and liquor store.
- Chena Hot Springs – Located an hour outside of Fairbanks, staying here is worth the drive. In addition to plenty of space for camping, you can also book a room in the main hotel.
What to do in Wasilla
- Explore Wasilla: During your visit make sure to check out the Iditarod Headquarters (offering summer dog sled tours), the Alaska Live Steamers Museum (offering 30-minute rides on a miniature train), and Bearpaw River Brewing Company.
- Matanuska Glacier: Located 1.5 hours from Wasilla, you can take a guided hike on top of this glacier. There are several tour companies that provide guides and equipment to get you onto the glacier quickly and safely. Want to see more glaciers? Check out: 5 Glaciers Near Anchorage.
- Hatcher Pass – A local favorite, this is another area with amazing hiking. Don’t forget to also check out Independence Mine, a historical gold mining camp.
What to do in Talkeetna
- Explore the town: What the town lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. Make sure to set aside a few hours to explore the local shops and restaurants in this tiny Alaskan village.
- ATV Tours: Another favorite local activity, this area is great for riding ATVs.
- Jet Boat Tour: Explore the surrounding area of Denali National Park by riverboat.
- Flightseeing: This is a great jumping-off point for flightseeing tours over Denali National Park, which is a truly unforgettable experience. While in the area, check out the two main tour operators in the area: K2 and Talkeetna Air Taxi.
- Hiking: With serval options to choose from the trail system around Talkeetna is a nice way to get a feel for the flora and fauna of interior Alaska.
What to do in Denali
- Drive the main road: Take the time to drive the first 15 miles of the park’s main road. During your drive, you’ll find plenty of pull-outs for scenic views and pictures.
- Hike: While Denali was built for the backcountry camper, there are several well-marked trails at the front of the park. Make sure to download or print the trail guide before traveling into the park.
- Bus Tour: In order to travel beyond the first 15 miles of the main road, you’ll need to book a bus tour. The park offers several options, for narrated tours. You can also use the transit bus, which is a hop-on/hop-off-style bus, designed for well-prepared hikers and overnight campers.
What to do in Fairbanks
- Chena Hot Springs: This adorable, rugged resort area is located an hour outside of Fairbanks. In addition to the hot springs, this quirky property has dog sledding, a year-round ice museum, hiking, and a farm-to-table restaurant and bar. For more info check out: The Best Hot Springs Near Fairbanks.
- Museum of the North: Check out the University of Alaska’s Museum of the North. During your visit you’ll learn about the art, culture, and history of the area.
- Large Animal Research Station: Operated by the University of Alaska, this research station studies some of Alaska’s most interesting fauna. Before arriving, you can book an hour-long tour to interact with muskoxen, reindeer, and bovine.
- Pioneer Park: A historical park filled with museums, restaurants, and various summer activities (including a salmon bake!)
Your Alaska Road Trip Itinerary comes to an end
Now that you have completed the road trip of a lifetime, it’s time to plan your next visit to Alaska. With so much to do and see, this is the vacation destination that keeps giving and giving. Did you find a destination that we missed? Leave it in the comments.