Alaska Road Trip Itinerary – Driving to Alaska & Back

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Planning a road trip to Alaska can be thrilling yet challenging. This article guides you through a meticulously planned 40-day journey from Seattle to Alaska and back. It's designed for travelers who seek adventure while managing a budget.

This article isn't just a list of places; it's a narrative of our journey from Seattle through Alaska and back. We cover everything from crossing borders and hiking serene trails to visiting quaint towns and engaging with local cultures.

Highlights include the stunning views of the "Stewart-Cassiar" highway and the expansive "Alaska Highways," both offering unparalleled access to the natural beauty and wilderness Alaska is famed for.

We also discuss why planning ahead is crucial, especially for a destination like Alaska, where costs can soar.

Our travel plan is designed for those who love adventure and appreciate a well-thought-out itinerary. It suggests daily activities, places to stay, and distances, all tailored to enhance your experience without breaking the bank.

Whether this is your introduction to Alaska or a return visit, this guide aims to enrich your journey with practical tips and captivating destinations drawn from our "Alaska Bucket List."

Together, let's discover Alaska's majestic beauty.

Alaska Road Trip Itinerary - 40 days of driving from the Lower 48 into Alaska and back.

Planning on a journey to the Last Frontier? Read our comprehensive guide on the details of driving to Alaska for all the essentials to make your road trip smooth and unforgettable.

Planning Ahead: The Key to a Budget-Friendly Adventure

A detailed itinerary well in advance is essential for a journey as grand as an Alaska road trip.

Alaska's beauty comes with a high price tag, making early booking of accommodations crucial to stay within budget. This necessity leads us to craft a flexible itinerary as a roadmap rather than a strict schedule.

Flexibility is key. Unexpected changes, such as weather shifts, health issues, vehicle troubles, or how we feel, can all influence our plans.

This adaptability doesn't mean we're wandering without direction; it ensures a solid framework that accommodates the unpredictable, allowing us to enjoy the journey with peace of mind.

Sharing our itinerary here serves a dual purpose: to guide those pondering a similar adventure and to invite input that could refine our plans.

Your experiences and suggestions are invaluable as we embark on this road trip, enriching our journey with collective wisdom.

Unique Considerations For The Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

When reading our Alaska Road Trip Itinerary, keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Our extensive experience with cross-country travel in the US informs us of our daily driving limits. While we're accustomed to long drives, we understand this may not align with everyone's preferences, which can vary from wanting to cover less ground to seeing more.
  • Having explored the Canadian Rockies before, we opted for a different path on our return south, seeking new landscapes and experiences.
  • This trip marks our inaugural visit to Alaska, but it's just the beginning. With plans to embrace the RV lifestyle in our early retirement, we anticipate many returns, treating this adventure as an initial taste of what Alaska offers. Consequently, we've prioritized specific destinations while saving others for future visits, all guided by our Alaska Bucket List.
  • Budget considerations are paramount. Alaska's allure is undeniable, offering an array of excursions that could quickly escalate costs for a family of four. We've carefully chosen activities and destinations that provide the most meaningful experiences without exceeding our budget.
  • Experiencing local life is part of what we want to do. Hence, we recommend slowing down in Alaska's cities, Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Whitehorse. Opting for Airbnb rentals allows us to experience these places more intimately, embracing the concept of slow travel.

Keeping these considerations in mind, we're excited to share our comprehensive Alaska Road Trip itinerary, a reflection of our travel philosophy and logistical planning.

Our Alaska Road Trip Itinerary: A 40-Day Adventure

Our journey unfolds over 40 days, charting a course from Seattle through the breathtaking landscapes of Alaska and back, starting and concluding at the US-Canada border. Here’s a snapshot of our adventure:

Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

This itinerary covers 40 days, starting and ending at the US-Canada border crossings.

Day 1 - From Seattle to Hope, BC

  • Border crossing
  • Hike the Falls Lake trail near Hope

Overnight stay: Hope, BC - Driving distance: 163 miles

Day 2 - Hope, BC

Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park (including the Othello Tunnels)

Overnight stay: Hope, BC

Day 3 - Hope to Williams Lake

  • Hell's Gate
  • Flat Lake Provincial Park
  • 108 Mile Ranch Heritage Site
  • Scout Island Nature Centre at Williams Lake

Overnight stay: Williams Lake - Driving distance: 247 miles

Day 4- Williams Lake to Smithers

  • Barkerville Historic Town
  • Hike Twin Falls trail near Smithers
  • Moricetown Canyon viewpoint.

Overnight stay: Smithers - Driving distance: 376 miles

Day 5 - Smithers to Stewart/Hyder

  • Hagwilget Canyon bridge
  • ‘Ksan Historical Village
  • Bear Glacier

Overnight stay: Stewart - Driving distance: 203 miles

Day 6 - Hyder, AK

  • Fish Creek Bear Viewing
  • Salmon Glacier

Overnight stay: Stewart

Day 7 - Stewart to Watson Lake

  • Dease Lake
  • Jade City

Overnight stay: Watson Lake - Driving distance: 403 miles

Day 8 - Watson Lake to Whitehorse

  • The Sign Post Forest
  • Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre

Overnight stay: Whitehorse - Driving distance: 272 miles

Day 9 - Whitehorse to Beaver Creek

  • Kluane Lake National Park

Overnight stay: Beaver Creek, YK - Driving distance: 277 miles

Day 10 - Beaver Creek to Fairbanks

  • Delta Junction - Big Delta State Historical Park
  • North Pole

Overnight stay: Fairbanks - Driving distance: 311 miles

Days 11-15 - Fairbanks

  • University of Alaska Museum of the North
  • Large Animal Research Station
  • Gold Dredge No. 8
  • Georgeson Botanical Garden
  • Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chena Hot Springs (including the ice museum)
  • Pioneer Park

Overnight stay: Fairbanks

Day 16 - Fairbanks to Denali NP

  • Denali National Park

Overnight stay: Denali National Park - Driving distance: 120 miles

Day 17 - Denali National Park

  • Denali NP bus tour

Overnight stay: Denali National Park

Day 18 - Denali National Park to Anchorage

  • Denali National Park morning hike
  • Talkeetna

Overnight stay: Anchorage - Driving distance: 249 miles

Day 19 - Anchorage to Seward

  • Kenai Fjords NP (including Exit Glacier  ranger-guided Hike)

Overnight stay: Seward - Driving distance: 127  miles

Days 20-21 - Seward

  • Kenai Fjords NP : Icefields ranger-guided hike
  • Kenai Fjords NP boat tour/cruise
  • Alaska SeaLife Center

Overnight stay: Seward

Day 22 - Seward to Anchorage (inc. Whittier)

  • Portage Glacier (including local hike)
  • Whittier (via tunnel)

Overnight stay: Anchorage - Driving distance: 127 miles

Day 23-25 - Anchorage

  • Girdwood: Alaska Wildlife Conservation
  • Girdwood:  Alyeska Aerial Tram
  • Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
  • Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
  • Kincaid Park
  • Willawaw trail

Overnight stay: Anchorage

Day 26 - Anchorage to Beaver Creek

Overnight stay: Beaver Creek - Driving distance: 427 miles

Day 27 - Beaver Creek to Haines

  • Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

Overnight stay: Haines - Driving distance: 329 miles

Day 28 - Haines

  • Kroschel Wildlife Park
  • Chilkoot Lake State Recreational Site

Overnight stay: Haines

Day 29 - Haines to Whitehorse

  • Ferry ride to Skagway
  • Klondike Historic National Park

Overnight stay: Whitehorse - Driving distance: 109 miles

Days 30-33 Whitehorse

  • Miles Canyon & other hiking trails
  • The SS Klondike
  • The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center
  • The MacBride Museum of Yukon History
  • Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre
  • Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Overnight stay: Whitehorse

Day 34 -Whitehorse to Watson Lake

Overnight stay: Watson Lake - Driving distance: 272 miles

Day 35 - Watson Lake to Fort Nelson

  • Liard Hot Springs
  • Muncho Lake

Overnight stay: Fort Nelson - Driving distance: 319 miles

Day 36 - Fort Nelson to Dawson Creek

  • Kiskatinaw Bridge
  • Alaska Highway House
  • Walter Wright Pioneer Village

Overnight stay: Dawson Creek - Driving distance: 282 miles

Day 37 - Dawson Creek to Edmonton

  • Edmonton: West Edmonton Mall

Overnight stay: Edmonton - Driving distance: 363 miles

Day 38 - Edmonton

  • Fort Edmonton Park
  • High Level Bridge and Streetcar

Overnight stay: Edmonton

Day 39 - Edmonton to Lethbridge

  • Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

Overnight stay: Lethbridge - Driving distance: 344 miles

Day 40 - Lethbridge to Missoula

  • Going-to-the-sun road from east to west

Overnight stay: Missoula - Driving distance: 302 miles

And there you have our Alaska Road Trip Itinerary.

Although our route covers many of Alaska's splendors, we acknowledge the treasures left unexplored this time, such as Valdez, Homer, and the Inside Passage.

These destinations await our future adventures, ensuring our exploration of Alaska's wonders continues within our time and budget constraints.

We welcome your thoughts and experiences. Please share if there's a hidden gem we've missed or if you have advice based on your travels or residency in these areas. Your contributions are key to enriching our journey and aiding others in their quest to experience Alaska.

For those inspired to undertake their own road trip, explore our 37 tips for an awesome road trip and in-depth guides on Driving to Alaska. Whether you're planning your budget or deciding which national parks to visit, we provide all the information you need to begin your unforgettable adventure.

Are you looking to stretch your dollars further? Read our guide on "How to Reduce the Cost of Your Alaska Trip." It's packed with tips to save money without skimping on the adventure.

And lastly, don't miss our insights on "Which Alaska National Parks You Should Visit." Find out which parks are a must-see and plan your visit accordingly.

Alaska Road Trip Itinerary - Driving from Washington State to Alaska and back

Alaska Road Trip Itinerary: Driving to Alaska and back!

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    • I always say, this is all about the planning – not the plan. We’re in Alaska now and we keep making lots of changes in our plan as we’re traveling. The weather is quite a challenge! This has been our first sunny day in 10 days!

  1. Hope you are enjoying the trip up the Alcan. I was born and raised in Alaska and my family drove the Alcan in 2016 and 2017. We are in the Palmer area. Hope you love it. It is an awesome place. Let me know if you guys need a local tour guide!

    • Thank you so much, Catrina! We should be in Palmer in a couple of weeks. It would be awesome to meet up if we can arrange that. I’ll send you an email in a minute.

    • Hi Catrina,
      Hope you don’t mind me jumping in way after your post.
      Living in NH, our trips out West are far and few between! We were on the road 117 days, drove 14,000 miles and we are ready to do it all over again.
      We were on a Fantasy “62 Day Your Way” RV tour in 2017, 35 days of it being in AK, and not nearly enough time at any location! Loved it and think about a return daily. Loved Palmer and Hatcher Pass, so will be returning there!
      This would have been the year we returned, but we want to take in Canadian Parks along the way and we are giving the experts enough time to develop a valid/tested vaccine, so will not be going until 2022.
      I wouldn’t mind connecting with you periodically if you are offering to anyone on this thread…my email is 54able at gmail dot com.
      Best regards

  2. Great Stuff! We just spent 4 weeks exploring Alaska and it was Amazing! So many adventures to list a few off the top of my head that we loved… Our new favorite city is Juneau Alaska. We did it all from Hiking, Glacier Ice Climbing, Ice Caving, Gold Panning, Heli-hiking, to Cruising. One huge one was wild bear viewing and camping in Lake Clark NP. It is a worlds top 100 travel adventure and an experience of a lifetime.

    • Sounds intense! I don’t think we’ll be able to budget in so much, maybe just a cruise and one more excursion.

  3. Hi!
    We are traveling to Alaska this summer with our 15 yo (b/g) twins (our 20 year old is in college and will not be joining us). We are flying into Anchorage and renting a Sprinter 4×4 for 3 weeks. Traveling from Anchorage to Denali State Park, Denali National Park, Denali Hwy, Paxson, Golkana, Wrangell/St. Elias NP (Kennecott and McCarthy), back over to Seward (looked at going through Valdez and taking the ferry to Whittier but it is really expensive) and Kenai Fjords area. You might want to take a look at how long you are staying in Fairbanks…from everything I have been reading you don’t need a lot of time there. We are skipping Fairbanks since we have a 4×4 and can drive across the Denali Hwy. Your trip sounds awesome – we might cross paths with you! We are from San Diego, CA and take 3 week vacations every summer! Check out the blog: http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/ and go to their RV/Alaska section – you will get lots of great information about Alaska! Enjoy!

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Lisa! What an awesome blog you have! I only had time for a quick peek and I’ll be sure to come back and read more! We’ll keep an eye out for your RV when we’re in Alaska. Would be awesome to meet you guys!

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