The Only Alaska Itinerary You’ll Ever Need

Alaska makes for the perfect road trip destination. It’s huge, which means there is so much to see! After plenty of research, tips from Alaskans, and exploring it for myself, I’ve come up with the ultimate Alaska itinerary for your next trip!

I’ve had so many people tell me that they had incredible trips based off of my itinerary (which makes me extremely happy to hear!), so I’m glad you’ve found it too!

First, I’ll talk a bit about the best way to plan a trip to Alaska and how you can use this itinerary as you’re planning your trip.

Next, I’ll show you my exact Alaska itinerary in detail with photos, helpful information, and what we did. This Alaska itinerary follows our 12-day Alaska trip (11 full days), with tips on how to spread it out over 14 days.

Then you’ll find a map of where we went. You’ll see that an Alaska road trip calls for a lot of driving, but it’s so scenic that you won’t mind!

And finally, I’ll provide Alaska itineraries for shorter and longer trips:

  • 2-3 days
  • 4-6 days
  • 7-10 days
  • 15+ days
  • 1 month (you lucky duck)

This Alaska itinerary focuses on the drivable part of Alaska (aka not Southeast Alaska). However, you can see my Southeast Alaska recommendations at the end of this post if you have more time in the state. You can also jump right to my Southeast Alaska cruise recap here if you’re interested in cruising Alaska.

Please keep in mind that you’ll need to do a lot of driving to explore Alaska as much as possible, so be sure to have a good car!

We got our rental through Thrifty Car Rental which is located at the airport which makes getting the rental insanely easy! I recommend getting an SUV, especially if you’re visiting in the winter! We had a Toyota 4Runner and it was perfect!

You can see some of the amazing beauty of Alaska in the video we made of our trip below!

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We’ve got a lot to cover, so without further ado, here is my exact Alaska itinerary including where we stayed, how much we drove, and where we ate!

And if you want a printable PDF of this itinerary, sign up for my email list below!

Alaska Itinerary Printable

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(Also, read this post next: 33 Crucial Things to Know Before Visiting Alaska!)

Hunting & Fishing

Note that we are not hunters/fishers, so we never stopped for fishing. However, fishing is a pretty huge part of visiting Alaska for some people! If you’re interested in fishing, I do note in my itinerary when you’re visiting places that are known for great fishing! Salmon and halibut fishing, in particular, are incredible in Alaska!

How to Plan Your Alaska Itinerary

alaska mountains from airplane window

Alaska is so huge that planning a trip to this state can seem very daunting! At least, that’s how I felt before my husband and I visited.

First things first: for those unfamiliar with Alaska, you can basically look at it in two main parts when it comes to tourism:

  • Anchorage and the surrounding areas
  • Southeast Alaska

This Alaska itinerary focuses on the main part of Alaska that surrounds Anchorage.

Why?

Well, let’s talk Southeast Alaska for a second. It is famous for places like Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, and more. However, due to its topography, you can’t road trip Southeast Alaska!

I actually tried putting together an itinerary for us to do a DIY trip from island to island, but gave up. It’s simply too complicated to ferry and/or fly in Southeast Alaska- it’s truly best done by cruise in my opinion! After coming to that conclusion, we booked a Southeast Alaska cruise from Seattle to Southeast Alaska. You can see exactly what we got to see and do here!

Anyway, if you’re wanting to drive around Alaska, this article is for you! You’ll be exploring incredible places like Anchorage, Seward and the Kenai Peninsula, Denali National Park, Valdez, and Fairbanks.

In the end, I put together this Alaska road trip itinerary because it covered a lot of the most beautiful places in Alaska, was doable within our budget, and allowed us to see as much as we could in 11 full days.

How to Use This Itinerary

In order to customize your own Alaska itinerary, I suggest reading through my itinerary twice.
The first time, just go through it to see where we went and why we chose each place. Take note of where you’d want to go.
Then, consider how long your trip is. At the end of the post, check out my recommendations for trips of varying lengths. That way, the second time you read this, you can skim through and make some concrete decisions on what you want to do with your time in Alaska!
(You can also just follow my itinerary outright, too!)

When is the Best Time to Visit Alaska?

I get way more into this topic in this article on the best time to visit Alaska, but I’ll summarize it here!

June, July, and August are generally considered to be the best time to visit Alaska. The weather is mild, snow has melted (leaving roads clear!), and wildlife viewing is at its peak.

Shoulder season is also a great time to visit- specifically May and September- but you’ll find some tours don’t operate and some parks or locations may be closed.

We visited from August 27th until September 7th and had the best time. We got to see wildflowers, wildlife, fall colors, the northern lights, and so much beautiful scenery! The only thing that was closed was some boat tours after September 1st.

The Ultimate Alaska Itinerary

Standing on the Matanuska Glacier (you’ll find it in on the way from Anchorage and Valdez).

This 11-day Alaska itinerary can easily be stretched into 14 days. To stretch it, I recommend adding an extra day or two at Denali National Park & Preserve and one or two days in Talkeetna on the way from Denali back to Anchorage.

Let’s get to it! Here’s what I consider to be the ultimate Alaska itinerary so that you have the best time and don’t miss a thing on your Alaska vacation!

Day 0: Start your Alaska Itinerary in Anchorage

20 minutes of driving
Tonight’s lodging: Hotel Captain Cook

Today is all about landing in Alaska, picking up a rental car, grabbing a meal, and checking into your hotel. You’ll probably be tired from the let lag, which is great! I encourage falling asleep early so that you can get an early start on adventuring tomorrow!

Arrive in Anchorage

Fly into Anchorage- it’s where you’ll most likely find the best flight prices. It’s also a great hub from which you can go out and explore the rest of this part of Alaska.

Pick Up Your Rental Car

As I mentioned earlier, we used Thrifty Car Rental (which is family owned by great people!) and picked up our Toyota 4Runner straight at the airport. Easy peasy!

Check Into the Hotel and Grab Dinner

For our first night in Anchorage, we stayed at the Hotel Captain Cook, which had great views over downtown Anchorage! We learned that most restaurants in Anchorage close by around 8pm, so keep that in mind! You may want to stop for dinner before getting to your hotel if you have a later flight.

Day 1: Anchorage to Seward

3 hours 47 minutes of driving
Tonight’s lodging: 2 nights at Resurrection Lodge on the Bay

Today you’ll be driving on the Seward Highway from Anchorage to Seward. It’s one of the prettiest highways in Alaska. The stops I mention are all on the way to Seward. I actually go more in-depth (with more photos) about the best stops along the Seward Highway in this post.

7AM Depart from Anchorage

The early morning departure should be no problem with your jet lag if you’re visiting from what Alaskans call “The Lower 48” (aka the Continental United States).

Beluga Point Sight

This lookout is especially great for whale watching in the early summer!

Bird Creek

Next, we headed to Bird Creek. A short hike from the parking lot took us to these pretty views!

Turnagain Arm

At Bird Creek, there is a trail that goes underneath the railroad where you can see these pretty views of Turnagain Arm.

Be sure to not venture onto the mud flats as they can act like quicksand in certain conditions! We just scrambled along the rocks.

You can also skip this entirely if you just want the views. You’ll have views of Turnagain Arm throughout the majority of the drive from Anchorage to Seward!

Virgin Creek Falls in Girdwood

This is an absolute must for any Alaska itinerary!

This is the easiest hike to my favorite waterfall in Alaska! It takes about five minutes and you’ll have to cross over a ton of tree roots in a magical forest that is just at the end of a neighborhood!

If you want to take a photo like this where the water flows smoothly, you’ll need a tripod. I always have this exact tripod with me when I travel since it is lightweight, versatile, and compact!

The Bake Shop

This is the perfect brunch spot! Grab a coffee and an omelet to enjoy on their flower-covered patio! Check out their menu here.

Alyeska Aerial Tram

At this point, you can choose to ride the Alyeska Aerial Tram! It takes you from Alyeska Resort to the top of Mt. Alyeska (2300ft elevation) and costs $38 per adult. You’ll get great views of the Turnagain Arm, hanging glaciers, and the Chugach Mountains.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

This is the ultimate way to see a grizzly bear up close in Alaska! You’re totally safe on a boardwalk as the grizzlies live their best Alaskan life at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

It costs $20 per non-Alaskan adult but it’s so worth it! You can buy tickets directly at the entrance.

Portage Lake

We didn’t do a boat tour to Portage Glacier since we weren’t sure how long today’s journey would take, but you do have time for it if you plan around it!

You can book the one-hour tour to Portage Glacier online here if you’re booking at least five days in advance. But you can also get same-day tickets at the Portage Glacier Cafe in Girdwood. Tickets cost $45 per adult (and $25 per child) and the tour runs from May 13th until September 21st in 2023.

The boat departs at:

  • 10:30am
  • 12:00pm
  • 1:30pm
  • 3:00pm
  • 4:30pm

We were at Portage Lake at 2pm, so if you’re following my Alaska itinerary, perhaps choose the 3pm option (especially if you’re adding in the Alyeska Aerial Tram!).

Since we didn’t know if we had enough time for a tour, we just enjoyed the views at Portage Lake and were basically the only ones there! You’ll get views of glaciers along the drive as well as from the lake. The one you see in the background here is Shakespeare Glacier.

Side note: I brought four pairs of shoes (I know, I’m a huge over-packer!) and the ones you see in this photo were the ones I wore 95% of the time! So comfortable with the softest lining!

The Cookery

The Cookery was one of our favorite dinner restaurants, and is a must if you’re in Seward! They serve up farm-to-table style food that you can tell has been expertly put together. The summer berry salad was excellent! They’re remodeling during the winter and spring of 2023, so you’ll get to see the new place in the summer of 2023.

Resurrection Lodge on the Bay

This lodge is so cozy and has the best views of Resurrection Bay! The owner told me that in May and June you can see whales all the time from the front porch! (We visited in August, so no whale sightings for us.) It’s a gorgeous property with a homey feel. Great views and people.

Day 2: Seward & Harding Icefield Hike

1 hour of driving
Tonight’s lodging: second night at Resurrection Lodge on the Bay

Today revolves around an epic hike: the Harding Icefield Hike! It’s the only way to access Kenai Fjords National Park on land, and it offers incredible views! Not into hiking? I share some alternates for this day as well!

7AM Breakfast at the Lodge

Resurrection Lodge serves up a hearty breakfast with your favorite breakfast staples: eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, yogurt, and more.

Kenai Fjords National Park & Exit Glacier

Today’s main activity is the Harding Icefield Hike, located in Kenai Fjords National Park at the very top of Exit Glacier. It is free to do and offers spectacular views!

This is the only land access to Kenai Fjords National Park- the rest you can see by boat. And if you’re not up for a big hike, you can do a much shorter and easier walk to see the bottom of Exit Glacier instead.

Harding Icefield Hike

The whole hike is about 4 miles each way with a 1,000 ft elevation gain per mile. It’s strenuous, and be sure to pack a lunch if you’re going all the way to the top! Due to some bad weather coming in, we made it up halfway to ‘the Cliffs’ viewpoint. From there, we saw a black bear in the distance!

Read about everything you need to know for the Harding Icefield Hike here!

Alternatively…

If you’d prefer a cruise of Resurrection Bay instead of a hike, there are awesome tours that depart from Seward Harbor. This 3.5 hour tour takes you through Kenai Fjords to Bear Glacier, the largest glacier in Kenai Fjords, and you’ll get to see plenty of sea life and wildlife!

The Highliner Restaurant

After our hike, our legs couldn’t take much else. We showered, changed, and enjoyed an early dinner at The Highliner. Another great dinner option is Ray’s Waterfront.

Day 3: Seward to Homer

3 hours 41 minutes of driving
Tonight’s lodging: Land’s End Resort

Today you’ll drive from Seward to Homer, located at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula. There are some charming towns to explore and great rivers for fishing along the way.

7AM Breakfast at the Lodge

You get another yummy breakfast at Resurrection Lodge!

Lowell Point and Resurrection Bay

You can walk a bit on the beach at Resurrection Bay or rent a kayak and do some boating!

Or, if you’re like me, you’ll do crazy things like wade out in a bathing suit for a photo 🙂 Resurrection Lodge has galoshes that you can borrow for water activities (or crazy photos).

Explore Seward

Before you head out of Seward, explore the cute town a bit! There is a huge harbor here with plenty of boat cruise options. Visiting the Alaska Sealife Center is a great choice if it is raining. You can fish at The Lagoon or just walk the bridge to see the view pictured above. Read all about the 18 best things to do in Seward here!

Explore Moose Pass

On your way out of Seward heading back onto Alaska Highway 1, stop in Moose Pass to check out one of their various lakes. Though we didn’t do a floatplane tour (next time!), it was fun to see them on different lakes in the area!

Cooper Landing

If you love fishing, this is a great place to do it! I’m not a fisher so I just drove by and kept my eyes peeled for grizzlies! (Sadly, I didn’t see any).

Soldotna

Drive through True Blue Drive Thru coffee shop for a drink! I got a chai latte and Harrison got a smoothie! Then, stop at the visitor’s center and walk on the boardwalk that runs along the river! It’s another great fishing spot.

Happy Valley

This is a pretty coastal cliff on the side of the highway to Homer. We saw fireweed in bloom and jumped on the chance to get some flower shots in Alaska!

Homer Overlook Point

This overlook has a great view of Homer and the surrounding mountains. Don’t these mountains look like they’re a watercolor painting? It’s spectacular on a clear day! Unfortunately, it started raining when we were there, and then rained almost nonstop until we left Homer the following day!

We still got some cool photos since we had this rain jacket for our camera! I highly recommend it!

Drive Into Homer

The Homer spit is so unique! It’s one main road to leads all the way down to the tip of the peninsula. Shops and restaurants line the street- you’ll find so much character here!

Captain Pattie’s Fish House

Homer is known as the halibut fishing capital of the world, so of course, we ordered halibut!

Carmen’s Gelato

Stop by Carmen’s for an afternoon treat.

Salty Dawg Saloon

This bar is famous in Homer! We aren’t much for alcohol but if you want to, then be sure to grab a drink here!

Land’s End Resort

Land’s End Resortis great! Be sure to request a bay view room (otherwise you’ll be looking out on the parking lot). The bay view is spectacular and Land’s end also has a hot tub and an indoor pool! Stop by the front desk to make a reservation to use these. You need to make a 45-minute reservation and can only do one reservation a day. We reserved the pool at night and the hot tub in the morning.

Day 4: Homer to Anchorage

5 hours of driving
Tonight’s lodging: A Goldenview Bed and Breakfast

Today you’ll explore Homer a bit more (weather permitting… we got completely rained out so didn’t get to see much!) then head back up to Anchorage. There are a few stops along the way, like Kenai Lake and the charming town of Hope, Alaska.

8AM Check out and then have breakfast at Captain’s Coffee Roasting Co.

Captain’s Coffee was our favorite breakfast restaurant during our whole trip! Harrison got the steak breakfast burrito and I got the panini (a croissant, bacon, egg, and cheese, panini-style). I also got matcha (not too sweet, just the way I like it!) and Harrison got a pomegranate-acai-blueberry smoothie with whipped cream. Such a treat!

Kachemak Bay State Park

If you want to spend an extra day in Homer, this state park is only accessible via plane or boat from Homer. Join a tour, go kayaking, boating, hiking, etc.

Kenai Lake

Kenai Lake is stunning, even on a cloudy day! I had seen pictures of it on a sunny day and, boy, is it a beauty! I was so glad to find it was just as beautiful on a cloudy day! The water was so calm and clear. We didn’t see another soul on the lake from where we were! We simply pulled off on the side of the road where there was a pull-off for cars, then hiked down and enjoyed its beauty!

Explore Hope

Next, stop into the adorable town of Hope! This coastal town is right on the Turnagain Arm. There are charming historic buildings here as well as nature activities like hiking and camping.

Seaview Cafe & Bar

While in Hope, stop into the Seaview Cafe & Bar for a meal! This cafe has the best Caesar salad I’ve ever had. Hands down.

A Goldenview Bed and Breakfast

We arrived at our cozy lodgings, A Goldenview Bed and Breakfast, super late, so don’t be surprised if you do the same! There is just so much to explore on the way from Homer!

Day 5: Anchorage to Knik River

1 hour 44 minutes of driving
Tonight’s lodging: Alaska Glacier Lodge

Today you’ll start in Anchorage and head to the Knik River. I suggest doing a helicopter tour today and it’s an experience worth paying for if you have the budget! Depending on your helicopter tour time (or if you don’t do one), you’ll have time to explore Anchorage and Palmer. (If you prefer to spend more time in Anchorage today but also wish to book a helicopter tour, you can also schedule the tour for tomorrow morning instead of going to Hatcher Pass.)

8AM Breakfast and Check Out

A Goldenview Bed and Breakfast serves up a full spread for breakfast! Homemade bread, jam, eggs, quiche, yogurt, and more! Since the Eagle River Nature Center (next on today’s list) was closed, we ended up soaking in the hot tub here for quite a while! It was a relaxing start to the day!

Eagle River Nature Center

I put this on our itinerary for some beautiful photos I was hoping to capture here! But, as I mentioned, the Eagle River Nature Center was closed on the day we were there, but if it’s open when you visit, definitely add it to your list. There are great hiking spots and beautiful views here!

Spending more time in Anchorage:

When we travel, we want to explore as much nature and photograph as much beauty as possible. That means less time in bigger cities. As such, we didn’t dedicate much time to Anchorage! But, if you want to spend more time here, here are a few things you should do.
Anchorage Museum: Visit Alaska’s largest museum to learn about the story of Alaska through cultural, science, history, and art exhibits, among others.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail: Bike on this paved 11-mile trail that starts in downtown and ends in Kincaid Park. It has incredible views of Cook Inlet, the Chugach Mountains, and even Denali on a clear day.
Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary: Walk on the boardwalk to see wildlife in the marsh, watch salmon swim upstream, and more!
Alaska Zoo: You can see polar bears here!

Alaska Helicopter Tours

Alright, now for my favorite activity of the WHOLE ALASKA TRIP! We got to do the Grand Knik Tour with Alaska Helicopter Tours which includes three landings! Ours included an Ice Fall add-on as one of the three stops.

This was by far my favorite experience in Alaska, and is arguably the best way to see Alaska! It takes off from the Knik River Lodge, so I booked lodging at the lodge for tonight. If you have the chance to do a helicopter tour, sign up for this one!

Turkey Red

Since the Knik River Lodge restaurant was only open on weekends when we visited, we headed into Palmer for dinner. Turkey Red serves up fresh, organic, local food that is absolutely delicious! I ordered the chicken funghi, Harrison ordered the Moussaka, and we shared a peanut butter tart for dessert!

Alaska Glacier Lodge

This place is so charming with its rows of cabins! The only downside: WiFi doesn’t work in the rooms (at least it didn’t for us), so we had to walk to the lodge to get any work done.

Day 6: Knik River to Glacier View

3 hours of driving
Tonight’s lodging: Majestic Valley Wilderness Lodge

Today you’ll head from the Knik River to Glacier View on the Glenn Highway, a designated scenic byway. If you didn’t do a helicopter tour yesterday, this morning is another great time to book it. I also suggest a tour of the epic Matanuska glacier along the way!

9AM Check Out, Then Breakfast at Turkey Red

Last night’s dinner was so good that we came back in the morning for breakfast!

Hatcher Pass

We tacked on an extra hour of driving just to visit Hatcher Pass because of how charming it is! I had seen it on my friend Jillian’s Instagram once upon a time and knew I just had to visit someday, purely for photography! So glad that day finally happened! These cabins look like they’re out of a fairy tale and the drive is incredibly scenic as well.


Check out the 50 best places to visit in Alaska, separated by regions, here!


Matanuska Glacier

This is a must for any Alaska itinerary!

Hiking the Matanuska Glacier also makes my list of favorite Alaskan experiences! When we went, you were able to do a self guided hike, but unfortunately that’s no longer an option. However, you can still do a guided hike. It is $100 per person and explores further than you’d be able to on just the self-guided tour, so at least there’s that. You’ll get to walk on a glacier and get amazing views.

You can call or text here or book right at their front desk. Guided tours are at specific times, so you might want to call ahead to make sure there’s room.

Read all about everything you need to know before visiting the Matanuska Glacier here!

Majestic Valley Wilderness Lodge

Tonight’s lodging is what I’d describe as hotel meets bed & breakfast in a picturesque setting. The Majestic Valley Wilderness Lodge is so cozy and welcoming with the organization of a hotel. The food here is superb- they offer a three-course set dinner from $40-60 per person. Additionally, they offer heli-ski adventures here, which you should book way in advance if that’s something you’re interested in! (I’m not nearly good enough at skiing to jump out of a helicopter onto a mountain!)

Day 7: Glacier View to Valdez

3 hours 10 minutes of driving
Tonight’s lodging: two nights at an A-Frame Air BNB in Valdez (pronounced Val-deez)

Today you’ll head from Glacier View to my favorite town in Alaska: Valdez. It’s a small coastal town with waterfalls, glaciers, fishing, hiking, and more.

11AM Have Breakfast, Then Check Out

Majestic Valley Wilderness Lodge serves up breakfast for $16 per person and it was quite a feast! This was a very fun breakfast to eat- so many delicious options. They bake their own bread and use fresh local ingredients when they can.

Rudleston Falls

On your way to Valdez, you’ll drive through Keystone Canyon. In one section along the drive, you’ll see a ton of waterfalls! Rudleston Falls is one of them- but it’s really a hidden gem in Valdez. Most tourists only check out the next two on this list! However, I think this one is the best of the three! Why? Well, you can walk right up to the falls here, it’s much more secluded, and the falls are a cool shape.

Bridal Veil Falls

Next, you’ll see Bridal Veil Falls on your left, and there’s a parking pull-off on the right. The only way to get right near these falls is to kayak up the Lowe River. Otherwise, you just park along the side of the highway and see Bridal Veil Falls from across the river. 

Horsetail Falls

And last major waterfall you’ll see is Horsetail Falls. It’ll be on your right, and there’s a huge pull-off parking area for this one. These falls are neat because you can park right next to them and walk right up to the waterfall!

Auntie Yum Yum’s Thai Food

This food truck serves up authentic Thai food- yum!

A-Frame AirBNB

This AirBNB is a perfect home base! It’s right by the Safeway if you want to grab groceries, and since Valdez is so small, it’s easy to drive anywhere from the A-Frame. It’s also so charming! Our host was so easy to contact and gave us a great breakfast recommendation: The Fat Mermaid.

Day 8: Exploring Valdez

40 minutes of driving
Tonight’s lodging: second night at the A-Frame in town

Today you’ll explore Valdez. This is a great day for a fishing tour or glacier boat tour departing from the harbor. Kayakers will love heading out on Valdez Glacier Lake. Let’s get into it!

Brunch at The Fat Mermaid

This place seems to be a staple in Valdez! Everyone told us about this place. They serve up delicious food and they’re the only restaurant we visited that had WiFi, so maybe that’s why! The reindeer sausage and french fries were AMAZING.

Valdez Glacier Lake

You can basically drive right up to this lake. We just walked around the lake and admired the icebergs in the water, but you can also kayak and stand-up paddleboard (wear a wetsuit!) here. In fact, if you kayak, you can go all the way to the Valdez glacier! 

One thing to note: these icebergs aren’t always here, so the lake might look different when you visit.

Hiking Trails

We did two short hikes. The first was the Civic Center Overlook Trail (a 15-minute hike), which gives you a cool view of Valdez from up high. Then we did the Dock Point Trail (a 30-45 minute hike), which is toward the docks and harbor.

The Dock Point Trail is supposed to have great views, but unless we took a wrong turn, all the views we saw were obscured by tree branches. We got the shot above at the Dock Point Trail. There are also plenty of more trails in Valdez if you want something more strenuous!

Walk Around the Harbor & Around Town

Valdez is a very small coastal town with a pretty harbor and mountain views all around. It’s easy to stroll along the main downtown area and by the docks. (You can read more about things to do in Valdez in my Guide to Valdez here!)

Nat Shack

This food truck has the best reviews in town and I now know why. The Nat Shack serves up delicious tacos and crunch wraps. I got “the local’s favorite” crunch wrap and it was amazing!

Northern Treats

We got ice cream from Safeway since the local ice cream shop had closed for the summer, but if it’s open, Northern Treats has great reviews!

A-Frame AirBNB

Enjoy a second night at the AirBNB.

Day 9: Valdez to Fairbanks

6 hours 50 minutes of driving
Tonight’s lodging: two nights at Borealis Basecamp

Today is your longest day of driving- sorry, but Alaska is huge! You’re heading from Valdez to Fairbanks on the Richardson Highway. There will be a few stops along the way (like North Pole, Alaska!) to break up the drive. But before we get into it…

A Note on Fairbanks

Fairbanks is one of the best places to see the northern lights in Alaska, but keep in mind that the season is typically from August 21st to April 21st. If you’re going during a time when you don’t have the chance to see the northern lights, then consider skipping Fairbanks and opting for a different location.

While there’s plenty to do in Fairbanks, I think if I were going outside of northern lights season, I’d either spend more time in and around Denali National Park and Talkeetna, return to Anchorage and ride the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park and back, or visit Katmai National Park and Kodiak Island.

… that said, Fairbanks does have a lot to offer (check out the 27 best things to do in Fairbanks here!). Here’s what you should do on the road to Fairbanks!

9 AM Depart from AirBNB

Leaving by 9AM ensures you’ll have plenty of time to stop and see the sights along the way. It also gets you to North Pole in time to grab a crepe or ice cream and some souvenirs!

Thompson Pass

Thompson Pass is a remarkable place with loads of mountain views and hiking trails. There are parking areas right off of the main highway where you can walk around the paths and take in the sights.

Worthington Glacier

Earlier when you were driving to Valdez, you would’ve seen Worthington Glacier from the road. In fact, the photo above is pretty much what you’ll see since I took this from the road! Well, if you didn’t stop on your way to Valdez, now is the time to go visit it! When you stop at the Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site, there is a path that walks down to an observation lookout. A path lies to the right of the lookout with a sign that warns you to hike at your own risk. If you follow that path, it takes you right up to the glacier! It took us roughly about 45 minutes to an hour to reach the glacier and come back.

Tok Thai in Glenallen

There are hardly any restaurants on your way from Valdez to Fairbanks. We stopped off at one of two places in Glenallen right at the gas station. Tok Thai is an authentic Thai stand with plenty of dishes to choose from. It’s $12 cash only for chicken or veggie meals and $15 for beef and seafood meals. And if you’ve seen “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld, I kind of got those vibes here (lol)! I ordered the veggie stir fry and it was delicious! Harrison ordered chicken fried rice, and he ate everything- except for the chicken. So maybe go with a veggie option here.

North Pole and the North Pole Creperie

The next stop is North Pole Creperie so you can say you’ve had crepes in the North Pole! 🙂 Delicious ones, at that! There is also a highly-rated creamery if you’d prefer ice cream here! Also, be sure to stop off at the North Pole Visitor Center for a photo in front of their “Welcome to North Pole” sign!

Santa Claus House

When in North Pole, Alaska, you need to stop at the Santa Claus House! Here you’ll find a huge Santa Claus gift shop. I wish they decorated it more Christmassy instead of just selling Christmas-themed things, but maybe that happens in the wintertime.

Dinner and Lodging at Borealis Basecamp

And now it’s time for the COOLEST lodging in Alaska! Borealis Basecamp has Alaska’s only glass-roofed igloos! (Not made of ice, but igloo-shaped. I hope that goes without saying!) With a top-notch restaurant, awesome activities (more on that on tomorrow’s itinerary), welcoming staff, and a front-row seat to the Aurora Borealis, this place is an absolute MUST! And I actually recommend at least two nights here to improve your chances of seeing the northern lights! Check out more on their site here

Be Ready for Northern Lights

The staff at Borealis Basecamp will call you if the northern lights come out before 2am! It’s also helpful to track the lights using an app and then set an alarm. We saw the lights at 3:30am on our first night!

As Chef George at the Basecamp restaurant told us, even if you don’t see the lights, take a picture! If it’s a clear sky, chances are your camera will capture the lights even if you don’t see obvious lights, then you’ll realize they are there! That is exactly what we experienced. We visited in early September and saw the lights, so don’t think you can only see them in the winter!

Book your stay at Borealis Basecamp here!

Day 10: Fairbanks

3 hours of driving
Tonight’s lodging: second night at Borealis Basecamp

Today you’ll do some fun excursions from Borealis Basecamp (you can book similar tours if you’re staying in different lodging!). You’ll also get to visit some hot springs!

7:30AM Breakfast at Borealis Basecamp

Breakfast is served from 7:30-8:30AM at Borealis Basecamp.

Dog Carting (Dog Sledding in the Winter)

When in Alaska, you simply must try dog carting (or dog sledding in the winter). For our first activity at Borealis Basecamp, we got to see what mushing is really like! Our guide, Dave, took us about four miles around Borealis Basecamp. He leads a team of sled dogs named Racing Chaos, and they are champions! They’ve won various races that are even 300+ miles sometimes! It was so cool getting to be pulled around by award-winning dogs. You’ll notice that the dogs don’t look like your typical Alaskan husky. That’s because they’re bred with Pointer to make them faster- and boy does it work! 

ATVing (Snowmobiling in the Winter)

Our next activity at Borealis Basecamp was ATVing. (In the winter you go snowmobiling). Our guide, Sam, took us out by the Alaska oil pipeline and educated us on various Alaska-specific things. It was fun and so interesting to learn about! We went pretty far out and got to ride for a full hour. TIP: Wear gloves, even in the summer! I brought mine and had them in the front compartment of my ATV and didn’t think to start with them on! My hands felt like they were going to fall off! I quickly put them on and it was so much better.

Chena Hot Springs

Chena Hot Springs is a 1.5-hour drive away from Borealis Basecamp. Honestly, if you’ve ever been to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, you might be disappointed by Chena Hot Springs. Take away your expectations and you’ll appreciate this spot!

I’d recommend visiting in the winter when it’s cold out and you can freeze your hair into cool sculptures (actually!). When we went, it was warm out (in the 60s), so the combination of the heat, the many people around (I know it doesn’t look like it from the photo… we got lucky), and the steam just made us feel a bit claustrophobic.

But don’t let my feelings deter you- we did visit on Labor Day after all, so it was tourist central. Chena Hot Springs is part of the Chena Hot Springs Resort, so it’s not just a hot springs destination. But if you’ve never been to a hot spring or if it’s winter, be sure to visit this place. It’s $15 per adult and the springs are 18 and up only. They do have a pool and hot tubs for all ages.

Three things to note about Chena Hot Springs:

  1. First things first, you’re going to need a swimsuit! This is the one I’m wearing in the photo!
  2. Bring flip-flops! The floors are yucky and you can’t wear your normal shoes.
  3. Bring quarters! It costs $0.50 to rent a locker.
  4. Bring a towel, otherwise, you have to pay $5 to rent one. This compact travel towel dries quickly!

Alternately: Running Reindeer Ranch

We didn’t visit Running Reindeer Ranch due to time constraints, but if you’d rather do this instead of Chena, feel free! Friends we made at Borealis Basecamp did this though, and raved about it! For $70 per person, you get an educational animal encounter with reindeer all around you! The reviews speak for themselves!

You can read more about the 27 best things to do in Fairbanks here!

Dinner at Borealis Basecamp & Hope for Northern Lights

Finish your last night in Alaska with another great dinner by Chef George and hope that the northern lights come out on your last evening in Alaska! Clouds and rain kept us from seeing them, but at least we got to see them the night before!

Day 11: Fairbanks to Anchorage (with Denali National Park on the way)

6 hours 45 minutes of driving
Fly home on the last flight out of Anchorage or tomorrow (our flight was originally at 8pm)

Here’s another long day of driving but you get to go to the famous Denali National Park on the way! If you had more days in Alaska, here’s where I’d add in a day (or more!) near Denali National Park and Talkeetna. They’re on the way from Fairbanks to Anchorage!

More Time at Denali National Park

Though I’m sharing my Alaska itinerary how we did it, if you want more time exploring Denali National Park, then you should dedicate this full day to it. We flew out at the end of this day, which I wouldn’t recommend if you really want to explore the park. As I stated above, my recommendation would be to split this day into two days or more by staying near Denali National Park or in Talkeetna. Then on the next day, you can also explore Talkeetna (the Sled Dog Capital of the World!) before heading back to Anchorage.

7:30AM Breakfast at Borealis Basecamp, then check out around 8:30AM to make sure you have time to make the drive

Today you’ll have to be aware of the time if you have a flight out tonight, as we did. Our flight was originally at 8 but got pushed to 11:45pm, which meant we had the whole day to explore.

Denali National Park & Preserve

The one thing that people asked us repeatedly was, “when are you going to Denali?” As North America’s tallest peak, I guess it’s no surprise this national park is so popular! There are a few ways to do Denali.

We just did the scenic drive into the park and went as far as we could without the permit (which was about 30 minutes). If you do it the way we did, I’d say you probably shouldn’t. You really don’t see much without entering the permit area. And honestly, the rest of the drives you’ve done in Alaska by this point are way more scenic than the drive without a permit in Denali. But don’t worry- you’ll still get to see Mount Denali itself at the next stops on my list if you visit on a clear day!

Denali View North

Well, I did say “if you visit on a clear day,” which we definitely did not! All we could see was fog for miles and miles- we were essentially driving in one giant rain cloud. If you look at the picture above, I took that at a rest stop after we left Fairbanks as we were heading toward Denali. And check out those clouds we were driving into… and it just got worse and worse after we left the park! So we never saw Denali, which isn’t all that uncommon. They say there’s about a 10% chance you’ll see the peak of Denali since clouds usually get in the way. But, long explanation aside, if you do have good weather, this is a great stopping point to take in views of majestic Denali.

Byers Lake

If it’s a clear day, Byers Lake also offers a view of Denali! If it’s rainy and foggy, like ours was, you won’t see much. Next time we visit, we’ll be stopping here for the epic photos!

Denali View South

Here’s another view of Denali that is just off the side of the highway! And once again, we didn’t see a thing due to the fog and rain.

Talkeetna

Next, if you have time, drive to Talkeetna where you can check out downtown staples like the Talkeetna Roadhouse and Talkeetna Riverfront Park. This town is only two hours north of Anchorage and is a historic village with panoramic mountain views. It’s the sled dog capital of the world, so perhaps opt for a tour at Sun Dog Kennels to see some furry Iditarod champions and learn about their training! You’ll even get to hold some puppies who will become future champions (yup… PUPPIES! I think that’s the biggest highlight to me!). And if you are in Talkeetna for more than just a couple of hours, do a river tour or go flightseeing! Once again, we skipped this due to bad weather… it was still like we were in a rain cloud!

Dinner at Simon & Seafort’s Seafood Grill

Now that you’re back in Anchorage, this is a great option for dinner. Simon & Seafort’s, located in downtown Anchorage, is well known for their seafood dining with views of the water.

Return Your Rental Car and Fly Home

By this point, your car has been with you for 33 hours! But now it’s time to bid it adieu. But Thrifty helps make it a bit easier since returns are super simple. You just follow signs to the drop-off and an attendant will check off stuff and take the keys. Then it’s a short walk through the airport to get to the ticket/check-in counters. And just like that, your Alaska trip is over… until next time!

Alaska Itinerary Map

You can open the map to view the legend and interact with it! I’ve marked lodging in red.

Alternate Alaska Itinerary Options Based on Length

What you just read through was my 11-14 day itinerary. Here are options for different itinerary lengths!

2-3 Day Alaska Itinerary

  • Option 1: Fly into Anchorage and focus on the Seward Scenic Highway drive. Do days 1-3 of the itinerary above, returning to Anchorage after. visiting Seward. Add a stop in Hope on the last day if there is time.
  • Option 2: Fly into Fairbanks and do days 9-11 of the itinerary above, staying at Borealis Basecamp.
  • Option 3: Fly into Anchorage and do days 5-6 or 5-7 of my itinerary. Return to Anchorage after the helicopter tour or Matanuska glacier.
  • Option 4: Fly into Valdez and spend the whole time hiking and exploring Valdez
  • Option 5: Fly into Anchorage and head to Denali and Talkeetna for 1-2 nights and then drive back to Anchorage.

4-6 Day Alaska Itinerary

  • Option 1: Fly into Anchorage and focus on the Kenai Peninsula, doing days one through either four, five, or six of my itinerary, returning to Anchorage afterwards.
  • Option 2: Fly into Anchorage and focus on the Seward Scenic Highway drive. Do days 1-3 of the itinerary above. From Seward, drive to Knik River for the Grand Knik helicopter tour if you have four days. Add on the Matanuska Glacier if you have more days, returning to Anchorage after.
  • Option 3: Fly into Anchorage and focus on the Seward Scenic Highway drive. Do days 1-3 of the itinerary above. From Seward, drive up to explore Denali and Talkeetna with your remaining days, returning to Anchorage after.
  • Option 4: Fly into Fairbanks and stay at Borealis Basecamp for 2-3 nights. With your remaining time, drive to and explore Denali and Talkeetna, staying in either area. Head back up to Fairbanks for your flight home.

1 Week Alaska Itinerary (7-10 Days)

  • Option 1: Copy my itinerary but remove either Fairbanks or Valdez.
  • Option 2: Copy my itinerary and remove both Fairbanks and Valdez. Instead, focus more on Denali and Talkeetna.
  • Option 3: Do one of the 4-6 day itinerary options and then fly to Juneau to experience it. You can check out cool things to do in Southeast Alaska on this blog post! (More expensive)

15+ Day Alaska Itinerary

  • Option 1: Do my itinerary but add on a flight to Juneau before or after.
  • Option 2: Extend my itinerary by spending more time in each place. Stay a few days around Denali if you like to explore national parks. Explore Wrangell-St-Elias National Park while you are in the Valdez area; it’s the United States’ largest national park!

1 Month+ Alaska Itinerary

If you have a ton of time in Alaska, you can extend my itinerary by spending more time in each place. Unless you’ve got loads of cash sitting around, you should probably get an RV to save costs on lodging. Also, that way you can leisurely explore Alaska. Stay a few days around Denali if you like to hike in national parks. Since you have plenty of time, be sure to explore Wrangell-St-Elias National Park while you are in the Valdez area; it’s the United States’ largest national park! Hop on a flight to Juneau or take a cruise around Southeast Alaska, stopping in Ketchikan and other charming towns. And if you want to really venture into the unknown, fly or drive north on the Dalton Highway to experience rugged northern Alaska. You can see all of the 50 best places to visit in Alaska on this post!

In conclusion…

Phew! That’s a lot of words but hopefully, you feel prepared for your Alaska trip!

If you’ve been to Alaska and have anything you’d recommend adding to my Alaska itinerary, please comment below!

And if you have any questions about my trip or about our Alaska experience, also feel free to ask below!

I hope you enjoy your time in Alaska- get ready for epic views and stunning places!

And if you’re heading to Alaska, here are some post you might find helpful:

Safe travels,

Jasmine

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Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.
Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.

89 Responses

  1. Jasmine, this is SO helpful and detailed!!!! Have fallen in love with Alaska reading this, and will absolutely refer to your itinerary whenever we plan a trip in the future!

  2. Hi! We are headed there next weekend and I was curious about the 72 hour window to get the test. Does it need to be 72 hours from our first flight to Alaska or 72 hours from our last flight boarding to Alaska?

    1. Hey Anna! Last I checked it was 72 hours before the departure time of the very last leg of your flight! So 72 hours from when the flight directly to Alaska departs! I’m so excited for you, I wish I were there!! Have so much fun!!

  3. I am planning on going in August for my boyfriends 30th birthday and this is so helpful!! Thank you so much!

  4. This is so helpful. We are planning a trip in second week of March. Would you mind sharing the links to the waterproof snow boots that are even suitable for hiking in Alaska?

  5. Thank you very much for your detailed itinerary!!
    I will certainly follow your itinerary which I am planning to visit this summer.
    One thing I want to ask you is how much should I budget for 10day trip?

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful! You’re going to love it!! Our trip value was around $7,000 for the whole trip, which includes the helicopter tour and our stay at Borealis Basecamp (those were the most expensive things but I highly recommend them if your budget allows!). You can definitely modify cost based on the activities you do!

  6. Hi Jasmine!

    I love your page! Such bright, vibrant inspiring ideas! You give so many options which is very helpful for the different styles of travelers these days. Also, your post gave me “Hope”(Alaska town too ????) to get to see Alaska even with the current pandemic we live in.
    My husband and I are thinking about visiting the same time range (beginning of September) for our 10 year Anniversary this year. We thought it would be an epic way to celebrate! To see God’s majestic landscape in Alaska.
    Our trip would be the 1 week option most likely (a month would be heavenly haha) If you had to pick, which place would you pick to cut out? Valdez or Fairbanks?

    Thank you!????

    -Chelsey

    1. Hey Chelsey! Thank you for the kind words! And congrats on 10 years!! Alaska is the perfect place to see God’s creation!! We went during the pandemic and Alaska was like a breath of fresh air, especially since you’re usually outdoors with no one else around!

      In terms of Fairbanks vs. Valdez, Valdez is definitely more beautiful to me with epic mountains and glaciers and the prettiest harbor! The allure of Fairbanks is the northern lights, but you’d want to stay more than one night to increase your hopes of seeing them. It’s a hard choice, but if I were in your position, I’d choose to go to Valdez!

      1. Did you visit any of the National Parks ? How could incorporate that into this itinerary I’m going in august

        1. Hi Jess! Yes! We visited Denali National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park! You can see my thoughts on each of them within the blog post, but I do want to add that next time I think we will do a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park (we have only seen it on land via the Harding Icefiled Hike).

  7. This itinerary guide is wonderful! We’re planning a 2 week trip in July, and definitely will be using this to help plan! It’s kind of overwhelming, so I appreciate a guide like this! Any tips on how to save $$ on a long trip like this? Our flights were pretty cheap due to COVID and people not traveling as much, but want to save money however we can. Thanks!

    1. Hey Katy! I’m so glad to hear it, you’re going to love it! (You probably already realized this but know that the one major thing in my itinerary that you won’t be able to do in July is see the northern lights!) Anyway, to save money I’d recommend booking accommodations ahead of time, stocking up on groceries, and looking for free things to do in each area! We substituted protein bars for lunch and ate breakfast at our hotels and then only bought dinner. You can skip boat tours and other pricey tours unless they’re something you REALLY want to do, and find free things like hikes to do instead. So much beauty in Alaska is right off the side of the road and is free to see! The one tour that’s definitely worth buying, however, is the Matanuska Glacier self-guided tour- it was my favorite glacier to explore! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  8. We are coming to Alaska from Nov 25 – Dec 11, 2021 – would you change anything (if so what) to the The Ultimate Alaska Itinerary?

    1. Ooh exciting! Winter in Alaska is a bit more challenging because there might be road closures, but for the most part the towns I mention here are perfect for an Alaska trip! The activities will look different though- I’d recommend more snow activities (ice fishing, skiing, etc) on your trip! Also, some glaciers and hiking trails (like the Harding icefield hike we did) might be inaccessible so check beforehand! And definitely add dog sledding to your trip! You’ll love the Chena hot springs and will hopefully see some good northern lights in Fairbanks on your trip!

  9. We are planning to travel to Alaska in early September 2021. We’d like to keep the trip around 10 days and would like to go from Homer to Fairbanks or vice versa. Any tips? Should we fly into Anchorage and do Homer first and then fly out of Fairbanks as not to ‘double back’? What would you adjust on your itinerary based on this?

    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Hi Jodi! I’m very excited for you! We went right around that time and loved seeing Alaska in the late summer/early fall! You could definitely do the trip flying into Anchorage and leaving out of Fairbanks- that would save a lot of drive time. But if it’s cheaper to fly and leave out of Anchorage, know that “doubling back” isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It’ll give you two separate chances to see Denali. Since chances are that you won’t be able to see Denali due to clouds, doing the drive twice maximizes your chances of seeing it! It’s also a beautiful drive going both ways, and you can stop at Talkeetna if you want to mix things up! Also, the fall colors will be even stronger at the end of your trip, so Denali National Park might be even prettier on the way back. (We were shocked by how quickly fall came- it was like all the fall colors emerged over a short one-week period!) My last thought on if you want to avoid doubling back would be to go the long way and pass through Valdez if that’s not already on your itinerary! It’s my favorite seaside town in Alaska- so gorgeous, with tons of mountains and glaciers! Enjoy your time in Alaska!

      1. Hi Jasmine, I loved everything you just said about Alaska! It’s been my dream to visit ever since I was a little girl.
        I’m planning on going for my birthday between September 6-10 of 2021, but I’m reluctant to go because I’m afraid it will be raining too much and I won’t get to do many things.
        My bucket list must do item is the dog sled tour but the glacier one. I noticed you went around the same time of the year last year and did the country dog sled tour; do you know if they were still doing the helicopter + glacier dog sled tour?

        1. Hi Pietra! Thank you! You are going to love it! I hope there is good weather for you!! Unfortunately, even when we went at the end of August, the dog sled/glacier landing helicopter tour was already closed for the fall. But it doesn’t hurt to check with helicopter companies; perhaps that was due to the pandemic and lack of tourism last summer! And yes, because the glacier dog sled tour was closed, we opted for the dog-carting experience, just so that we could get a sense for it 🙂

  10. Thanks for the helpful information. I’m planning on traveling to Alaska in August. Do you recommend booking lodging ahead of time?

    1. Hi Donna,

      Harrison here, (Jasmine’s husband). We definitely recommend booking lodging ahead of time. Trying to book lodging last minute can be stressful and you may have limited options. Also, it’s easier to budget if you know the cost of your accommodations ahead of time.

  11. Hello,

    This blog is amazing and very helpful. I am planning to go around May end. Is that good time to visit ? What time of the year your trip was?

    1. Hi Sanjyoti! I’m so glad it’s helpful! That should be a great time to visit; you’ll have plenty of daylight and hopefully great weather. We visited in late August. Have a wonderful time!!

  12. Hi Jasmine – this is INCREDIBLY helpful! My fiancé and are taking an 8 day trip to Alaska for our honeymoon after our wedding this August. We postponed from last October due to covid and was having a hard time picking a location as we were intending to do Europe. Your blog was so inspiring and was perfect for mapping out how to do everything in 8 days. We’re flying in and out of Anchorage and following your guide with the exception of Valdez and Fairbanks. Thank you for all this info – I come from an event planning career so I know and appreciate how much work goes into trips like this. We’re so excited to have something to look forward to! Thank you again!

    1. Hey Mallory! I’m so glad you found it helpful! We went in August and it was one of my favorite trips ever- no joke! Alaska is an incredible place, I can’t wait for you to see it for yourself! Thank you for the kind words!!

  13. Hi Jasmine,

    Thank you for the wonderful blog!
    We are planning travel in August/B. Appreciate insight into couple of questions
    1) I am trying to work on the cruises (will limit to 1 or 2) whether to take from Seward (Kenai Fjords) or the one in Whittier (Prince William Sound) or the one in Valdez that you mentioned. Also would appreciate any recommendations on boat tour company.
    2) Similar to question (1) I am confused about the air tours. I have option for Bear Glacier, Knik Glacier or the one from Talkeetna. Please kindly share your thoughts.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Prakash! I’m glad you found my itinerary useful!
      1) I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these locations! We haven’t done a boat tour but are familiar with all of those locations, and all are fantastic places!
      2) Again, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of those tours! We personally did the Knik Glacier tour and loved it, but if you have the chance to visit Denali with the Talkeetna tour, that would be epic! They weren’t offering that tour last summer. If you end up doing the Kenai Fjords boat tour, perhaps you should skip Bear Glacier and do one of the other two tours so that you get to see more locations in this part of Alaska.

  14. Hi Jasmine!

    We will be there for 10 days. We’re 100% doing Denali, Kenai Fjords, Seward, etc. But I am torn — I don’t want to be spending all of our time just driving… we would like to do Valdez and Homer but thought choosing one or the other (someone suggested turning around at Seward getting a boat from Whittier to Valdez before going up to Denali). Did you like the Homer area or Valdez better? Which had more to do and more photo ops?

    1. That’s such a hard decision! Honestly, I loved Valdez more but that could be because it rained the whole time we were in Homer! But I do think Valdez is the prettiest coastal town we visited- has waterfalls and glaciers and stunning mountains! There’s also the Valdez Glacier Lake and it’s very close to Thompson Pass. Meanwhile, Homer is so unique with the Homer spit and I think it might have more food options. Either way I really think you can’t go wrong!

      1. Do you think both are doable in 10 days or will it be too much time driving? I am honestly thinking about adding a day if our flight allows.

        1. We did both in 11 days (3 days/2 nights in Valdez and 2 days/1 night in Homer) AND had 2 nights in Fairbanks on our itinerary which was even more driving. But our goal was to see and experience as much as possible, so we crammed in quite a lot. That being said, if your flight allows you to tack on an extra day, driving to Valdez will allow you to see the Matanuska Glacier which was my favorite glacier to explore! It’s a tough decision for sure- but in the end, it just depends on what you’re looking for (seeing as much as possible vs. driving less and enjoying more time in each place).

  15. Thank you! This itinerary is wonderfu! My hubby and I are going to Alaska for 3 weeks in late August and September. Last year we were supposed to go, and then postponed because of COVID. We are going to Katmai NP for 3 days when we get to Anchorage, and then RV’ing after that for the rest of our time. The only place we have made a reservation to camp so far is at Denali. The RV rental guy has lead us to believe that camp reservations are not really necessary, and, that you can camp most anywhere. Did you see that? Your information is so very helpful, and is very thorough. I have spent a fair amount of time reading about the little towns on the Kenai Peninsula! And your beautiful descriptions are making me want to go the exact same places as you. We may add on Wrangell-St. Elias NP, if we can find out what will be going on with the road closures . Did you guys see much wildlife from the road-bears, moose, puffins, etc.? I’m a nature photographer, and am thrilled beyond measure with all of the fabulous possible photo opportunities on our Alaska adventure. Thank you Jasmine for such a thorough, detailed article. .

    1. Hey Terry! Unfortunately, we didn’t do any camping this time around, so I don’t know the answer to the campground question! But in regards to the wildlife, we definitely saw a bit! We saw bears in the distance while hiking (and another hiker said a moose and its baby crossed the hiking path right in front of him!). We also saw a ton of birds in the coastal towns especially, though didn’t see any puffins. And while we didn’t see any bears from our car, multiple people we met in Alaska had seen them right from their car, so there’s definitely a chance! Also, I’m sure you’ll see so much wildlife at Katmai NP! We will add Katmai to our next Alaska trip because we really want to (safely) see grizzlies in the wild! And thank you so much for your kind words, I’m so glad you found my itinerary helpful!

  16. Hello,
    Thank you for your resources and especially your map! My husband and I are planning on traveling to Alaska in early September. I noticed in your pictures that you don’t have that many layers on. Is that all the layers you needed or did you have other winter clothing that you wore not pictured?

    1. Hey Kristen! We had some very mild summer days, where I just had a cardigan on hand! But we also had a couple of very wet and rainy days, where I definitely needed a sweater and rain jacket. I recommend bringing layers and layers! The mornings can be much colder than the daytime, but you’ll want to be able to take off an outer layer once it warms up! Summertime in Alaska can get surprisingly warm!

  17. I’m thinking about going to Alaska this summer and this blog has really helped me come up with ideas for an itinerary. As much as I want to visit I had no idea where to start and this is a great guide for that. But this post is also confusing and jump from one place to other. Wasn’t sure if I was still in anchorage, stopping at attractions in route to the next destination or at the next destination.

    1. Hey Martha! I’m sure you could- but the reason people opt to stay multiple nights is that there’s a better chance of seeing the northern lights! But you can only start to see the lights usually in early September, so if you’re booking in the summer then one night makes total sense if you’re passing through Fairbanks!

  18. Wow- love you pictures especially the waterfall. We went to Alaska for the first time at the beginning of the month and OMG it was to die for. I have a friend who’s planning on going and I’ll send her your post for some itinerary ideas! Have a wonderful rest of your summer!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Beth! I’m so glad you loved Alaska!! It’s one of my favorite places on earth! Thanks for sharing with your friends, too! Have a great summer!!

  19. Hi,I am thinking about going to Alaska for 7 days trip in mid july.Its a last minute plan though. i will be traveling with toddlers 18 months and 4 years.My current itinery is Anchorage -Seward-Kenai-Anchorage.I found your blog very helpful.I dont want to do too much of traveling/ driving with kids.Should we add Denali or skip it .Us Valdez worth a visit considering 7 dats trip.
    Thanks

    1. Hi! Denali isn’t too much of a drive, especially compared to the drive to Valdez. Since it’s a 7 day trip, if you have time in your itinerary, I’d recommend adding Denali but not adding Valdez. However, know that Valdez is one of my favorite towns in Alaska, so I hope you get to visit it someday! I hope that helps!

  20. Hi Jasmine
    Hoping you can help. Looking to drive as much as possible through Alaska with my dog. We’ve driven the lower 48 and don’t typically do many luxury frills. Good 4×4 rental(which we sleep in). Good sights/national parks/cool landmarks/must see or eat (Atleast 1good meal per day) and then just open road,coffee and music. I would love to see as much as possible during the trip. Usually cover 700-900 miles per day. Please email me and I can compensate for your help.

    1. Hi Jonathan! I don’t do personalized travel consultations but I hope my itinerary gives you a good sense of some of the prettiest places in Alaska! It took us about 33 hours of driving total. If you want a really long road, consider driving the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay (be sure to have enough gas at all times, as there are really long stretches with no gas stations. And no cell service!). I hope that helps a bit!!

  21. hello! what month did you travel in? we are planning to travel in november. and i’m hoping there’s still some color left!

    1. Hi Arlene! We went in late August to early September. There were fall colors already showing up by then! Though I haven’t visited in November, I think that most of the color is gone by then, unfortunately. I’m sure it will still be stunning, though! It starts snowing in Anchorage by October, so you might get to enjoy a winter wonderland!

  22. Hi Jasmine,
    My husband and I are planning a trip with our adult son for late August/September 2022 for 7-8 days and following your itinerary with some modifications. I am so thankful to have found your blog. It has helped so much with planning!! I love your photos, all of your outfits and am so inspired reading your story. Valdez is so far out but I am drawn to it based on how much you love it, and our son wants to do some hiking and fishing. Could we fit in Seward, Kenai, Homer, Denali and Valdez or should we cut out Valdez? What area(s) would you suggest for a half or full day hike? Thank you for sharing! This trip planning has been keeping me up nights with excitement. 🙂

    1. Hi Raina! That trip will be so much fun! And thank you for the kind words, I’m always so happy to hear that my articles are useful! 🙂 For a trip of that length, it really depends on how much driving you’re willing to do! I do love Valdez so much, but it does cut down time that you could spend really enjoying some of those other towns closer to Anchorage. If hiking/fishing is the main goal, you can definitely do plenty of hiking and fishing without visiting Valdez. But if seeing as much of Alaska as possible is your main goal, then Valdez is worth the drive. But it does sound like you’re leaning more toward hiking and fishing, in which case you may want to cut out Valdez. That way you can spend a full day hiking the Harding Icefield Hike, and at least a day or two in Denali National Park as well! I hope that helps, and feel free to comment any other questions you may have!

  23. Hi Jasmine, thank you SO much for creating this blog post! We just returned from our honeymoon in Alaska and used all of your Alaska resources as a starting point for our road trip! We traveled from Anchorage to Knik River and then to Seward and Homer before returning to Anchorage. It was the perfect trip, and Alaska has quickly become one of my favorite places. Will definitely return soon! Thank you again for the travel tips and itinerary!!

    1. Hi Kate! Thank you so much for telling me!!! That makes me so happy to hear! It sounds like that was an epic honeymoon, I’m so glad you had such a great trip! And I feel that exact same way about Alaska- it’s one of my favorites too- so magical and gorgeous!! Thanks again for letting me know!

  24. Hi Jasmine, this is an excellent blog post. Kudos to your efforts 🙌 i am planning my trip this end of May (2 adults & 2 kids) and have an option to fly into Anchorage and fly out of Fairbanks. Do you think modifying your itinerary as follows would work out ?
    Anchorage – Seward – Homer – Seward – (take Whittier ferry) Valdez – Glacier view – Knik River – Talkeetan – Denali – Fairbanks

    1. Hi Deepika! Thank you so much! Yes, I think this is the PERFECT modification to the itinerary! Flying into Anchorage and out of Fairbanks will save you the drive time back to Anchorage, and this route makes sense to me!

  25. I loved your blog Jasmine! Thank you so much for the information. I’m going to alaska in August, and I would like to know if you need to choose, would you choose: glacier view, valdez or juneau? I have little time and I don´t know what to do. Thank you!

  26. Hi Jasmine seems like a perfect 11 day itinary. Please guide us since we are doing it from 2nd May, looking at the weather, which places we should avoid.
    DENALI park might be closed.
    Should we add Juneau ?

  27. Hey Jasmine!

    Absolutely love your post, it is so helpful and I am going to refer this for my summer trip to alaska. Also, I absolutely loved what you wore throughout the trip. Can you please share brands, links, etc for the dresses, hats, tops and other things? I really loved your travel style

  28. Hi Jasmine, Thanks for sharing. This was wonderfully detailed and your photos are beautiful. May I ask which month you visited? I’m thinking of going in July and wondering if all these places will be open, esp the colder ones like glaciers etc?

  29. Hi jasmine, Looks like there is no more self-guided tours in Matanuska Glacier. We are not interested in guided tour, since we have a toddler (will have to leave any minute) Any other ways to see this glacier?
    Thanks

  30. Jasmine,

    Can’t thank you enough for all of the information. I am planning a 14 day trip this year right around the same time of year that you and Harrison went. I already had my routes planned out when I came across this awesome page. I am going to many of the same towns that you went to just not in the same order. I am adding Whittier and taking the ferry over to Valdez. The information you provided has really helped me plan with the stops to make along the way. I just had drive from Anchorage to Homer and see what there is along the way. Your insight sure helps target where to stop and spend time along the routes. Instead of Juneau, I am going to try to get up to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay instead.
    Thank You.

  31. Hi, I love your blog. A question where did you take the photo in Portage Lake? Was it at Boggs Visitor Center? and where exactly did you take the photo in Moose Pass?
    Thank you very much!!

  32. Love the post. My husband and I have traveled several times to Alaska and have done trips very similar to yours. I want to do the inside passage, maybe using the marine highway instead of a cruise. Any suggestions?

  33. What a perfect destination! Βeautiful photos and very comprehensive information in your article. We would love to visit Alaska n furure. Bloggers like you give us hope about travel blogging and it’s furute, because here in Greece it’s not so widespread yet.

  34. Alaska Airlines, a major American airline, is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. It is the sixth biggest airline in North America, according to the size of the fleet, passengers served and number of destinations.

    Alaska, along with its regional partners Horizon Air & SkyWest Airlines, operate a large domestic route system that connects Alaska to over a hundred destinations throughout the United States, Canada (Hawaii), Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico.

  35. Hi Jasmine!
    Loved all of your recs for Oahu and now we are headed to Alaska this summer and I’m back to see what you recommend! Have you chosen your cruise already? I know might be far fetched, but any that you recommend?

    1. Hi Melinda!

      Thanks so much for your kind words! And we are going on the Royal Princess cruise to southeast Alaska. I chose that one because Princess has been cruising in Alaska for so long and that specific cruise goes to Glacier Bay National Park.

      ❤️ Jasmine

    1. Hi Jen! Great question! Our trip was $6572 not including flights. That includes everything from our rental car ($985 for 12 days), helicopter tour, and all lodging, including our pricier hotel in Fairbanks. So our cost per night (11 nights) was about $600. I hope that helps!

  36. Sun Country Airlines is a low-cost airline. The airline offers a range of domestic and international flights to popular vacation destinations at affordable prices. In terms of Sun Country Cancellation Policy it allows passengers to cancel their reservations within 24 hours of booking without incurring any cancellation fees.

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  38. Hi Jasmine
    First of thank you for the blog it was so helpful. I am planning a trip to Alaska in August 2024.
    we are planning on going for one week my husband and are 2 children. i was planing on flying into Fairbanks Staying at Basecamp 2 nights, activities riverboat discovery tour (Tanana and Chena River ) question is this far from Basecamp? would you rather do northpole or reindeer ranch kids are 16 and 18.

    Denali night 3-4 stay at Tonglen lake lodge
    get permit to drive and hike (savage river loop trail)
    go to Byers lake
    Denali Bicycle tour and rentals to explore park

    Anchorage nights 5-6 Stay Alaska Glacier Lodage
    explore Alaska highway Denali to Anchorage
    Matauska Glaciers
    Chugach Mountains
    Question is it worth me going to Seward?
    Day 7 Fly home
    thank you
    Jamie

  39. The food recommendations are making my mouth water! Trying local cuisine is one of my favorite parts of traveling. Do you have a favorite dish from the trip, or was there a particular restaurant that stood out for its unique Alaskan flavors?

    1. Any fresh seafood we had stood out to me! There’s nothing like some freshly caught and freshly prepared salmon! We especially loved Turkey Red and the restaurant at Borealis Basecamp!

  40. I absolutely love Alaska! Reading about this detailed itinerary just fuels my excitement to plan my own adventure there. The mix of stunning landscapes, unique towns, and the chance to see the northern lights is just irresistible. Can’t wait to experience Alaska’s beauty for myself!

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Hi, I’m Jasmine! I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. I love to create photo-worthy travel content and hope to fill your travel plans with incredible beauty and breathtaking views! Thanks for following along on my adventures!

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