5 Best Alaska Road Trip Routes (Ultimate Planning Guide!)

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So, you’re thinking of venturing out on an Alaska road trip? The state isn’t nicknamed ‘The Last Frontier’ for nothing. The stark mountains, frigid winter climate, and vast miles of land uninhabited by humans give way to its off the map nature.

If you’re looking to cruise alongside stunning scenery and embark on some incredible new adventures, all while enjoying the comforts of civilization along the way, an Alaska road trip is certainly the way to go.

It’s hard to know where to start when planning your own expedition like this, so we’ve done some of the legwork for you. Read on for all of the best routes and must-sees along the way when you embark on your journey through the Last Frontier.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Alaska (Travel Guide)

Alaska Road Trip

How many miles is it to Anchorage, Alaska from:

  • Seattle, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 44 hours and 2,261 miles
  • Los Angeles, California to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 61 hours and 3,395 miles
  • Chicago, Illinois to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 61 hours and 3,568 miles
  • Atlanta, Georgia to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 71 hours and 4,210 miles
  • Houston, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 70 hours and 4,124 miles
  • Vancouver, Canada to Anchorage, Alaska Via Yukon 1 E ~ 42 hours and 2,191 miles

5 Best Alaska Road Trip Routes

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide (How to get to Alaska)

Alaska Highway

What would an Alaskan road trip be without a journey up to their 1,387-mile namesake highway? Starting in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, you can turn down this uncrowded route and take in the picturesque snow-capped peaks and remote landscape, all the way up to Delta Junction in southeastern Fairbanks, Alaska.

What to See

During your road trip, you’ll find plenty to see and do on the Alaska Highway. Passing through Muncho Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, you can stop for a bit of canoeing and spend the night in the cozy Northern Rockies Lodge. Just past the park, we recommend stopping to soak in the Liard River hot springs.

Not long after crossing into Yukon Territory, you’ll be able to check out the Continental Divide. Parting the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds. This ridge journeys from Alaska to the tip of South America.

It’s a short but fun stop along the way for anyone who is into geography and spectacular terrain. Also, in the Yukon, there is Kluane National Park and Reserve, a hot spot for adventurers looking to try rafting, mountaineering, and more outdoor activities.

Check-in for a night at the charming Kathleen Lake Lodge before continuing your journey into Alaska. Be sure to stop by Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge to experience the critters of an Alaska road trip – bald eagles, grizzly bears, and trumpeter swans are just a few of the animal species protected by this region.

When to Go

You might feel inclined to plan your Alaska road trip over the summer to avoid poor weather conditions and take full advantage of the activities along the way, as some businesses may close during the winter months. MILEPOST, a must-have guide for traveling in the northwest of the continent, makes a good case for tackling the Alaska Highway during the off-season.

Provided you are a responsible driver, you stay on top of your fuel reserves, are settled into your pre-booked accommodation by nightfall, and adhere to road signage. Attractions like the hot springs at Liard River are going to be all the more enjoyable when experienced in Alaska’s famous colder climate.

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Parks Highway & Denali Highway

For 362 miles between Anchorage and Fairbanks, you can take in the wild landscape of Alaska’s interior on Parks Highway. From mountains to tundra, it’s the perfect Alaska road trip for adventurous spirits.

What to See

Not only is Alaska the Last Frontier, but it’s also the site of what’s known as the Last Great Race on Earth: the Iditarod. After departing Anchorage, you could spend some time at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Museum, where you can dive into the history of this bold and daring race.

Perhaps the most anticipated stop of a Parks Highway Alaska road trip is, Denali National Park and Preserve. Home to the continent’s highest peak, Denali.

This park boasts plenty of summer and winter activities, such as hiking, fishing, mountaineering, and stargazing. Spend the night at one of the quaint cabins in the Denali Backcountry Lodge.

Here, you can also choose to detour from your Parks Highway road trip and embark on an alternate route to take in the full expanse of this cherished park, its glaciers and tundra landscape.

Extending for 134 miles from Paxson to Cantwell and made up of mostly gravel, Denali Highway is no last-minute decision, so make sure if you go this route you’re aptly prepared to forge ahead on a new trip.

When to Go

While Parks Highway is open all four seasons, Denali Highway is closed in the winter. Traveling during the summer months is probably your best bet for enjoying the full spectrum of Alaska’s interior on this trip.

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Seward Highway

Modest in length compared to it’s big Alaska road trip counterparts, Seward Highway is perfect for a small jaunt from Anchorage. Looping 127 miles down to Seward, the sites you’ll encounter are some of the state’s most breathtaking.

What to See

Don’t be fooled by the low mileage on this trip – there is so much to see packed into a short distance! MILEPOST is a great resource for examining all of the options available to you.

Your first order of business will be to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic view of Turnagain Arm as you cruise between mountains and shoreline.

If you’re willing to turn this mini Alaska road trip into a full-fledged adventure, take some time to stay at Alyeska Resort just southeast of Anchorage, where you can hit the slopes and ski to your heart’s content.

Further down the road, you can check out the trail at Johnson’s Pass before stopping for another night at the Inn at Tern Lake, where you’ll be able to arrange fishing trips or whale watching tours.

Be sure to take your camera out for glossy Kenai Lake before you complete your journey in the pleasant town of Seward.

When to Go

Any season of Seward Highway won’t disappoint. If you are an avid ski or snowboarder be sure to venture to this region in the winter!

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide - Dalton Highway

Dalton Highway

Time to go off-road (sort of). Most of Dalton Highway is gravel, so you’ll have to take your sweet time on this massive 415-mile route starting at Elliott Highway and ending in Deadhorse, up by the Arctic Ocean.

This is not a route to be taken lightly, and if you’re renting a car, be sure to double-check for restrictions on traveling on unpaved roadways.

What to See

This trek starts at the junction with Elliott Highway, another scenic Alaska road trip looping from Fox to Manley Hot Springs. Spend a couple of nights at Coldfoot Camp, aptly named for the frigid arctic conditions you’ll face while cruising Dalton Highway.

Here, you’ll be able to tour Koyukuk River in the summer, and possibly view the Northern Lights in the winter.

Close by, you’ll pass the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, which really captures the meaning of the word “remote.” Void of set paths, this stop is perfect for some pictures before continuing on your way unless you happen to be an expert in wilderness survival.

Once you reach Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay, you can stay at the Aurora Hotel, which sits over Colleen Lake and book an Arctic Ocean tour. Who else can say they’ve done that?

When to Go

You really can’t go wrong here. This far north, you’ll be able to witness the midnight sun during the summer, and you’ll have a shot at the Aurora Borealis during the winter.

Need to book a car for your road trip adventure? We use Discover Car Hire for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Bob Blodgett Nome-Teller Memorial Highway

Due to the remoteness of the Last Frontier, most of the more popular Alaska road trips happen in the eastern region of the state, around the major cities and attractions.

If you’re feeling adventurous, think about tackling the 73-mile stretch of pavement running between Nome, on the southwest end of the state, up to Teller, situated on Grantley Harbor and the closest you’ll get to Russia on any of these Alaska road trips.

What to See

The sights of Alaska do not disappoint, and this mini road trip is no exception. At the start of your journey, take a detour up Anvil Mountain for a view worthy of a photo-op, and while you’re there, check out some Cold War communications remnants, dubbed by some as “Nomehenge.”

Further on, you can take in more off the beaten path sites, like an abandoned reindeer corral. But don’t be discouraged by these ruins, as you’re likely to spot actual reindeer too! Stop by Penny River Bridge to view some more unique local wildlife, like coho salmon and arctic tern. The road to Teller is full of surprises!

A several hour round-trip excursion, by the time you arrive back in Nome, check-in at the quaint Dredge No. 7 Inn, located just off the highway. Grab a bite at Husky Restaurant, and sit back, relax, and reflect on the day’s adventures.

When to Go

Like most Alaska road trips, this one is stunning 365 days a year and like most Alaska road trips, some attractions, such as the road to Anvil Mountain, aren’t maintained in the winter months.

Keep this in mind no matter what time of year you decide to venture out. With proper preparation, you’re sure to love cruising through the Last Frontier.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Alaska (Travel Guide)

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Alaska Road Trip Drive Timetables

North of Anchorage: Talkeetna, Denali, Fairbanks

  • Anchorage to Talkeetna: 115 Miles 2.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Fairbanks: 360 Miles 7-8 Hours
  • Anchorage to Denali: 265 Miles 4-5 Hours
  • Fairbanks to Denali: 120 Miles 2-3 Hours
  • Denali to Talkeetna: 150 Miles 2-3 Hours
  • Anchorage to Palmer: 43 Miles 1 Hour

South of Anchorage: Portage, Seward, Cooper Landing, Homer

  • Anchorage to Seward: 128 Miles 2.5-3 Hours
  • Anchorage to Kenai: 158 Miles 3 Hours
  • Anchorage to Homer: 221 Miles 5-6 Hours
  • Anchorage to Cooper Landing: 100 Miles 2.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Girdwood: 40 Miles 1 Hour
  • Seward To Homer: 170 Miles 4-5 Hours
  • Denali to Seward: 375 Miles 7-8 Hours

East of Anchorage: Glenallen, Copper Center, Chitina, McCarthy, Valdez

  • Anchorage to Glennallen: 180 Miles 4.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Whittier: 90 Miles 1.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Haines Junction: 608 Miles 12.5 Hours
  • Anchorage to Whitehorse: 704 Miles 14.5 Hours
  • Glennallen to Valdez: 120 Miles 2 Hours
  • Fairbanks to Valdez: 365 Miles 8 Hours
  • Fairbanks to Haines Junction: 495 Miles 9-11 Hours
  • Fairbanks to Whitehorse: 588 Miles 12 Hours
  • Glennallen to Chitina: 64 Miles 1.5 Hours
  • Chitina to McCarthy: 60 Miles 3.5 Hours

If you are road tripping in Alaska or renting a car you must have: The Mile Post

Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Guide

Alaska Railroad vs Car Rental

Cons of Driving

  • You really don’t get to enjoy the scenery since you are paying attention to the road.
  • Driving does not give you access to untouched valleys the railroad travels through, the Placer River Valley and along the Susitna drainage.
  • Driving does require some planning since there are a few services available in certain areas.
  • It requires stopping for restrooms breaks and to stretch after sitting for long periods of time.

Pros of Driving

  • It gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace.
  • Having your own space allows you to bring more.
  • It’s quicker than taking the railroad.
  • The vehicle provides shelter, so you don’t have to rely on finding accommodation.

Cons of the Railroad

  • Taking the railroad in Alaska takes more time than driving.
  • The Railroad is more expensive, particularly for large groups.
  • There’s a set travel schedule.
  • Trains may run late on rare occasions, due to wildlife on tracks or a scheduling problem.
  • They require secondary transportation once you arrive at your destination. (Courtesy shuttle, taxi, or walking)

Pros of the Railroad

  • Let someone else do the driving, while you just sit and enjoy the views and maybe a glimpse of some wildlife.
  • You can get up and stretch your legs without having to stop.
  • Don’t need to plan a bathroom or lunch break, everything is already on board.
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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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