Home » Alaska » Things to Do: A Simple Day Trip To Hope Alaska

Hope is a small historic town in the Kenai Peninsula Borough of Alaska. The town was once a bustling Gold Rush town in the late 1800s. There are a few things to do on a simple day trip to Hope, Alaska. This charming town offers visitors a glimpse into Hope, the past and a chance to explore its beautiful natural surroundings.

We arrived in this fascinating town on a sunny, blustery day in early June. The 17-mile detour off the Seward Highway was a reward we never expected. Several charming buildings lined the streets, each telling a story. Locals greeted us with warm smiles, their hospitality immediately making us feel at home.

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you purchase something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! Read the full disclosure policy here.

Small sow brown bear eating grasses on coastal flats
Small sow brown bear eating grasses on coastal flats

Embrace the Perfect Season: When to Visit Hope, Alaska for an Unforgettable Experience

When it comes to seeing wildlife and experiencing outdoor activities, the most ideal time to visit Alaska is during the summer months. Mid-June through mid-August is the peak tourist season, when temperatures are in the 60s and 70s. As a rule, we make our trips in June when crowds seem to be smaller.

During the summer months, Alaska attracts more people and has higher prices. If you prefer to avoid crowds and have a peaceful experience, visit in the shoulder seasons of May-June or August-September.

“It is wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the Earth in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.” -Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

Navigating the Path to Hope, Alaska Made Easy

The closest airport to Hope is the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. From there, you can rent a car and drive to Hope, or take a bus or shuttle. There is also a small airstrip in Hope for private planes.

Welcome to Hope Alaska Sign

From Anchorage: Hope is about 85-miles south of Anchorage, Alaska. You can rent a car from Anchorage and drive south 69-miles on the Seward Highway (AK-1) to the Hope turnoff at Milepost 56.7. From there, it’s a scenic 16-mile drive to Hope on Hope Highway (AK-17). The journey takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.

From Seward: Head north on AK-9 toward Bear Lake Road. Continue straight onto AK-9 S/AK-1 (Seward Highway) for about 48-miles. Turn left onto Hope Highway (AK-17). Follow Hope Highway for about 16 miles until you reach the town of Hope. The journey takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.

Hope Alaska Community a few thoughts message

Hidden Gems and Tranquil Charm: Best Things to Explore on a Day Trip

Hope is a superb day-trip destination to explore the Alaska wilderness and learn about history. Hope’s small-town charm is evident in its friendly locals, quaint buildings, and rustic appeal. We could definitely feel it was a place where you can slow down, interact with the locals, and truly experience Alaskan hospitality.

This part of the Kenai Peninsula is famed for its scenic beauty, outdoor activities, and historical gold rush importance. Here are some of the most exciting things we did to explore on our day trip.

Hope sits next to the mud flats of the Cook Inlet

1. Embark on a Scenic Adventure: Drive the Breathtaking Hope Highway

Driving the Hope Highway (also known as AK-17) is a must-do scenic adventure. The road is a narrow, winding two-lane highway that stretches for about 17 miles through the Chugach National Forest. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you drive along the highway. It’s not uncommon to spot eagles soaring overhead or moose grazing in the meadows.

Sow brosn bear grazes on green grasses near Hope Alaska
Sow brown bear grazes on green grasses near Hope Alaska

We spotted a brown bear grazing on grasses on the side of the highway a few miles before reaching Hope. Encountering wildlife such as a bear while exploring the Hope Highway was, for us, an exhilarating experience. Staying in our vehicle, we took our pictures from a safe distance. She did not seem to even notice us in her frenzy. Dining on green grasses before the salmon arrive in the Resurrection River maintains bears through the early spring.

Gold Rush era village at the  Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum
Gold Rush era building at the museum

2. Journey into the Past: Explore the Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum

The Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum, dedicated to the history and culture of Hope and Sunrise, caught our attention. Many of the gold rush-era buildings contained fascinating exhibits that provided an insight into the town’s past. There was a wealth of history to be discovered, from indigenous heritage to the stories of early settlers.

Canyon Creek Bunkhouse-Hope-Sunrise Historical Park
Canyon Creek Bunkhouse-Hope-Sunrise Historical Park

As a first step, we walked the Interpretive Trail in the Mining District. There is information about mining operations, equipment, and techniques used during the gold rush era on this trail. Discover what early miners faced and how mining changed the region. During the tour, a guide provided additional details about the mining district. His intriguing history lesson and pleasant conversation gave us much better insight into the town’s humble beginnings.

Seaview Cafe Main Street Hope Alaksa
Seaview Cafe Main Street Hope Alaska

Walking Through History: A Simple Day Trip to Hope, Alaska

A stroll down Hope’s quaint main street will reveal the charm of this Alaskan town. As we walked through the town, we noticed many historic buildings and landmarks. During the tour, we visited the Hope Social Hall, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Hope Social Hall dates back to 1902. Over the years, community events and dances have been held there. As you step back in time, you’ll be able to appreciate the architectural significance of the building.

Built in 1902 the Hope Social Hall is still in use, Hope, Alaska
Built in 1902, the Hope Social Hall is still in use, Hope, Alaska

Eventually, we reached the end of the road. The town is surrounded by mountains, forests, and Resurrection Creek, which flows into Turnagain Arm. The tidal flats were breathtakingly beautiful as we walked through the marsh. The scenic views make your day trip more enjoyable.

3. Unearth Hidden Treasure: Gold Panning Adventures in the Majestic Alaska Hills

Alaska has a rich gold mining history, with the first gold rush in the late 1800s. Today, there are still plenty of opportunities for visitors to try their hand at gold panning and potentially strike it rich. Gold Rush Peck offers guided gold panning tours on their private claims in the Hope area. They provided us with all the equipment, including gold pans and classifiers. In order to pan for gold, my husband and I purchased a $20 bucket and received careful instructions. The gold was indeed there!

You can explore Resurrection Creek, Six Mile Creek, and Bertha Creek on half-day and full-day gold panning tours at the Resurrection Creek Public Mining Site. Their equipment includes gold pans, shovels, and classifiers. You can gain a deeper understanding of mining’s significance to the community and appreciate early miners’ resilience.

Turnagain Arm mouth of the resurrection river in Hope Alaska

4. Navigating Nature’s Playground: Embark on a Guided Kayak Adventure in Hope, Alaska

With the longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures in the summer months., kayaking is one of the best ways to experience the waterways surrounding Hope. If you don’t have your own kayak, you can rent one from local outfitters or kayak rental companies in or around Hope. We used Turnagain Kayak and Coffeehouse. Turnagain Kayak provided us with the equipment, including kayaks, paddles, and safety gear. They also allow you to either join a tour or go on your own or have them customize your trip.

Two prople with the mud flats of the Tunragain arm and Chugach mtns in the baclground

We kayaked on our own in the Resurrection creek where it flows into the Turnagain arm. There are a few ideal local waterways to choose from:

  • Turnagain Arm: Here, you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views of the chugach mountains and the occasional tidal fluctuations. 
  • Resurrection Creek: Explore the calm waters of Resurrection Creek, which flows through Hope. The river is a great place to kayak if you’re looking for a calm, easy-on-the-water experience.
  • Six Mile Creek:  If you’re a more experienced kayaker, Six Mile Creek is a great option. It’s located just a few miles outside of Hope and offers some of the more challenging rapids in the area (Class II-IV)
Kenai River Rainbow
World-Class River Rainbow

5. Escape to Serenity: Fishing Bliss

Hope offers excellent fishing opportunities thanks to the many salmon, trout, and other fish in its rivers and streams. Among the factors we considered when choosing our guided fishing trip in Hope were pricing, availability, and the type of fish we wanted to catch. Additionally, you should discuss your skill level and any preferences or needs with your guide beforehand. They offer fishing trips at Six Mile Creek and other streams nearby by Hope Fishing Charters LLC. Waders and boots are provided, and all skill levels can participate.

Rafters on an Alaska River
Rafters on the River

6. Exhilarating Adventure: Clean Clear Mountain Whitewater Rafting on Six Mile Creek

Flowing through the Chugach Mountains, Six Mile Creek offers thrilling rapids and stunning scenery. Six Mile Creek’s whitewater rafting season runs from mid-May to mid-September, with the peak season in June and July. It is during this time that the water levels are highest, making rafting a very exciting activity.

White Water rafting 6-mile creek Hope Alaska

There are several rafting companies in the area that offer guided trips down Six Mile Creek, ranging from half-day to full-day adventures. We went with Nova Alaska. choosing the 2 whitewater canyon run. They rated the rapids on Six Mile Creek Class III to Class IV, which means they are moderately difficult and require some skill and experience to navigate. If you want Class V rapids, choose the 3-canyon experience.

Canyon Creek Hope Alaksa

We met our guides at the public rest area parking lot near the junction of the Seward Highway and Hope Road intersection. From here, our rafting trip started with a safety briefing and instruction on paddling techniques. The crew then outfitted us with all the equipment, including helmets, life jackets, and wetsuits. Everyone on this tour is required to complete the in-river swim test before the start of the raft.

Throughout the adventure on the river, our experienced guides helped us navigate the rapids and ensure the safety of all participants. There is stunning scenery in the dramatic canyons. Filled with lush forests, and distant snow-capped mountains. Many rafting trips include stops for swimming, cliff jumping, and lunch on the riverbank.

Gull rock Trail bridge over porcupine Creek
Gull Rock Trail bridge over Porcupine Creek

7. Hike the Resurrection Pass Trail: A Journey Through Nature’s Resilience

The Resurrection Pass Trail runs through the Chugach National Forest in south-central Alaska, starting in Hope and ending in Cooper Landing. The trail traverses lush forests, alpine meadows, and rocky mountain passes during its 39-mile length.

June through September is typically the best time to hike the trail. Despite some steep climbs and rocky terrain, it was considered a moderate to strenuous hike. The trail can be completed in 2-4 days, camping at designated campsites along the way.

Campsite along an Alaska Hiking trail

The Resurrection Pass Trail offers panoramic mountain views, unique wildlife viewing opportunities, footbridges and log crossings, as well as the chance to spot moose and bears.

Our adventure on the Resurrection Pass Trail found it to be a beautiful, yet challenging, outdoor trip that afforded us a chance to experience some of Alaska’s most breathtaking natural scenery.

Granite Creek-Seward Highway
Granite Creek-Seward Highway

8. Day Hike to Gull Rock or Hope Point

The trail is approximately 2 miles round trip. While Gull Rock is a relatively short hike, it is sometimes steep and challenging, making it a moderate walk. The trail leads through a forested area, gradually ascending to provide panoramic views of Turnagain Arm and Chugach Mountains. Wear appropriate footwear and bring water, snacks, and a camera.

Sign for the Gull Rock & Hope Point Trail

As opposed to the Gull Rock hike, Hope Point is longer and more challenging, covering approximately 6 miles round trip. The steep elevation gain and rocky terrain make it a strenuous hike. A truly spectacular view of the area can be obtained from the summit of Hope Point.

There is a distinct beauty surrounding Hope, that is reflected in the hikes at Gull Rock and Hope Point.

Hiking Trail Hope Alaska Turnagain arm views
Views of the Turnagain Arm Tidal Flats

Hidden Culinary Gems: Discover Understated Dining Options in Hope, Alaska

Hope, Alaska is a small town with a few dining options, but there are a few great places to eat that are worth checking out. Here are some of the best places to eat in Hope:

  1. Historic Hope Café & Campground—formerly known as the Seaview Café. This is one of Hope’s most popular restaurants. It serves up classic American comfort food and seafood. The menu features a variety of burger, sandwich, salad, fish and chip, and chowder options.
  2. Dirty Skillet: The food truck serves up mouthwatering breakfast and lunch fare like omelets, breakfast burritos, sandwiches, and burgers. They also cater to special diets with vegan and gluten-free options. Although we did not sample the food ourselves, we saw a line of eager customers waiting to place their orders.
  3. Hope Sunrise Café: This cute café whips up breakfast and lunch, spotlighting homemade treats and local goodies. You’ll find everything from breakfast sandwiches and quiches to lunchtime soups and salads..
  4. Creekbend Café: This rustic café is in a historic log building. We found they had fresh, locally sourced ingredients, showcasing Alaska flavors. We couldn’t resist stopping at this local café, enticed by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and homemade pastries wafting through the air.
  5. Turnagain Kayak and Coffee House: We just loved how a cozy and welcoming this little coffee shop felt. Visitors can enjoy a variety of coffee and tea drinks, as well as pastries and baked goods. They also offer a small selection of souvenirs and locally made crafts.
Early Spring Buds on White Spruce tree Alaska
Early Spring Buds on White Spruce tree

Unwind in Nature’s Embrace: Best Places to Stay in Hope, Alaska

Hope, Alaska is a small town with limited accommodation options, but there are still a few great places to stay that can provide a comfortable and memorable experience. Here are some options for where to stay in Hope:

  1. Discovery Cabins: These cozy cabins lie in a quiet wooded area. It offers a peaceful retreat for visitors. Each cabin comes with a kitchenette, private bathroom, and access to outdoor amenities like BBQ grills and fire pits.
  2. Historic Hope Café & Campground: This property has a combination of cabins and rooms, each with their own unique décor and character. They are located near the , which offers a variety of dining options for guests.
  3. Hope Alaska Bear Creek Lodge: This lodge is on the banks of Bear Creek in Hope. The lodge features a variety of accommodation options, including cabins, suites, and guest rooms, each with their own unique décor and character. They are all equipped with modern amenities like comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and heating for the colder months.
  4. Porcupine Creek Cabins: These rustic cabins are on the outskirts of town and have a secluded vibe. They come with a fully equipped kitchen and access to outdoor amenities like a BBQ grill and fire pit.

It is important to note that Hope is a small town with limited services, so visitors should plan accordingly and be prepared for outdoor activities. Visitors should practice Leave No Trace principles to help protect the natural environment and preserve the area for future generations.

Porcupine Creek on the Gull Point Trail
Porcupine Creek on the Gull Point Trail

Final Thoughts on our Unique Adventure in Hope, Alaska

We found that Hope, Alaska, is a hidden gem for adventure seekers looking for a unique and thrilling experience. Whether you’re into outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, or whitewater rafting, or you’re interested in exploring the history of the gold rush era, Hope has something to offer for everyone.

One of the best things about visiting Hope on your easy day trip is that it gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature. We found we could completely disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Beautiful mountains, forests, and rivers surrounded this rustic town, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Have you been to Hope, Alaska? When? What is your favorite thing to do in Hope? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Spruce Grouse Gull Point Trail Hope Alaska
Spruce Grouse Gull Point Trail Hope Alaska