Alaska often referred to as the last frontier or the great unknown, is a vast wild exanse that captivates the heart of adventurers. But, one thing is for sure it continues to captivate the heart of many explorers. Get ready for the trip of a life time on a road trip using this ultimate Alaska travel itinerary!
I went on a two month journey through its breathtaking landscapes, exploring hidden gems, conquering incredible hikes, and marveling at the wonders of national parks in our trusty campervan.
Venture off the beaten path to discover Alaska’s true essence. Explore hidden gems, embark on secret hikes, and witness the wonders of renowned national parks. Whether it’s the raw power of glaciers 😱, the thrill of wildlife encounters, or the tranquility of remote landscapes, Alaska has something for every explorer.
This guide is your ticket to planning the ultimate Alaska road trip 🚗, outlining the best destinations, must-do activities, key road trip stops, and perfect accommodations along the way. From the rugged beauty of Denali National Park to the pristine wilderness of Kenai Fjords, each destination promises a unique adventure. Alaska awaits and your epic journey begins here!
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Table of Contents
Alaska Travel Itinerary
Alaska Road Trip Destinations
- Palmer and Hatcher Pass
- Kenai Peninsula
Anchorage is the best jumping off point for a road trip through Alaska. It’s the most populated city in Alaska. It has a ton of flights ✈️ into the airport there and it is central to many of the driveable areas in the state!
So, it’s best to spend a day or two in this populated area to get your bearings, stock up on essentials 🛒, and visit some of the beautiful natural sights around. There are a ton of tours to glaciers that leave from Anchorage and good hikes in the mountains nearby!
Suggested Days in Anchorage: 1-2
Things to Do in Anchorage
- Bike the Knowles Coastal Trail
- Walk along 5th Avenue
- Visit Kincaid Park
- Take a Tour of Matanuska Glacier
- Hike up to Flattop Mountain
Where to Stay in Anchorage
Anchorage is a large area so there are a lot of great hotels that are near the airport or located in the city. You can choose to stay closer to the city or to areas that you want to explore more.
There aren’t a ton of great camping options in Anchorage, with most of the RV parks having pretty bad reviews. However, you can sleep overnight at Cracker Barrel in a pinch.
Palmer is just 40 minutes from Anchorage, so it’s an easy destination to add to your trip. The town is cute to visit, the gorgeous Hatcher Pass area is just a 15 minute drive away, and there are incredible helicopter tours of Knik Glacier 🚁!
Hatcher Pass is one of the most scenic areas in Alaska and a must for any Alaska road trip! This mountainous area will take you through the heart of the Talkeetna mountains. It’s one of those places that you just fall in love 💕 with right away. It has a ton of incredible hikes, free camping spots, and views off the road.
Suggested Days in Palmer: 1-4
Things to Do in Palmer
- Drive through Hatcher Pass
- Hike in Hatcher Pass
- Go on a Helicopter Ride to Knik Glacier
- Go Dog Sledding
- Climb up the Butte
Where to Stay in Palmer
Luckily, Palmer is a short distance from Anchorage so you can stay there or opt to find a place closer to town. There are a few good hotels and wonderful campsites near Palmer!
🚗 Road Trip Stops on the Way to Palmer
- Eagle River
- Eklutna Lake
- Thunderbird Falls
No Alaska travel itinerary is complete without a trip to the magnificent Denali National Park. Denali is the tallest mountain 🏔 in the entire country and one of the tallest in the world!
This National Park is more than 6 million acres and most of that is untouched. So, get out into the wilderness, see incredible wildlife 🐺, and be amazed at the austere mountain!
I recommend spending a few hours in Talkeetna on your way to Denali, spending a day doing a wilderness bus ride or helicopter tour, and spending another day getting further into the park. You can choose to hike one of the established trails or go exploring in the backcountry.
Suggested Days in Denali: 2-3
What to Do in Denali
- Go on a Wilderness Tour
- Hike in the Backcountry
- Helicopter Over Denali
- Explore the town of Talkeetna
Where to Stay in Denali
There are a number of campgrounds in Denali National Park that you can book ahead of time. If you want to stay in a hotel, then you will have to stay outside of the park. There are options in Healy, Mckinley Park, or Cantwell (35 min drive).
Lodging and campgrounds book up quickly during the peak months so make sure to plan ahead of time!
🚗 Road Trip Stops on the Way to Denali
- Matanuska Glacier
Seward is one of the most popular destinations ✨ for Alaska travelers and for good reason! It’s home to the expansive Kenai Fjords area and there are so many outdoorsy adventures to enjoy in this incredible destination.
Although it rains a lot, there is always something fun to explore here! Spend a couple days in Kenai Fjords National Park, going on a tour to the glaciers there 🧊, or head out on a beautiful hike around Seward!
Suggested Days in Seward: 2-3
What to Do in Seward
- See Exit Glacier
- Hike the Harding Icefield
- Take a Boat to Kenai Fjords
- Kayak to Bear Glacier
- Trek the Lost Lake Trail
Where to Stay in Seward
Seward is a small town, but there are plenty of great hotels downtown or you can stay in a lodge near Exit Glacier, just 10 minute drive from the city.
For campers, you can find my favorite free camping in Alaska in Seward. It’s right off of Exit Glacier Road and you’ll sleep in a dried riverbed with mountains all around you. It’s a popular spot but there are plenty of areas to choose!
🚗 Road Trip Stops on the Way to Seward
- Whittier (must take a one way tunnel)
Homer is a couple hours from Seward, nestled on the bay of Katchemak Bay State Park. This town is worth going out of your way for. The iconic Homer Spit, a narrow, four-and-a-half-mile strip of land extending into the bay, is a focal point for fishing charters, seafood markets 🐠, and charming shops.
Visitors can enjoy views of the mountain while strolling along the spit. You can stay for a couple nights, go fishing 🎣 in the halibut capital of the world, experience the wilderness of Katchemak Bay State Park, and grab a drink at the iconic Salty Dawg Saloon.
Suggested Days in Homer: 1-3
What to Do in Homer
- Go on a fishing excursion
- Visit Katchemak Bay State Park
- Stay on Homer Spit
- Grab a drink at the Salty Dawg Saloon
Where to Stay in Homer
One of my favorite things about Homer is how you can stay right on the spit. Camp there or stay in a hotel and you can easily walk around town. There are tons of restaurants, tours, and shops that are right there!
🚗 Road Trip Stops on the Way to Homer
- Cooper’s Landing
If You Have More Time on Your Alaska Travel Itinerary
There are so many amazing places 😍 to visit in Alaska, but if you have more time then there are a few spots that I think are definitely worth your time! These are areas that we spent time in and absolutely loved!
You can find some of the highlights on the map in this post
- Fairbanks & Chena Hot Springs
- Wrangell-St Elias National Park & McCarthy
- Fly to Lake Clark & Katmai National Parks
📍Are you looking for other amazing places in the US?
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Traveling Alaska by Car
Why Should I Travel Alaska by Car?
Alaska is a place that truly captures the heart. For centuries, it has beckoned explorers and adventurers with its untamed landscapes 🗻, creating an irresistible allure.
Traveling by car, van, or RV 🚐 is the best way to see Alaska, because it allows you to get off the beaten path and have flexibility.
There were so many times that my husband and I saw random points along the road and wanted to stop! Also, the weather ⛈ in Alaska can be extremely fickle, so having flexibility to alter our plans was a game-changer. I recommend having a loose itinerary so that you can really make the most out of your time there!
Alaska Road Trip Tips
📖 Get a copy of the Milepost! This is the bible for road tripping through Alaska with great information about where to get gas, what to see, and where to stay!
🪨 There are a lot of rocks on the roads, so just go slow. Most people end up chipping their windshields while driving in Alaska!
⛽️ Gas is expensive in Alaska! Try to map out your gas and look for cheaper stations to add to your routes.
⚠️ In the summer, you can expect to see a ton of construction on the Alaska roads. So, you may get stuck waiting for construction, I’d add extra time to all drives! Stay updated on Alaska 511 for all road conditions.
🐻 Be on the lookout for wildlife when you drive! It’s common to see moose and bears on the roads.
How Much Should I Budget?
Unfortunately, Alaska is one of the priciest places that you can visit in the states. Gas is more expensive 💸, groceries are costly 💸, and tours are an added expense 💸💸💸. This means you will have to budget more for this road trip than other ones.
I would budget around $300-500 a person per day! 💸
Of course, there are ways to save on this trip including doing less tours, engaging in more free activities, and cooking budget friendly meals like ramen.
We spent around $15,000 in two months 😮 of staying in Alaska. But, we decided to do a ton of tours and really try to see as much as we could!
What to Pack for Alaska
Alaska is an outdoorsy paradise with ample fishing, hiking 🥾, and climbing adventures. But, it’s also a state that gets a lot of rain and rarely sees temperatures reach the 80s. That means that you’ll want to be prepared with waterproof layers.
If you’re driving, then you need to get a copy of the milepost to help plan your Alaska travel itinerary. Plus, have the tools 🔧 you may need to fix a flat tire on the way!
Alaska Packing List
- The Milepost
- Comfortable Hiking Boots
- Comfortable Walking Shoes
- Good Backpack
- Hiking poles
- Water Reservoir
- First Aid Kit
- Bug Spray
- Bug Net
- Rain jacket
- Rain Pants
- Light winter jacket
- Waterproof Layers
- Satellite phone
- Spare Tire
Best time to Road Trip Alaska
The best time to road trip Alaska is the summer ☀️. In the summer, temperatures are higher, roads are clear of snow, and the adventures are endless!
Winter weather lasts for most of the year with snow on the mountains and roads. So, most tours, restaurants, and hikes are only open in the summer months! If you travel to Alaska in other times of year, you should expect to encounter cold weather and closures.
Final Tips for Traveling in Alaska
Alaska is an extraordinary state, offering endless opportunities for exploration 🥰. Keep an open heart and be prepared to add new experiences to your Alaska travel itinerary, as you’ll never know what unexpected adventures may capture your interest.
Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this guide
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