Alaska – Is magic. To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most beautiful states in the world. The fresh air, miles of wilderness, the glaciers, the green – ah, I can keep visiting Alaska and never get bored of it. When I first visited Alaska, I wasn’t sure what I should pick as there was just so much to see and do. A lot of folks I know take the cruise to Alaska. But I am one of those “roadies”. I wanted to experience the land of Alaska. And I don’t regret my trip one bit. Below is a carefully chosen itinerary and I believe this will be useful for my readers visiting Alaska.
Day 1: Anchorage Arrival and pick up rental car
I chose the SUV for my travel in Alaska as it was 5 of us, we knew we had to drive a lot. Picked it up from the airport upon arrival and drove to the hotel. Spent the night at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel, Anchorage. We were getting ready for an adventurous trip to follow.
Day 2: Anchorage to Denali National Park 237 miles – With Mt. McKinley Glacier Landing
Plan 5 hours driving time, not including stops. Depart from Anchorage and follow the Glenn Highway northbound. A few interesting stops along this highway are the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Eklutna Indian Village. Continuing on the Parks Highway towards Denali National Park, you drive through the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and Denali State Park.
Take a side trip to the small gold mining community Talkeetna for a ski-plane flight to Mt. McKinley. This magnificent flight takes you within six miles of Mt. McKinley’s summit. As your flight departs Talkeetna, you begin to see how the last ice age has shaped the land. Moments later you enter a world of rugged high mountain peaks and wide glacier-filled valleys. The pilot describes the natural wonders of Denali National Park – absolutely a bliss to hear! See the Sheldon Amphitheater, beautiful Ruth Glacier, and the Great Gorge (the world’s deepest – almost 2 miles from top to bottom). Pilot lands for approximately 15 minutes so that you can walk on a glacier – a giant river of ice. After flying back to Talkeetna, continue driving north 2.5 hours to Denali National Park.
Recommend this hotel – Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali National Park, Alaska just at the park entrance.
Day 3: Denali – With National Park Bus Tour
This morning we took a rafting tour – which was SUPERB fun! In the afternoon (between 1:30pm and 3:30pm), we departed on a fully narrated bus tour of Denali National Park (Tundra Wilderness/Teklanika Tour). This was a 6-hour tour which took us approximately 55 miles into the park to observe pristine wilderness. Remember to look for wildlife, such as bears, caribou, and moose, as well as views of Mt. McKinley.
Day 4: Denali to Anchorage
We used the morning to explore Denali National Park. Went to the visitor center and took a nature walk.
In the afternoon, we left for Anchorage – plan a 5-hour drive, not including stops.
Points of interest along the highway include the Iditarod Museum in Wasilla and the Native Village of Eklutna.
Day 5: Explore Anchorage
Remember to explore Alaska’s largest city. Go shopping, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center, or take a hike or bike ride in one of Anchorage’s many parks. Experience more by adding a bear viewing excursion or sightseeing tour.
Day 6: Anchorage to Seward by Rail – With Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise
THE BEST TRAIN I EVER BOARDED! Departed at 6:45am on the Alaska Railroad for Seward. This scenic journey takes you along Cook Inlet and into the glacier filled Kenai Mountains.
Two optional upgrades are available: McKinley Explorer or Deluxe GoldStar. For either option, you will enjoy luxury rail travel aboard lavishly appointed, double-deck glass-domed cars, which offer 360-degree views. You will have a reserved seat on the upper level, as well as exclusive access to a dining room on the lower level. The McKinley Explorer cars were made by the same company that made the GoldStar cars, so they are very similar. However, the Deluxe GoldStar cars are newer and feature additional amenities, such as complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, onboard tour guides, and an upper-level balcony. They also offer live narration by an onboard local guide while the McKinley Explorer will only offer pre-recorded information. I strongly recommend the glass dome train. It is one of the best experiences.
Once in Seward, you can take on a 6-hour cruise of Kenai Fjords National Park (Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise from Seward). This was around noon. The park boasts abundant wildlife, alpine, and tidewater glaciers and breathtaking scenery. As you cruise through Resurrection Bay, keep watch for Stellar Sea Lions, harbor seals, puffins, eagles, and whales. Cruise past the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, home to a large variety of birds, on your way to either the Holgate or Aialik Glacier. This cruise is until evening. So all your day is going to be filled with excitement.
We booked the Seward Windsong Lodge, Seward, Alaska for an overnight stay.
Day 7: Seward to Anchorage by Rail – With Sled Dog Ride
This morning we took a 1.5-hour sled dog tour – Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey’s Iditarod Racing Kennel where you will meet famous sled dogs, cuddle adorable puppies, and dress up as an Iditarod musher. I don’t recommend the sled dog tour. It was too filthy! After the dog ride, we glided through the spectacular Alaskan wilderness and mushed for two miles in a summertime cart with an Iditarod racer! Would recommend a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center research aquarium and a walk to Exit Glacier.
We departed in the evening by train to Anchorage all sad, realizing the trip was almost coming to an end 😦
Day 8: Anchorage Departure
Keep some free time for souvenir shopping in Anchorage. And depart for home.
Hope you enjoyed reading this. Comment or reach out for any questions. Would love to help plan your trip to beautiful Alaska!