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Updated April 29, 2023

Feel like getting away? The state of Alaska is home to 17 national park units and 16 national wildlife refuges. The national parks include Kenai FjordsDenali, Lake Clark, Wrangell-Saint Elias, Gates of the Arctic, Kobuk Valley, Glacier Bay and Katmai National Park. Each is glorious in its own unique way. Planning an Alaskan road trip can be overwhelming, but with some preparation and research, you can create a remarkable itinerary. However, it’s daunting to plan any getaway. Trekking Alaska is not for the faint of heart. However, this guide for a 10-day grand circle tour will help you get started on your dream vacation.

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Planning an Alaskan Road trip Itinerary-Alaska Rainbow Fishing Kenai river
Kenai River Headwaters-Kenai Lake

Purchase the Milepost Travel Guide to Help Plan Your 10-Day Alaskan Road Trip Itinerary

The first purchase we recommend for any Alaska getaway is the milepost magazine. It is the best-selling extensive guide book covering Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and British Columbia. The Milepost highlights all the points of interest mile-by-mile along your route. It’s a great resource for travelers who are planning a road trip in this region, as it provides detailed information about the road conditions, points of interest, campgrounds, gas stations, and other amenities along the way. It has saved us a few times finding gas stations or wayside areas to rest. When we travelled by RV, it helped us find the perfect wayside for lunch stops and campground insights.

The Milepost Travel Guide is updated annually, so it’s always up-to-date with the latest information about the region’s highways and attractions. It’s available in both print and digital formats, so you can choose the format that works best for you.

Potters Marsh-Boardwalk View part of any Planning an Alaskan Road trip Itinerary
Potters Marsh-Boardwalk View

Frequently Asked Question when Planning Your 10-Day Alaskan Road Trip Itinerary

When is the best time to plan a road trip to Alaska?

Alaska has a short tourist season, typically from mid-May to mid-September. Consider factors such as weather, daylight hours, and peak tourist season when deciding when to visit. We have always preferred to travel in June. The weather has not always cooperated. However, the cooler temperatures and smaller crowds have benefited us. If I was not teaching, I think the shoulder seasons of May or September would be less expensive. If you want the better weather, try July or August. The best part of traveling in the summer is the endless summer nights when the sun does not set. The longer days allow you to travel at any time of day or night.

Bear scent marking a tree Brooks Camp
Brooks Camp Brown Bear

What are the essential items to pack for an Alaska road trip?

If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, packing for your road trip requires careful consideration of the diverse weather conditions and outdoor activities. We have a packing list that includes most of what we need for our national park travels. You can see it by clicking here. The best advice is to dress in layers. Remember to pack according to the specific activities you plan to engage in during your road trip. Be prepared for various weather conditions and keep in mind that it’s always better to over-pack than to find yourself without essential items in remote areas.

Rafters on the Kenai River-Cooper Landing
Rafters on the Kenai River-Cooper Landing

How long should I allocate for an Alaska road trip?

Just getting to Alaska can be daunting. Plan at least a day to get there and return. Most flights from the east coast are 11 hours or more. Leaving Alaska, most flights depart around midnight. Our first trip was 10 days, and it was not enough, so on the next trip we did 15 days. Ultimately, the ideal duration of your Alaska road trip depends on your preferences, available time, and the depth of exploration you desire.

The duration of your Alaska road trip will depend on several factors, including your personal itinerary, the places you want to visit, and the activities you plan to engage in. First, identify the must-visit places in Alaska that align with your interests, such as Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, Anchorage, Fairbanks, or the Inside Passage. Be sure to allocate sufficient time to explore and experience each location.

Exit Glacier View Rv and Us-on our first trip-Planning an Alaskan Road trip Itinerary
Exit Glacier View-Great Alaskan Holiday RV

Crafting Memories: Designing Your Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

We have been fortunate to travel to Alaska a few different times. The first road trip we rented an RV in Anchorage through the Great Alaskan Holidays. With the three of us, it seemed the best way to travel (we brought my mom). It also allowed us to travel at our own pace, since we did not need to be in a certain place at a certain time. Flexibility was key to our decision to go with the RV travel style. Conveniently, Alaska state law does not prohibit camping by the side of the road. Basically, you can camp virtually anywhere. The secret to planning an RV trip in Alaska is getting reservations early. We recommend booking as soon as you know your dates. Alaska has become a desirable destination. I always book our trips a year in advance, it also affords me cheaper rates.

Chugach National Forest
Chugach National Forest

The next trip to Alaska, we felt that using a rental vehicle and staying in Airbnb’s would be better to accommodate our schedule. Upgrading to an SUV was a must on this longer trip. The extra space for fishing gear, the comfortable ride and having all wheel drive were important factors in our decision. All of our lodgings suited us perfectly, highly recommend using Airbnb.

Our 10-Day Alaskan Road trip Itinerary
Canyon Creek-Seward Highway
Canyon Creek-Seward Highway

Get Started Planning Your Remarkable Alaskan Road Trip Itinerary

This state is vast, therefore planning your Alaskan road trip itinerary can be intimidating. Alaska is the last frontier, covering 570,373 square miles. Much of the state is inaccessible by road. The driving distances are long. Therefore, be sure to prioritize what you feel is most important. For us, it was the national parks and fishing destinations.

The guide is only a suggestion to help you get started on your ultimate adventure. You can add destinations and additional days based on your preferences.

Note: You will encounter road construction if you travel in summer. Build some additional time into your schedule.

Kasilof River Early Morning
Kasilof River Early Morning Fog

DAY 1 Adventure Planning: Begins in ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

An unforgettable road trip begins from Anchorage by flying into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. For most visitors to Alaska, it will be a long day. Set aside at least one full day to fly to Alaska. Especially for those travelling from the east coast like we did. It can be 11-12 hour day by the time you land. Usually arriving close to midnight. We recommend overnighting in Anchorage. A good night’s rest will let you start your trip refreshed. We chose on our first visit to overnight in our rental RV. On our next trip; we had a local Airbnb. A cozy room on Jewel Lake but still close to the Seward Highway. Ginny’s Lakeside Retreat is the perfect overnight location.

Before leaving Anchorage, buy groceries. We prefer to shop at Fred Meyer. Alaska is not a cheap destination however, prices are comparable to the lower 48. You will pay higher prices the further you get from big city centers.

Flattop Mountain View of Anchorage
Flattop Mountain View of Anchorage

Anchorage Adventures: Disclosing the Best Things to Do in the Last Frontier

These are just a few of the best things to do in Anchorage. With its beautiful natural surroundings, rich culture, and exciting attractions, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant Alaskan city.

Mount Susitna, also known as Sleeping Lady, (Dena'ina: Dghelishla) viewed from Point Woronzof
Mount Susitna, also known as Sleeping Lady, (Dena’ina: Dghelishla) viewed from Point Woronzof

Anchorage Adventure Awaits: Unleash Your Wanderlust with the Best Hiking Trails

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail-Earthquake Park is 11-mile trail begins at Shipp Creek, ending at Kincaid Park. Stop at Point Woronzof Overlook for a view of the sleeping lady. Earthquake Park commemorates the 1964 earthquake, which devastated the city of Anchorage and the surrounding region. Consider taking the trolley tour from the downtown log cabin visitor center to see the city sites, including Earthquake park and the Hood

Chester Creek lTrail-650-C
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail Tunnel

Hike Flattop Mountain is just one of Anchorage’s most popular hiking trails in the Chugach National Forest. The short 0.5-mile overlook trail has panoramic views of Anchorage. The Chugach Mountains are a a favored destination for hiking, skiing, and wildlife watching. There are several trails and scenic drives to explore, including the Turnagain Arm and the Alyeska Resort.

Note: Be sure to have waterproof hiking shoes to traverse the trails with a quality trekking stick. Bring a refillable water bottle with plenty of water to quench your thirst.

Alaska Native Heritage Center Island Yupik Village Site Dwelling
Island Yupik Village Site-Alaska Native Heritage Center

Anchorage Cultural Delights: Exploring the Best Cultural Activities in the Last Frontier

The Alaska Native Heritage Center showcases all the indigenous people of Alaska. If you are interested in learning the history and watching native dancers attempt to add this to your itinerary. The cultural dancers and the native arts collection fascinated us. The self-guided walk of the six villages gave us great insight into how they lived.

Visit the Alaska Zoo – It is home to a range of Alaskan wildlife, including bears, moose, caribou, and wolves. The zoo also offers animal encounters and educational programs.

Earthquake Park-Tony Knowles Trail
Earthquake Park-Tony Knowles Trail

TIP: Purchase the Toursaver coupon book. It has many discounts or 2-for-1 coupons.

Anchorage’s Culinary Delights: Discover the Best Places to Eat

Anchorage has a thriving food scene, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. Some must-try dishes include fresh seafood, reindeer sausage, and birch syrup. These are just a few of our favorite places to eat.

  • Glacier Brewhouse: A popular upscale brewpub in the heart of downtown Anchorage. The food is delightful and don’t forget a local brew with your splendid meal.
  • Moose ToothBest pizza in the Anchorage area!
  • Snow City Cafe: You can book a table for lunch.
  • Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ: With multiple locations, the Indian Valley location has pleasant views of the Turnagain arm. The barbecue includes ribs, brisket and wings are delicious. Grab a local brew or glass of wine.
Salmon Fishing-Bird Creek-Seward Highway
Salmon Fishing-Bird Creek-Seward Highway


Today we get an early start heading out onto the Seward Highway. The trip to Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park is 2.5 hours with no stops. Not making any stops along the way is impossible. From the moment you turn the corner at Potters marsh, breathtaking views of the Chugach Mountain dominate this rugged landscape, not to mention the spectacular waters of the Turnagain arm. It is hard not to stop at each viewpoint. However, we have listed what we think are the best viewpoints on our Alaskan road trip itinerary.

Beluga Point Wildflowers-Turnagain Arm
Beluga Point Wildflowers-Turnagain Arm

Scenic Splendor Unveiled: Best Viewpoints Along the Seward Highway-Turnagain Arm

Potter Marsh – Part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, the marsh is home to migratory birds. Early in the morning you can catch views of moose browsing the sedge grasses. The wooden boardwalk winds 1,550 feet through the 238-acre marsh created when the railroad embankment was built in 1917. Be sure to bring your binoculars and camera to capture that perfect shot! We spotted eagles, goslings and swallows in the early morning.

Alaska Railroad Beluga Point
Alaska Railroad Beluga Point

Beluga Point-At low tide, you can walk around the rocky points. Just take care not to venture out onto the tidal flats. These can become dangerous, trapping wary tourists. This is a popular place to watch the bore tide or spot Dall sheep on cliffs on the opposite side of the highway.

Bird Creek – Anglers frequent the creek in search of the wily silver salmon in the summer months. If you have the time, hike the 4.2-mile Bird Ridge Trail to see endless views at the top of the 3,200-foot mountain. Not up to the elevation, we did the smaller wooded trail that follows the highway. It has informational kiosks that tell the story of the miners and the history of the creek.

Aerial Tram View-Turnagain Arm
Aerial Tram View-Turnagain Arm

Seward Highway Delights: What are the Best Things to Do Along the Scenic Route

These are just a few of the best things to do along the Seward Highway. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, wildlife viewing, or scenic drives, there’s something for everyone along this beautiful stretch of road.

Alyeska Resort Girdwood: Just a scant mile or so off the highway, ride the Alyeska aerial tram to the top of Mt. Alyeska. Located in the historic gold mining town of Girdwood. The views on a clear day of the Turnagain Arm are magnificent! In June, there was still plenty of snow for a quick snowball fight. The small museum gives a bit of insight into the history of the town of Girdwood.

Alaska Wildflowers-Seward Highway
Alaska Wildflowers-Seward Highway

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC): This is our favorite stop every time we visit Alaska. At the entrance to the Portage Valley, they dedicated the center to education, research, and rescue conservation. The centers 200 acres provides a sanctuary for those animals that cannot be released back into the wild. You can take a guided tour or explore the center on your own. We always do the self-guided walking tour, visiting each enclosure on the loop. This is a must-do stop on your itinerary!!

Alaskan Brown Bear
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center-Brown Bear

Glacier Getaway: A Guide to Seeing Glaciers Up Close

The Seward Highway in Alaska offers stunning views of several glaciers as it winds its way through the scenic landscape

Navigating Nature’s Grandeur: A Guided Boat Tour to Portage Glacier

This short narrated boat tour will get you up close to Portage Glacier. If you are lucky, you see stunning waterfalls cascading down the steep mountain walls and maybe, just maybe, impressive up-close views of the glacier calving. I know we thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Chugach National Forest ranger describe the history of the area and watching the kids gnawing on a chuck of the fresh glacial ice scooped from the lake. You can purchase tickets at the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center.

Portage Glacier View from the Boat
Portage Glacier Tour

 Note: Remember to bring plenty of water and snacks when hiking. Be bear aware-it is always important to carry bear spray. Alaska is bear country.  

Although not directly visible from the Seward Highway, Byron Glacier is a short hike away from the highway’s junction with Portage Valley Road. The trailhead is located at the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center, and it offers an opportunity to explore the stunning glacier and its surrounding landscape.

Mountain View - Portage Pass
Mountain View – Portage Pass

Discovering Gold Era History in Hope Alaska

Off the Seward Highway, the Hope Highway makes for a great side trip. The small and picturesque community of Hope, Alaska, is at the end of the highway. Despite its lack of amenities, it offers several unique and charming characteristics that make it an appealing destination for those seeking a more rustic Alaskan experience in a quieter setting.

Creek on the Gull Point Trail in Hope Alaska
Gull Point Trail

The history of Hope begins with the Gold Rush. The Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum provides a glimpse into the town’s past, and you can explore historic buildings and remnants of this time period.

There is no better place for outdoor enthusiasts than Hope. A variety of outdoor activities can be enjoyed by visitors, including hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. Several trails are available for hikers of all abilities at Chugach State Park.

 Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum
Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum

Road to Majesty: Exploring Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park

This is just one of the many glaciers, where you can walk right up and touch it. One of the most accessible glacier. Exit glacier is located in the Kenai Fjords National Park. You can also take a guided hike to explore the glacier more in-depth on one of the excellent hiking tails. The  8.2-mile round trip to the Harding Icefield may be a bit ambitious for this itinerary, however, if you can build in additional time, it is worth the effort. We did the hike on our first trip with perfect weather. The shorter Glacial Overlook trail gets you up-close with the glacier. Don’t forget to stop at the Nature center for your passport stamp!

Exit Glacier background with us-Planning an Alaskan Road trip Itinerary
Exit Glacier

This charming town is at the end of the Seward Highway and offers a range of interests. Seward is a fantastic destination with a mix of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and cultural experiences that will make your Alaskan road trip memorable. Although you may not have time for all these suggestions, prioritize what’s best for you.

Sea Otters in Prince William Sound Alaska
Sea Otters in Prince William Sound Photo: Cindy Moss

Seward Planning: Must-Do Activities for Your Alaskan Road Trip Itinerary

 Cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park – You can take a boat tour or go kayaking to explore the park. We chose to explore Kenai Fjords National Park on a tour of Resurrection Bay with Major Marine Tours. Be sure to book in advance. Whether you take a glacier, wildlife cruise or both, the waters here are alive with a thriving ecosystem. We saw many humpback whales, sea otters and lots of marine birds. The humpbacks frequent these waters from May to September; Orcas, sea otters and puffins are here year-round.

Alaska Sealife Center sign-Seward

Alaska Sealife Center- The non-profit educational center rescues and rehabilitates wildlife. While where visiting the marine science center, we got the chance to see a variety of Alaskan marine life up close, including sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions. Excellent place to learn about marine life that inhabit Alaskan waters, lots of cool exhibits that showcase the marine life.

Hike Mt. Marathon– a challenging hike the mountain is famous for the race that has enticed runners since 1915. The Jeep trail steadily climbs through dense woods, emerging onto the rocky slopes of the upper mountain. Amazing views of Seward and Resurrection Bay on a clear day.

Rocky Mountain Ocean Cliffs-Resurrection Bay
Kenai Fjords National Park-Wildlife Boat Tour

Savoring Seward: Discover the Best Places to Eat in this Coastal Alaskan Gem

  •  Smoke Shack-The restaurant is in an old converted train car. At this barbecue joint, we enjoyed mouth-watering smoked meats and tasty sides. Their brisket, ribs, and pulled pork are all highly recommended.
  • The Cookery–The atmosphere is inviting, and the fresh Alaskan oysters are quite delicious. It is an upscale restaurant with a unique a farm-to-table menu.
  • Seward Brewing Company- friendly vibe, a rotating selection of craft and Alaskan beers, and innovative pub food.
  • Ray’s Waterfront-Known for its delicious seafood and steaks, and harbor and mountain views,
  • Chinooks Restaurant–The menu is chock full of Alaskan seafood dishes, from fresh halibut to salmon, shrimp, and rockfish. They also have a great selection of beers on tap.
  • Zudy’s is a cozy cafe is a great spot for breakfast or lunch. It is best known for its decadent cheesecakes and pies.
  •  Sweet Darlings is downtown, near the Sea Life Center. It has the best gelato I have ever had. On all our trips, we make a point to stop for a delicious scoop of gelato.
Standing in front ot the Homer Welcome sign 2023
Standing in front ot the Homer Welcome sign 2023


Considered Alaska’s playground, the Kenai has a variety of outdoor activities. These can include kayaking, water rafting, salmon fishing, bear-viewing and dog sledding. The Sterling Highway starts at Tern Lake and traverses through Soldotna before ending in Homer. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge lies between Cooper Landing and Sterling. Hiking in the refuge, you are likely to see wildlife. Our favorite trails are along the Russian River and Skilak Lake.

Did you know… Homer is the southernmost point on this road trip itinerary. It is the end of the road. Homer is most renown for its phenomenal halibut fishery.

Tern Lake-Mountains reflected in the water
Tern Lake-Seward Highway-Junction Sterling Hwy

Exploring Alaska’s Scenic Gems: What are Must-Visit Stops Along the Sterling Highway

Welcome to the Sterling Highway, a breathtaking route that winds its way through the pristine landscapes of Alaska. If you’re planning a road trip through the Last Frontier, this scenic highway should be on your bucket list.

A quick side trip to the small village of Kenai gives sweeping bluff views of Cook Inlet. The historic town is just one of many quaint Alaskan coastal towns to enjoy on the road to Homer. We always spend a few days in the Kenai. Each trip we stay in Sterling near Soldotna to fly High Adventure Air (Now closed-they retired) for bear-viewing or salmon fishing at Wolverine Creek. A guided trip on the Kenai for world-class rainbow trout is a must for us! There are plenty of state campgrounds, such as Johnson Lake or Quartz Creek, that have a wilderness feel or stay in a log cabin on Longmere Lake.

Holy Transfiguration of our Lord Russian Orthodox Church
Holy Transfiguration of our Lord Russian Orthodox Church

Witness the Majesty: Exploring the Cook Inlet Volcanoes

The Sterling highway scenic drive offers excellent views of both Iliamna and its sister volcano Redoubt from the raised bluff that hugs the Cook Inlet. Clam Gulch, Ninilchik and Anchor Point are just a few of the stops we made on our first trip. The old Russian Church in Ninilchik dates back to the 1800s when this area was first settled. For the RV traveller, there are plenty of rest areas to choose from at the Kasilof, Ninilchik and Anchor rivers. During the busy fishing season, anglers line the rivers hoping to land a trophy salmon.

Vies of Mount Illiamna from Anchor Point Alaska
Vies of Mount Iliamna from Anchor Point Alaska

Unforgettable Adventures: What to Include in Your Homer Itinerary on an Alaskan Road Trip

The 4-mile long Homer spit is the end of the road, literally. As the Halibut Fishing Capital of Alaska, a voyage onto the water is something everyone should have on their bucket list. Join a chartered fishing boat excursion on a full and half-day trip.

  • Kayak Kachemak Bay – explore the bay with a guided trip along the shores of Kachemak Bay. A nature lover’s paradise spot wildlife in the many hidden coves in this untouched wilderness.
  • Purchase a fishing license – fishing along the shore is a popular pastime on Homer Spit. Guide fishing tour since this is the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.” It is a great place to go fishing for halibut, salmon, and other types of fish.
  • Ferry to Seldovia – take a day trip just across the bay to the charming village of Seldovia. Beach walks searching the tidal pools for critters or hiking the trails is a great way to spend your day.
  • Walk the Museums and Galleries-No itinerary would be complete without sightseeing and a visit to the eclectic shoppes that adorn the small village. Here you can find the perfect gift to take home as a reminder of your journey.
  • Take a flightseeing tour: Homer is a great place to take a flightseeing tour over the Kenai Peninsula and surrounding glaciers. You can also take a bear viewing tour to see grizzly bears in their natural habitat.
Salty Dawg Saloon-Us
Salty Dawg Saloon

Culinary Delights: Uncovering the Best Places to Eat in Homer

  • Salty Dawg Saloon – You cannot travel all the way to the end of the road and not make a stop at the nostalgic Salty Dawg. It is an incredible novelty looking at the sheer number of dollar bills that adorn the walls and ceiling. Be sure to contribute your own dollar bill.
  • Capt. Patties Fish House – If you are looking for quality seafood, try the fish house. The mountain views are spectacular!
  • Two Sisters Bakery – Outstanding! Just off the main street, this bakery has the best cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. The perfect place for brunch.
Lateral Moraine View of Matanuska Glacier
Lateral Moraine View of Matanuska Glacier

Day 4 Adventure Planning: Exploring the Scenic Glenn Highway Drive

There are two ways to travel from the Kenai Peninsula to Wrangell-St Elias.

  • One is to take the scenic Glenn Highway, stopping at the different incredible locals along the route (5-6 hours). If your adventurous spirit enjoys fishing or hiking, there are multiple places to stop along the way to Glenallen and Wrangell-St Elias National Park.
  • The other alternative route is to drive through the Whittier tunnel to the coastal village of Whittier, taking the ferry across Prince William Sound to Valdez. Both routes are beautiful. Travel distance is longer on the scenic Glenn highway, but it is cheaper and less time than the ferry. Click here – Alaska Marine Highway schedule and fare information (ferry 6-hours).
Sutton Lakefront Cabin View
Sutton Lakefront Cabin View

Unleashing Adventure: Must-Include Activities on Your Alaskan Road Trip Itinerary Along the Glenn Highway

The drive through the Mat-Su Valley follows the Matanuska river. You can overnight in Sutton in a lakeside cabin. We stopped for a quick tour of the Alpine Historical Park museum before returning to the Glenn Highway. This morning we have mostly low-lying cloud hiding the mountain tops for most of our journey to Pippen Lake on the Richardson highway. It did not deter our spirits. The weather was perfect for keeping the mosquitoes away while hiking. We stopped for a quick tour of the Alpine Historical Park museum before returning to the Glenn Highway. The museum buildings originate from the 1922-Coal Washery and the Chickaloon Coal Mine.

Alpine Historical Museum - Sutton Coal Washery
Alpine Historical Museum – Sutton Coal Washery

If you choose the southern route through the remote coastal village of Valdez, be sure to stop at the top of Thompson Pass for a bird’s-eye view of the Worthington Glacier.

  1. Worthington Glacier: The Worthington Glacier is a prominent stop along the Richardson Highway and affords views of the glacier and surrounding mountains. You can hike to the base of the glacier or take a ranger guided tour.
  2. Thompson Pass: Thompson Pass is a mountain pass near Valdez that offers panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers. You can hike or drive through the pass and explore the nearby Keystone Canyon.
Bridal Veil Falls cascading down the towering walls of Keystone Canyon
Bridal Veil Falls cascading down the towering walls of Keystone Canyon

Unforgettable Adventures: Best Things to Do on the Glenn Highway

These are just a few of the many must-see stops along the Glenn Highway. The highway offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and stunning scenery, making it a must-see destination on any Alaskan road trip itinerary.

View of Mt. Drum Wrangell St Elias NP
View of Mt. Drum Wrangell St Elias NP
  • Thunderbird Falls – The short, easy 1.2-mile trail rises a 100 feet above the Eklutna river. The steep trail ends at the 200 ft wall of water. The raised platform provides superb views, but taking the lower trail will get you face to face with the rushing falls.
  • Musk Ox Farm– Just outside Palmer, you can learn about these prehistoric mammals prized for the qiviut. We recommend booking your tour in advance.
  • Hatcher Pass: Hatcher Pass is a scenic mountain pass that offers panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. You can hike, bike, or drive through the pass and explore the historic Independence Mine State Historical Park.
  • Matanuska Glacier-this massive stable glacier can be viewed for free from the Matanuska Overlook. Hike the short trial to the platform for better views. If you want to get up-close and personal, book a 3-hour tour to walk to the toe of the glacier.
  • Sheep Mountain – An ideal spot to have a picnic lunch. There are a few meandering paths that lead to the mountain. The slopes of the mountain are renown for Dall Sheep looking to supplement their diet with rich calcium nutrients.
Sheep Mountain-Glenn Highway
Sheep Mountain-Glenn Highway


Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest national park in the US. The park offers several scenic drives that take you through breathtaking scenery, such as the Nabesna Road and the McCarthy Road. Planning only a day exploring the park can be exhausting, but it is worth getting to the Kennecott Mine.

Chitina is the gateway to the park. From here you can either take a shuttle, flightseeing plane or drive the McCarthy road to reach the Kennicott area. We chose the shuttle since our rental car agreement did not allow us to drive the road. The disadvantage of taking a shuttle is they control when the vehicle stops. Next time we visit the area, we would either fly or drive ourselves.

Copper Mill Town-Kennecott Concentration Mill
Copper Mill Town-Kennecott Concentration Mill


For an authentic Alaskan experience, a tour of the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark is a must do! The 2-hour ranger narrated tour details the discovery and construction of the abandoned copper mine operation and ghost town. The buildings, although in disrepair, tell a fascinating story.

Here are some of the best things to add to your Alaskan road trip itinerary in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park:

  • Wrangell-St. Elias Visitor Center in Copper Center-nature walks to outstanding views of the Copper river valley. Visit the Ahtna Cultural Center, exhibit hall, and theater.
  • Kennecott or Root Glacier – Take the wagon road to the toe of the Kennicott Glacier (3-4 hours, 4.5-miles). the popular hike to Root Glacier walking the glacier (2-6 hours, 4-miles). For the thrill seeker, try ice climbing.
  • Rafting the Copper River – second to none, the adventurous may want to tackle rafting on the river. The glacial fed rivers in the area have phenomenal whitewater rafting, especially in the spring.
Wrangell St Elias Visitor Center
Wrangell St Elias Visitor Center

DAY 6 Adventure Planning: RICHARDSON HIGHWAY to DELTA JUNCTION & Fairbanks

Alaska is a spectacular destination! Look for amazing views of the snow-capped Wrangell Mountains as you pass Willow lake on your journey north to Fairbanks. On a clear day, you get magnificent views of the Copper Valley. Don’t miss stopping here! You can view Mt. Drum (12,010 ft.) Mt. Wrangell (14,163 ft.) is semi-active volcano, Mt. Sanford (16,237 ft.) and Mt. Blackburn (16,390 ft.) the tallest of the four major peaks. Today started the with a drizzly rain but ended in brilliant sunshine as we got closer to Fairbanks.

Richardson Hwy Willow Lake with Mt Drum, Mt Sanford and Mt Wrangell
Richardson Hwy Willow Lake with Mt Drum, Mt Sanford and Mt Wrangell

The Richardson highway begins at the Port of Valdez, on Valdez Bay. The highway twists and turns as it heads north towards Delta Junction and Fairbanks. Sweeping valleys of dense black spruce dominate the landscape crisscrossed by rivers and creeks teaming with native trout. We stopped and hiked to the Gulkana river for rainbows. The 60-mile wild rivers’ headwaters originate in the Alaska range near Summit Lake.

An engineering marvel the 800-mile-long, 48-inch-diameter trans-Alaska pipeline parallels the Richardson Highway. A good stop with informational kiosks detailing the history of the pipeline is the Denali Fault/Pipeline Viewpoint.

View of the Tanana River at Delta Junction
View of the Tanana River at Delta Junction

Unforgettable Adventures: WHAT TO PLAN TO DO along the Richardson Highway ON YOUR ALASKAN ROAD TRIP ITINERARY

These are just a few examples of the many stops and attractions to see along the Richardson Highway between Delta Junction and Fairbanks. We spent a good part of our day in Delta Junction. Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center in Delta Junction to take a photo at the end of the Alaska Highway marker.

  • Big Delta State Historical Park – step back in time to the gold rush. Learn about the WAMCATs, Rica’s roadhouse and Valdez-to-Fairbanks trail.
  •  Sullivan Roadhouse Historical Museum – at the junction of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction, this is the oldest roadhouse in interior Alaska. It provides a glimpse into the life of pioneers in Alaska during the early 1900s.
  • Hike Gulkana Glacier – If the roadside view does not satisfy, you can hike to the glacier. Accessible via gravel road, it is a 4.6 miles round-trip walk. It requires crossing the suspension bridge and fording creeks.
  • Paxson Lake – This scenic lake, at milepost 185, offers excellent fishing and boating opportunities.
Marker for the end of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction
Marker for the end of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction

DAY 7 Adventure planning: DISCOVER What FAIRBANKS offers

Yesterday was the summer solstice, the longest day of sunshine of the year. There is no better place to experience the land of the midnight sun than here in Fairbanks. This city has a colorful past. Starting with the early fur traders to the stampeding gold rush prospectors the city has endured. We enjoyed our fishing for chilly Arctic grayling on the Chena river. The river has a healthy population of grayling. They are plentiful and easy to catch on small lures. The fishing was just one highlight. There are so many activities for everyone to enjoy. An early morning outing to the R.G. White Large Animal Research Station is an amazing experience. Operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, they provide outreach on Alaskan animals such as caribou, and muskox. The tours are at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Large Animal Research Facility - Musk Ox
Large Animal Research Facility – Musk Ox

If you travel in the winter, the Aurora Borealis is the primary draw. We stayed in a beautiful log cabin on the Chena river. Riverbend cabins nestled right along the beautiful Chena River. Enjoy boating, fishing, and kayaking right out your back door!

Riverbend Cabins-Fairbanks Alaska
Riverbend Cabins-Fairbanks Alaska

Unforgettable Adventures Await: Must-Have Experiences for Your Fairbanks Alaska Road Trip ItinerarY

  • Santa Claus House in North Pole – Want to bring out your inner child? It’s Christmas every day at the Santa Claus House.
  • Pioneer Park – This is a replica of historic buildings from the gold rush days. The steam train is worth the small fee to ride. This is a great place for families to spend some quality time.
  • Gold Daughters Alaska – Have you ever wanted to pan for gold?? You pay $20 for a small sack of dirt and guaranteed to have some bits of gold. Excellent service and train you how to pan.
  • Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center – Outstanding center that traces Alaskan history from early native peoples, through Russian settlements, right up to modern times, but the emphasis on the cultural influences of indigenous people.
  •  Riverboat Discovery – spectacular cruise on the Chena River. Tour includes visits of Trail Breaker Kennel, Chena Indian Village Living Museum and the taking off of a frontier bush plan.
Chena River Fairbanks
Chena River Fairbanks

Foodie’s Paradise: Unveiling the Best Places to Eat in Fairbanks

  • Great Harvest Bread Company – Fresh, high-quality sandwiches are fantastic! The soups are also great and the delicious pastries too!
  • Bakery Restaurant – Food was awesome! Their sourdough pancakes are the best.
  • Pump House Restaurant– We stopped for an early dinner. Seated in the bar, we ordered appetizers: Halibut cheeks, Calamari, and Birch Syrup-Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Alaskan Scallops with a house salad. The food was delicious, and the service was great! The historic pump house has a fantastic atmosphere and is a must do!
Riverboat Discovery on the chena river
Riverboat Discovery – spectacular cruise on the Chena River.

Day 8 adventure Planning: Discover the Wonders of Denali National Park

For most visitors to Alaska, getting a view of Mt. Denali is the crown jewel on everyone’s bucket list. They often refer to Denali National Park to as the last frontier. The Koyukon Athabascans named the mountain Denali meaning, “mountain-big.” It’s the highest mountain peak in North America,

Denali Sled Dog Kennels
Denali Sled Dog Kennels

The best way to explore Denali National Park is to take a shuttle bus. We chose the Natural History tour for our first trip. We got lucky in the road lottery on our second trip and drove the road to milepost 30. If you want to do the entire road, consider booking the 12-hour Kantishna Experience Tour. The park is massive, covering 4,740,091 acres.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Denali Park Road will be closed at Mile 43 of the 92-mile road this summer because of a landslide near Pretty Rocks. Because of road construction repairs, the Denali Park Road will be closed in thru summer 2025.

Teklanika River-Denali National Park
Teklanika River, Denali National Park

Exploring Denali National Park: Why a Shuttle Tour is the Ultimate Adventure

The road to the end at Kantishna is 92-miles and takes about 5 hours to reach. They established the gold mining town in 1905. Today the best way to reach the end of the road is by a bush plane. Only have a day? I recommend hiking the trails nearest the visitor center-Horseshoe Lake, Triple Lakes or the Healy Overlook are worth the effort.

If you want to do less driving, you may want to consider an alternative route by taking the Alaska Railroad from Fairbanks to Denali returning to Anchorage via Talkeetna.

Denali National Park-Sign us
Denali National Park


  • Denali Sled Dog Kennel – is another of our favorite places to visit. An outstanding first impression of the prior history of the park, the dogs and puppies, is always a highlight for us.
  • Natural History Tour on a Denali Bus – takes visitors to mile 15 in the park. The ranger narrated tour highlights the history of the park. Really enjoyed learning the past history.
  • Take an ATV Tour – Race across the Alaskan tundra with a jaw-dropping off road exploration. Thrilling as a passenger or the driver. An out of this world experience.
  • Explore the Backcountry – Getting away from the road is the best way to experience the park. Whether you camp or hike, take the time to experience life away from the main road.
Portage River - Alaska
Portage River – Alaska

Taste of the Wilderness: Locating the Best Places to Eat in Denali

  • Prospectors Pizzeria & Alehouse – a popular favorite in the Last Frontier. The walls have historic pictures of settlers panning for gold, fishing and hunting.
  • Black Bear café – not just your average coffee shop. They have a delightful breakfast and lunch menu. Close at 2pm.
  • Alpenglow Restaurant – inside the Grande Denali Lodge it has a more formal feel. We did our last night as a treat. A bit more expensive but we loved the night out. The views were breathtaking.
Talkeetna Riverfront Park
Talkeetna Riverfront Park


A trip down the amazing Parks highway takes you to historic Talkeetna. If you’re interested in seeing bits of Alaska that are well off the beaten path, and have a great time doing it, come to tiny, quirky Talkeetna. Known as a stop on the Alaska Railroad route, many of those destined for Denali do the short layover in this small town. The walkable town has galleries, small boutique stores and museums. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Just walking through Nagley’s is an adventure.

The quaint town has many lodging options to choose from including, hotels, bread & breakfasts, resorts or inns. We stayed in a cute lakeside getaway.

Talkeetna Sign with us
Talkeetna Alaska

Talkeetna Treasures: Must-See Attractions for Your Alaskan Road Trip Itinerar

  • Jet Boat Ride on the Susitna, Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers -for thrill-seeking adventures, the Devil’s Canyon tour is such a unique experience!
  • Denali Flightseeing tours – Daily flights to see the big one-Denali-landing on a glacier. Talkeetna is the jumping-off point for flightseeing tours of Denali National Park. We had an absolute blast!
  • Zipline Through the Forest – witnessing the stunning forest scenery all around you is an adrenaline rush! It was completely unlike anything we’d ever experienced.
Sunshine Lake Reflection
Sunshine Lake Reflection

Where are the Best Culinary Gems in Talkeetna

  • The Flying Squirrel Bakery & Cafe has excellent quality dishes, fresh-baked bread, and pastries. If the locals shop here, you know it is good!!
  •  Talkeetna Roadhouse – The restaurant offers wines, beers, spirits, and a few cocktails. We felt the atmosphere was very welcoming.
  •  Denali brewing company offers a wonderful selection of food and is a great place to congregate and meet others. A ten-dollar tour shows you the steps of the brewing process and a tasting of the various beers and meads.
Susitna River Hatcher Pass
Susitna River Hatcher Pass


Before heading into Anchorage for your flight home, make an excursion to see the Hatcher Pass. Most flights leave late evening, so make the most of your last day.

Alaska has a rich history and no better place to discover this than a stop at the Independence Mine State Historical Park. Our last leg of the trip has us taking the Hatcher Pass Scenic Byway following the beautiful glacial Susitna river. As we climb in elevation, the trees vanish, leaving only arctic tundra.


Palmer and Parks Highway Adventures: Essential Stops for Your Alaskan Road Trip Itinerary

  • Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry in Wasilla – This museum will take you back in time. They have a little of everything that has to do with transportation through the years.
  • Hurricane Gulch Bridge – The views from the bridge are really impressive. We could see downstream white water. It is very dramatic looking over the edge to the bottom of the canyon.
  • Denali View South – Looking to see the “Great Mountain.” Just a short walk up the trail on a clear day you get impressive views of Denali. Good place to stop and stretch your legs. Enjoy a picnic lunch.
Denali National Park-Alaska Range
Denali National Park-Alaska Range


  • Palmer Alehouse – This is a delightful place to have dinner or lunch. It was extremely crowded but must say it is worth the wait. I had the Philly Cheesesteak with a side salad and hubby enjoyed a delicious gyro. They have lots of choices on tap for local brews. We both enjoyed a different selection to top off our meal. Good place to unwind and to enjoy the live music.
  • Noisy Goose Cafe – Looking for food that feels homemade? This is a great place for comfort food. The food was exceptional, and the staff was wonderful.
  • Sheep Creek Lodge – Setting is beautiful inside a log cabin. The service was good, food was well-prepared. Close to Wasilla.
Fireweed Alaska Summer
Fireweed Alaska Summer

FINAL THOUGHTS on planning your Incredible Alaskan Itinerary

Alaska is incredible!! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list destination. I encourage you to take the dive. We are already planning our next trip to include Brooks Falls, in Katmai National Park with a longer visit to Wrangell St. Elias. By following these steps and doing thorough research, you can plan a remarkable Alaskan road trip itinerary that meets your interests and expectations.

Checklist of Things to Consider in Your planning:

  1. Choose your route: Alaska is vast, so it’s important to plan your route carefully. Popular routes include the Alaska Highway, the Seward Highway, and the Denali Highway. Decide on your route based on your interests and the amount of time you have.
  2. Research attractions and activities: Alaska has a wealth of outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, and bear viewing. Research the attractions and activities along your chosen route and prioritize the ones that interest you the most.
  3. Book accommodations: Alaska’s lodging options range from camping to luxury hotels. Book your accommodations well in advance, especially during peak tourist season.
  4. Consider transportation: Many visitors to Alaska rent an RV or a car for their road trip. Alternatively, you could take a guided tour or travel by train or ferry.
  5. Adding a cruise before or after to your Alaskan itinerary is a great way to see the best of the state’s stunning scenery and wildlife. Cruise ships offer a variety of itineraries, so you can choose one that fits your interests and budget.
  6. Be flexible: Alaska’s beauty and attractions are diverse and unpredictable, so be open to changing your plans if necessary.

Have questions about our 10-day Alaska itinerary? We would love to have you share your ideas. Let us know in the comments.

“John Muir, the famous naturalist, wrote in his journal that you should never go to Alaska as a young man because you`ll never be satisfied with any other place as long as you live. And there`s a lot of truth to that.”