See the best of Alaska in an incredible 12 day road trip
People around the world dream of traveling to the remote wilderness of Alaska. Imagine stepping foot in the Arctic Circle. Think about the unique wildlife living in Denali National Park. It's time to stop putting off that trip to Alaska. Head north and discover the iconic landscapes of Alaska. Don't miss out on all the exciting adventures. VroomVroomVroom has put together a great 12-day itinerary. Find out how to make the most of your time in Alaska with a rental car.
Day One - Arrive in Alaska's biggest city: Anchorage
You can start your Alaskan holiday as soon as you arrive at the airport. The state's biggest city offers glaciers, wildlife and fascinating cultural sights. Once you pick up your rental car in Anchorage, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Here you can see traditional village sites and learn more about the culture of Alaska. The city is home to many museums, illustrating 100,000 years of history. The museums give insights into Anchorage's origins as a tent city. Spend the afternoon enjoying a cruise of the harbor. Alternatively, take a flightseeing trip over the huge peaks of the Alaska Range. You may even be able to spot bears fishing for salmon!
Day Two - Get up close to reindeer, bison and bears
Anchorage's incredible natural landscape features more than 135 miles of paved trails. It is an exciting destination to explore on foot. There are plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife around the city. At certain times of the year, you may be lucky enough to see whales in the harbor.
The city's Wildlife Conservation Center is a great way to get up close to native wildlife. See brown bears, black bears, moose, wolves, reindeer and wood bison. Spend more than an hour traveling the 1.5-mile loop. In the summer months, you can learn more about the wildlife with talks from the keepers. Or, minutes from downtown, visit Chugach State Park. The views from Flattop Mountain are incredible. In the distance, you may catch a glimpse of the Denali mountain peak!
Day Three - Is that Dr Seuss's house in the middle of Alaska?
You might think you had caught a glimpse of Dr Seuss's house from the highway to Denali. The strange tower earned its name as the "Dr Seuss House" because of its unusual appearance. It is only one of the things you will pass on your journey from Anchorage to Denali National Park. There are plenty of interesting villages along the Parks Highway. Visit the Eklutna village outside of Anchorage. Hear the stories of the Russian Orthodox missionaries who once inhabited the town.
The highway will lead you to one of Alaska's most iconic regions: Denali National Park. Along the way, visitors should also stop by Talkeetna. Planning on a mountaineering expedition in Denali? You will need to stop at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station. The center also offers general information about the Alaska Range. Visitors will have a fantastic view of the mountains from Talkeetna.
That is not all that is on offer at Talkeetna. Enjoy flightseeing, fishing, hiking, ATV tours, zipline tours and visit local gift shops. On arrival to Denali, you will have a wealth of options for things to do. Outside the park take part in rafting, zipline tours and wilderness excursions. and visit a local brewery. Explore the historic Karstens' Cabin, which belonged to the park's first superintendent. You can also learn more at the Murie Science and Learning Centre.
Day Four - Visit one of America's greatest national parks
You will need to dedicate a full day to explore the incredible Denali National Park. If you have extra time, why not extend your stay and explore all the fantastic sights the park has to offer. Take the opportunity to stand beneath North America's highest peak. Explore the remote, arctic tundra. There is a lot of chances to spot wildlife in Denali, including the local grizzly bears.
Vehicles can only drive as far as Savage River (at mile 15) in the summer. It is only possible to explore the park interior on a tour bus. Visit the Wilderness Access Center to book your tour. Enjoy a narrated tour of the amazing natural landscapes of Denali. For visitors who want the flexibility to explore the park at their own pace, buy a transit pass. Get on and off the bus as you like, and spend time at different points of interest.
This is a great way to visit the Eielson Visitor Center. The unique center has an art gallery. It also offers panoramic views of Denali's awe-inspiring landscape. This is a starting point for ranger-led hikes.
Day Five: Travel to Fairbanks, the 'Golden Heart' of Alaska
Say goodbye to Denali National park and head north toward the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks. You will find plenty of things in town to fill the rest of your day. Outside the city, visitors can get up close to an architectural wonder. The 800 mile long Trans-Alaska Pipeline passes through the region. Fairbanks is one of the best places in the state to get up close to the impressive structure. Any automobile fans cannot afford to miss the Antique Auto Museum. For more information about Fairbanks, take a trip to the Museum of the North. The museum is at the university.
Day Six: What lies beyond the edge of the Arctic Circle?
In Fairbanks, you can find out the answer to what lies in the Arctic. You can spend your day relaxing in Fairbanks. If you are feeling adventurous you can take a day tour to the dramatic edges of the Arctic Circle. Experience the true wilderness of the north on this exciting day trip. The journey will take visitors onto the long Dalton Highway. You may recognize the highway from the show Ice Road Truckers. It is mostly trucks that use the remote highway, built to aid the construction of the pipeline. Most rental car companies do not allow their vehicles on the highway. Many tour operators in Fairbanks offer day trips to the edge of the Arctic Circle. This way, you can avoid driving. You can also opt for a scenic flight and drive combination from the city.
Day Seven - Find a bit of Christmas cheer outside Fairbanks
As you make your way out of Fairbanks you will travel on the remote Alaska Highway. The highway stretches toward the state's border with the Yukon. Alaska covers a big land area, and so it is a good idea to take regular breaks. Visit the festive Santa Clause House, 15 minutes outside of Fairbanks. You will find it in the village of North Pole. Find a Christmas treasure hidden away on the store's shelves. You can also send a personalized Original Letter from Santa and make a child's day. Don't miss out on this joyful Alaskan tradition as you pass by. Spend the night in the small town of Tok to break up your journey.
Day Eight - Follow the fringes of the mighty Wrangell-St Elias National Park
The journey back to Anchorage will take travelers along the Richardson Highway. The highway follows the scenic edges of Wrangell-St Elias National Park. Many car rental companies do not allow their vehicles off sealed roads into the park. Some car rental companies in Anchorage allow their vehicles to on the McCarthy and Nabesna gravel access roads. Visitors with travel restrictions do not have to miss out. Learn more about this fascinating part of Alaska at the main park visitor center. The centre is off the main highway. Spend the night in Glennallen or the scenic Copper River Valley. You will find a range of accommodation options. Or, travel to the Chitina Ranger Station where you can see exhibits or watch a film to learn more about the park.
Day Nine - Go flightseeing over mighty peaks and incredible glaciers
Travelers do not need to drive into Wrangell-St Elias National Park. Wrangell Mountain Air offers an alternate option. The company provides a 30-minute shuttle flight between Chitina and McCarthy. McCarthy is some 60 miles into the national park. If visiting for the day, visitors can book a scenic flight from McCarthy. Or opt for a tour of Alaska's biggest glacier, Kennicott. Some people choose to park their cars in Chitina and spend a night at McCarthy. This way they have longer to explore the park.
Day Ten - Abundant wildlife and impressive coastal scenery? You will find it in Valdez
Follow the Richardson Highway south to Valdez. The area is the site of the 1989 Exxon Oil Spill, but today visitors can see how the area has bounced back. Valdez is popular for its accessible glaciers. Explore the glaciers via cruises, kayak tours or even helicopter tours. Visitors can visit the local fish hatchery and see more wildlife. During the salmon season, this can include bears and sea lions. Additionally, the region is home to some great hiking trails and waterfalls. The Keystone Canyon area features some beautiful waterfalls such as Horsetail Falls. You will find the canyon along the Richardson Highway as you drive into Valdez.
Day Eleven - Follow the Matanuska River back to Anchorage
As with all the highways through Alaska, the journey back to Anchorage is a scenic one. You will pass the Matanuska Glacier, which is accessible via a 20-minute hike. See the sheets of ice up close, and watch as climbers attempt to scale the glacier walls. Don't miss the Matanuska Glacier Scenic Turnout. The site offers a fantastic view over the glacier. Continue your journey along the Glenn Highway until you reach Anchorage.
Day Twelve - Visit Seward
Although you are back to Anchorage, your Alaskan holiday doesn't have to end here. Spend more time exploring the scenic surrounds of the city. A great option is to take a day trip along the stunning highway to Seward.