The Ultimate Alaska Road Trip: Scenic Routes and Hidden Gems
Last Updated on May 11, 2023
When you hear “Alaska,” breathtaking landscapes, majestic mountains, and pristine wilderness likely come to mind. As the largest state in the U.S., Alaska offers an unparalleled road trip experience. If you’re planning the ultimate Alaska road trip, this travel guide will help you uncover some of the most scenic routes and hidden gems while respecting the environment and wildlife.
HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP
HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP
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Preparing for the Ultimate Alaska Road Trip
Choosing the right vehicle is essential to make the most of your journey. A four-wheel drive will provide better traction on Alaska’s varying terrain, while an RV rental ensures comfortable accommodation during your trip.
Many RV rental companies now offer eco-friendly options, such as solar panels and composting toilets, perfect for the environmentally conscious traveler.
Consider the unpredictable weather conditions when packing for the ultimate Alaska road trip. Bring layers, waterproof clothing, and sturdy footwear. Pack emergency supplies like a first aid kit, flashlight, and spare tire.
Don’t forget to stock up on food and water for the journey, as well as reusable containers and utensils to minimize waste. Finally, gather your camping gear, including a tent, sleeping bag, and cooking equipment.
The best time to embark on the Ultimate Alaska Road Trip is during the summer months, from June to August. This period offers mild temperatures, long daylight hours, and prime opportunities for wildlife spotting without disturbing their natural habitats.
However, it is also considered one of the best winter vacation spots in the US. Therefore, if you want to see the northern lights, visit in the winter.
Scenic Routes to Explore
Seward Highway (Anchorage to Seward)
The Seward Highway stretches 127 miles from Anchorage to Seward, offering stunning views of the Kenai Peninsula. Along the way, stop at Chugach State Park, which covers nearly half a million acres of diverse landscape. Hike the park’s numerous trails, and marvel at the panoramic vistas from Flattop Mountain.
As you continue south, take a break at the scenic pullouts along Turnagain Arm to soak in the breathtaking views. If you’re lucky, you might spot beluga whales swimming in the water or Dall sheep grazing on the cliffs.
And if you want to pass some of these routes on your cross-country move, then be sure that professionals are the best option. Taking a detour while on the move can be a bad idea. So stick to professionals when it comes to this.
Glenn Highway (Anchorage to Glennallen)
The Glenn Highway spans 179 miles and connects Anchorage to Glennallen. One of the highlights of this route is the Matanuska Glacier, accessible via a privately-owned recreation area. Opt for a guided glacier walk led by experienced professionals who prioritize safety and environmental stewardship.
Further along, you’ll reach Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the largest national park in the United States. Explore the park’s vast wilderness, hike the numerous trails, or enjoy the incredible views. It is one of the best locations to visit for a fall getaway. So be sure to take this route when you decide to travel.
Parks Highway (Anchorage to Fairbanks)
The 323-mile Parks Highway connects Anchorage to Fairbanks, offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Along the way, visit Denali National Park, home to North America’s tallest peak, Denali. Enjoy over six million acres of untouched wilderness, and watch for moose, caribou, and grizzly bears from a safe distance.
Choose from several vegan-friendly dining options within the park, such as plant-based burritos and veggie burgers.
Hidden Gems Along the Way
Take a detour from the Parks Highway to explore Hatcher Pass, an off-the-beaten-path destination in the Talkeetna Mountains. Enjoy the scenic drive, hike the numerous trails, or spend a night camping under the stars.
Skilak Lake Road
Located off the Sterling Highway, Skilak Lake Road is a 19-mile loop that offers a glimpse of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s diverse habitats. Watch for moose, eagles, and other wildlife as you explore the area. Don’t forget to stop at one of the many overlooks for panoramic views of Skilak Lake and the surrounding mountains.
It is located in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Kennecott Mine is a National Historic Landmark that once served as a thriving copper mining community. Take a guided tour of the abandoned mill, and learn about the area’s history while respecting the environment and its inhabitants.
Unique Roadside Attractions
Just off the Parks Highway, you’ll find Igloo City, an abandoned, igloo-shaped building originally intended to be a hotel. Although you cannot enter the structure, it offers an interesting photo opportunity and a unique Alaska road trip stop.
Santa Claus House in North Pole
Visit the whimsical town of North Pole, Alaska, home to the Santa Claus House. This year-round Christmas-themed attraction offers a festive atmosphere with holiday decorations and a giant Santa statue. While there, don’t forget to send a postcard to friends or family stamped with the official North Pole postmark.
Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Road Trip
Exercise caution when driving in Alaska’s diverse weather conditions, especially during rain or snow. Stay informed about road conditions and closures; always have a backup plan. Also, have a packing list and all the road trip essentials. You don’t want to forget something you will need.
Respect Alaska’s wildlife by maintaining a safe distance and never feeding or approaching animals. Keep your food and trash secure to avoid attracting wildlife to your campsite.
Lastly, adhere to the Leave No Trace principles. Leave natural and cultural features undisturbed, dispose of waste properly, and respect other visitors.
The ultimate Alaska road trip offers an experience of Alaska’s unparalleled beauty, from stunning scenic routes to hidden gems. With this travel guide, you can embark on an unforgettable adventure while respecting the environment and its inhabitants. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and prepare to be amazed by the wonders of Alaska.
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