We're going to have another epic road trip in North America next summer! Woohoo! We've already visited 44 of the Lower 48 states as well as four Canadian provinces. Now it's time to cross British Columbia and the Yukon and check out Alaska! I've been posting about our Alaska Bucket List, as well as the places we want to visit along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and the Alaska Highway. Time to put everything together to create our Alaska Road Trip Itinerary!
Important update: Since posting this itinerary I had some great feedback from fellow travelers on the TripAdvisor forums. So, I'm currently tweaking this itinerary. If you're thinking of using it, the main changes are:
- Fewer days at Fairbanks, Anchorage and Whitehorse. I was going to make these into "zero days" of resting in a vacation rental but I became convinced that we're better off using these to explore.
- Using these days, I've added 2 days at Valdez and one day exploring the Matanuska Glacier area, en route to Valdez.
An even more important update!! We did it! We drove all the way from Los Angeles to Alaska and back. Partially following this itinerary.
If you're planning on taking a road trip to the Last Frontier, make sure you read my detailed guide about driving to Alaska!
Why make such a detailed itinerary so far in advance?
Alaska is expensive. To keep this trip within our budget limits, we have to book accommodation this far in advance. And for that, I need to have a working itinerary.
For me, an itinerary is a plan that doesn't have to be followed to the letter. The weather, someone getting sick, the car breaking down or just our mood, can all affect implementation. Which is fine. We actually tend to be very flexible travelers but I still need to see that there's a basic plan that actually works for us.
I'm posting our itinerary for others who may be considering a similar trip. I'd also love to get feedback and more ideas!
Alaska Road Trip Itinerary: Considerations
When reading our Alaska Road Trip Itinerary, keep in mind that -
- We've traveled the US practically coast-to-coast 4 times and know how much driving we can and want to do every day. This may not suit others who prefer to drive less and see more (or the other way around!)
- We've already visited the Canadian Rockies (Banff & Jasper). That's why our route back down south goes through other locations.
- This is our first visit to Alaska but by no means the last. Our early retirement plans include switching to the RV lifestyle for a few years and we'll return to Alaska some day. So, I consider this trip "a taste of Alaska" and consciously skipped several places which made it into our Alaska Bucket List. That's also because...
- We need to keep this trip within our budget. Alaska offers so many wonderful excursions for travelers but for a family of four this can quickly get way too expensive.
- Experiencing local life is part of what we want to do. Hence slowing down at Alaska's cities, Fairbanks and Anchorage as well as in Whitehorse. We're going to rent AIRBnB apartments there and enjoy some slow travel for a bit.
With all that in mind, here it is -
Our big Alaska Road Trip itinerary!
This is what it looks like on the map -
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
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
There you have it - that's our Alaska Road Trip Itinerary for the summer of 2017.
Starting on August 8th should bring us back to drive the Going-To-The-Sun road (for the fourth time!) about a week before the expected closing date. We should be back in California for our flight home in early October without a problem
I know we did not include many awesome destinations like Valdez, Homer and the entire Inside Passage. We'll include them in our next trip to Alaska to keep this one within budget and time limitations.
Considering that, have we missed any interesting local item anywhere? I'd love to get feedback on this itinerary, especially from people who have visited or live in these areas. Thanks in advance for sharing your input in the comments section!
Going on a road trip? Don't miss out on my 37 tips for an awesome road trip. You may also want to check out my mega posts about Alaska travel - Driving to Alaska, How to reduce the cost of your Alaska trip and Which Alaska National Parks you should visit.