Road Trip: Alaska in Five Days

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path road trip, consider embarking on a journey through Alaska. This huge state is bordered by the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean to the north; Canada’s Yukon Territory and British Columbia province to the east; the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the South; the Bering Strait and the Bering Sea to the west; and the Chukchi Sea to the northwest. Mountain ranges, valleys, and everything in between abounds–There’s no shortage of stunning landscapes to explore.

A road trip in Alaska is not an easy task, the Last Frontier state is known for being more convenient to fly to a certain town–it’s that big!

Most people think that a road trip in Alaska is out of their reach because it’s so big and expensive to fly to certain towns.

But did you know that you can take a 5-day road trip through Alaska and make it incredibly affordable? It’s true! And the best part is you’ll see some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

A road trip is a great way to see Alaska because it’s a huge state with lots to offer, and you can travel wherever you want without relying on schedules. Furthermore, scenic views are best seen from a car or caravan, and it’s always more affordable to drive than take trains. Picnicking and stopping by roadside lakes make for a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.

My family and I made a spectacular five-day trip with a great itinerary, but keep in mind that this itinerary is just a suggestion—feel free to modify it to fit your own needs and interests.

Tips for Taking a Road Trip in Alaska

If you’re planning to road trip Alaska, here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, it’s absolutely essential that you use a truck or SUV when driving long distances in Alaska. The roads are often unpaved and can be very dangerous, especially in bad weather.

Next, consider bringing a gas can with you in your rental car. There are hardly any gas stations once you get out into the middle of nowhere, and the prices are often much higher than in the lower 48.

When driving in Alaska, it’s important to be aware of the conditions that you might encounter. The roads can be icy and dangerous, so it’s important to take precautions.  Remember the roads can get very bad in winter, and side streets are often left unplowed. If you want to truly explore and drive off the beaten path it is best to visit in the late spring through the early fall.

Avoid the middle of winter and early spring – the weather is unpredictable and the roads are dangerous. The average yearly temperature in Alaska is 21 degrees Fahrenheit, so you should pack and be ready for cold weather.

Here are a few driving safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your vehicle is equipped for the weather conditions.
  • Stay informed of the weather conditions and road closures.
  • Drive slowly and be aware of your surroundings. Just because there are no cars does not mean the roads are or will be clear.
  • Pack a winter emergency kit (if you are traveling the state even if it’s early or late summer).
  • Always pack additional food and water in case of an emergency. There are many beautiful places to see in Alaska, but it’s important to be prepared for the conditions you might encounter.

Driving in Alaska may seem like a daunting task, but it is actually more difficult to drive in other states. The roads are safer and prepared for people who are driving through. There’s also less traffic because of the remoteness of the state. Areas that have been hit by natural disasters often take much longer to recover than anywhere else.

With all that being said, ensuring we had proper insurance was essential and we also needed to rent a car from a reliable service provider as we hit the open road.

Alaska Road Trip Packing List & Essentials

We went on our road trip to Alaska at the end of May. This was the perfect time for us because the flights were affordable and spring weather was about 60 and sunny every single day. Your best bet for a road trip is to visit between late May and September.

When packing for a road trip in Alaska, you’ll want to make sure to include plenty of warm clothes. The temperatures can vary significantly depending on the area of the state you’re visiting, so be prepared for anything. You’ll also want to pack sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses, as the sun is intense in Alaska during the summer months.

Some essentials you’ll want to have on hand during your trip include a first-aid kit, insect repellent, binoculars, and a camera. You’ll also want to make sure to pack plenty of food and water, as well as a map of the area.

Our Road Trip Route in Alaska

We visited Alaska in the early summer after taking on a cheap flight deal to fly from Minneapolis directly into Fairbanks. Our Alaska bucket list was long, so we knew that for us to be efficient it was going to be a busy trip to see multiple national parks and glaciers.

Some of the best things to do in Alaska include visiting glaciers such as Matanuska-Susitna Glacier and Harding Icefield, driving on the Dalton Highway, which is known as the “Oil Road”, and visiting some of the many national parks including Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

We rented a car in Fairbanks and drove the Alaska Highway (the only road connecting most of Alaska) stopping at points of interest along the way. The first day we arrived in Fairbanks it was pouring rain, so we decided to just explore downtown and wander into some of the local shops.

The next morning we woke up early to start our drive down the highway. The first stop was Denali National Park, about 4 hours south of Fairbanks. After a quick lunch in the park, we drove down to Healy to spend the night.

On the third day, we woke up early again to head to Seward stopping at various points of interest on the way. Seward is a beautiful town located on the Kenai Peninsula and is a great place to end a road trip through Alaska.

If you are looking for an itinerary to follow, we suggest the following route:

  • Day 1: Arrive in Fairbanks, explore downtown
  • Day 2: Drive to Denali National Park, explore the park
  • Day 3: Drive to Healy
  • Day 4: Drive to Seward, explore Seward
  • Day 5: Return rental car in Anchorage

Our Day-by-Day Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Fairbanks, explore downtown

Fairbanks is the largest city in the interior region of Alaska. Downtown Fairbanks is home to many shops and restaurants, as well as the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline Museum is also located downtown and is worth a visit. Other attractions in Fairbanks include the Alaskan Brewing Company, Pioneer Park, and the Ice Museum.

There are plenty of places to stay in Fairbanks, but we recommend the Hotel Northland. It’s a historic hotel that’s been around since the 1920s and is located in the heart of downtown. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and there’s a restaurant on-site.

Day 2: Drive to Denali National Park, explore the park

The drive from Fairbanks to Denali National Park is about four hours, so it’s a great day trip. Denali National Park is home to Denali, which is the tallest mountain in North America. There are also lots of wildlife in the park, so keep your eyes peeled for moose, caribou, and grizzly bears. You can explore the park by car, or go for a hike on one of the many trails.

There are also lots of trails in the park, so we made several stops to hike around the park, including Horseshoe Lake Trail and Savage River Loop Trail.

Day 3: Drive to Healy

The drive from Denali National Park to Healy, Alaska is a beautiful one. You’ll pass through some of the most stunning scenery in the state, including the Talkeetna Mountains and the Knik River Valley. Make sure to take your time and enjoy the view!

Healy is a small town located about an hour and a half from Denali National Park. It’s a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts, as it’s home to some of the best hiking and fishing in Alaska. There are also a few museums and historical sites worth checking out.

If you’re looking for a place to stay overnight, Healy offers a variety of options, from camping to cabins to hotels. Be sure to check out the Healy Area Chamber of Commerce website for more information.

Day 4: Drive to Seward, explore Seward

Our next day in Alaska was a beautiful one. We drove to Seward, located on the Kenai Peninsula. This charming town is home to glaciers, mountains, and wildlife, making it the perfect place to end our trip.

The drive to Seward from Healy was beautiful. The road winds through the mountains and provides stunning views of the glaciers and icy rivers below. We made a few stops along the way, including one at a viewpoint called Russian Overlook. This spot offers amazing views of the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet.

Once we arrived in Seward, we had a little time to explore the town. We walked along the pier, where we saw whales and seals swimming in the water below. We also visited the Alaska SeaLife Center, which is home to a variety of marine life, including sea otters, harbor seals, and Steller sea lions.

Day 5: Drive to Anchorage and explore and return the rental car

Our final day in Alaska was a bittersweet one. We had to say goodbye to this beautiful state, but we knew that we would be back soon. We drove back to Anchorage and then flew home. But we knew that we had plenty of exploring in Anchorage to do and we had another great scenic drive ahead of us.

The route takes you through some of Alaska’s most beautiful scenery, including the Matanuska Valley and Chugach Mountain Range.

Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and the most popular destination for tourists. There’s plenty to do in Anchorage, from hiking to shopping to dining. Some of the highlights of Anchorage include Earthquake Park, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting trip to Alaska, I recommend taking a road trip. This itinerary will take you to some of the most beautiful and scenic spots in the state.

In order to make it a memorable trip, we recommend taking these days off from work for your road trip itinerary. From glaciers to bears to Denali National Park, Alaska is a nature lover’s paradise.

Have fun and enjoy your trip.

Kyle Kroeger is the owner of ViaTravelers is a destination travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to help you explore the world. Follow us on Instagram and YouTube.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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