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Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

Alaska is all about its glaciers, peaks, and parks. While many opt to cruise around the 49th state, taking an alaska road trip lets you explore the state from a whole new perspective. Enjoy gorgeous mountain views, remote natural vistas, and some of america’s greatest national treasures. Welcome to alaska!


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
mary and florian

State: 
Alaska

Start/End: 
Anchorage, ak

Total miles:
1,200 (1,900 km)

Suggested days: 
At least 12 – 14

Type: 
adventure road trip

Suggested season: 
summer, Fall

Overview

This route is perfect for people who want to truly experience Alaska. What an adventure it is to spend a few weeks on the road in one of the most wild places in the country. Follow our Alaska road trip itinerary at your own pace—there’s a lot of ground to cover and so much to do. In this itinerary we’ll suggest the route and activities that we think will give you the full value of the state. Getting to parts of Alaska can sometimes be difficult, but luckily our route has you flying in and out of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Alaska Air even offers nonstop flights from some cities like Frankfurt, Reykjavik, Chicago, Los Angeles and more. After your arrival into Anchorage, you’ll begin your trip north and explore two national parks along the way. If walking on a glacier or flying over a fjord in a helicopter aren’t on your bucket list, they should be now!

How to Prepare

Alaska has a reputation for being remote, rugged and unforgiving. These are all true, but with this road trip itinerary we’ve made it easier than ever to navigate the unfamiliar territory with your friends or family. That being said, Alaska is still more spread out and less developed than most US states, so be prepared. You might not be able to run to your local Target if you forget a rain jacket. Depending on what month you are planning to go, do your research to determine the predicted weather. A good rule of thumb in Alaska is to always have a rain jacket and warm layers with you, even if it’s a blue bird day with 75 degree temperatures. Weather can be very unpredictable there, especially in the mountains. This Alaska road trip is intended for the summer, but can also be done in the early fall before snow comes. We recommend about two weeks for this trip, especially if you’re planning on doing some hiking in the parks. If you’re going to fly all the way to Alaska, you might as well stay as long as you can!

Add to Your Packing List: 

small pair of binoculars for wildlife viewing
rain jacket & pants/wind layers
small dry bag
hiking boots
camera
collapsible hiking poles
backpacking water filter

 

#1 ANCHORAGE – alaska road trip

Virgin Creek Falls outside of Anchorage, Alaska.

Pick up your rental car and check in at your hotel. We recommend the Lakefront Hotel for the views of Lake Hood, the world’s largest and busiest float plane base.  You can enjoy a meal on the deck watching planes take off and land on the water. 

Take time to rest and adjust to the time change. You will also need to get used to the longer-than-average daylight. During the summer solstice, Anchorage gets about 19.5 hours of daylight! 

Explore downtown with an hour-long Anchorage Trolley Tour. We also recommend checking out the South Anchorage Farmer’s Market and buying local fish, meats, vegetables, fruits, flowers and so much more! 

 

Best leisurely activity:

Pedal the Coastal Trail bike path

Can’t miss it:

Alaska Native Heritage Center

Best place to watch the sunset:

Point Woronzof Overlook

Best place to shop local:

Anchorage Market

Best museum:

Anchorage Museum

Local cuisine speciality:

Fresh seafood

#2 scenic flight to prince william sound – alaska road trip

Float plane trip above glaciers in Alaska.

15 minutes – 5 miles/8 km

Enjoy a scenic float plane ride with one of the local aviation companies. We recommend flying with Rust’s Flying Service. Be prepared to take lots of photos and videos while you enjoy glaciers and wilderness from a bird’s eye view for the first time. Don’t worry about where you sit in the plane—there’s great views everywhere.

Enjoy dinner in downtown Anchorage at one of the many great spots to eat. 

 

Best place for breakfast and coffee:

Snow City Cafe

Try something new for dinner:

Yak and Yeti Himalayan Restaurant

#3 Talkeetna via parks highway – alaska road trip

Standing on a glacier in Alaska.

2 hours – 113 miles/181 km

After spending some time in Anchorage you’ll want to get on the highway going north towards Palmer. Stop along the highway to take in the scenic views of the Chugach Mountains. Get lunch in Palmer before heading east to hop on the Parks Highway. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the road. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a moose! We recommend spending a few nights in Talkeetna.

Head to the Talkeetna airport early in the morning to take a flight with K2 Aviation. This flight-seeing company can take you all over Denali National Park, and even land on Ruth Glacier!

After your flight tour, check out the Denali Brewing Company in downtown Talkeetna. Enjoy the scenery along the river. On a clear day, you’re able to see breathtaking views of Denali National Park.

Best dinner spot: 

West Rib Pub & Grill

Good beer to to try at dinner: 

Ice Axe Ale (by Glacier Brewhouse)

Best family activity:

Go on a float trip with Talkeetna River Guides

Most thrilling activity

Zipline Tours in Talkeetna

#4 denali national park – alaska road trip

Hiking on Savage Creek trail in Denali National Park, Alaska.

2 HOURS 40 MINUTES – 154 MILES/247 KM

Wake up early to get the best light during your drive to Denali National Park. Continue on the Parks highway to enjoy the southern Denali view points–these are the best shots to see Denali. You’ll be happy you got an early start, because clouds often cover the peaks in the afternoon.

Drive toward the Denali National Park entrance and get settled where you’re staying. We recommend staying at either the Grande Denali Lodge or the Denali Bluffs Hotel. 

Contact the visitor center ahead of time to book a bus tour into the Denali National Park & Preserve. This will be a 12-hour day to best see Denali and the Alaska range. There is limited lodging inside the park for those wanting a memorable stay, as well as campsites accessible by the park bus.  For those on a tighter schedule, there is a free bus that will take you to the end of the public access road (also accessible by car).

There are hikes for all levels, so be sure to get out and enjoy the trails. With gorgeous scenic vistas all around you, you’ll have a perfect excuse to stop and take some photos!

 

Best dinner with a view:

Alpenglow in the Grande Denali Lodge

Best hike:

Off-trail hiking! or savage creek loop

Best campground:

Sanctuary River Campground

Best tour: 

narrated bus tour

#5 fairbanks & chena hot springs – alaska road trip

Northern Lights at Chena Hot Springs, Alaska.

2 hours – 121 miles/195 km

Drive northeast from Denali to Fairbanks. There’s a lot of tour companies here for you to adventure with, especially in the summer. We recommend going dog sledding if you’ve never been before–it’s a one-of-a-kind experience and the dogs are adorable! There’s also kayaking, hiking, fishing, berry-picking and northern lights tours if you’re there at the right time.

Before heading south again, make sure to drive out to Chena Hot Springs and enjoy a nice evening soak, or one of their all-inclusive summer family packages. 

A must-see:

World Eskimo-Indian Olympics

Best place for dinner:

Alaska Salmon Bake & Palace Theater

Best hotel/lodging: 

Chena Hot Springs Resort

Best place to shop:

Arctic Circle Trading Post

#6 Paxson & the Alaska Range – alaska road trip

Alaska Range at dusk.

4 hours – 222 miles/357 km

Since it’s a four-hour drive from Chena Hot Springs to Paxson, we recommend breaking it up and stopping at Harding Lake State Recreation Area along the way. It’s a great place to stretch your legs, picnic and soak your feet in the water for a bit. 

There are some really scenic view points along the highway, so account for time to stop and take photos. You can camp along the Denali Highway for some incredible views, or you can stay in cabins outside of the quaint little town of Paxson. 

 

Best hike:

Swede Lake Trail

Can’t miss it:

Fishing on Paxson Lake

Best scenic drive:

The Denali Highway

Best way to see the land:

Land Cruiser Tour

#7 Wrangell – St. Elias National Park – alaska road trip

An old copper mine in Wrangell St Elias National Park.

1 hour 20 minutes – 79 miles/127 km

Continue from Paxson to Gennallen, then enter the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Our route has you stopping at the visitors center first so you can get more information about your stay. If you loved your last scenic flight, you can take another one to experience North America’s largest tidewater glacier–the Hubbard Glacier. It spans 76 miles long, seven miles wide and 600 feet tall.  

Fun fact: Wrangell – St. Elias is America’s largest national park, at over 8 million acres. It’s the same size as Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and Switzerland all combined. Another fun fact…the next three largest parks in America are also in Alaska.

If you haven’t been ice climbing or hiking on a glacier, this is the place to do it. Book a day-trip with St. Elias Alpine Guides for whatever sounds the most fun to you. Besides hiking and ice climbing, they also guide ice cave exploration, alpine hikes, fly-in hikes, rafting, mine tours and more. 

Can’t miss it:

Flying fishing in the park

Best place for food:

Meatza Wagon

Most notable destination:

Kennecott Copper Mine

Best place for hiking snacks:

McCarthy Store & Bakery

#8 valdez – alaska road trip

Where glaciers and mountain meet the ocean.

2 hours – 110 miles/177 km

Continue on to Valdez, which will be your last stop before heading back to Anchorage. You might be numb to glaciers by now, but you’ll want to experience the Worthington Glacier in Valdez, which is completely accessible by car.  

Stay overnight in Valdez and save your last full day for a fishing boat tour. The area is known for its halibut fishing and annual Derby winners typically weigh their fish in at almost 300 pounds. Book a trip with an outfitter and spend up to 12 hours out on the water catching as much fish as your heart desires! A professional fish cutter will meet you on the dock to fillet, vacuum seal and flash freeze your fish. They’ll even ship them to your house via Fedex!

Can’t miss it:

Whale Watching Tours

Best outdoor recreation:

sea kayaking

Buy overnight lodging:

Robe Lake Lodge

Classic American dinner:

Old Town Burgers

Back to anchorage

A van driving down a highway in Alaska.

4 HOURS – 263 MILES/423 KM

Depending how you broke up your road trip, driving back to Anchorage might be your longest section. It’s a good time to soak up what you’ve just experienced and appreciate the public lands we are lucky enough to have. 

You might have to spend a bit of time in Anchorage before catching your flight home. This would be a good time to buy any souvenirs you wanted for yourself or friends and family. Places like Polar Bear Gifts or Oomingmak Anchorage Cooperative would be great places to do that. Have a safe flight back!




Denali Bluffs Hotel: Experience Alaska

If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, you’ll want to make sure a visit to Denali National Park is in your itinerary. With only one road entering the 6 million acres of protected land, the park experience allows visitors to intimately observe this beautiful area and the wildlife that makes this habitat their home. Speaking of homes, you’ll want a home base for your adventures. The Denali Bluffs Hotel and Grande Denali Lodge are the perfect place to start and end your day while you explore the area.

Lodging

Lupines growing in Denali National Park

The hotels are nestled along the hillside of Sugarloaf Mountain, allowing you to still feel close to nature. Enjoy stunning views from your room, easy access to the park entrance, delicious food options, a comfortable hotel experience, and a range of adventure opportunities at your fingertips!

Whether you choose to start your Alaska adventure via train, bus or car, you’re in for a scenic treat. From Anchorage you’ll pass by the Chugach Mountains, then head up the Matanuska Valley. As you approach Talkeetna, you might catch some of your first views of Denali. The route continues along the park. After 238 miles you’ll arrive at the gateway: The Denali Bluffs Hotel and Grande Denali Lodge. The hotel is happy to provide a shuttle for guests arriving via train and makes getting checked in as seamless as possible.

When we checked into our room I was delighted at all the small touches they included to make our stay as comfortable as possible. The views from our room were terrific, and after a long day of travel, I could have spent all evening (and that’s quite a while in the summer!) on the balcony enjoying the mountains, fresh air, and never-ending daylight. Luckily we had plenty of dinner options close by.

A big day of adventures calls for a for a hearty breakfast, and the buffet at the Mountaineer Bar and Grill did not disappoint! For those making an early start or wanting to take their breakfast with them, the Perky Moose Pantry and Cafe offers a variety of grab and go options. You can even have them make you a lunch box or snack pack if you put your order in by 8pm the night before.

Hike and Bike in Denali National Park

A bus near Denali National Park

Fueled for the day, we headed out for our first adventure. Along the highway was the Denali Bike rental tent. We decided biking would be a fun way to experience the park, so we rented two bikes, and headed over to the Denali Bus Depot and caught our ride into the park. We even got to take a free shuttle to Savage River Campground. This is the last stop before entering the park, and can be reached by personal car as well.

Hiking in Denali National Park

There, we locked our bikes and decided to hike the challenging Savage Alpine Trail. The 4 mile trail doesn’t waste any time in gaining elevation. Luckily there are plenty of views to take pictures if you need an excuse to catch your breath. Most of the trail is above the treeline, which means panoramic views the whole time. When we got to the end of the trail at Mountain Vista, we grabbed the bus heading back to our bikes. Be forewarned, everything is bigger in Alaska, and the mosquitos are no exception! We didn’t notice them while we were moving, but they sure were happy to keep us company while waiting for the bus!

Mosquito warning sign near the Denali Bluffs Hotel.

There are no bike trails in the park, and riding on hiking trails is not allowed, so we enjoyed the 15 mile bike ride on the paved road from Savage Creek Campground back to the entrance. Other than buses and a few cars, we mostly had the road to ourselves.  There’s a bit of a climb in the beginning, but the last 9 miles are a fun ride down.

Earn Your Dinner at the Denali Bluffs Hotel and Grande Denali Lodge

Dinner served at the Denali Bluffs Hotel

After all the activities of the day, we freshened up at the hotel, and took a quick ride up to dinner at the Alpenglow Restaurant located inside the Grande Denali Lodge. The views were absolutely amazing, and the food matched. After all that hiking we were hungry, so after enjoying the most amazing fried Brussel sprouts my husband and I decided to split the Tomahawk for two—a delicious prime 36 oz bone in ribeye. It was hands down one of the best meals we had during our trip. Just when we thought the day couldn’t get better, we got birds eye views of a double rainbow.

Rainbow stretched over Denali National Park

There is no shortage of ways to explore Denali National Park. The Denali Visitors Center has some wonderful exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the area. Here you can join along with ranger led hikes or talks.  The park also offers a variety of bus options including transit buses to help visitors access hiking, camping, and photography.

They also have several narrated bus tours led by certified naturalists with different tour lengths. For those who have the time, the Kantishna Experience Tour goes all the way to the end of the 92 mile road. If you want to experience Denali National Park from the air, try a scenic plane tour! No matter how far in you go, you’re likely to see wildlife, so keep your eyes open, and have your camera ready!

Denali National Park: an Epic Vacation

Hiking in Denali National Park

After you’ve experienced the park by foot or bus you may want to consider exploring it from  another angle. Maybe on horseback, or rafting the Nenana River. You could take a jeep tour on the historic Stamped Trail, or get a bird’s eye view of Denali with a scenic flight. No matter what your fancy is, the concierge at the Denali Bluffs Hotel are happy to give suggestions. Check our pre-made Alaska itinerary to help plan your trip and get inspired!

We had so much fun during our time in Denali, we already can’t wait to come back and experience all these options from our new second home at the Denali Bluffs Hotel!

Check out our Alaska road trip itinerary to help plan your trip!

Denali Bluffs Hotel pin




Want to See Denali from the Air? Take an Alaska Scenic Flight Tour!

Alaska has been on our bucket list for quite some time. Instead of just checking it off, our visit has only created more reasons to go back. Our Alaska float plane rides were the best parts of our trip!

Alaska is a huge state. Even in person, you can’t seem to grasp the scale of everything you’re experiencing. I’ve never felt so small in comparison to my surroundings, yet the grandeur makes you feel larger than life. What made us feel even smaller? Exploring from the air on an Alaska float plane tour.

Flying in a float plane above the Alaska Range mountains.

As we began planning our trip, our list of desired experiences kept growing. We love scenic road trips, and couldn’t wait to experience this new landscape. With so much to see and limited time, we had to narrow down our list. 

Float plane leaving the water in Alaska.

Aerial Exploration: Alaska Float Plane Tours

 

We were excited to ask our friends in Alaska what they recommended as “must-do” experiences from a local perspective. Everyone seemed to agree that we’d need to see Alaska from the air to understand the vastness of it.  Getting a birds eye view of the water, mountains and most of all, glaciers, were our number one priority!

Our friends in Anchorage suggested that Rust’s Flying Adventures was the place to go for a scenic flight. After talking to the friendly staff at Rust’s, they suggested two different styles of scenic flights. The first would be flying a float plane through the Chugach mountains, over the Price Williams Sound and surrounding glaciers. The second flight would include flying around Denali, America’s tallest peak and landing below on Ruth Glacier.  Between the two flights, we were sure to get a good taste of Alaska! 

Collage of an Alaska float plane experience

There is no quick way to get to Alaska, however, our flight into Anchorage was stunning. I won’t forget our first preview of the impressive Chugach range. The next day we made our way to Hood Lake, the world’s largest and busiest floatplane base. We were greeted by our friendly and well-seasoned bush pilot, Bruce, who had spent his life flying planes all over the world.

Bruce informed us that the Prince William Sound route is one of his favorites. We loaded into a small deHaviland Beaver plane, each getting our own window seat and two way radio. Taking off from the water was a new experience for us.  As we left Anchorage, we followed the Turnagain Arm, flying along the Chugach Mountains.

Glacier in Alaska. View from float plane.

 

Checking out the Wildlife from an Alaskan Float Plane

Wildlife seen during an Alaska float plane tour, including a marmot, eagle, and moose.

We were lucky enough to take in some of the local wildlife, including Dall sheep high on the cliffs, a black bear and even a few whales surfacing as we flew over the Prince William Sound. From above we could see the valleys where the receding glaciers touch the rivers. All of the glacier water merges into massive blue-colored fjords and inlets. The highlight of this trip was the water landing near a glacier where we had a little bay to ourselves. We took a moment to enjoy the stunning scenery and solitude.

Owl seen in Alaska.

Throughout our flight we both felt speechless and overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery. I had experienced large mountains before, but never so many, so close and with so many glaciers and the sea to compliment the view! But we knew that our flying days weren’t over yet, and after such an exciting experience I couldn’t wait for our Alaska float plane tour of Denali.

Denali by Air

Double rainbow above the forests in Alaska.

We had to get up early and drive to Talkeetna, a cute town on the southern end of Denali National Park.  It was a gorgeous bluebird morning, and we caught our first glimpse of the magnificent Denali as we were driving along the highway. We checked in to the Denali Bluffs Hotel, grabbed our overboots to keep our feet dry once we landed on the glacier, and loaded the DeHavilland Turbine Otter.

Alaska float plane tour on a glacier

This plane was slightly larger than the float plane from the day before. We still had our own windows, but this time we were ready to land on a glacier! As we left Talkeetna, we flew over the mighty Susitna River and up the valley towards the Alaska Mountain Range. The forest landscape below started evolving into the tundra, and the hills were replaced by mountains.

As the plane turned, what looked like a large cloud system on the horizon started to transform into the silhouette of the massive peak. Denali is such a large mountain that it has its own weather patterns. The peaks can be rather elusive to get a clear view of, but we were in luck that day!  We flew next to the jagged ridges that were delicately covered in overhanging cornus. There were massive glacier fields and equally impressive “smaller” peaks. We saw the climbers’ basecamp before preparing ourselves to get a small taste of what these mountaineers experience.

Denali National Park seen from afar.

Descending onto the Glacier

I felt as if we were shrinking as we descended below the the massive heights. We were greeted with a lovely glacial breeze as we stepped off the plane. We spent 20 minutes just soaking in the experience. Surrounded by 360 degrees of granite peaks, I found myself disoriented by the scale of how huge everything was, and overwhelmed by the majestic experience. We loaded back up and tried to soak in every view as we made our way back towards Talkeetna, watching where the glaciers turned into rivers, flowing back through the forest, and toward the valley we started in. An Alaska float plane tour is definitely the best way to experience the Alaskan wilderness.

Hiker on Savage Creek Trail.

As we left Talkeetna, I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude. It’s truly special to experience this place in such an intimate way. Seeing Alaska from a float plane was truly the best way to appreciate the scale of the landscape. It was easily one of the most exciting and memorable experiences we’ve ever had.  Seeing Alaska in this lens left me craving more, and with an appreciation of just how vast Alaska is. I can’t wait to go back for more. 

 

Check out our Alaska road trip itinerary to help plan your trip!

Alaska Pinterest PIn

 




A Guide To Alaska National Parks

Alaska! The very name brings up the image of the last of America’s last wild frontier. And rightly so, with a land mass of 663,268 square miles and a population of around 740,000, that means there is a nearly equal amount of 1 person per square mile. Translation? Lots of elbow room in the Kodiak state. And with all that elbow room there is bound to be some wilderness, meaning you will have plenty of opportunities to let out that barbaric yawp as you visit towering mountains and vast snow-dusted forests. There are also eight national parks in Alaska – here’s a guide to some of the best things to see and do in each park.

Getting There

Ted Steven’s Anchorage International Airport is the usual gateway into Alaska. As Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage acts as the travel hub for the whole state, with air connections to every other large town and many of the state’s 240 small rural airports.

Best Time to Visit:

Well, we don’t really want to tell people what to do, but here is a little factoid for you; during the winter, the temperatures in Alaska can fall below −60 °F. That is -51 degrees Celsius . As in…man that’s cold! Not only does the temperature plummet during the long grip of Alaska’s winter, so does almost every industry supporting tourism. If you don’t mind being cold and hungry, by all means; visit Alaska in the winter. Not so much into self-punishment? Summer temps in Alaska can reach into the 90’s, or the mid 30s Celsius. Again, do what you want..just keep in mind Alaska Winters=cold, long and dark. Alaska Summers=short, warm and full of sun.

Gates of the Arctic National Park

Gates of the Arctic National Park is a vast landscape of sub-arctic splendor. This park does not contain any roads or trails. Wild rivers meander through glacier-carved valleys, caribou migrate along age-old trails, endless summer light fades into the aurora-lit night skies of winter. It remains virtually unchanged except by the forces of nature.

Best Experience:

The solitude. No trails or visitor services exist in the park. You must be self-sufficient.

Kobuk Valley National Park

Completely surrounded by the Waring and Baird mountain ranges, this park protects a bevy of sub-arctic geography. The Kobuk River and the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes are the spectacular gems of the park, but there is so much more. A quarter million caribou migrate through the park twice a year – north in the spring, south in the fall.

Best Experience:

Onion Portage is a National Historic Landmark on the Kobuk River where people gathered for 9,000 years to harvest caribou as they forded the stream. Today, local Alaskan residents still feed their families with caribou from the river crossing in the fall.

Denali National Park

Ahh Denali. In a state of grandness, this park is the feather in the cap. With over 6 million acres of protected land, it truly is a gem of wilderness. More developed than Kobuk or Gates of the Arctic, Denali never-the-less takes a certain amount of planning. There is only one road in the park and private travel is not allowed beyond mile 15; which means you are walking, biking or riding a bus. Not a bad way to see one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Best Experience:

Denali Park Road. 92 miles long, the Denali Park Road parallels the Alaska Range and travels through low valleys and high mountain passes. It is the only road in the park. Along its route, beautiful landscapes are the norm, with Denali making a regular appearance.

Wrangel St. Elias National Park

This is the largest of the Alaska national parks and it’s also the largest national park in the United States. How large you ask? Yellowstone large, times six. Follow any braided river or stream to its source and you will find either a receding, advancing, or tidewater glacier. Hike its mountains, float its rivers, ski its glaciers. As with most of the Alaska national parks, travel service and facilities are limited but there are still endless opportunities to explore and discover America’s premier mountain wilderness.

Best Experience:

Kayaking. Wrangell-St. Elias offers 155 miles of coast for kayaking. These trips can be hazardous, difficult, and require advance logistics, but they are often the adventure of a lifetime.

Kenai Fords National Park

This park is located on the fantastic Kenai Peninsula near the harbor town of Seward. At over 1,000 square miles, the park has plenty of room to stretch your legs, or your arms depending on your passion. On any given day you can be hiking, kayaking, fat biking or cross country skiing; or take the more relaxing route and see the whole park from a tour boat. Nearly 51 percent of the park is ice covered, meaning the sense of wilderness is just as amazing as the photo ops.

Best Experience:

Harding Icefield Trail.This trail is referred to by rangers as “the best day hike in the National Park Service.” The Harding Icefield Trail begins at the Exit Glacier Nature Center and travels to the edge of the Harding Icefield. About 8 miles round trip, the trail gains a lot of elevation, and is described as strenuous. However those that brave the trail are rewarded with a spectacular view of the Harding Icefield, which makes up 50 percent of the park.

Glacier Bay National Park

Though the most southerly of the national parks in Alaska, Glacier Bay is still wilderness to the bone. The vast majority of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve has neither roads nor trails. It is possible for wilderness lovers to spend days in the park’s more remote places seeing no people, nor even signs of people.  And that is just great because that means you get all those snow-capped peaks, temperate forested valleys and long stretches of coast all to yourself. That’s 3.3 million acres of adventure.

Best Experience:

White Water Rafting. Rafting the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers from Canada to Dry Bay in Glacier Bay National Preserve is a world-class float trip on glacial rivers slicing through one of the world’s highest coastal mountain ranges. Whether you bring your own raft, rent from an outfitter, or join a guided trip, you can bring along many of the comforts that kayakers and backpackers must leave behind.

Lake Clark National Park

Let’s be up front about Lake Clark; you aren’t going to be driving there. There are no roads here. Traveling to this park requires a plane or a boat, and a little bit of dedication. But what you get in return is well worth the effort. This is Alaska at its best, and it shows in the still steaming volcanoes, the tundra, the mirror like turquoise waters and the endless fishing opportunities. Chances are, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is unlike any park you’ve experienced.

Best Experience:

Everything in Lake Clark National Park. Lake Clark preserves the ancestral homelands of the Dena’ina people, an intact ecosystem at the headwaters of the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, and a rich cultural wilderness. Just by making the effort to get to Lake Clark, you become a part of this legacy.

Katmai National Park

If you want to visit Katmai, you are going to have to catch a taxi. An Airtaxi that is. Once again, if you want to visit this untrammeled wilderness…you going to have to fly or boat. But once again, you are going to be glad you did. Located in what is know as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Katmai was set up as an extensive outdoor study area for active volcanism. But it’s not just volcano nerds that flock to this remote park. Katmai contains the world’s largest protected brown bear population, estimated to number about 2,200. Those two things, coupled with the extensive opportunities, like hiking, backpacking, camping, backcountry skiing, fishing and kayaking, boat tours and interpretive programs, make any trip to Katmai a memory of a lifetime.

Best Experience:

Brooks Falls. Bears are especially likely to congregate at the Brooks Falls viewing platform when the salmon are spawning, and many well known photographs of Alaskan brown bears have been taken there. The salmon arrive early at Brook Falls compared to other streams, and between 43 and 70 individual bears have been documented at the falls in July and an equal number of bears are seen in the lower river in September.

 

Each of the Alaska national parks offers breathtakingly beautiful scenery and solitude – we recommend visiting them all if you have the opportunity!