Driving the Seward Highway from Anchorage.

Alaska Self-Drive Packages

Hop in the car and go explore, Alaska awaits.

Shot of Kennecott abandoned mining camp near Valdez Alaska.

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Alaska Self-Drive Vacations

Despite the allure of scenic train and bus travel packages , many visitors to Alaska prefer the freedom and fun of driving themselves. Since these packages often go beyond where trains travel, they give you the chance to explore towns like Valdez or Cooper Landing and distant national parks like Wrangell-St. Elias .

All self-drive packages include a rental car plus all accommodations and activities so that you can travel as you please, while still enjoying a well-planned itinerary. They can also be an economical option for large groups of four or more traveling together.

Each of the below travel packages gives visitors plenty of time to travel between destinations , leaving space to discover many other hidden gems along Alaska's scenic highways. They are also fully customizable . You can upgrade your vehicle type, add destinations, and change your activities.

Renting a Car in Alaska

There are two rental categories available, a standard rental car or a premium 4x4 rental . You can do plenty with a standard rental, especially if Denali National Park , Seward , Fairbanks , and even off-the-beaten-path places like Girdwood and Homer are on your must-see list. A premium 4x4 rental gives you access to remote gravel thoroughfares in Alaska like the Denali Highway and McCarthy Road. Another benefit of a 4x4 rental is the convenient one-way drop-off option. You can pick up your rental in Anchorage and drop off in Fairbanks or vice-versa, giving you more time to travel without having to "backtrack" on highways you've already explored.

  • Want to know more about traveling by car in Alaska? Check out Banned Roads in Alaska and 3 Driving Tips for Alaska Travelers .

If you'd like trip planning assistance from our team of local travel experts, you can send us a general request for information , contact us online, or give us a call at 800-208-0200.

Alaska Discovery Self-Drive - Tour 168

Visit Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Palmer, and Seward on this nine-day vacation package featuring travel by rental car for the utmost freedom to explore as you go. Learn More >

Alaska Glaciers & Wilderness Adventure - Tour 181

Enjoy the freedom to travel Alaska's remote highways on this 13-day vacation package featuring adventures in Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, Fairbanks, and Denali National Park. The package includes a 4x4 rental car. Learn More >

Alaska Kayak Exploration - Tour 180

A paddler's dlight! Road trip from Kachemak Bay and the fjords of Seward to the heart of Denali National Park with stops for several guided kayaking trips on the way. Learn More >

Both Sides of Denali Self-Drive - Tour 148

Cruise by rental car from Anchorage to the Denali National Park area for five days of Alaskan adventures. The trip includes flightseeing, rafting, and a Denali Park Road tour. Learn More >

Northern Exposure Alaska Sampler - Tour 169

Made for active adventurers eager to get out and explore Alaska, this seven-day rental car package includes exciting outdoor excursions in Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Denali National Park. Learn More >

Paddle Alaska Road Trip - Tour 128

Travel by rental car on this seven-day vacation package featuring iceberg kayaking, river rafting, a coastal day cruise, and Denali Park bus tour. The trip begins and ends in Anchorage. Learn More >

Ultimate Iditarod Winter Wonderland - Tour 980

Travel from Fairbanks to Anchorage on this eight-day group tour. Celebrate the start of the Iditarod, see Denali Park draped and snow, and maybe even glimpse the northern lights. Learn More >

Pre-Cruise Alaska Road Trip - Tour 135

A weeklong, pre-cruise, self-drive itinerary that starts in Anchorage and ends in Seward. Convenient one-way rental car included. Learn More >

quirky attractions road trips logo

The Perfect Alaska Road Trip Itinerary: How to See the State in 7 to 10 Days

A road trip is the best way to see Alaska. Especially if you’ve never been there before!

The 49th state has so much to see and do, from camping with the caribou and grizzlies in Denali National Park to hiking inside glaciers to whale-watching tours to quirky small towns.

alaska itinerary car

I’m here to share my recommended itinerary for a 7 to 10 day Alaska vacation, compiled from the several weeks I’ve spent exploring the state.

Keep reading for my best tips for road tripping in Alaska. And if you’re wondering how much all of this will cost, we’ve got a separate post that breaks down the budget in detail .

love van - best way to see alaska

Ready for an unforgettable Alaska road trip? Fill up that gas tank and let’s get moving!

This post assumes that you’re flying into Anchorage and renting a car to get around while you are there.

Make sure to check out our complete list of road trip essentials , including specific snacks, electronic gadgets, and car supplies that you should always have on every extended car trip!

alaska tour by car

Need a rental car? I recommend DiscoverCars.com , which allows you to compare prices and availability for all the top rental companies to find the best possible deal. And they offer free cancellation!

Table of Contents

Why a Road Trip is the Best Way to See Alaska

Alaska is absolutely massive, and car or RV is by far the easiest way to get around. You could travel by train. After all, the Alaska Railroad provides beautiful scenery as it travels from Seward to Anchorage to Fairbanks.

But the train is very expensive, and it would be difficult to get around without a car after you arrive at each destination.

rearview mirror mountains traveling alaska 7 days

Taking an Alaska road trip gives you the freedom to pull over for scenic photos whenever the mood strikes. You can stop and have a picnic lunch next to a roadside lake.

And you can spend as much time in each city as you like, rather than relying on the schedule of the train.

SCOTT’S PRO TIP : While Alaska is beautiful, the distances between cities are huge, and that can lead to some monotonous driving. Some major routes are two-lane roads with thick forests on both sides.

In those places, there’s nothing to see, and no change in scenery for sometimes 2 hours straight. Stay alert, and don’t let the long distances deter you from enjoying your Alaska vacation!

best alaska road trip itinerary

Recommended Alaska Tours:

Because of weather, the best time to do an Alaska road trip is between June and September. In the shoulder season of late-May to early-June, prices are still low, so you can score better deals on rental cars.

Just be aware that the temperature will be chillier during that time (average highs around 58 F / 14 C).

road trip book

Are you a road trip addict too? My two favorite road trip books are The 50 Best Road Trips in the USA by Jessica Dunham and the National Geographic Road Atlas , the best collection of driving maps for North America.

In the winter, many businesses and attractions are closed, so that’s not the best time for an Alaska visit (unless you’re specifically coming to Fairbanks to see the northern lights!)

July and August both have average temps around 65 F / 18 C. July is the perfect sunny month, while August sees more rain.

Of course, July and August are the months when everybody visits Alaska, so you’ll face more crowding from tourists at certain attractions.

My Recommended Alaska Road Trip Itinerary Map for 7 or 10 Days

The anchorage to fairbanks loop route map.

best alaska road trip itinerary map

Miles : 1082 Driving time : 20 hours, 14 minutes Time needed : 7-10 days minimum

This road trip takes you from Anchorage up through Wasilla and Talkeetna, before spending time in Denali National Park.

Then, you’ll head further north to Fairbanks, before looping back around through the town of North Pole.

Next comes a brief visit to America’s largest national park (Wrangell-St Elias), followed by hiking inside Matanuska Glacier, and then a swing down to Seward and Kenai Fjords.

I’ll be honest… this is an ambitious itinerary that packs a lot into one or two weeks. Feel free to skip some of these stops if you think you’ll be too rushed.

I did this exact trip in 8 days. But there were some early wakeup calls and long days of driving. I didn’t mind, because I knew I could always catch up on sleep once I got back home!

So if you want to see as much of Alaska as possible, this is a perfect guide for your journey.

1. Start the Road Trip from Anchorage

Fly into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. I recommend using a site like Skyscanner months in advance to keep an eye on prices. You can even set email alerts so you’ll be notified when flight prices drop.

alaska itinerary plane window seat

Grab a window seat if possible, so you can soak in the landscape when you’re flying in. The airport has all the major car rental companies, so you can grab your vehicle on be on your way.

SCOTT’S PRO TIP : When checking rental car prices, check non-airport locations as well. I ended up renting from an Enterprise lot in the middle of Anchorage, because their prices were cheaper than the airport lot. Anchorage has Uber and taxis, so getting to a car rental agency off the airport isn’t hard.

Don’t stay more than a night in Anchorage at the start of your trip. You’ll want to get on the road as soon as possible.

You can give yourself a couple more days in Anchorage at the end of the journey to do some proper city sightseeing.

2. Make Pit Stops in Wasilla and Talkeetna

Upon heading north from Anchorage, you’ll pass through Wasilla. Yes, that’s Sarah Palin’s hometown, and they still sell goofy souvenirs featuring her name.

SCOTT’S PRO TIP : As you drive north, Wasilla is the last place for a very long time where you can find Walmart and Target to stock up on last-minute supplies and snacks. The city also has cheap food like Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Arby’s, in case you’re trying to keep your budget low.

downtown talkeetna

From there, head on to Talkeetna , one of the coolest towns I’ve ever visited! It’s a quirky place with a hippie vibe.

Walk around to see the moose statues, visit the gift shops, and eat some caribou chili alongside mountain climbers who are preparing to head out to Mt. Denali.

Talkeetna is also the home of some flightseeing companies. Check out this 1-Hour Flightseeing Tour in Denali National Park ! If you’ve got a couple hundred dollars, you can splurge for the awesome life experience of riding in a small plane over glaciers in Denali National Park.

I took a 60-minute flight that was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!

flightseeing - alaska road trip talkeetna

Where to Stay in Talkeetna: Gorgeous River Cabins. Susitna River Cabins . Hostel-Style Rooms. Talkeetna Roadhouse .

3. Visit Denali National Park

From Talkeetna, it’s around three hours to Denali National Park, which should be the centerpiece of any good Alaska road trip itinerary.

On the way there, pull over in Denali State Park (a separate park that borders the national park) to see the Alaska Veterans Memorial .

denali road trip

Hopefully you’ve made your camping or lodge reservations before arriving in Denali National Park. Pay your $15/person entrance fee, and stop at the visitor center to pick up your park maps.

There’s only one road into Denali, and it’s 92 miles long. However, to reduce congestion, you’re only allowed to drive to Mile 15. Beyond that, you must take one of the park’s shuttle buses .

savage river campground

An easy option for exploring Denali NP is to stay at the Savage River Campground (mile 12) for a couple nights, while taking day trips on the shuttle deep into the park.

For the best experience, take the shuttle all the way to the end of the road (this can take as long as 6 hours, however.)

SCOTT’S PRO TIP : If you don’t want to take the shuttle all the way into the park, at least ride it to the Eielson Visitor Center at mile 66. There’s a visitor center here with great mountain views, and this is an area of lots of wildlife activity.

denali - where to see bears in alaska

I stayed one night at Savage River, and spent a second night backcountry camping deep in the heart of Denali, which was an awesome experience.

The wildlife in Denali is incredible. You can see bears, caribou, moose, dall sheep, and much more. Some of them will be far away. Others might be closer than you’d ever imagine, like the moose I saw drinking from a puddle in the visitor center parking lot!

moose denali visitor center

Denali is the third-largest national park in America. It’s the most scenic place you’ll be visiting on this road trip, so stay as many days as you need to fully experience the park.

I recommend 3 days minimum. You could easily do a full week here if you love into hiking and nature!

Where to Stay in Denali: Inside the Park. Savage River Campground . Comfortable Rooms. Backwoods Lodge .

4. Fairbanks

From Denali, it’s about 2 hours and 15 minutes north to Fairbanks, and there isn’t a lot to see on the way.

Though it’s Alaska’s second-largest city, Fairbanks only has 30,000 residents. They do have some bars and restaurants, but not a ton of nightlife.

Fairbanks is known for being a place where you can often see the Northern Lights . That’s true… but not in the summer.

Fairbanks gets up to 21 hours of daylight in June, so don’t expect aurora borealis sightings here unless you visit between September and April (or maybe late August if you’re lucky.)

fairbanks ice museum aurora

Instead, the best place to visit here is the Fairbanks Ice Museum ! You can watch live ice carvings and hang around behind a bar made of ice.

Other worthy attractions include the Museum of the North and the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum.

The famous Trans Alaska Pipeline runs for 800 miles across the Alaska wilderness. The best place to see it up close (and even touch it) is 15 minutes north of Fairbanks at the Aleyska Pipeline Visitor Center.

alyeska pipeline

SCOTT’S PRO TIP : How far is the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks? It’s 198 miles north of Fairbanks, and it’s on a gravel road, so you probably won’t be allowed to drive your rental car there. But you can take a guided day tour to visit the Arctic Circle .

Where to Stay in Fairbanks: Budget Dorms. Billie’s Backpacker Hostel . Downtown Lodging. Bridgewater Hotel .

5. North Pole and Delta Junction

Most other Alaska road trip itineraries will have you turn around after Fairbanks and head straight back to Anchorage the exact same way you came. But I think it’s silly to retrace your steps.

There’s a lot to see if you continue heading southeast and loop back around to Anchorage via Routes 2 & 4. First up is the town of North Pole. Get it? North Pole, Alaska!

Much like the city of Santa Claus, Indiana , the town of North Pole, Alaska looks like Christmas all year long.

In this adorable town, you can visit the world’s largest Santa Claus statue at Santa Claus House, a gift shop featuring holiday ornaments, fudge and cookies, and souvenirs.

You can also get up close and personal inside the pen of reindeer outside the house.

north pole alaska post office

Continue south on Route 2 for 90 minutes to the town of Delta Junction and take a lunch break. This town has a grocery store and at least five restaurants to choose from.

After Delta Junction, you’ll be looking at three hours of driving until Wrangell-St. Elias. Some of this stretch will be monotonous. Other parts will have cool views of mountains and the Alaska Pipeline meandering over hillsides.

SCOTT’S PRO TIP : Because this part of the state is more remote, it’s great for large animals. Keep an eye out for wildlife – I saw lots of moose just off the road in this part of the state.

moose alaska roadside

The biggest problem in this part of Alaska is finding lodging. There are few hotels between North Pole and Anchorage, so do some planning to figure out where you want to spend the night. Campgrounds are always an option.

And if you’ve never used Airbnb, this might be a good area to give it a shot! There are several properties in this area you can book.

Where to Stay in Delta Junction: Good Roadside Inn. Alaska Country Inn . Cozy Rooms. Trophy Lodge .

6. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Eventually, you’ll make it to the visitor center of America’s largest national park , Wrangell-St. Elias .

Despite its size, the park only has one tiny section of paved road. That’s where you’ll find the visitor center. Here you can see some informational displays about the park.

wrangell st elias park

The two roads that go deeper into Wrangell-St. Elias are made of gravel and dirt, so chances are you won’t be permitted to take your rental car there.

You can, however, take a shuttle there, if you really want to visit Kennecott, an abandoned mining town.

If not, just turn around after the visitor center and start heading back towards Anchorage.

Where to Stay Near Wrangell-St. Elias: Great Reviews. Antler’s Rest Bed and Breakfast . Close to Wrangell. Klutina Kate’s B&B .

7. Matanuska Glacier

Here’s another cool spot that many an Alaska road trip itinerary tends to overlook: Matanuska Glacier . Sign up for a tour and you can go hiking right inside the glacier!

standing on matanuska

Matanuska is the largest glacier in America accessible by car. It’s about 27 miles long by 4 miles wide, though like any glacier, its size and shape keep changing.

You can drive up and explore on your own, but glaciers can be dangerous. When you get close, you’ll see that there are rushing rivers and hidden crevasses inside the glacier.

SCOTT’S PRO TIP : To be on the safe side, sign up for a tour with a company like MICA Guides or Matanuska Glacier Adventure Tours. They provide helmets and crampons to keep you safe on the ice. I went with a guided tour , and we got to explore way deeper into the glacier than I would’ve been able to do on my own.

matanuska glacier

Where to Stay near Matanuska: Excellent B&B. Alaska Knotty Pine B&B . Cheap Rooms. Eagle Hotel .

8. Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park

From Matanuska, head back to Anchorage. Grab food and fuel, and continue down to the fishing community of Seward. You definitely won’t need more than one night here, but it’s a cool little place to explore the outdoors.

seward alaska road trip itinerary

Seward is very near Kenai Fjords National Park. To actually get inside park boundaries, take a wildlife-watching day cruise . You may be able to see orcas and humpback whales!

These cruises use local reports to determine where whales are hanging out on that particular day. Here’s a Kenai Fjords whale-watching tour that you can book in advance .

whale watching cruise

On my cruise, I saw several orca whales and some humpback whales, plus sea lions, dall’s porpoises, and puffins. We also got close to Aialik Glacier and got to witness a large chunk breaking away into the water.

glacier viewing - alaska road trip itinerary

Alternately, you can reach the national park by driving to Exit Glacier Nature Center and hiking to the base of the glacier. The nearby Harding Icefield Trail is a great place for a strenuous workout in the wilderness.

Where to Stay in Seward: Near Cruise Terminal. Harbor 360 . Most Affordable. Breeze Inn Motel .

9. Back at the Start: Things To Do in Anchorage

On your way back to Anchorage from Seward, stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Girdwood.

Here, you can see injured and orphaned animals living comfortably in a relaxed, zoo-like environment. You’ll get to see bears a lot more close-up here than you did anywhere else in Alaska!

wildlife conservation center bears

Once in Anchorage, you have lots of options. If you’re not tired of hiking, check out some of the city trails, or visit Chugach State Park.

There are also a ton of group tours available, including Segway tours, bike tours, food tours, train tours, and more. See our complete list of the best Anchorage tours .

If you prefer more offbeat attractions, try the Anchorage Light Speed Planet Walk , a scale-model representation of the solar system on the sidewalks of downtown; the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a museum dedicated to the region’s indigenous peoples; and the Wells Fargo Museum of gold rush artifacts and other historic exhibits.

alaska native heritage center

Another fun option? An Anchorage Trolley Trip. For only $20, you get a one-hour tour on a trolley bus that will give you a great introduction to the city.

I have a full blog post on downtown Anchorage activities if you need more ideas.

Where to Stay in Anchorage: Downtown Location. Historic Anchorage Hotel . Near Airport. Puffin Inn . Low-Cost Dorms. Base Camp Adventure Hostel .

More Recommended Anchorage Activities:

Four Other Possible Detours For the Enthusiastic Alaska Road Trip Planner

As noted, road trips are the best way to see Alaska. If you’re taking an extended Alaska road trip and have extra time on your hands, consider expanding your route to include any of the following detours.

alaska vacation side trips map

A side trip to Homer is the easiest detour to add to the Alaska road trip itinerary presented in this article. It’s an extra 3.5 hours from Seward to Homer.

Your reward is a chance to spend some time in a coastal city of 5000 that has some of the best fishing, hiking, and kayaking in the state.

From Homer, you can make a trip to Katmai , one of the least-visited national parks in the U.S. Katmai doesn’t see a ton of visitors because it’s accessed only by plane or boat.

Katmai is home to the famous Brooks Falls webcam . There are short flights available from Homer that will give you the rare opportunity to visit Katmai National Park.

In Homer, you can also take a boat across the water to Lake Clark National Park, to visit yet another of the state’s remote and rarely-visited parks.

Chicken & Dawson City

This is a looong detour, but it could be worth it. Chicken is a cute little town. And I mean really little – the official population is 7. There’s a saloon, a restaurant, a giant chicken tower, and an RV park if you want to stay overnight.

chicken alaska restaurant

Chicken is 3.5 hours east of Delta Junction. Continue another 3 hours and you’ll cross the border and arrive at Dawson City , a super fun city in Yukon, Canada .

Dawson is a great place to visit, but if you’ve got a rental car, you might want to think twice about trying to cross into Canada.

At last check, most major car rental companies in Anchorage do not allow rental cars to be driven into Canada; however, I have not personally checked in with all of them, so you may find some local companies that would allow this.

Drive 2 hours south of the Wrangell-St. Elias visitor center, and you’ll reach Valdez and Chugach National Forest. Valdez is similar to Homer and Seward, in that it’s a coastal town with fishing and day cruises.

There are more than a dozen hotels in Valdez, so if you need a place to spend the night near Wrangell-St. Elias, this city could be a good option.

The Arctic Circle & Gates of the Arctic National Park

Drive straight north from Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway, and after five hours and 198 miles, you’ll cross the Arctic Circle. There’s a big welcome sign there.

Reaching the Arctic Circle is very cool, but is it really worth such a long drive? That’s up to you.

Here’s another problem: This highway is gravel, which means most rental cars aren’t allowed on it. This page has a partial list of local rental car companies that may allow driving on gravel roads.

Alaska Auto Rental is one of the few companies I’ve found that specifically rents “gravel highway vehicles,” but expect to pay a premium – $300/day or more.

Alternately, there is a full-day tour you can book that leaves from Fairbanks and provides transportation to the Arctic Circle and back.

Drive another 50 miles further north, and you’ll be tantalizingly close to Gates of the Arctic National Park . It’s just a few miles west of the highway.

Unfortunately, there are no roads going into the park. Most visitors to the park arrive by bush plane.

Folks who are really dedicated could park on Dalton Highway and hike into the edge of the park. But it’s not for the faint of heart. The NPS warns that you’ll have to cross a river and traverse mountains to make this happen.

You could conceivably stay in the town of Coldfoot (they have campsites and a motel) and hike into the park from the nearby highway.

Though it’s difficult to reach Gates of the Arctic this way, many experienced hikers have done it.

What to Bring: Essentials for an Alaska Road Trip

Milepost Travel Guide

For decades now, Milepost Travel Guide has been “The Bible of Alaska Travel.”

The book breaks down every road mile-by-mile, noting the major attractions as well as rest stops, bathrooms, parking pullouts, photo opportunities, and more.

For any Alaska road trip, you must have Milepost! I know a lot of people these days prefer Kindle books or blogs to physical books, but trust me, this one is worth it.

Other Alaska Packing Essentials: Hiking Pants. Waterproof Jacket . It rains a lot in Alaska. Tent & Sleeping Bag (if camping.) Hat. Waterproof Binoculars . You don’t want to miss any distant wildlife! Hand Sanitizer. Hiking Poles . Always a good idea for longer hikes, and they’re affordable. Hiking Shoes. External Charger . Keep those devices powered! Good Camera with Zoom. Dashcam . Capture video of your Alaska driving experience! Flashlight. Repellent . People say, “Mosquitos are the official Alaska state bird!”

Other Common Questions About Traveling Alaska

alaska railroad trespassing

How much does it cost for an Alaska road trip like this?

We’ve written an entire post that lays out the expected costs for a trip to Alaska . It takes into account airfare, lodging, rental car costs, souvenirs, and so forth.

Bottom line: You can take a 1-week Alaska vacation for as little as $1000/person (including airfare), but that would be a bare-bones vacation without guided tours or nice hotels.

A typical trip will cost $2500-3500/person with standard accommodations and activities.

Can I include Juneau and Glacier Bay National Park on my Alaska road trip itinerary?

Nope! You can’t road trip to the capital city of Juneau. You can only reach Juneau by plane or ferry. Here’s a guide for how to get to Juneau .

The coastal city is surrounded by mountains, so there’s literally no way to drive to Juneau from anywhere (unless you drive onto a ferry from British Columbia, Canada.)

If you want to see Juneau and Glacier Bay National Park, consider taking a cruise from Seattle or Vancouver.

Is cell phone and radio station coverage good everywhere in Alaska?

Nope! That’s another reason why you want to have Milepost , for the printed maps. Because you will lose your cell signal between cities.

And you’ll want to play music on your phone in the car, since you can only get one or two radio stations in much of the state.

Have you spent time traveling Alaska? Have you done the Anchorage to Fairbanks route? Do you have any other suggestions to add to our Alaska road trip itinerary?

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Tips for planning your Alaska Road trip

Bucket-List Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

February 10, 2024 //  by  Follow Me Away //   27 Comments

Are you looking for the best Alaska road trip itinerary that showcases the best the “Last Frontier” has to offer?

Since I have been to Alaska multiple times I can suggest exactly how to plan a trip to Alaska based on experience. I will teach you how to travel Alaska to see all the coolest locations.

I want you to see the best of what Alaska has to offer including cute small towns, scenic drives, and national parks such as Kenai Fjords and Denali which are full of wilderness and wildlife.

When planning your trip, feel free to modify my Alaska itinerary based on the time you have to spend in the state.

I recommend visiting Alaska for at least a week, but two weeks is an ideal amount of time for an Alaska vacation.

No matter how long you have to spend in the state, you are in for a real treat when visiting America’s 49th state! Alaska is so diverse with nature and wildlife like you have never seen before!

Don’t forget to check out my detailed road trip packing list so you don’t forget any essentials!

Here is my Alaska road trip guide!

A winding road through trees heading toward mountains on an Alaska road trip.

Table of Contents

Stop 1: Anchorage

You will start and end your Alaska road trip in the city of Anchorage.

There are plenty of things to do in Anchorage and the town is full of all the comforts you could ask for such as large grocery stores, a mall, museums, shops, and more.

The city is also closely tied to the surrounding nature.

Most Alaska road trip itineraries begin and end in Anchorage because it is convenient and the international airport is nearby.

If you are looking for the best attractions in Anchorage, consider going to the Anchorage Museum . It has something for the whole family!

Fascinating art and cultural exhibits, a planetarium, and an entire kids section make it a great day trip for all ages!

If you want to see more of the city, Anchorage Trolley Tours is a fun and affordable way to take a tour! I learned all about how Anchorage was founded, saw cool local homes, and drove on a small plane runway!

This was certainly one of the most fun Alaska tours in town. You can book your trolley tour online and save time when you arrive. This is a great family-friendly thing to do!

Finally, if you are looking to get active in Anchorage, this Coastal Trail 3-Hour City Bike Tour may be perfect for you. It is educational, fun, and a great way to see the city while getting some exercise.

The coastal parks are BEAUTIFUL in Anchorage and filled with tons of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled and you may even spot some moose!

Anchorage is a fun and educational place to begin your road trip in Alaska!

Where To Stay In Anchorage

As a major city, there are a ton of great hotels in Anchorage for all budgets and types of travelers.

  • Midtown Location. Hyatt Place Anchorage . Check Rates: Booking.com
  • Mid-Range. Aspen Suites Hotel Anchorage . Check Rates: Booking.com
  • Luxury. Embassy Suites Anchorage . Check Rates: Booking.com

Aerial image of Anchorage at sunset with mountains in the distance.

Stop 2: Talkeetna

Next, continue your Alaska itinerary from Anchorage.

If you haven’t yet heard of Talkeetna, you are in for a real treat! It is the cutest town in Alaska and is the base for people who are hiking the mountain of Denali. Make sure to pack good hiking boots for Alaska !

Talkeetna is eclectic and so cute and a wonderful place to visit before you head to Denali National Park.

The food in Talkeetna is some of the best in Alaska so you will certainly want to try to eat at as many places as possible.

One of the best things to do in Talkeetna is to take a flight tour of Denali. This Talkeetna: Denali 1-Hour Flight Experience is based out of Talkeetna This is the best way to see Alaska from the air.

If you want the chance to walk on a glacier, you can also choose the Talkeetna: G rand Denali Flight Tour with Optional L anding .

If taking a flight, understand that a glacier landing will up the price of the flight. If you have seen enough glaciers, I recommend sticking to the flight to save money!

You can also go fishing or whitewater rafting along the nearby lakes and rivers.

Many people stop in Talkeetna for a quick stop and that is fine if that is all the time you have, but I highly recommend spending at least one night in this unique little Alaskan city!

Where To Stay In Talkeetna

As a smaller town, there are not a ton of hotel options for Talkeetna. But the handful of lodgings feature beautiful properties and reasonable prices.

  • Mid-Range. Denali Fireside Cabin & Suites . Check Rates: Booking.com
  • Great Views. Susitna River Lodge . Check Rates: Booking.com

Cute stores in downtown Talkeetna, Alaska.

Stop 3: Denali National Park

After Talkeetna, the next stop on your Alaska road trip itinerary is Denali National Park, one of the most iconic Alaska attractions.

The drive north to the park is a bit long, so budget at least four hours of driving for this part of your Alaska trip. As one of the best things to do in Alaska , the drive is worth it.

Both times I drove from Anchorage to Denali, it was raining, so I had to drive slowly. If it is a clear day, you are going to want to stop to see all the stunning mountains once you get further north!

This is one of the top road trips from Anchorage!

In Denali National Park, you have the option to drive your car 14 miles into the park, but after that, you have to either hike or pay to take a national park bus.

If you want to try something fun, consider taking a Denali Highway Jeep Excursion .

The drive is over 100 miles and highlights the best of what Denali has to offer from glaciers to epic wildlife! Book early as this one fills up quickly!

If you want to do some hiking but are a little tentative about being among wildlife such as bears and moose all alone, consider taking a guided hike.

This Denali: 5-Hour Guided Wilderness Hiking Tour  is a great introduction and a wonderful way to get active within the park. This is a great way to explore Denali National Park!

If you are a novice hiker or even a pro looking to find the best spots, a guided hike is a great thing to do on your first day or two to get a lay of the land. It is also one of the best ways to see Alaska’s beauty.

Looking for a burst of adrenaline? I suggest the Denali Park Zipline Adventure . Ziplining is SO MUCH FUN and it is even better in Alaska because of the views and amazing cool air.

Denali is the highlight of many travelers’ Alaska itineraries, so choose the top things to do in Denali that suit your interests.

If you want to add a day or two to this itinerary, you can head farther north to Fairbanks. If you visit in winter, this is one of the best places to see the northern lights.

Where To Stay Near Denali

Denali National Park is remote but there is a smattering of hotels along its perimeter on the Parks Highway. Camping here is also a popular option if you are writing an Alaska on a budget itinerary.

  • Near Park Entrance. McKinley Chalet Resort . Check Rates: Booking.com
  • Great Views. McKinley Creekside Cabins . Check Rates: Booking.com

Fall day at Denali National Park with evergreen trees, lakes, and mountains.

Stop 4: Seward

Seward should top every Alaska by-car itinerary!

You can head there from Denali, but that is an 8-hour drive, or you can spend another night or two in Anchorage or the nearby towns of Wasilla or Palmer to cut down on the drive.

The drive from Anchorage to Seward is one of the most famous in Alaska. The Seward Highway is so pretty!

The drive down the Turnagain Arm is one of the top drives in the world, and the highlight of many Alaska road trips.

This drive is totally doable in a day and I have done it before and many friends have too. If you want to stop and take your time, there are plenty of other cute towns that you can visit along the way.

If you have time, stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where you can see bears, wolves, moose, bison, and more up close and safely!

Aerial view of the Turnagain Arm Highway with mountians on one side and water on the other, one of the best drives on your Alaska road trip.

When people set out on an Alaska vacation, they want to see glaciers! There is no better way to see glaciers up close and personal than taking a boat ride in Seward!

While there are many companies, Major Marine Tours is hands down the best company for Alaska tours of glaciers in Seward.

I went on the Kenai Fjords National Park 7.5 Hour Glacier Cruise . Honestly, almost 8 hours on a boat is long. However, it is worth it because you get to see glaciers AND animals.

You can also take a shorter tour that focuses on one or the other like this 4-hour From Seward: Half-Day Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise Tour .

Wildlife to see include sea otters, humpback whales, Dall’s porpoise, orca, harbor seals, Steller sea lions, and puffins!

If you want to see two glaciers and have a higher chance of seeing wildlife, this Seward Glacier tour is the best option for you.

Glacier in Seward with blue ice and a dramatic sky.

If you are looking to see glaciers from above instead, add a helicopter tour to your itinerary for Alaska!

Flying over mountains, the ocean, and glaciers is one of the top things to do in Alaska and Seward is a wonderful choice for a flight.

If you are looking to do a helicopter tour of Seward and the surrounding glaciers, make sure to book with Marathon Helicopte rs .

I had never flown in a helicopter before and while I knew it would offer stunning views for photography and a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I was a little afraid!

The owner, Mike, is a professional pilot and his takeoffs and landings were as smooth as butter!

I went on a 30-minute glacier landing tour which involved 15 minutes of flying and 15 minutes of landing at the foot of a glacier so remote it doesn’t even have an official name!

Don’t forget to pack a windproof jacket if you plan to land on a glacier!

If you just want to stick to the ground, take a hike to Exit Glacier, one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska.

Where To Stay In Seward

Though it is a small town, there are a ton of great hotel options in Seward from affordable to luxury.

  • Central Location. Hotel Seward . Check Rates: Booking.com
  • Great Views. Harbor 360 Seward Hotel . Check Rates: Booking.com  

Dusk falls over the sailboats in the Seward marina with purple mountains in the distance.

Stop 5: Homer

Found on the Kenai Peninsula, Homer is an essential stop on any Alaska itinerary. It is easy to drive to which makes it perfect to visit on an Alaska road trip. Homer is about a 3.5-hour drive from Seward.

One of the top things to do in Homer is to go fishing for halibut.

Since I don’t fish, I spent our time walking the beach, taking in the stunning mountain and glacier vistas, visiting the famous Salty Dog Saloon, and meandering through Homer’s Wednesday Farmer’s Market.

Homer is one of the best places to see in Alaska because of its proximity to the mountains and ocean. Don’t forget to check out Homer’s crazy tides and beautiful sunsets if you visit when it isn’t raining!

Many Alaska road trip itineraries don’t include Homer and if they do, it may only be a day trip.

I urge you to add more time to your vacation to see this unique and eclectic town since it is one of the best things to do in Alaska.

Where To Stay In Homer

There are plenty of hotels in and around Homer whether you want luxury accommodation or something simple and affordable.

  • Centrally Located. Best Western Bidarka . Check Rates: Booking.com
  • Great Views.  Land’s End Resort . Check Rates: Booking.com

Aerial view of Homer on a strip of land in the water with mountains in the distance all under a cloudy sky.

Stop 6: Soldotna

One of the top Alaska attractions in Soldotna is the Kenai River and the Salmon Fishing Run.

Whether you fish or just want to enjoy the town and the stunning [active!] volcanos in the distance, Soldotna is one of the best Alaska road trip ideas.

On your way to Homer, you will pass through Soldotna, but it is better to visit this part of your Alaska itinerary on the way back to Anchorage so you can break up the driving time.

The drive from Homer to Soldotna is only 1.5 hours, so you will be hanging out in this cute Alaskan town before you know it!

Keep an eye out for moose and bears as animal watching is one of the top things to do in Alaska, and Soldotna is the perfect place for wildlife viewing!

If you choose to stop in Soldotna, I highly recommend checking out the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. It is a wonderful spot for hiking and exploring.

In addition, the Soldotna Historical Museum is home to vintage log cabins and more which show what local life was like in the past. Break up your exploration with a little history.

Soldotna is home to MANY incredible parks that go along the Kenai River so there is plenty of space for hiking, biking, and fishing.

Whether you visit Alaska on your own or with family, this is a great place to hang out.

Where To Stay In Soldotna

There are not a ton of hotels in Soldotna since it is a small town, but there are still great choices. I suggest booking a place near the river.

  • On The River. Aspen Hotel. Check Rates: Booking.com
  • Central Location. Soldotna Inn . Check Rates: Booking.com

Bull moose standing among greenery and flowers.

Stop 7: End Your Alaska Itinerary by Flying Out of Anchorage

End your Alaska road trip in Anchorage where you started.

If you fly Alaska Air, many flights are red eyes, leaving after midnight. The benefit to this is you have the entire day to explore, drive slowly back to Anchorage, and still make your flight without missing any fun!

When flying on a red-eye, you are going to want to pack a sleep mask for extra comfort!

Alternatively, you can add one extra day in Anchorage to your Alaska itinerary if being closer to the airport on the day of your flight is important to you.

Blue hour over Anchorage with city lights reflecting in the water and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

How Long To Spend On Your Road Trip In Alaska

I recommend as much time as possible for the best Alaska road trips since Alaska is a huge state and has a ton to offer. However, I know not everyone can take a lot of time off for a vacation.

To help you out, I have written some sample itineraries for Alaska to help you plan for anywhere from 3 to 10 days in Alaska .

As always, I suggest prioritizing what you want to see the most. Feel free to revise your Alaska example itinerary.

3-Day Itinerary in Alaska:

Day 1 : Anchorage – Explore Anchorage, including the Anchorage Museum and Anchorage Trolley Tours. Day 2: Seward – Drive to Seward, enjoy the scenic Turnagain Arm drive, visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and explore the town. Day 3: Seward and Return – Take a boat tour to see glaciers, then drive back to Anchorage.

4-Day Itinerary in Alaska:

Day 1: Anchorage – Spend the day in Anchorage, visiting the museum and taking the trolley tour. Day 2: Drive to Seward – Journey down the Turnagain Arm, stop at the wildlife center, explore Seward. Day 3: More in Seward – Go on a glacier boat tour, consider a helicopter tour. Day 4: Return to Anchorage – Spend the day driving back, possibly stopping at scenic points.

5-Day Itinerary in Alaska:

Day 1: Anchorage – City exploration and museum visit. Day 2: Drive to Homer – Explore Homer, beach walk, visit Salty Dog Saloon. Day 3: Homer – Spend another day in Homer, enjoying local activities and scenery. Day 4: Homer to Soldotna – Drive to Soldotna, visit Kenai River and local attractions. Day 5: Return to Anchorage – Drive back with leisure, enjoying the landscapes.

7-Day Itinerary in Alaska:

Day 1: Anchorage – Explore the city, including the Anchorage Museum. Day 2: Drive to Seward – Travel down the Turnagain Arm, stop at the wildlife center. Day 3: Seward – Take a boat tour for glacier and wildlife viewing. Day 4: Seward to Homer – Drive to Homer, explore the town. Day 5: Homer Activities – Enjoy a day in Homer, perhaps fishing or beach walking. Day 6: Homer to Soldotna – Travel to Soldotna, explore the Kenai River. Day 7 : Return to Anchorage – Drive back to Anchorage, with optional stops.

10-Day Itinerary in Alaska:

Day 1: Anchorage – City exploration, Anchorage Museum visit. Day 2: Drive to Talkeetna – Explore Talkeetna, consider a Denali flight tour. Day 3: Talkeetna to Denali – Travel to Denali, begin park exploration. Day 4: Denali National Park – Spend a full day in Denali, hiking or on a Jeep tour. Day 5: Denali to Seward – Drive to Seward, enjoy the Turnagain Arm scenery. Day 6: Explore Seward – Take a glacier boat tour, explore the town. Day 7: Seward to Homer – Drive to Homer, visit local attractions. Day 8: Enjoy Homer – Spend the day in Homer, exploring the beaches and town. Day 9: Homer to Soldotna – Travel to Soldotna, visit Kenai River. Day 10: Soldotna to Anchorage – Return to Anchorage, with leisurely stops.

Snow-capped Denali in the distance with a lake and pine trees in the foreground.

Best Time Of Year For An Alaska Road Trip

When planning your Alaska road trip, the time of year is something you should consider. The best time of year for traveling Alaska is easily summer or fall.

Winter is not a good idea because the weather is harsher and the many Alaska driving routes are impassible because of snow.

Spring can still be very cold in Alaska as well. Depending on where you want to go, spring in Alaska can be quite snowy and cold.

If you want to drive into the mountains, the snow may not have melted yet and you will be limited in what you are going to be able to do.

Late summer and early fall are an ideal time for taking a road trip in Alaska because the weather is good, the snow is gone, and the animals are out and about.

The downside is that this is high season and prices will be at their most expensive. Even so, this is one of my favorite summer trips in the USA !

If you can visit Alaska later in the year, like September or even October you will have the chance to experience the state with lower prices.

A word of caution, if you go later in the year you will have to deal with closures as many companies shut down for the season.

You are safe to travel in late summer and early fall so keep this in mind when choosing what time of year to plan the best Alaska trip itinerary.

An RV on a road heading towards the mountains among flowers and green trees on an Alaska road trip.

What To Pack For Your Alaska Road Trip

Chances are you are visiting Alaska in the summer or late spring/early fall. If you aren’t, more power to you, and let us know how it is!

If you are going in the summer, Alaska isn’t as cold as you may think, but it is still chilly for those of us who live year-round in warmer climates.

The weather in Alaska during the summer will range from 45-70 degrees Fahrenheit along this route. The weather during the late summer can also be rainy.

Make sure to stay prepared and you will have a great time on your Alaska driving trip!

  • Fleece-lined Leggings.  If you are packing for a road trip in Alaska you need to bring  fleece-lined leggings ! They don’t take up much space and they keep you warm under jeans or hiking pants. I bring two pairs to double them up if I want to wear a dress!
  • Thin Long Sleeve Thermal Tops.  I recommend bringing 2-3  thin thermal tops . These tops are affordable and pack up very small all while keeping you extra warm! They are  perfect for layering  and can be worn underneath other tops as a base layer.
  • A Balaclava.  Weather in Alaska can get windy and blow your scarf all over the place! Cut down on chasing your clothing around and  add a balaclava  to your Alaska packing list! A balaclava is especially important for Alaska if you are doing anything on the water such as a glacier boat tour or whale watching!
  • Warm Knit Hat .  S imple knit hats  or beanies are a must. You only need one of these  cable-knit hats or you can pack a few!
  • Filtered Water Bottle.  I swear by my Bobble Water Bottles and they have seen multiple trips to Alaska. F iltered water bottles don’t cost much and will help you cut down on plastic waste. Refill them using any tap water and be on your way!
  • Waterproof and Windproof Jacket. A waterproof and windproof jacket is essential for Alaska since it may be raining, windy, or both at any given time. I love this jacket from Columbia for women and this one for men . Make sure to add a solid jacket to stay warm and dry.
  • Waterproof Rain Pants. I love my waterproof rain pants and you will too! They are affordable and pack up small. If you are hiking or walking and it starts to rain, simply whip out this waterproof shell and put it on over your clothes! They are windproof too!
  • Sleep Mask. If you take your Alaska road trip during the summer, you will experience the midnight sun! Now 24-hour daylight is super cool, but some people have a hard time sleeping when it is light out! Bring along a sleep mask to help block out the light and to help you get some shut-eye before more exploring.
  • Trail Mix and Protein Bars. This Alaska driving itinerary is best done on a full stomach! I love  this brand of bars ! As for  trail mix , you can make your own or buy a big bag of trail mix online or at your local store. The nuts and seeds in trail mix will help you stay satisfied longer.
  • Waterproof Hiking Shoes. No matter what time of year you are traveling to Alaska, make sure to add sturdy hiking shoes to your Alaska packing list. Pack  so l id hiking shoes  that are waterproof and offer good support.  Good hiking shoes  often make all the difference when exploring Alaska!

Person standing on a cliff of wildflowers overlooking mountains and rivers.

Safety Tips For Your Alaska Road Trip

A road trip planner for Alaska would not be complete without some essential safety tips. Alaska is a beautiful but harsh state at times and it is important to be prepared.

First off, watch the weather closely . The weather can change quickly during your trip and can range from sunny to freezing and windy.

Make sure you dress in layers so you can easily take off or put on clothes based on the weather.

Download a weather app to keep track of local weather so you don’t venture out when it is too dangerous. You do not want to risk driving in Alaska if the roads are bad.

Always let a family member or friend know if you go hiking so if something happens, someone knows where to find you.

The phone service in Alaska is incredibly crappy so be prepared! Use wifi to let someone know where you will be.

Always ensure you have extra food and water in the car in case you get into an accident and are stranded for a long time. You don’t want to be stuck without provisions while you wait for help.

I recommend a reusable water bottle as well as an emergency bottle of water during your drive.

Finally, make sure to make noise and be bear aware . When you are hiking, sing or wear cans on your backpack to make noise and alert animals so you won’t surprise them.

As usual, NEVER feed any wild animals , and never get out of your car to walk up to an animal to view it more closely.

Taking these precautions to heart will help you have a safe and fun time on the best trip to Alaska!

Mother bear with a fish and her cub next to the river seen on an Alaska road trip.

Now you should hopefully be armed with the knowledge you need to start planning the best Alaska vacation itinerary.

I love Alaska and have been multiple times so I hope you take the tips to heart and keep an open mind to learn some things along the way too!

I know you will love exploring Alaska by car as much as I do!

Pin this post:

List of Alaska bucket list locations for an Alaska road trip.

A special thanks to our partners Alaska Air, Major Marine Tours, and Marathon Helicopters. All opinions are our own and are honest because lying sucks! Please note that some links may be affiliate links which means that we may make a small profit of the sales at no additional cost to you. All the products we recommend are what we personally use and trust. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from Qualifying Purchases.

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Reader Interactions

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September 4, 2017 at 10:41 pm

OHMYGOSH!!! Your post was awesome! The pictures were stunning. Someday I hope to make it to Alaska and your itinerary is perfect!

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September 12, 2017 at 11:40 pm

Thanks for this wonderful and exhaustive post. A road tirp through Alaska would be a dream trip. Thanks especially for the little reminders of reality–like bringing a wind-proof jacket, waterproof shoes and a balaclava! It’s Alask, after all!

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September 13, 2017 at 12:15 am

Despite growing up in Northern Canada, I’ve still never been to Alaska. That wildlife and glacier tour in Seward looks absolutely fantastic! Will not miss it when we finally make our way north.

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September 13, 2017 at 9:48 am

So did you fly for $700 round-trip in first class? Or did you get upgraded? Cause this photo definitely looks like a great travel experience on AA!

Happy continued travels! C

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September 13, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Alaska is so huge- I think a 1-week itinerary would be too short to see all of this cool stuff. I would love to take that heli ride- it looks amazing.

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September 14, 2017 at 12:55 am

Wow! You stayed in some pretty nice airbnb’s — love the one with a slide! My kids would have adored that one. Thanks for sharing your itinerary and photos. It all sounds (and looks) like a truly amazing road trip!

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September 14, 2017 at 5:22 am

You know we’re big fans of your pics but your travel advice is spot on as well! Thanks for sharing!

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September 14, 2017 at 11:55 pm

Alaska is still unfamiliar territory for me. To be honest, I’m reading most of these names for the first time. But your post gave me a great inspirational start. Those pretty vacation homes are really sweet. How does one manage the meals?

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September 15, 2017 at 8:11 am

Still yet to try Airbnb. I guess I’m a bit fearful of the scams – good to know there are resources out there to help with that, but surely the onus should be on Airbnb to do more careful vetting.

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September 17, 2017 at 10:47 am

Alaska is surprising me with every post I’ve read about it! Denali for one looks gorgeous and the glacier tour in Seward is breathtaking. Your post has definitely put Alaska on my bucketlist. Oh, and btw, what a cool airbnb in Anchorage you had. The slide seems an odd yet fun addition to the place. 😀 ..

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September 17, 2017 at 9:05 pm

What an epic road trip this is! I’ve only done Alaska by cruise ship. But I would LOVE to get back and hit the road for some stops like this.

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October 26, 2017 at 9:27 pm

This makes me seriously miss Alaska! You hit all the great spots, love it!

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January 15, 2018 at 9:01 pm

What time of year were you on this adventure in Alaska?

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January 15, 2018 at 9:55 pm

This was in mid-late August!! The weather in Alaska is great from May to September time

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March 14, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Beautiful pictures!

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April 21, 2018 at 7:50 am

What is the best place to stay and take glacier cruise? Whittier or Seward? I’m a bit confused which one to select.

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May 7, 2018 at 1:07 pm

Wow, what a great post! You guys really seem to know your way around Alaska. I’ll be borrowing a couple of these suggestion.

May 8, 2018 at 1:52 am

Yes!! Have so much fun! Before this trip I [Victoria] had been twice before as well! Have a good trip!

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May 23, 2020 at 11:05 pm

This itinerary is not doable in a week. Not even close. I hope that people who read this, realize that this is more of a 2 week, minimum, itinerary.

May 24, 2020 at 5:04 pm

With a lot of driving, it is entirely doable and I have friends that did it just a week after I got home from my most recent trip. It really isn’t that bad when people road trip Iceland they do far more driving and it happens quite often!

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November 23, 2018 at 11:55 pm

Hello there, I enjoyed reading your itinerary for alaska. Since we coming to alaska the second time. This time we arrive at fairbanks and be leaving from anchorage airport on jan 6th, 2019. We are going to spend new years in fairbanks( we spent new years last time in anchorage). Any suggestions of places to visit? I really appreciate your reply, and we are renting a car. 2 adults only. Thank you.

November 24, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Yes!!! In the north area of Alaska we highly recommend Alaskaland in Fairbanks [a fun little area] as well as driving through Denali just to see the mountains on your way down to Anchorage. Also Talkeetna for sure! It is a very cute town! Have fun!

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September 19, 2019 at 2:30 am

A great article! Have you ever compared costs of renting a camper vs renting a vehicle and staying in hotels. We are planning a trip to Alaska in 2020 and I’m debating between camping and staying in hotels or Airbnb.

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April 1, 2022 at 2:17 am

I used to live in Alaska. If you really want to explore Alaska, go to Juneau or Kake. They are both islands, so you have to take a plane or ferry, but so worth it. Don’t just look at a glacier, go walking on one or climb into the caves (at your own risk). The best way to see wildlife is by kayaking, not tour boats. Go with the lobster over the fish.

April 2, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for sharing!! I have down Juneau growing up! A very unique place!!

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Alaska Road Trips | Our Selection of Best Selling Self Drive Tours

Alaska Road Trips | Alaska Self Driving Tours

Whether you refer to them as Alaska road trips or Alaska self drive tours, planning the perfect itinerary in Alaska can be a tricky task.

Luckily, our team has driven every route in the state, creating the best alaska road trips with sights, accommodation and even activities included., our collection of self drive itineraries vary in focus and duration and can be adapted to suit your individual preferences., the best time to drive is from may to september, when long days under the midnight sun allow you to take in magnificent views, delve into local history, uncover hidden gems and watch for wildlife..

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5 Best Alaska Road Trip Routes (Ultimate Planning Guide!)

So, you’re thinking of venturing out on an Alaska road trip? The state isn’t nicknamed ‘The Last Frontier’ for nothing. The stark mountains, frigid winter climate, and vast miles of land uninhabited by humans give way to its off the map nature.

If you’re looking to cruise alongside stunning scenery and embark on some incredible new adventures, all while enjoying the comforts of civilization along the way, an Alaska road trip is certainly the way to go.

It’s hard to know where to start when planning your own expedition like this, so we’ve done some of the legwork for you. Read on for all of the best routes and must-sees along the way when you embark on your journey through the Last Frontier.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Alaska (Travel Guide)

Alaska Road Trip

How many miles is it to Anchorage, Alaska from:

Table of Contents

  • Seattle, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 44 hours and 2,261 miles
  • Los Angeles, California to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 61 hours and 3,395 miles
  • Chicago, Illinois to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 61 hours and 3,568 miles
  • Atlanta, Georgia to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 71 hours and 4,210 miles
  • Houston, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 70 hours and 4,124 miles
  • Vancouver, Canada to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 42 hours and 2,191 miles

5 Best Alaska Road Trip Routes

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide (How to get to Alaska)

Alaska Highway

What would an Alaskan road trip be without a journey up to their 1,387-mile namesake highway? Starting in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, you can turn down this uncrowded route and take in the picturesque snow-capped peaks and remote landscape, all the way up to Delta Junction in southeastern Fairbanks, Alaska.

What to See

During your road trip, you’ll find plenty to see and do on the Alaska Highway. Passing through Muncho Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, you can stop for a bit of canoeing and spend the night in the cozy Northern Rockies Lodge . Just past the park, we recommend stopping to soak in the Liard River hot springs.

Not long after crossing into Yukon Territory, you’ll be able to check out the Continental Divide . Parting the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds. This ridge journeys from Alaska to the tip of South America .

It’s a short but fun stop along the way for anyone who is into geography and spectacular terrain. Also, in the Yukon, there is Kluane National Park and Reserve , a hot spot for adventurers looking to try rafting, mountaineering, and more outdoor activities.

Check-in for a night at the charming Kathleen Lake Lodge before continuing your journey into Alaska. Be sure to stop by Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge to experience the critters of an Alaska road trip – bald eagles, grizzly bears, and trumpeter swans are just a few of the animal species protected by this region.

You might feel inclined to plan your Alaska road trip over the summer to avoid poor weather conditions and take full advantage of the activities along the way, as some businesses may close during the winter months.  MILEPOST , a must-have guide for traveling in the northwest of the continent, makes a good case for tackling the Alaska Highway during the off-season.

Provided you are a responsible driver, you stay on top of your fuel reserves, are settled into your pre-booked accommodation by nightfall, and adhere to road signage. Attractions like the hot springs at Liard River are going to be all the more enjoyable when experienced in Alaska’s famous colder climate.

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Parks Highway & Denali Highway

For 362 miles between Anchorage and Fairbanks, you can take in the wild landscape of Alaska’s interior on Parks Highway. From mountains to tundra, it’s the perfect Alaska road trip for adventurous spirits.

Not only is Alaska the Last Frontier, but it’s also the site of what’s known as the Last Great Race on Earth: the Iditarod. After departing Anchorage, you could spend some time at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Museum , where you can dive into the history of this bold and daring race.

Perhaps the most anticipated stop of a Parks Highway Alaska road trip is, Denali National Park and Preserve . Home to the continent’s highest peak, Denali.

This park boasts plenty of summer and winter activities, such as hiking, fishing, mountaineering, and stargazing. Spend the night at one of the quaint cabins in the Denali Backcountry Lodge.

Here, you can also choose to detour from your Parks Highway road trip and embark on an alternate route to take in the full expanse of this cherished park, its glaciers and tundra landscape.

Extending for 134 miles from Paxson to Cantwell and made up of mostly gravel, Denali Highway is no last-minute decision, so make sure if you go this route you’re aptly prepared to forge ahead on a new trip.

While Parks Highway is open all four seasons, Denali Highway is closed in the winter. Traveling during the summer months is probably your best bet for enjoying the full spectrum of Alaska’s interior on this trip.

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Seward Highway

Modest in length compared to it’s big Alaska road trip counterparts, Seward Highway is perfect for a small jaunt from Anchorage. Looping 127 miles down to Seward, the sites you’ll encounter are some of the state’s most breathtaking.

Don’t be fooled by the low mileage on this trip – there is so much to see packed into a short distance! MILEPOST is a great resource for examining all of the options available to you.

Your first order of business will be to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic view of Turnagain Arm as you cruise between mountains and shoreline.

If you’re willing to turn this mini Alaska road trip into a full-fledged adventure, take some time to stay at Alyeska Resort just southeast of Anchorage, where you can hit the slopes and ski to your heart’s content.

Further down the road, you can check out the trail at Johnson’s Pass before stopping for another night at the Inn at Tern Lake , where you’ll be able to arrange fishing trips or whale watching tours.

Be sure to take your camera out for glossy Kenai Lake before you complete your journey in the pleasant town of Seward .

Any season of Seward Highway won’t disappoint. If you are an avid ski or snowboarder be sure to venture to this region in the winter!

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide - Dalton Highway

Dalton Highway

Time to go off-road (sort of). Most of Dalton Highway is gravel, so you’ll have to take your sweet time on this massive 415-mile route starting at Elliott Highway and ending in Deadhorse, up by the Arctic Ocean.

This is not a route to be taken lightly, and if you’re renting a car, be sure to double-check for restrictions on traveling on unpaved roadways.

This trek starts at the junction with Elliott Highway, another scenic Alaska road trip looping from Fox to Manley Hot Springs. Spend a couple of nights at Coldfoot Camp , aptly named for the frigid arctic conditions you’ll face while cruising Dalton Highway.

Here, you’ll be able to tour Koyukuk River in the summer, and possibly view the Northern Lights in the winter.

Close by, you’ll pass the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, which really captures the meaning of the word “remote.” Void of set paths, this stop is perfect for some pictures before continuing on your way unless you happen to be an expert in wilderness survival.

Once you reach Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay, you can stay at the Aurora Hotel , which sits over Colleen Lake and book an Arctic Ocean tour . Who else can say they’ve done that?

You really can’t go wrong here. This far north, you’ll be able to witness the midnight sun during the summer, and you’ll have a shot at the Aurora Borealis during the winter.

Need to book a car for your road trip adventure? We use Discover Car Hire for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Bob Blodgett Nome-Teller Memorial Highway

Due to the remoteness of the Last Frontier, most of the more popular Alaska road trips happen in the eastern region of the state, around the major cities and attractions.

If you’re feeling adventurous, think about tackling the 73-mile stretch of pavement running between Nome, on the southwest end of the state, up to Teller, situated on Grantley Harbor and the closest you’ll get to Russia on any of these Alaska road trips.

The sights of Alaska do not disappoint, and this mini road trip is no exception. At the start of your journey, take a detour up Anvil Mountain for a view worthy of a photo-op, and while you’re there, check out some Cold War communications remnants, dubbed by some as “Nomehenge.”

Further on, you can take in more off the beaten path sites, like an abandoned reindeer corral. But don’t be discouraged by these ruins, as you’re likely to spot actual reindeer too! Stop by Penny River Bridge to view some more unique local wildlife, like coho salmon and arctic tern. The road to Teller is full of surprises!

A several hour round-trip excursion, by the time you arrive back in Nome, check-in at the quaint Dredge No. 7 Inn , located just off the highway. Grab a bite at Husky Restaurant , and sit back, relax, and reflect on the day’s adventures.

Like most Alaska road trips, this one is stunning 365 days a year and like most Alaska road trips, some attractions, such as the road to Anvil Mountain, aren’t maintained in the winter months.

Keep this in mind no matter what time of year you decide to venture out. With proper preparation, you’re sure to love cruising through the Last Frontier.

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Alaska Road Trip Drive Timetables

North of anchorage: talkeetna, denali, fairbanks.

  • Anchorage to Talkeetna: 115 Miles 2.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Fairbanks: 360 Miles 7-8 Hours
  • Anchorage to Denali: 265 Miles 4-5 Hours
  • Fairbanks to Denali: 120 Miles 2-3 Hours
  • Denali to Talkeetna: 150 Miles 2-3 Hours
  • Anchorage to Palmer: 43 Miles 1 Hour

South of Anchorage: Portage, Seward, Cooper Landing, Homer

  • Anchorage to Seward: 128 Miles 2.5-3 Hours
  • Anchorage to Kenai: 158 Miles 3 Hours
  • Anchorage to Homer: 221 Miles 5-6 Hours
  • Anchorage to Cooper Landing: 100 Miles 2.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Girdwood: 40 Miles 1 Hour
  • Seward To Homer: 170 Miles 4-5 Hours
  • Denali to Seward: 375 Miles 7-8 Hours

East of Anchorage: Glenallen, Copper Center, Chitina, McCarthy, Valdez

  • Anchorage to Glennallen: 180 Miles 4.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Whittier: 90 Miles 1.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Haines Junction: 608 Miles 12.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Whitehorse: 704 Miles 14.5 Hours
  • Glennallen to Valdez: 120 Miles 2 Hours
  • Fairbanks to Valdez: 365 Miles 8 Hours
  • Fairbanks to Haines Junction: 495 Miles 9-11 Hours
  • Fairbanks to Whitehorse: 588 Miles 12 Hours
  • Glennallen to Chitina: 64 Miles 1.5 Hours
  • Chitina to McCarthy: 60 Miles 3.5 Hours

If you are road tripping in Alaska or renting a car you must have:   The Mile Post

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Alaska Railroad vs Car Rental

Cons of Driving

  • You really don’t get to enjoy the scenery since you are paying attention to the road.
  • Driving does not give you access to untouched valleys the railroad travels through, the Placer River Valley and along the Susitna drainage.
  • Driving does require some planning since there are a few services available in certain areas.
  • It requires stopping for restrooms breaks and to stretch after sitting for long periods of time.

Pros of Driving

  • It gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace.
  • Having your own space allows you to bring more.
  • It’s quicker than taking the railroad.
  • The vehicle provides shelter, so you don’t have to rely on finding accommodation.

Cons of the Railroad

  • Taking the railroad in Alaska takes more time than driving.
  • The Railroad is more expensive, particularly for large groups.
  • There’s a set travel schedule.
  • Trains may run late on rare occasions, due to wildlife on tracks or a scheduling problem.
  • They require secondary transportation once you arrive at your destination. (Courtesy shuttle, taxi, or walking)

Pros of the Railroad

  • Let someone else do the driving, while you just sit and enjoy the views and maybe a glimpse of some wildlife.
  • You can get up and stretch your legs without having to stop.
  • Don’t need to plan a bathroom or lunch break, everything is already on board.

More on Alaska:

  • 21 Alluring Things to do in Alaska
  • 15 Cannot Miss Things to do in Anchorage
  • Ultimate Guide of Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska
  • 13 Epic Things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska (Besides Northern Lights)
  • Ultimate Guide to Visiting Chena Hot Springs
  • Alaska National Parks-The Fabulous 8
  •   Is Spring the Best Time to Cruise Alaska?
  • Denali State Park Heli-Hiking Adventure in Remote Alaska
  • Ultimate Alaska Packing List
  • Visit the Mendenhall Ice Caves Before They Melt – Juneau, Alaska

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Travel planning resources, about lina stock.

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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We just got back from our first trip to Alaska. I really enjoyed seeing your pics!!

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Planning Your Perfect Alaska Road Trip Itinerary (2021 Edition)

December 9, 2021 December 28, 2019 | Christopher Harvey

Map of routes to Alaska

Last Updated on December 9, 2021 by Chris and Lindsay

If you plan to drive to Alaska you have a lot of options for your Alaska road trip itinerary. Alaska is known as the Last Frontier. So getting there is an adventure in and of itself!

Most of Alaska is inaccessible by vehicle. This means you have to plan to get around via plane or boat.

But depending on your level of adventure, funds and Bucket List, you probably don’t need to worry about trying to reach all of those more difficult places.

In fact, if your goal is to travel to Alaska in an RV, then you’re likely looking to explore the part of the state you can reach by vehicle.

(If you just plan to tent camp or stay in hotels you can use our suggested itineraries. You just may need to plan your accommodations differently.)

Fortunately, most activities you would want to do in Alaska are close enough that you can drive to them.

Before we get into a few sample Alaska road trip itineraries let’s cover a few factors that will impact your drive in Alaska.

alaska tour by car

The Ideal Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

We believe that your ideal Alaska itinerary should include the following information.

Timeframe : 6-8 weeks

Time of Year : June – August

Starting Location : Glacier National Park, MT (or no further west than Spokane, WA)

Ending Location : Seattle area, WA

Key Places To Visit : Banff & Jasper National Parks (Canada), Alaska Highway, Fairbanks, Talkeetna, Kenai Peninsula, Homer Spit, Seward, Valdez, Haines, Cassiar Highway and Hyder.

Key Things To Do : Drive the Dalton Highway (special advise required), see Mt. Denali in Talkeetna, play with reindeer in Palmer, camp on the beach at Homer Spit and Seward , go halibut fishing in Homer, watch sea lions, otters and bald eagles catch salmon in Valdez, search for grizzly bears in Haines and eat at “the bus” in Hyder.

Total Miles : Approx. 6,000 miles

Read on for more specific information to help you plan your perfect road trip to Alaska!

alaska tour by car

Factors That Impact Your Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

Planning your Alaska road trip itinerary can be daunting. Just reaching Alaska from the Lower 48 will take days and cover thousands of miles.

One you’re there, where do you go? Where CAN you go? What do you do? Where do you stay? For how long do you stay?

Understanding how the following points impact your Alaska road trip will help you craft your perfect trip!

Starting/Ending Location.

Our Alaska road trip itineraries are going to assume that you will begin your journey in the continental United States (Lower 48) in the northwestern half of the country (Montana, Idaho, Washington areas).

If you’re coming from Florida (as we did) or Maine, then add on extra time accordingly.

Our itineraries will be based on “border-to-border” starting and ending locations.

This means we’re guiding you from a US border crossing into Canada (say, from Glacier National Park in Montana) to a return US border from Canada (say, Seattle area).

We believe this is your best opportunity to see the best parts of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory on your way to/from Alaska.

Amount of time you have.

Alaska road trip itineraries are dependent on your time table.

Whether you’re trying to see Alaska during your two-week vacation, two-month summer vacation or retirement makes a big difference!

If you’re making the “border-to-border” drive to Alaska then we’d recommend no fewer than 6 – 8 weeks .

But it is possible to make the trip in 4 weeks if that’s all the time you have.

Further, our Alaska road trip itineraries are for travelers who will leave/return to the US and not those who will fly to Alaska and rent an RV there.

(Note: We do have a few sample itineraries in that case)

You’re going to want to decide how much time you have (if you even have time limits) before you decide all of the things you want to pack into your Alaska itinerary.

alaska tour by car

Specific places you want to see

Have you always wanted to see the Arctic Ocean? Maybe you’ve wanted to just see the Arctic Circle? Or what about visiting Mt. Denali National Park?

There are lots of places to see in Alaska. If you hash out a general list then that is a great place to start!

Need help hashing out a list? We’ve got suggestions for you!

If there are places you do and do not want to see, this will greatly impact the amount of time you need to complete your Alaska road trip.

For instance, we LOVE Hyder and think you should stop by to see Jim and Diana and have a fresh halibut sandwich at The Bus . But Hyder is a little out of the way if you are short on time.

Get started on that list!

alaska tour by car

Important things you want to do

Do you want to watch a grizzly bear catch a salmon in its mouth? What about hooking on to a 100-pound halibut? Maybe you’ve just wanted to be one of the few (10% or less!) who get a clear view of Mt. Denai?

These things also impact your Alaska road trip itinerary. Again, get started on that bucket list!  

Your limits on driving time/distance

Alaska is… well, it is HUGE! Driving distances and times are substantial – especially when you consider the “border-to-border” roundtrip.

Determining how far or how long you want to drive each day is important.

This will help you determine not only the important details of where to stay and when to refuel but also how much time you will spend in any given place.

Our ideal Alaska road trip itineraries are based on a comfortable 4-5 hour drive.

If you feel that’s not comfortable, or you want to get to/from Alaska faster or slower then we have a few options for you too!

Other extenuating factors

Do you have any upcoming appointments or important life events coming up like weddings or medical treatment?

Are you closing on the sale or purchase of a house in the near future?

We wouldn’t tell you to call off your Alaska adventure because of these things.

Just be aware that they might impact your Alaska road trip itinerary.

For example, Lindsay travels with Crohn’s Disease . At the time we drove to Alaska we only had 7 weeks.

This is because every 8 weeks she received an IV infusion to treat the disease. As such we left Washington state the day after her infusion and returned two days before her next one.

We would love to have spent more time in Alaska. But extenuating circumstances like these will impact your itinerary as well.

alaska tour by car

Alaska Road Trip Itineraries

After you’ve answered some of those questions to help you understand the who, what, where, when, why and how of your road trip to Alaska, check out some sample itineraries that we have put together.

You already figured out, every itinerary is subject to change. Either you’ll change it. Or your circumstances will!

But at least you can get started on planning your perfect Alaska road trip itinerary!

Note: ALL of our itineraries include the following places: Alaska Highway, Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Talkeetna, Palmer/Anchorage, Kenai Peninsula (Turnagain Arm, Anchor Point, Homer , Seward ), Valdez, Haines and Hyder.

The only location we exclude in some itineraries is the infamous Dalton Highway. This drive is not for the faint of heart (or unprepared). You can find more information about driving the Dalton Highway here .

  • 4 Week Alaska Road Trip Itinerary
  • 6 Week Alaska Road Trip Itinerary
  • 8 Week Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

While we are trying to prepare you to be able to drive from “border-to-border,” we do understand that you might be planning to fly to Fairbanks/Anchorage to rent an RV.

If this is the case, you likely have less time than those of us driving from the Lower 48.

Here are a few sample itineraries for your journey:

  • 3 Week Alaska Road Trip Itinerary (from Fairbanks/Anchorage)
  • 4 Week Alaska Road Trip Itinerary (from Fairbanks/Anchorage)
  • 5 Week Alaska Road Trip Itinerary (from Fairbanks/Anchorage)

Lindsay standing next to our flat tire.

Tips / Things To Know About Driving In Alaska

Now that you have an idea of your Alaska road trip itinerary, here are a few tips that are going to help you enjoy the drive more.

We had a few. You might too. These greatly change things. Depending on your vehicle/RV and your ability to fix it on the fly, your itinerary will change during a breakdown.

We spent more time in some places we never heard of and less time in others because of break downs. But that’s OK. It all worked out as part of our journey!

NOTE: Breakdowns are inconvenient, stressful and potentially dangerous. We had the policy to help everyone we could when we saw a broken down vehicle and encourage you to do the same.

alaska tour by car

Wildlife is, well, wild. Would you want it any other way?

On your drive to Alaska you will see moose, bear (black and grizzly), bison, elk, deer, fox and porcupine among dozens of other species.

But mind you, they don’t mind the roads.

Sadly you will likely see their carcasses scattered across the highway with accompanying brake marks in the road.

Be aware, even when there are no signs for wildlife there is always the possibility for it.

Hitting a moose will likely end your great Alaska road trip.

Frost Heaves

Sure they sound cute. But once you get into Alaska you will soon grow weary of them.

Frost heaves are subtle bumps, rolls, ridges and dips in the road that change your pace and make you pucker.

They are formed in the road when the ground freezes and the highway lifts up as the ice expands.

Don’t be afraid of them. But be aware. We drove with both hands on the wheel nearly every mile in Alaska because one sudden jolt by a frost heave could be enough to drive you off the side of the road.

Speed Limits

Most drivers forget that speed limits are “limits” and not “mandatories.” When you drive in Alaska, especially in an RV, you are likely not going to be driving at the speed limit (see Frost Heaves above!).

However, just because everyone around you might be zipping past you do not have to drive excessively fast. In fact, just make sure you are safely traveling over the minimum speed limits (sometimes posted).

Or, just drive at the pace you feel comfortable.

But do note that Alaska actually has a law that states that you must pull over if cars are piling up behind you. We did this frequently, especially along the Turnagain Arm on our way to the Kenai Peninsula.

Don’t be a jerk. Especially if there is a highway patrol officer behind you!

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About Author

alaska tour by car

Christopher Harvey

Christopher Harvey is the co-founder and main copywriter for Called To Wander. His passion is to create content that engages and informs readers and helps them to pursue the Abundant Life on the Road. Aside from writing, he also edits videos for the YouTube channel. He has freelanced for a variety of publications and consults with different brands on SEO and content strategy.

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Handpicked Alaska - Customized Self-Drive Travel in Alaska

Self Drive Travel in Alaska

Experience alaska at your own pace..

Handpicked Alaska is a locally-owned, family-operated travel company that specializes in personalized travel experiences throughout Alaska. Our expert team designs customized itineraries to fit your unique interests, budget, and travel requirements. We pride ourselves on providing individualized attention, ensuring that your trip is truly unforgettable. Please read on to discover more about the exceptional services we offer.

alaska tour by car

It’s time to hit the road.

Travel consultations.

We're excited to help you plan your trip to Alaska! To get started, we'd love to chat with you about your travel interests, answer any questions you may have, and offer some insider recommendations.

Once we have a better sense of what you're looking for, we'll begin crafting a fully customized self-drive itinerary that's tailored to your preferences. This service is free of charge.

Customized Itineraries

With our custom Alaska itineraries service, we take care of everything from start to finish! We pride ourselves on assembling a detailed itinerary, including the route, rental car, hotels, activities, and personalized recommendations just for you.

Once we send you the first edition of your itinerary, we can review it together and make any necessary changes. We are committed to preparing a comprehensive and beautiful itinerary that will be available in PDF format for easy printing or use on mobile devices.

Not only that, but your itinerary will also feature a personalized and detailed Google map that can be used while driving. Let us take the stress out of planning your dream Alaskan vacation!

Booking Services

Our services include reserving rental cars, hotels, and carefully selected activities. Our goal is to tailor our services to meet your unique travel preferences and budget. Once we have a clear understanding of your travel style, we'll handpick services that we believe will exceed your expectations.

When you receive your detailed itinerary, you will receive confirmation information for all of the services and activities that we have arranged. Unfortunately, we are not able to make airline reservations for your trip to Alaska. However, we are happy to provide you with advice on the best routes, airlines, and other pertinent travel information.

What is an Alaska self-drive tour?

A self-drive or self-guided tour of Alaska is an exciting way to experience the natural beauty of the state on your own terms. With this type of tour, you'll have all the necessary information, reservations, activities, and routes planned, but you'll be in charge of transporting yourself from point A to point B each day. Unlike traditional guided tours, self-drive tours give you the freedom to explore Alaska at your own pace without a dedicated guide or organized group.

How does a self-drive tour of Alaska work?

On our self-drive tours of Alaska, we take pride in getting to know you and your travel preferences so we can create a truly personalized itinerary. We will work closely with you to ensure that everything you want to do and see in Alaska is included in the itinerary, and we handle all the bookings, including rental cars, hotels, and activities. Once everything is confirmed, we'll provide you with a beautiful and easy-to-read itinerary that includes a detailed Google Map.

We're here to support you every step of the way, from answering any questions you may have leading up to your trip to providing assistance during your travels in Alaska.

Why should I choose a self-drive tour of Alaska?

Self-drive tours of Alaska offer an incredible experience for all types of travelers. By choosing a self-drive tour, you can explore the scenic beauty of Alaska at your own pace while indulging in activities that interest you. You can break free from the restrictions of large group tours and generic itineraries. With self-drive tours, you have complete freedom and flexibility to visit off-the-beaten-path locations and spend as much time there as you desire.

Alaska boasts a well-organized and easily navigable road system, which makes traveling convenient for first-time visitors as well. Being lifelong Alaskans, we have extensive knowledge about the state, and we create quality itineraries that include reservations at top-notch accommodations, precise directions, and valuable information and travel tips. We genuinely believe that self-drive tours offer the perfect personalized and unique way to experience Alaska and create unforgettable memories.

Ready to start planning your trip to Alaska?

Visit our Design Your Trip page to fill out a short questionnaire so we can start planning your trip!

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9 Alaska Itineraries From Anchorage (With A Car Or Without One!)

  • By Site Staff
  • In Alaska Travel

Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, is the perfect starting point for an unforgettable adventure through the Last Frontier. Whether you have a few days or a couple of weeks, this guide provides 9 curated itineraries showcasing the best of Alaska—all starting from Anchorage.

Unlike a basic road trip from the Lower 48, exploring Alaska requires some planning to make the most of your time. These carefully crafted itineraries draw from our experiences driving through the state's rugged landscapes, iconic national parks, and charming small towns.

Whether you prefer the convenience of a rental car or the nostalgic experience of winding your way through the wilderness aboard the iconic Alaska Railroad, we've got you covered.

From action-packed 3-day trips to leisurely 2-week journeys, each itinerary includes a day-by-day schedule tailored to make your Alaskan dream vacation a reality.

Are you eager to meet grizzlies at Denali? Or maybe you'd rather chase waterfalls along the Kenai Peninsula? Our local insights ensure you won't miss the must-see highlights; we'll tell you about foodie favorites and where to spot marine wildlife.

First up, all aboard! The train itineraries allow you to kick back and enjoy Alaska's magnificent scenery at a relaxing pace.

Train Itineraries From Anchorage

If you're in the mood for a leisurely ride up the Alaskan landscape, why not take a train? These vestiges of a time gone will take you all across the state in style.

9 Alaska Itineraries from Anchorage

1. Seward (3-4 days)

Just a scenic 4-hour train ride from Anchorage, the coastal town of Seward offers the perfect intro to Alaska's rugged charms. Sit back and enjoy the views as you wind along Resurrection Bay en route to this quintessential fishing village.

Arrive early to maximize your time in Seward. After stowing your bags at your downtown digs (we love the historic Harbor 360 Hotel), head straight for the bustling small-boat harbor.

This working waterfront offers a captivating glimpse into local life - watch fishermen offloading their catch as playful sea otters and seals bob nearby.

9 Alaska Itineraries from Anchorage (With A Car or Without One!)

Don't miss the impressive Alaska SeaLife Center, where you can view puffins, harbor seals, and more through immersive undersea viewing areas. As evening falls, tuck into fresh salmon at one of the many harborside eateries.

More about the awesome things to do in Seward .

In the evening, you can rest in an Orca Island Cabin , the Harbor 360 Hotel, or any other B&B in the area. You'll need to stay in Seward overnight to start your journey back in the morning.

Today, you'll experience Alaska's jaw-dropping coastal scenery on a 6-hour Kenai Fjords cruise.

Prepare to be dazzled as you glide past calving glaciers and dense spruce forests clinging to sheer rock faces. You may also spot whales, sea lions, and other marine wildlife frolicking offshore.

Our insider tips will help you make the most of this bucket-list experience.

9 Alaska Itineraries From Anchorage (With A Car Or Without One!)

In Seward, toast to the day's adventures over local tea and freshly shucked oysters.

On your final morning, visit the Seward Museum to learn about the town's rich Indigenous heritage and pioneering past. Then, stroll the waterfront one last time, watching for frolicking sea otters and breaching whales before hopping back aboard the train to Anchorage.

Winter admission to the museum is free, while summer admission costs $5.00 per person. Children under the age of 12 are admitted for free.

You can also walk down the Waterfront Park to catch a final glimpse of any whales or seals enjoying an early morning.

After a luxurious lunch, you can return to the train station and journey to Anchorage, having well-acquainted yourself with one of Alaska's beautiful cities.

2. Denali National Park (3-4 days)

Alaska's crown jewel beckons via the Denali Star train from Anchorage. Settle in for this 7.5-hour journey as you wind through spruce stands and aspen toward Denali National Park's jaw-dropping peaks and valleys.

Keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of Denali's snowy 20,310-foot summit, the highest mountain in North America.

9 Alaska Itineraries From Anchorage (With A Car Or Without One!)

After an awe-inspiring arrival into Denali's backcountry, orient yourself at the park's Wilderness Access Center to secure coveted bus tickets for exploring the park road over the next few days.

Next, hop on the free shuttle to the Denali Kennels for a delightful introduction to the park's hardworking sled dog teams. Watch as these mighty pups demonstrate their skills and unleash their boundless energy.

As evening falls, hike (or ride) back to the Visitor Center area for a ranger-led program illuminating Denali's natural and cultural wonders. Then settle into your cozy digs - from rustic cabins to full-service lodges just outside the park entrance.

Rise early to maximize your day inside Denali's wild boundaries. On your second day in Denali, pack for a full day because you'll spend most of your waking hours in the park.

We recommend taking the guided transit bus deep into the park. There, you'll have a good chance of spotting caribou, grizzlies, Dall sheep, and more amid the alpine tundra and glaciated peaks.

Back at the park entrance, refuel on fresh Alaskan seafood as you recount your memorable sightings. Read more about Denali National Park Tips here .

For those with just 3 days, embark on an early morning hike along the Savage River Loop before hopping back aboard the train to Anchorage late afternoon.

This relatively flat 2-mile trail offers Denali's beauty from the valley floor, meandering past beaver ponds and through thick stands of spruce and willow.

Those with an extra day can linger for potential aurora-viewing as night falls over Denali's wilderness. Staying at one of the lodges near the park entrance puts you in a prime position.

Optional Extra Day

On your optional fourth day in Denali, you can take an early morning shuttle back into the park to get a better glimpse of the wildlife in the area. You'll then want to be on a train back to Anchorage by early afternoon.

3. Denali National Park & Fairbanks (5-7 days)

Fairbanks, Alaska

If you have more time in the Denali area, take advantage of it! Families staying for a week can use the above itinerary to map out their first two days in the area. From there, though, things will start to vary.

Spend the morning exploring the Savage River area and hiking to better see the waterway. As the afternoon comes around, head down to the train station. You're not heading back to Anchorage, though. Instead, hop back onto the Denali Star Line for a 4-hour, 121.5-mile trip to Fairbanks.

You'll want to secure accommodations in Fairbanks ahead of time so you can rest up without having to run through the semantics of securing a hotel. Fairbanks has many bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, and hotels at the ready; all you need to do is choose the most appropriate place for your family.

Day 4 & 5

9 Alaska Itineraries From Anchorage (With A Car Or Without One!)

On the fourth and fifth days of your vacation, please take the opportunity to explore Fairbanks to its fullest. You'll be able to use available public transportation to make your way to any of the following hot spots:

  • LARS (Large Animal Research Station)
  • The Museum of the North in Fairbanks
  • Georgeson Botanical Gardens
  • Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center
  • Pioneer Park
  • Riverboat Discovery

Learn more about all the places in our guide to Fairbanks . Once you've tuckered yourself out, head back to your lodging of choice for the evening and prepare for the final day of your trip.

You should spend the final day of your Alaskan vacation making the most of your time in Fairbanks. Make sure to visit some of the hot spots you missed the day before in the morning. In the afternoon, you'll want to return to the train station and prepare for the 12-hour, 356-mile trip from Fairbanks to Anchorage.

Car Itineraries From Anchorage (3-4 Days)

If you're not interested in taking the train, you can always rent a car and turn your Alaskan vacation into a road trip. Let's explore your shorter road trip options here.

1. Girdwood, Portage, and Seward

Girdwood, Alaska

After leaving Anchorage, your first stop on this road trip will be Girdwood . Girdwood is only 40 miles from Anchorage, courtesy of AK-1 S, meaning it'll take under an hour to get there.

Here, you'll be able to visit the Alaska Wildlife Center. Alternatively, you can spend your early morning hiking around Portage Glacier before getting lunch in town.

In the afternoon, drive to Seward. This drive will take under two hours, as Seward is some 90 miles from Girdwood.

You don't have to explore Seward in the evening, but if you have the energy, you can take advantage of the gorgeous waterfront views the city boasts.

You'll have your second day in Alaska to explore Seward. You'll need it, too. The Seward Marina and Sealife Center are both teeming with wildlife.

The local Exit Glacier area also makes for excellent mid-day hiking. Once you've worn out on the area's natural features, you can head back to town for a peaceful dinner.

On the last day of your trip (unless you're looking for a little more time in Seward), make your way up to Lowell Point in the early morning. You can look out over the Pacific Ocean and whale watch.

Once you're finished, you can drive an hour and 44 minutes to Girdwood's Alyeska Resort, where you'll enjoy a luxurious meal and snowy ski slopes.

You can readily drive the 40-minute jaunt back to Anchorage, where you can either settle in for the evening or head home after a busy but satisfying trip.

Optional Day

If you have time to stay in Seward for an extra day, book a cruise to the Kenai Fjords!

2. Portage and Whittier

For a shorter trip, why not explore Portage and Whittier ?

Stream flowing from Byron Glacier, in Portage Valley Alaska

Start your trip with a visit to the Girdwood Alaska Wildlife Center. Once you've toured and hiked around Portage Glacier, you can cross over the Girdwood Tunnel to enter Whittier. Do note that the tunnel's operations vary by season.

The tunnel is open in the summer between May 1 and September 30. Depending on the weather, you can also cross it in the winter.

The drive from Girdwood to Whittier takes 41 minutes, as you only travel 23.5 miles. Even so, research ahead to ensure you can easily cross the tunnel. Once you have, you can settle into a Whittier hotel for the evening.

On the second day of your trip, you can explore all of Whittier's attractions. These include the Prince William Sound Museum , which will appeal to children and adults alike.

You can also spend your day hiking on Whittier's local trails or familiarizing yourself with the sights down at the Whittier Harbor. Make sure you've booked your hotel for two nights, as you'll be bunking in Whittier again.

On the last day of your trip, you'll cross through the tunnel to return to Girdwood. Here, you'll be able to spend the day enjoying all of the attractions available to you at Alyeska Resort.

Grab a meal in town at the end of the day before driving the 40 miles back to Anchorage.

3. Denali Road Trip From Anchorage

Make the 4-hour, 237-mile drive from Anchorage to Denali courtesy of AK-3 N. Once settled, visit the National Park's dog kennels via shuttle to watch a sled dog show.

From here, you can hike to the park's Visitor's Center to learn more about the area. Book a hotel near the park to make the next morning's travel easier.

Take a shuttle from your Denali hotel into the National Park. You can spend your day hiking, re-visiting the kennels, and enjoying the many other attractions in the area.

Take the morning to hike the Savage River area outside the National Park.

Once you've finished your morning, hit the road for the 4-hour drive back to Anchorage, where you can either spend the night or catch a plane to your hometown.

Car Itineraries From Anchorage (5-7 Days)

Want to spend a little more time on the road? You can take a few longer road trips that'll expose you to all of Alaska's natural secrets.

9 Alaska Itineraries From Anchorage (With A Car Or Without One!)

1. Kenai Peninsula Road Trip

The trip from Anchorage to your first stop, Girdwood, will take 48 minutes. In those 40 miles, look for bears, puffins, and other Alaskan wildlife. Once you're in Girdwood, you'll be able to find these creatures more readily at the Alaska Wildlife Sanctuary .

After exploring with the animals, you can go to Portage Glacier and eat lunch by the glacial lake. Once you've finished, all that's left is a 1 hour, 15-minute drive to Cooper Landing, where you'll spend the night. Here, you'll have your choice of hotels and B&Bs to rest up in.

Spend your next morning hiking around Cooper Landing . Once you've got your boots muddy, you can drive the 45 miles and 52 minutes to Soldotna. Soldotna is a smaller Alaskan city, but you can still stretch your legs on local trails after grabbing lunch.

After resting in Soldotna, you can take AK-1 S for the last 2 hours and 20 minutes to Homer, AK. Homer is 120 miles away from Soldotna and full of urban energy.

If you're up for a late-night adventure, you can spend the evening exploring the many restaurants in the area.

Day 3 & 4

After settling into your lodgings in Homer , you can explore the city's many attractions for the next two days. These hot spots include:

  • The Homer Spit
  • Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center
  • Kilcher Homestead Living Museum
  • Pratt Museum
  • Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies
  • Kachemak Bay State Park (boat tour available)
  • Bishop's Beach Park
  • Hallo Bay Lodge Bear Viewing

There are also ample hiking opportunities available in the Homer area. Spend these two days of your trip making the most of this Alaskan city, and you'll appreciate the area all the more.

The Homer Spit

Leave Homer early in the morning and make your way to Seward. The three-and-a-half-hour, 168-mile drive will let you and the kids rest before another day of exploration.

In Seward, you can visit the Seward Marina and Sealife Center , where you can go whale-watching and learn more about Alaska's aquatic wildlife.

If you want to spend the night in Seward, you can (and arguably should)! However, if you're going to get back to Anchorage ASAP, you'll need to complete the drive on the fifth day of your visit.

This drive lasts 2 and a half hours and will take you past 127 miles of Alaskan wilderness.

The Homer Spit

If you want more time on the road, you can pre-book a cruise to Kenai Fjords from Seward Marina. This 6-hour tour will let you explore the area's gorgeous waterways up close and personal.

Additional hiking opportunities are also available near Seward and Portage Glacier. If you want to take the extra time to explore Alaska, spend the night in Seward and watch the sunrise over its chilly hills.

2. Denali & Anchorage

If taking a train up to Denali doesn't excite you, you can easily turn the itinerary mentioned above into a road trip.

On the first day of your visit, you'll want to quickly stop in Talkeetna , AK. Talkeetna is a two-hour, 113-mile drive away from Anchorage. Here, you can stretch your legs while exploring the local river walk.

After all, Talkteena rests at the crossroads of three glacial rivers, making it the ideal spot to have lunch and enjoy the sound of running water.

From Talkeetna, it's a 2-and-a-half hour, 152-mile drive to Denali. If you have the energy after your drive, you can hike the Savage River Area before checking into your hotel for the evening.

We recommend spending your second day in Denali at Denali National Park. Take a shuttle into the park in the early morning and spend the rest of your day hiking or enjoying the park's many attractions.

If you're visiting in the fall, stay in the park through the evening. You may catch a glimpse of the auroras overhead.

Denali at Sunrise

If you didn't visit the dog kennels at Denali on the second day of your trip, you need to see them today. Here, you can watch sled dogs play and test their strength. You may even be able to take a ride on a dog sled!

After visiting the Visitors' Center and saying goodbye to the dogs, head back onto the road and drive to Fairbanks. This 2-hour, 123-mile drive will set you up to spend two-and-a-half days exploring the Fairbanks area.

Similarly to the Fairbanks visit described in the train itinerary, you can spend your fourth and fifth days on vacation exploring the many attractions in the Fairbanks area, including:

On both nights, make sure to stay within the city limits. You'll be able to explore the city's nightlife and seasonal attractions more readily if you do.

On the last day of your visit, spend your morning visiting one or two of the attractions you missed on the previous days of your trip. Then, hit the road and head back to Anchorage.

The drive takes an average of 6 hours, as you'll have to cross 360.6 miles of Alaskan highway.

Two-week Alaska Itinerary From Anchorage By Car

If you have more time, this two-week Alaska itinerary will take you around the state's most popular spots.

You can use the Kenai Peninsula Itinerary to schedule the first week of your Alaskan vacation.

Divide the next five days of your trip between Denali and Fairbanks, as you would if following the itinerary mentioned earlier.

You'll want to prepare the kids for the twelfth day of your trip. This day, you'll be heading to the North Pole. A 17-minute, 13.5-mile drive away from Fairbanks, courtesy of AK-2 E, you'll be able to do more than see this natural wonder in its beauty.

You'll also be able to dive into the history of St. Nicholas and Santa Claus.

If you can get the kids to calm down, you can eat lunch in Delta Junction and take advantage of the thematic boutiques in the area. Then, you can return to lodgings in Fairbanks or settle in the distant Glenallen.

If you want to head out of Fairbanks, Glenallen is a 4-hour and 13-minute drive away via AK-2 E and AK-4 S. Driving these extra 248 miles will help you jump on the next day's activities.

Views from Glenn Hwy between Palmer and Glenallen, Alaska

If you haven't already made your way to Glenallen, today is the day to do it. On your way, you can drive the McCarthy Road, which takes you to the gates of Wrangell St. Elias National Park.

Do note, however, that McCarthy Road is a dirt road. If you've rented a car for your trip, you may want to forgo this visit.

Instead, you can drive over to Valdez. This scenic drive will take you through Alaska's varying ecosystems, exposing you to as many chilled tundras as it will glistening forests.

After your two-hour, 120-mile drive, you can visit the Solomon Hatchery, one of Valdez's many other local attractions .

At last, with the kids tuckered out, you can start your drive back to Anchorage. Head down the scenic Glenn Highway to glimpse America's last frontier.

The drive will take 5 and a quarter hours over 300 miles, but the views you'll get are worth the time spent on the road.

Take Your Time and Enjoy the Beauty of Alaska

As you can see, there are many great options for creating a memorable trip to Alaska, and she has everything she has to offer.

Take your time to appreciate the gorgeous land in all its glory!

9 Alaska Itineraries From Anchorage (With A Car Or Without One!)

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wow, it’s the Informative Alaska Itinerary, thank you so much for sharing your great tips.

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Alaska Travel Connections

Best of Alaska By Train and Car

alaska tour by car

Tour length : 14 days

Price per person (based on double occupancy): starting at  $4,233

Valid : June 1 to August 31, 2024

Explore Denali National Park and Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula on this combined rail and self-drive itinerary.

Day 1 – Anchorage Upon arrival in Anchorage transfer by hotel shuttle to your Anchorage hotel for overnight.

Day 2 – Anchorage This morning enjoy a city tour of Anchorage for an introduction to Alaska’s largest city with a long-time resident. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy optional activities or shopping. Overnight at your Anchorage hotel.

Day 3 – Anchorage/Denali It is an early start when you board the Alaska Railroad for your rail journey to Denali. Upon arrival, transfer to your overnight accommodations near the entrance to Denali National Park. Encompassing an amazing six million acres, the Park is home to Mt. Denali, North America’s highest peak and an array of wildlife. Overnight near the Park Entrance.

Day 4 – Denali Today you will embark on the Tundra Wilderness Tour, a 5–5.5 hour excursion into the park with a certified driver-naturalist. This tour will guide you along the spectacular road corridor, promising different experiences every day, as Denali’s wildlife moves at its own pace and according to the seasons. Travel to the Murie Cabin near the East Fork River (Mile 43) to experience where Adolf Murie lived while conducting his famous research inside what was then known as Mount McKinley National Park! This afternoon choose from a variety of optional tours – flightseeing, river rafting, and heli-hiking to name a few. Overnight once more near the Park entrance.

Day 5 – Denali/Fairbanks The rest of the morning is yours free to explore the Denali area. This afternoon board the Alaska Railroad as you continue your journey north to Fairbanks. The rest of the evening is yours to enjoy on your own. Overnight in Fairbanks.

Day 6 – Fairbanks Take part in a guided city tour of Fairbanks including stops at the Morris Thompson Cultural Visitor Center, Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and the impressive Museum of the North. End your tour with a stop at Santa’s House in North Pole. After that wonderful journey into the Fairbanks way of life, return to your hotel for your overnight stay.

Day 7 – Fairbanks/Anchorage/Girdwood Choose from a variety of optional activities this morning from flightseeing to a museum visit. This afternoon, board your flight to Anchorage. Upon arrival, pick up your rental car and begin your journey to Girdwood. Your drive travels the Seward Highway, a National Scenic Byway known for wildlife viewing opportunities and breathtaking views. Overnight in Girdwood.

Day 8 – Girdwood The rest of the day is yours to enjoy the local area or optional tours. Choose to take a ride on the tram, go on a nature walk, flightseeing, or curl up with a good book. Overnight in Girdwood. 

Day 9 – Girdwood/Seward You may want to start your day with an optional visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage for an opportunity to view Alaskan wildlife, many of which are orphaned, in an up close environment. Continue your scenic drive south to Seward. Upon arrival in this seaside community, enjoy an included visit the Alaska Sea Life Center, a marine research facility. Overnight in Seward.

Day 10 – Seward Embark on the Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. This 6-hour wildlife and natural history cruise, includes a deli lunch. Watch for wildlife playing and feeding in their natural habitat, possibly sea otters, whales, sea lions and more! Overnight in Seward.

Day 11 – Seward/Homer This morning say goodbye to Seward and travel to Homer, the southern-most point of the Sterling Highway. Homer is known for world-class fishing and is home to some of the best artists in Alaska. The Homer Spit, a 4.5-mile long bar of gravel, extends from the Homer shoreline. Choose from a variety of optional tours this afternoon from fishing to opportunities to visit other communities across Kachemak Bay. Overnight in Homer.

Day 12 – Homer Enjoy the rest of the day experiencing Homer. Perhaps visit the Pratt Museum for an opportunity to learn more about Alaska and this quaint community or go on a guided bear viewing tour to Katmai National Park. Overnight in Homer.

Day 13 – Homer/Anchorage Make your way back to Anchorage this morning, enjoying any final sightseeing stops along the Seward Highway. Overnight in Anchorage.

Day 14 – Departure Return your rental car this evening. End of tour.

– Train transfers are based on Adventure Class. – Rental car is not included in total price. – Accommodations are standard 3-star and upscale 4-star hotels. – Meals are not included unless noted above.

alaska tour by car

Signature 4th of July car launch celebrates 20th year in Alaska

Instead of fireworks in the sky to mark the Fourth of July, in Alaska, there’s flying cars.

Thousands of Alaskans celebrated July 4th with their signature car launch, where more than a dozen automobiles are thrown off a cliff on a remote hillside.

The eclectic event, held in Glacier View, AK, in Matanuska-Susitna, in the south central part of the state, marked its 20th anniversary this year.

It welcomed the largest crowd in its history to watch the empty vehicles, from police cruisers to buses, go airborne and tumble down the steep hill, according to Alaska’s News Source .

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for children , and there was also pizza, sandwiches and ice cream available for spectators to purchase on the premises.

Fans from around the world traveled as much as thousands of miles to witness the debauchery, and Last Frontier TV also live streamed the event for those who couldn’t make it in person.

“It’s, to me, probably the most quintessentially American way I can think of to celebrate the 4th of July,” a man who traveled there from Florida told the outlet.

Signature 4th of July car launch celebrates 20th year in Alaska

Alaska Discovery Land & Cruise

Enjoy radiant Paris and the Renaissance romance of Florence, dramatic Alpine landscapes and the Eternal City of Rome where you'll toss a coin in the Trevi Fountatin to secure your swift return.

Traverse the Pacific coast by land and sea aboard one of Holland America Cruise Lines' lovely ships on a breathtaking journey that takes you from Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia. Cruise the Sternwheeler Discovery and encounter Alaska's diverse culture and rich history. Ride a luxury domed railcar from Denali to Talkeetna, soak in views of the incredible landscapes from glass-ceiling railcars and open-air observation platforms as guides provide expert commentary. Travel deep into Denali National Park for the best opportunities to view the region's wildlife. Cruise through Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage, taking in rugged natural wonders. Explore Alaska's gorgeous capital, Juneau. Visit Ketchikan, the "Salmon Capital of the World." This is Alaska as you always imagined.

Our prices start from

12 Days • GUIDED • 26 Meals

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The Details

  • 11 nights accommodation
  • On some dates additional accommodations may be used
  • Services of a tour manager
  • All on-tour transportations and related fees
  • Hotel-to-hotel baggage handling
  • Round trip home to sedan airport service provided when you purchase airfare through Member Choice Vacations. One transfer per person, per reservation. (Restrictions apply)
  • 11 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 dinners

Engaging Experiences  These special places and experiences are considered tour highlights. Look for them in the daily itineraries.

Fairbanks hotel, Fairbanks, AK

Your tour opens in Fairbanks,* in the great state of Alaska, on an adventure that brings together the best of both land and sea.

*Accommodations in Fairbanks will be assigned prior to departure.

In a modern saloon, enjoy dishes inspired by Fannie Q, the Alaskan pioneer.

Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali National Park, AK

Breakfast, Dinner Included

Step aboard an amazing cruise on the popular Sternwheeler Discovery, an unforgettable journey showcasing Alaska's diverse culture and rich history. Make stops along the way to meet the people and get a taste of local life. Take a scenic motor coach ride to Denali National Park. Tonight, enjoy an authentic meal at Fannie Q's Saloon, where you'll dig into dishes inspired by the Alaskan mining pioneer Fannie "Q" Quigley. Today breakfast and dinner will be included.

Enjoy a guided Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali National Park.

Breakfast Included

This morning, travel deep into Denali National Park on the Tundra Wilderness Tour,** which affords the best opportunities to view the region's wildlife. Learn about the history of the park and see why Denali is one of the top three reasons that people visit Alaska. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Today breakfast will be included.

**The Tundra Wilderness tour is a fully narrated 7-9 hour tour, including frequent rest stops. During the off season, this tour will be substituted with a shorter 4-hour tour due to inclement weather.

Enjoy an unforgettable rail journey from Denali to Talkeetna in a luxury domed railcar.

Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, Talkeetna, AK

Your day begins with a scenic train ride to Talkeetna. Savor every moment inside your luxury domed railcar. View the incredible landscape from glass-ceiling railcars and open-air observation platforms as rail guides provide expert commentary. Check into the iconic Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, perched on a ridge offering unforgettable views of Denali. Today breakfast will be included.

Relax aboard a 7-night Holland America cruise — your fabulous floating resort.

Holland America Cruises' Noordam or Nieuw Amsterdam

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Included

Depart for your ship, stopping en route in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city. Continue with a scenic drive along the Alaska Range. Drive along the Turnagain Arm to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. With a local guide, discover where orphaned or injured bears, wolves, porcupines, and moose are cared for in a 200-acre rehabilitation site. Arrive in the port of Whittier where you'll embark on your 7-night Holland America cruise aboard a fabulous floating resort designed to make your stay on board truly memorable. You will be dazzled by the entertainment in the state-of-the-art lounges and a myriad of dining options. While on board, breakfast, lunch, dinner and nightly entertainment are included. Today breakfast and dinner will be included.

Cruise past Hubbard Glacier, one of Alaska's largest glaciers.

Your ship cruises past the mammoth Hubbard Glacier, one of Alaska's largest glaciers. Have your camera ready and take in the natural beauty of the glacier's stunning surface. Today breakfast, lunch and dinner will be included.

Sail through Glacier Bay, a treasure trove of glaciers and coastal islands.

Cruise through Glacier Bay, a spectacular national park and preserve that is a treasure trove of tidewater glaciers and scenic coastal islands. Its rich world of marine life and large concentration of tidewater glaciers is Alaska at its best. Today breakfast, lunch and dinner will be included.

Relive Alaska's Gold Rush days in historic Skagway.

Relive Alaska's Gold Rush days in this "Gateway to the Klondike" and home of the famed Chilkoot Trail. In historic Skagway, Alaska's past lives on in a spectacular natural setting and cries of "gold in the Yukon!" can still be heard. Today breakfast, lunch and dinner will be included.

From massive scenic mountains to historic buildings, there is so much to explore in Alaska's capital city of Juneau. Today breakfast, lunch and dinner will be included.

Your port of call today is Ketchikan, known as the "Salmon Capital of the World" and the "City of Totems." Located on the tranquil Revillagigedo Island, Ketchikan is home to the world's largest collection of totem poles. Today breakfast, lunch and dinner will be included.

A wonderful day of sightseeing awaits as your ship sails along the amazing Inside Passage. Today breakfast, lunch and dinner will be included.

Your cruise ends this morning in the vibrant Canadian city of Vancouver, leaving you with many wonderful memories of your tour to the last of the great frontiers.

Itinerary featured is for May 2023 - September 2023 tour departures. Departures prior will vary. On some dates alternate hotels may be used. Pricing is per person, double occupancy, land and cruise only, based on July 11, 2024 travel date. Call AAA for current airfare rates and availability.

All this makes it AAA Vacations ®

AAA Complimentary Inclusion: $50 per person savings. Up to $75 per person optional excursion credit.

Best Price Guarantee

24/7 Member Care


Package: Guided

Alaska Discovery Land & Cruise

Fairbanks, Denali National Park and Preserve, Talkeetna, Denali, Anchorage, Whittier, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay Basin, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver

alaska tour by car

Alaska's Northern Lights

Anchorage, Whittier, Alaska, Palmer, Talkeetna, Fairbanks

alaska tour by car

Alaska: America's Last Frontier

Fairbanks, Denali National Park and Preserve, Talkeetna, Anchorage

alaska tour by car

America's Cowboy Country

Rapid City, Custer State Park, Deadwood, Sheridan, Cody, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson, Grand Teton

alaska tour by car

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Trust your AAA Travel Agent as your one-stop source for your next vacation. Travel with confidence knowing AAA Travel will be here for you before, during and after your vacation.

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Alaskans Celebrated America’s Birthday By Launching Cars Off A Mountain And Watching Them Explode

car flies off mountain

iStockphoto / Ali Çobanoğlu

For the vast majority of Americans, a grand fireworks display is the cherry on top of the 4th of July. It is the final hoorah every year on Independence Day from the time we’re little kids until we’re old.

But for Alaskans, celebrating the 4th of July with outrageous fireworks displays simply isn’t possible due to 24 hours of sunlight. Well, close to 24 hours. There is a sunrise at 4:33 AM and sunset at 11:35 PM with twilight in between. And without darkness to see the fireworks it would be a huge waste of money. Instead, Alaskans have improvised with the annual ‘ Alaska Car Huck ‘ or ‘ Alaska Car Launch ‘ depending on who you are talking to.

I’ve shared videos of the annual Alaska Car Launch for the past several years and I’m pretty sure the 2024 Alaska Car Huck outdid them all. This year they fired a bus off the side of the mountain during the annual Glacier View Car Huck and that bus just straight-up disintegrated when it hit the bottom of the Glacier View mountain. This video is ‘just the cars’ aka none of the stuff in between and only the good stuff:

A local news station in Alaska went out and spoke to locals about this annual tradition. EVERYONE loves it.

Pulling from my article last year , I thought I’d throw some information at you all on what exactly the annual Alaska Car Launch really is.

What is the Car Huck or Car Launch in Alaska?

The Alaskan Car Launch basically features all of the action of a demolition derby but instead of cars hitting each other they’re flying off a mountain and gravity does the rest.

This annual event is held in the tiny town of Glacier View, Alaska with a population of 375 residents (up from 234). Technically, Glacier View is part of the Anchorage Metropolitan Area despite being a 2-hour drive away in good weather conditions.

Each year on the 4th of July, people visit Glacier View for the Car Huck where cars are sent careening off a 300-foot cliff with spectators down below to watch the incredible crashes.

The Car Huck in Glacier View is held in place of fireworks since it doesn’t get dark enough in Alaska during the Summer to make fireworks worth it. So they improvised and came up with this glorious event.

How exactly do the cars fly off the cliff during the Car Huck?

My first thought was maybe they lock the steering wheels in place and someone places a brick on the gas pedal for the Car Huck but that seems wildly dangerous. I looked into it, and according to Fox 6 Now the cars are rigged up to “a rail system and rigged to accelerate on their own”.

It’s not uncommon for the vehicles to dislodge from the rail system and go tumbling around uncontrollably.

The event first began in 2005 when Arnie Hrncir created the Car Huck as a way to honor the military. He told the local news last year “This is just an appreciation for our military, the ones that have retired and the ones that are still active.” They also encourage locals to spraypaint the cars in patriotic colors before they’re demolished which seems like an odd way to honor the military and country, to be honest.

Apparently, anytime locals want to dispose of old vehicles they call him up and he saves it for the Car Huck. The only stipulation is the engine must work but they do prefer automatic transmissions.

To anyone that follows my annual coverage of the Alaska Car Launch and already knew all of that information word-for-word, apologies for copy/pasting many of my words from last year but I think it’s helpful in building the next generation of Car Launch fans.


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If You Test Positive for Covid, Can You Still Travel?

With coronavirus cases on the rise, summer travelers are once again facing difficult questions. Here’s the latest travel guidance from health experts.

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alaska tour by car

By Shannon Sims

As new coronavirus variants gain traction across the United States, summer travelers are facing a familiar and tiresome question: How will the ever-mutating virus affect travel plans?

In light of updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the answers may be slightly different from those in previous years.

Here’s what to know about traveling this summer if you’re worried about — or think you might have — Covid-19.

What’s going on with Covid?

Recent C.D.C. data show that Covid infections are rising or most likely rising in more than 40 states. Hospitalization rates and deaths, while low compared with the peaks seen in previous years, are also on the rise.

The uptick is tied to a handful of variants — named KP.2, KP.3 and LB.1 — that now account for a majority of new cases .

At the same time, record numbers of people are traveling by car and plane.

I’d planned to travel, but I’m sick with Covid. What should I do?

In short: You should probably delay or cancel your trip.

If you tested positive or are experiencing Covid symptoms, which include fever, chills, fatigue, a cough, a runny nose, body aches and a headache, the C.D.C. recommends that you stay home and keep away from others.

According to its latest guidelines, the agency advises waiting until at least 24 hours after you are fever-free and your overall symptoms are improving before going back to normal activities, including travel.

What are the isolation rules?

New C.D.C. guidelines issued in March made significant changes to the recommended isolation period for people with Covid.

The agency now says that you can resume daily activities if you meet two requirements : You have been fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and your symptoms are improving overall. Previously, the agency recommended isolating for at least five days, plus a period of post-isolation precautions.

Even after your isolation period, you may still be able to spread the virus to others, which is why the C.D.C. encourages you to continue to take precautions for the next five days: Use masks, wash your hands frequently, practice physical distancing, clean your air by opening windows or purifying it, and continue testing yourself before gathering around others.

Are there any lingering testing or vaccine requirements?

Travelers no longer need to show proof of being vaccinated against Covid or take a Covid test to enter the U.S. (This applies to both U.S. citizens and noncitizens.)

The same is true in Europe and most other countries.

How can I prepare before traveling?

First, make sure you stay up-to-date with Covid vaccines .

Next, plan to bring any items that would be helpful should you become sick while traveling.

“Make sure to take a good first aid or medication kit with you,” said Vicki Sowards, the director of nursing resources for Passport Health , which provides travel medical services. Ms. Sowards recommended that your kit include medications that you usually take when you are ill, as well as Covid tests.

You may want to consider packing medications that can help alleviate the symptoms of Covid, like painkillers, cold and flu medicines, and fever reducers. Bringing along some electrolyte tablets (or powdered Gatorade) can also help if you get sick.

Ms. Sowards also suggested speaking with your physician before traveling, particularly if you’re in a vulnerable or high-risk group. Some doctors might prescribe the antiviral Paxlovid as a precautionary measure, she said, to be taken in the event of a Covid infection.

How can I stay safe while traveling?

Wearing a mask on a plane or in crowded areas is still a good idea, said Ms. Sowards. Covid is spread through airborne particles and droplets, “so protecting yourself is paramount, especially if you are immunocompromised or have chronic health conditions.”

If you do get sick, start wearing a mask and using over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever or joint aches, Ms. Sowards advised.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Alaska Airlines expands winter travel options with 18 exciting new sun and ski routes

  • July 10, 2024
  • Mileage Plan
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This expansion offers our guests warm-weather escapes and a range of dream winter getaways, including our first-ever service to Vail, Colorado

Alaska Airlines is reinforcing its commitment to enhancing the travel experience this winter with 18 new nonstop routes to sun-soaked international destinations and winter wonderland retreats that will offer our guests a blend of adventure and relaxation. Tickets are available starting the evening of July 10 on alaskaair.com .

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Click to download route map

We’re thrilled to offer convenient connection for guests across our network with this expansion—whether checking destinations off their bucket lists or setting off to their favorite winter getaways, we’ve put together an exciting range of options from tropical destinations across Mexico to the most popular ski slopes in North America,” said Kirsten Amrine, vice president of network planning and revenue management at Alaska Airlines.

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📍Vail | 📍Kelowna | 📍Reno

We’re delighted to offer guests more access to some of the world’s best ski destinations this winter, including our first-ever service to majestic Vail, Colorado from San Diego and Seattle.

Snow sports enthusiasts can also look forward to new nonstop service from Los Angeles to Kelowna for central British Columbia’s popular ski resorts; and nonstop service from San Diego to Reno for easy access to Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

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📍Bozeman | 📍Santa Ana | 📍Orlando

For our guests who love adventure and exploration, we’re adding new winter-seasonal service between Boise and Bozeman, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park; and adding year-round service between Boise and Santa Ana, which is located near California’s most-loved theme park.

We’ll also start flying to Orlando from Boise and Sacramento for those who want to escape the winter blues and bask in Florida’s warmer weather while amusement park hopping.

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📍Liberia, Costa Rica

We know our guests love sun-soaked destinations too, especially during the colder months. This winter, we’re thrilled to reaffirm our position as the largest U.S. carrier between the West Coast and Latin America with new nonstop service to Liberia, Costa Rica from San Francisco and Seattle—making this our 104th nonstop route out of Seattle. We began flying to Liberia in 2015 and are excited to connect even more West Coast guests with Costa Rica’s Gold Coast.

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📍Guadalajara | 📍Los Cabos | 📍Puerto Vallarta

To cater to increased leisure demand to warm weather destinations during winter, we’re also adding new service to our most popular vacation spots in Mexico: we’ll become the first U.S. carrier to connect Fresno and Guadalajara with daily flights on our mainline aircraft; we’ll expand our presence in Los Cabos with five weekly nonstop flights from Sacramento; we will offer the only nonstop service between New York state and Puerto Vallarta; and more!

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📍La Paz, Mexico | 📍Monterrey, Mexico

Just last week, we announced we’ll become the only U.S. airline to offer La Paz, Mexico service and the only U.S. airline to fly between Monterrey, Mexico and Los Angeles.

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New Winter Routes in Order of Start Date:

Click table to enlarge

New Winter Routes in Order of Start Date: 

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*Frequency varies—see AlaskaAir.com for the latest schedule information

Whether traveling for pleasure or business, our guests can take advantage of a premium travel experience on any Alaska flight with no change fees, the most legroom in First Class* and Premium Class, the most generous Mileage Plan with the fastest path to elite status, high-quality West Coast-inspired food and a premium selection of beverages. Our guests can also buy tickets and earn Mileage Plan miles with our domestic and Global Partners directly at alaskair.com .

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*Out of any U.S. legacy airline excluding lie-flat seats

Alaska Airlines is making it easier for you to plan your next trip while saving money and earning Mileage Plan™ miles.

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Bundle flights, hotels, car rentals and experiences at Alaska Vacations , find deals on car rentals through Alaska Car Rentals and book your next adventure while earning 4 miles for every $1 spent on GetYourGuide .

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Wildlife on Parade

Discover alaska’s wildlife, ecosystems & habitats, luminous lightshows, paint alaska's winter sky in vibrant colors, moments of majesty, delight in the spectacle of calving glaciers, choose from 200+ alaska vacations.

Experience nature's best lightshow

the yellow and blue 'Alaska' passenger train on a bridge over a river in Alaska; mountains and fall foliage around

Alaska’s Autumn Highlights Tour

Duration: 9 days

Starting at: $2709 / pp

Enjoy the vivid fall colors of Alaska both on the ground and in the sky! Begin your journey in Anchorage with a glacier day cruise through Prince William Sound. With an eye out for wildlife, you will travel... Browse itinerary

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Borealis Basecamp and Northern Lights Tour

Duration: 5 days

Starting at: $1459 / pp

Just outside of Fairbanks, Borealis Basecamp offers a new and unique way to see the Northern Lights. The fiberglass domes at Borealis Basecamp have clear, curved windows that stretch 16 feet across each dome roof, allowing you to... Browse itinerary

a person viewing green aurora through a fiberglass dome

Alaska Dreams Winter Tour

Duration: 7 days

Starting at: $2139 / pp

Start your adventure with a glacier trek from Anchorage, then continue your journey north to Fairbanks with the Alaska Railroad. Finally, conclude your trip with a stay at the exclusive Borealis Basecamp, where you can watch for the... Browse itinerary

green aurora over a boreal forest in winter

Fairbanks Northern Lights Vacation Package

Duration: 4 days

Starting at: $869 / pp

Spend three nights in Fairbanks exploring the history and culture of this modern northern city, including the opportunity to view the spectacular northern lights, a sight the area is known for around the world. The day starts with... Browse itinerary

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Alaska Railroad Trips, Rail & Car or Rail & Bus Packages plus Day Trips by Train

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“Active Alaska” Rail Package

Duration: 8 days

Starting at: $2959 / pp

Experience Alaska’s must do outdoor activities: raft, hike, kayak, even take a zipline tour! You start your trip in Fairbanks and travel to Denali where you raft and hike. Then continue south to Seward via Anchorage for a... Browse itinerary

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Alaska by Rail Tour

Duration: 10 days

Starting at: $3449 / pp

Travel the entire Alaska Railroad in just nine days! Take the train from Anchorage to Seward, Talkeetna, Denali, and Fairbanks. Cruise to an active glacier, jet boat on the Talkeetna River, view wildlife in Denali National Park and... Browse itinerary

two people on the deck of a tour boat looking at a tidewater glacier

Glaciers and Wildlife Tour

Starting at: $2289 / pp

Combining Anchorage, Seward, Talkeetna, and Denali, this tour provides wildlife viewing opportunities and scenic touring throughout. You travel by the Alaska Railroad to Seward and cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park, well known for glacier scenery and viewing... Browse itinerary

a caribou on a dirt road in front of a tour bus

Denali & Glacier Experience

Duration: 6 days

Starting at: $1919 / pp

By train, travel along the scenic Seward and Portage Glacier Highways before entering the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the second-longest tunnel in North America. On arrival in Whittier, embark on the 26 Glacier Cruise with lunch. Enjoy viewing... Browse itinerary

Hot Springs

Grab Your Suit And Come On In!

green aurora over a hill with snow and spruce trees

Chena Hot Springs Aurora Viewing Package from Fairbanks

Starting at: $919 / pp

Chena Hot Springs Resort offers an outdoor hot springs rock lake and an indoor pool, perfect for relaxing. Admission to the pools is included. The resort also offers guests a restaurant and is home to the Aurora Ice... Browse itinerary

green aurora over a resort surrounded by snow and spruce trees

Alaska Winter Wonders Tour

Starting at: $1929 / pp

Exploring Alaska in winter is easy and a great value. Start with a few nights at a luxurious hotel in the mountain village of Girdwood, then travel aboard the Alaska Railroad Aurora Winter Train from Anchorage to Fairbanks.... Browse itinerary

people relaxing in a natural hot spring lake surrounded by snow-capped rocks

Chena Hot Springs Aurora Tour from Fairbanks

Length: 11 hours

Starting at: $220 / pp

Enjoy a night tour from Fairbanks to see the northern lights, and Chena Hot Springs! You will be picked up from your hotel around 5:00 pm and transferred one and a half hours to Chena Hot Springs. After... Browse itinerary

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Nome & the Bering Land Bridge by Car

Starting at: $1849 / pp

This unique itinerary takes you to the remote Seward Peninsula. Included is round trip air travel from Anchorage to Nome for three nights and three days car rental to explore this diverse region independently. The Nome area offers... Browse itinerary

Not Your Traditional Set of Sights or Sites

an aerial tram with the words "Alyeska Resort" in a mountainous landscape

Glacier and Wildlife Turnagain Arm Tour

Length: 8 hours

Starting at: $249 / pp

Enjoy the intimacy of a small group on an Anchorage day tour as you travel along the Turnagain Arm along the Seward Highway, one of the most scenic drives in the country. A professional Alaska tour guide will... Browse itinerary

a moose stands in front of a mountain

Turnagain Turnaround Tour

Length: 6 - 6.5 hours

Starting at: $179-199 / pp

On this Anchorage day tour, travel with a small group along Turnagain Arm, one of the most scenic drives in Alaska. Your driver will pick you up from your Anchorage hotel and take you south along the Seward... Browse itinerary

people walking on a valley glacier

Matanuska Glacier Hiking Out of Anchorage

Length: 9 hours

Starting at: $299 / pp

Depart Anchorage by van for an Alaska glacier adventure beginning with a narrated 100-mile drive north through the scenic Matanuska Susitna Valley on your way to Matanuska Glacier. Photo stops will be made along the way to capture... Browse itinerary

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Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise from Anchorage

Length: 14-15 hours

Starting at: $369 / pp

On this day trip from Anchorage, travel to Seward, Alaska, early morning by motorcoach, then depart on a wildlife and glacier cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park. This seacoast area in Southcentral Alaska is famous for its rich... Browse itinerary

Why Travel with Alaska Tours?

Alaska Tours is proud to celebrate over 30 years as one of Alaska’s leading travel companies. Based in Anchorage, our experienced and knowledgeable Alaskan team of experts have helped hundreds of thousands of visitors plan memorable vacations, group trips, and cruise-based fun in America’s 49th state.

Vacations That Fit Your Style

Browse seasonal tours suggested by our team

City-Based Day Tours

Fully-guided bus tours.

This is the second booking we have made via Alaska Tours and each time she has always provided excellent and accurate service and information. Everything went smoothly and the weather was on our side this year!!  Our stay at Katmai Wilderness Lodge was superb in every way. We would definitely recommend... Read more  

Christa & Art | Australia


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