Alaska is a gem for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts, known for its magical snowy peaks, awe-inspiring rolling hills, picturesque towns, and fascinating wildlife.
While it’s visually stunning, it also has an array of activities to please all kinds of travelers.
All of these activities, such as searching for glaciers and meeting mellow moose, are spread across the region.
This provides you with plenty of places worth exploring. And the best way to explore the land is to embark on a road trip to Alaska.
This guide provides you with Alaska road trip itineraries that allow you to explore every nook and cranny of the state.
From venturing to Denali National Park to spot grizzly bears to visiting Fairbanks town to see the aurora borealis, Alaska couldn’t be more perfect for discovering by car.
It’s no secret that Alaska is a cold and snowy place. While the snow is exceptionally enchanting, it doesn’t make for the best road conditions or hiking opportunities.
The best time to plan a trip to Alaska is in the summer months (May to September). Even better is from June to August when it’s pleasantly warm with little rainfall.
However, if you’re keen on avoiding crowds and overpriced hotels and tours, you can always start planning a trip to Alaska in the shoulder season (early May and late September).
Each of the destinations listed on this Alaska trip itinerary shows off something special about the location.
It’s also been designed in a way that optimizes your time on the road; there’s no need to rush during your drive, as it factors in the quickest routes for getting from point A to point B.
Before hopping in the car, check out common mistakes travelers make so that you have a hassle-free trip to this spectacular destination.
Start your Alaska road trip by spending some time in the city and discovering the area like a local. Restaurants, gear stores, and lakeside hotels make it the ideal place to fuel up for your 7-day adventure.
Anchorage is a city that’s teeming with history (that can be discovered at the Anchorage Museum), fascinating attractions, and a charming city life.
Rent a bike and cycle around the tree-lined streets in downtown Anchorage, or venture into the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
There are ample opportunities to discover the wild outdoors in Alaska during your road trip, but if you can’t wait, Anchorage is a short drive from hiking trails, national parks, and ski areas.
Travel distance: 226 miles from Anchorage to Homer
If you’ve ever watched the ‘Deadliest Catch’, you’ll be proud to know that many of the episodes were shot in Homer.
This seaside town is situated on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, offering a plethora of wildlife and natural wonders.
The Homer Spit is a long, narrow slit of land dotted with recreational opportunities – from fishing and canoeing to beach strolls and dips in the ocean.
You can also visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the Bear Creek Winery, Seafarer’s Memorial, or the Ptarmigan Arts Studio.
Travel distance: 168 miles from Homer to Seward
Seward is the place for wild spirits and adventure seekers to get lost in glaciers, on open waters, or in the magical national park.
If you start the drive bright and early, embark on a 6-hour cruise through the Fjords to discover pristine Alaskan water wildlife, like otters, whales, and puffins.
Keep in mind, that the best time for whale watching is late May and early June.
Include a visit to Bear Glacier during your time in Seward; as the longest glacier in the Kenai Peninsula, it boasts two incredible ice falls meeting at a freshwater lake.
Because there’s an endless array of adventure to be found in the Kenai Fjords National Park, spend the night in a hotel in Seward to explore the region for another day.
Travel distance: None
Visiting the Kenai Fjords provides you with the opportunity to discover over 40 glaciers that have survived for thousands of years.
But it’s not only glaciers that call the land home; the park features mountain goats, black bears, otters, foxes, and beavers.
The Harding Icefield Trail is the best way to explore the impressive landscapes, as well as to spy on Exit Glacier. The strenuous 8.2-mile round trail loops through meadows, alongside cliffs, and within Alpine vegetation.
Alternatively, kayak through the fjords, visit the nature center, attend a ranger-led program, or marvel at the fjords on a boat trip.
Travel distance: 167 miles from Seward to Palmer
Palmer is a quiet and quaint farm town that is cherished for its rolling hills and snow-capped mountains.
Nestled in the Mat-Su Valley, it’s the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure. Traverse through snowy passes, discover an exciting tale of history at the Palmer Visitor Information Center or take it easy at the Arkose Brewery.
One of the main Alaska road trip itinerary attractions in Palmer is the Reindeer Farm. Besides meeting the friendly, furry faces, the location is surrounded by mountains and scenic trails.
Travel distance: 84 miles from Palmer to Talkeetna
The town of Talkeetna couldn’t be more Alaskan – from rustic log cabins and red roof barns to the tree-lined streets.
The bustling small town is a haven for adventure seekers without straying too far from the perks of the city.
Strolling the main streets boasts local art stores, coffee shops, and idyllic, cozy restaurants.
After wandering through the pretty streets, get to know the natural surroundings either by an awe-inspiring plane flight over glaciers or a Devils Canyon jet boat tour.
Even though the tours are incredible, there are wonderful ways to explore the wilds while being a budget traveler.
Embark on a hike up Kesugi Ridge, take a leisurely walk along Byers Lake, or venture to Talkeetna Park for a chance to experience wildlife sightings.
Travel distance: 152 miles from Talkeetna to Denali National Park
No Alaska trip planner is complete without adding a stop to the iconic Denali National Park. As it’s the last day of your road trip, get an early start to enjoy a day packed with sightseeing, trail walks, wildlife viewing, and birding.
Start your adventure at the Denali Visitor’s Center which will provide you with inspiration, as well as education, for your excursions. From here, short guided walks lead to Horseshoe Lake or another gentle hike on the Mount Healy Trail.
Located 3 miles outside of the park, you can visit the Denali kennels which are home to sled dogs. Here you can watch sled dog demonstrations, meet the pups, or venture with them through the snow.
This 10-day Alaska road trip planner is an extension to the seven-day adventure. It is a perfect itinerary to venture further into the state, especially if you’re looking forward to seeing the Alaskan wilderness along the way.
Travel distance: Denali National Park
On the eighth day of your wild adventure, embark on the Kantishna Experience Tour that provides you with a full experience of the park. While you may be skeptical about spending 11-12 hours on a bus, it’s not at all what you imagine.
On the guided tour, you’ll journey through a unique and varied terrain of luscious forests and flowered meadows with Mount Denali lurking in the background.
Caribou, moose, grizzly bears, Dall mountain sheep, and squirrels are some of the furry beings you have the chance to encounter, with a knowledgeable guide sharing the secrets of the wild.
Travel distance: 121 miles from Denali National Park to Fairbanks
After immersing yourself in nature, venture back into reality and explore the charming town of Fairbanks.
While you’re here, one place to visit is the Chena Hot Springs – natural hot springs surrounded by wilderness. After all the hiking, it’s a fantastic way to soothe the muscles.
Fairbanks is also renowned for its midnight sun and sunsets that last forever. It’s one of the best places to see the aurora borealis, too.
Although the town feels completely remote, it is still buzzing with a vibey downtown, a colorful art community, and authentic Alaskan activities – like rafting, hiking, and sledding.
Because the aurora borealis is a spectacle, spend the night at a waterfront lodge that provides you with exceptional views of the night sky.
If the northern lights have caught your eye, why not consider planning a road trip to Iceland and seeing the colorful lights yet again?
Travel distance: 360 miles from Fairbanks to Anchorage
The drive from Fairbanks to Anchorage is a long one, but the perfect way to say goodbye to a place as magical as Alaska. During your route back, stop at roadside cafes, viewing points, and quaint towns, such as Cantwell or Healy.
Teeming with spectacular scenery and experiences, Alaska is arguably one of the best places nature enthusiasts can journey to.
With endless hiking trails, pristine lakes, mind-blowing glaciers, and ‘Planet Earth’ worthy wildlife, you’ll want to make the most of a trip here.
There’s no better way to explore all parts of the state than by touring Alaska by car. See Alaska on your own terms and on your own time, without relying on flights or booked transportation.
LET ME HELP YOU TRAVEL MORE BY GETTING ADDITIONAL TIPS AND INSPIRATION VIA THE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.
Plus, receive a short e-book with 15 Beginner Tips and Tricks to Start Travel Hacking!