9 Scenic Drives in Alaska That Will Take Your Breath Away

Share this post -

Alaska's expansive wilderness offers a natural beauty that is both untamed and magnificent.

As you embark on scenic drives, you'll encounter landscapes that range from the sparkling surfaces of untouched glaciers to the formidable heights of towering mountains.

Every journey reveals a landscape with breathtaking views, where each turn on the road presents new opportunities for exploration and wonder.

From the winding paths that hug the coastlines to the remote trails that cut through dense forests and lead to hidden lakes, each drive is a unique adventure waiting to be discovered.

Here are nine scenic drives in Alaska that are guaranteed to take your breath away.

1. Turnagain Arm Drive

Turnagain Arm on Kenai Peninsula on the way to Anchorage.

The Turnagain Arm Drive is a stunningly beautiful 50-mile route that arguably showcases some of the most mesmerizing views in Alaska.

Starting just outside of Anchorage, you'll be greeted by the sight of the Chugach Mountains rising dramatically as if to touch the sky.

Your journey will have the immense Cook Inlet by your side, where the tides are a remarkable natural phenomenon renowned for their strength and beauty.

Halfway through, pull off at Beluga Point, and you might just spot a beluga whale cresting the waters — a highlight not to be missed.

Further along, the Bird Creek area is perfect for a spot of salmon fishing or simply to observe the local wildlife that the pristine Alaskan wilderness supports.

Whether it's the summer bloom or the winter snow, the drive offers year-round access to stunning views and experiences.

2. Top Of The World Highway

Beautiful clouds over Taylor Higway at Chicken,Alaska

This route lives up to its name with panoramic views that make you feel like you're on top of the world. You'll trace the mountaintops, surrounded by the raw beauty of untouched landscapes.

The highway winds from the historic town of Dawson City, Yukon, and to Chicken, connecting with the Taylor Highway towards Tok.

The 79-mile gravel road portion boasts spectacular views of the vast valleys and the distant Alaska Range.

Driving here, you'll notice that nature unfolds in a symphony of colors, with wildflowers dotting the roadside and the midnight sun casting golden hues across the terrain.

The highest point along this route affords you not just a view but an experience, one where the horizon stretches endlessly.

An important tip: gas stations are few and far between, so fuel up when you can. Also, this unique drive is only possible in the summer, from June to September. In 2024, the border is set to open from June 1 through September 4.

3. Glenn Highway

Glenn Highway road driving from Anchorage to Seward with autumn colors and mountains

The Glenn Highway offers a beautiful 135-mile drive from Anchorage to Glennallen, where you'll witness nature's artistry at its finest.

As you travel, you'll encounter the breathtaking Matanuska Glacier, a highlight that's impossible to miss. The route has beautiful sights, including alpine meadows and the clear, reflective waters of Eklutna and Mirror Lakes.

You'll also come across the majestic Chugach Mountains and Mirror Lake, which offers a perfect spot for quiet reflection, inviting you to relax by its peaceful waters.

And as you venture closer to Glennallen, the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve looms into view, home to some of North America's tallest peaks.

The Glenn Highway is not just a road; it's a ribbon that connects you to Alaska's raw and untamed heart, each turn a new chapter in a story of discovery.

Since you're starting from Anchorage, why not take a slight detour? Consider exploring these itineraries from Anchorage to discover more incredible experiences beyond the scenic drives.

4. James Dalton Highway

James Dalton Highway - Road in Alaska

This 414-mile journey offers an unparalleled view of Alaska’s raw beauty, starting just north of Fairbanks and stretching all the way to the Arctic Ocean.

Your drive takes you through awe-inspiring sights like the Brooks Range, where twilight hues dance across towering peaks.

Depending on the season, the midnight sun or the shimmering aurora will keep you company (read this post to learn the best time to see the Northern lights). Prepare to cross the mighty Yukon River, where the water flows powerfully and relentlessly.

Do know that services are few and far between, so be sure to have extra food, water, and gasoline.

You'll also want to stop at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, where you'll gather insights and marvel at the pristine wilderness.

5. Portage Valley & Whittier Tunnel

A road winds through Portage Valley in Alaska.

The Portage Valley & Whittier Tunnel drive is a visual feast, where every twist and turn reveals something even more breathtaking than the last.

Along the way, you can visit the Begich Boggs Visitor Center, where you can gather insights about the glacier and the surrounding Chugach National Forest.

Have you ever driven through a mountain? The Whittier Tunnel, also known as the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, offers just that — a trip through North America's longest highway tunnel.

It carves a path straight through the mountain to the seaside town of Whittier, and it's a thrilling experience where the mountain envelops you before releasing you into a world of oceanic vistas.

6. Eagle Summit

Located near Fairbanks, this peak offers you an exhilarating day trip adventure. Notice the shimmering landscapes stretching before your eyes, with panoramic views that challenge the limits of your camera lens.

As you drive towards the summit, the road becomes your companion, weaving through the expansive wilderness. During the summer, the midnight sun casts an otherworldly glow, allowing you to bask in the paradox of nighttime daylight.

And if your timing is right, the northern lights might dance overhead, a free spectacle that outshines the brightest city skylines.

7. Old Glenn Highway

This charming stretch offers a glimpse into the rustic Alaskan farmlands flanked by breathtaking mountains and lush greenery.

The Old Glenn Highway stretches for 19 miles, offering picture-perfect views at every mile, giving you a glimpse into Alaska's early history. Along the drive, you have opportunities to see local wildlife and enjoy the peacefulness of the outdoors.

The highlight? It connects you to hidden gems where you can pause and indulge in the simple pleasures of nature.

Here, you'll stumble upon a charming Reindeer Farm or the Bodenburg Butte Trail leading to the stunning panoramic views of the surrounding Matanuska Valley.

The road is a serene path that will make you want to roll down your windows, fill your lungs with fresh, crisp air, and bask in the unobstructed panoramas.

8. Monashka Bay Road

This 12-mile scenic drive offers views of the Pacific coast, featuring hiking trails for exploring, tide pools, and a white-sand beach for a leisurely visit.

On Monashka Bay Road, each turn reveals a new secret of Alaska's majestic beauty. There's a story waiting at the Alutiiq Museum, a treasure trove of Alutiiq heritage where you'll find ancient artifacts and vibrant exhibits.

With the ocean on one side and green hills on the other, Monashka Bay Road represents the captivating appeal of Kodiak. It's truly a snapshot of Alaska waiting for you to explore.

9. Nome-Teller Highway

The Nome-Teller Highway is an awe-inspiring 73-mile stretch that drives through the small community of Teller. Here, you'll be on a path less traveled, following a route steeped in natural beauty.

This trip typically takes about 2 hours, though you may want to slow down to appreciate the expansive tundra and untouched views.

A key destination is Tiny Teller, an Inupiat community at the road's end, where you can experience the simplicity of subsistence living. On clear days, you might glimpse Russia across the waters, adding a unique perspective to your Alaska adventure.

Getting Ready For Your Journey Through Alaska's Scenic Landscapes

Starting a scenic drive in Alaska offers a variety of stunning views that linger in your memory well after your trip.

With each turn in the road and change in the landscape, these drives are a testament to Alaska's diverse splendor. Every drive is a chapter with a story that invites you to participate.

As you travel these scenic paths, you're not just passing through; you're experiencing the natural beauty firsthand. These drives go beyond mere transportation; they're opportunities to create lasting memories and personal stories.

So go ahead, embark on these drives with an open heart and a ready camera. Let Alaska's landscapes inspire you and become a part of your own adventure story!

Share this post -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *