The 10 BEST places to visit in Alaska – Road Trip in Alaska
Have you ever dreamed of road tripping in Alaska and visiting some of the most beautiful and desolate places on earth? Alaska is one home to some of the most remote wildness in the entire world. Road tripping Alaska is often looked at as the ultimate adventure for people wanting to get into the wilderness. Some of the most beautiful places in Alaska aren’t even accessible by car, and need to be reached by foot, plain or boat. Alaska is home to eight national parks which is the second most of any state besides California. Alaska is home to seven of the 10 largest national parks including Wrangell-St. Elias National Park which is the largest in the United States. Here are the top 10 places to visit in Alaska.
The top 10 Places to Visit in Alaska – Road Trip Alaska
10 – Ketchikan
9 – Homer
8 – Katmai National Park
7 – Kobuk Valley National Park
6 – Denali National Park
5 – Glacier Bay National Park
4 – Juneau / Skagway
3 – Kenai Fjords National Park
2 – Wrangell St. Elias National Park
1 – Gates of the Arctic National Park
10 – What to do in Ketchikan Alaska?
Ketchikan is located in the far southeast corner of Alaska only 50 miles from British Columbia. Ketchikan is not directly accessible driving as you will either need to hop on a ferry, take a plane ride, or join a cruise ship. Ketchikan is very popular among cruise ships destinations and is known for their totem poles throughout the entire time. It is home to a lot of wildlife also such as black-bear and bald eagles. There are a bunch of different museums and small monuments to enjoy during your time in Ketchikan Alaska. If you are looking to get away from the crowds and enjoy the raw beauty of Alaska, than Ketchikan won’t be to high on your list.
9 – What to do in Homer Alaska? – Top 10 places to visit in Alaska
Homer is a small fishing town located directly next to Kachemak Bay National Park. There are numerous restaurants to enjoy while spending time in Homer and local art shops. You can take a fishing / boat tour around Kachemak Bay and experience of seeing glaciers and wildlife by sea. Their is plenty of hiking available on the outskirts of Homer also incase you want to escape from the town for a bit. It has a similar feel to Ketchikan but is accessible in a car, as its only 4 and a half hours from Anchorage.
8 – What to do in Katmai National Park
Katmai National Park is a huge preserve located on the southern tail of Alaska with massive glaciers, mountain ranges and forests. The park is most famous for its brown bears and you can join a brown bear tour and watch them catching salmon in brook falls. To get to Katmai National Park you either need to fly, hike or take a boat as you cannot drive here. A good place to stay in order to reach Katmai is Homer as it is directly north of Katmai National Park. There are also multiple volcanoes inside the national park that you can check out! Another outdoor activity that Katmai is famous for is pack rafting out of the park.
Check out this packraft documentary of Mount Aniakchak
7 – Kobuk Valley National Park – Top 10 places to visit in Alaska
Kobuk Valley National Park offers some of the most diverse landscapes in all of Alaska, which is why it is apart of the top 10 things to do in Alaska. It is the second most northern national park in the United States other the the #1 spot on our list. It offers mountain ranges, sand dunes, rivers, forest, wildlife and wild caribou. There are no facilities in the national park, but during the summer you can hike, camp, fish and go sightseeing. The best way to reach Kobuk Valley National park is to catch a bush plane from one of the surrounding towns. During the winter months you can actually join a dogsled team to visit Kobuk Valley or a snowmobile.
6 – Things to do in Denali National Park (Top 10 things to do in Alaska)
Denali National Park is probably the most famous national park in all of Alaska which probably has you wondering why Denali is not first. Denali National Park is a great place to go to adventure and get a feel for the rural parts of Alaska. The national park itself is huge and has one main road going through the entire park system. You can get off the bus at almost any point and just start hiking into the park (watch for bears). We got off the Denali bus about an hour and half in and hiked to the top of a small mountain of the side of the road for lunch and to relax. We then hiked back down and hoped on a bus heading back to the entrance of the park. The park is completely empty from hikers which made us feel completely alone and free even though we were hiking right next to the road. The town of has plenty for families to do such as ATV rides, gold mining activities, amazing restaurants and so much more. The reason Denali isn’t first on the list is because it is very touristy compare to other national parks and we enjoy off the beaten path places the most. If you to learn more about Denali check out our blog when we road tripped Alaska.
5 – What to do in Glacier Bay National Park – Top 10 things to do in Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park is located in south east Alaska near Skagway and Juneau. There are over 1,000 glaciers inside the national park (hence the name) which is the main reason people visit via cruise ships and boat tours. You can also take a plane ride from Skagway or Juneau and actually land on a glacier. We took a bush plane from Talkeetna to Denali and landed on a glacier in the mountains. This was by far our favorite experience during our entire trip to Alaska, so I highly recommend you do this if you can. Another thing that Glacier Bay is famous for is their Halibut. You can book a fishing excursions and catch some of the largest Halibut in the world here.
4 – Is Juneau or Skagway better to visit in Alaska?
Juneau is by far the more populated and tourist place compare to Skagway but for good reason. It is the capital of Alaska even though most would think it would be Anchorage or Fairbanks considering Juneau is in the far southeast corner. Juneau is actually the second largest US city by area only behind its neighbor of Sitka. Outside of Juneau there are so small small islands you can kayak or take a boat to. There is endless hiking, restaurants and activities to keep you occupied. You can take a hike along Nugget Falls, ride the Tramway to get some amazing views from up above the city of the surrounding landscape. Skagway is famous for its gold-rush history and has some amazing museums and tours that you can indulge in to learn more. Skagway is also famous for its Yukon Route railroad which traverses through the inner pass of Alaska. The town of Skagway is a cute town that you can explore and spend your time roaming around finding unique shops to explore. If you want to get out in the wilderness look into a dog sled tour.
3 – Best things to do in Kenai Fjords National Park
Located directly next to the famous town of Seward is one of the most beautiful and diverse national parks in all of Alaska. If you plan to visit Kenai Fjords we recommend staying in the town of Seward at Resurrection Lodge on the Bay. Kenai Fjords offers some spectacular outdoor activity such as hiking, glaciers, kayaking, fishing, plane rides, and whale watching. Kenai Fjords truly has a little bit of everything for everyone and if you want to visit the glaciers book a tour through Kenai Fjords Tours. The town of Seward is a huge fishing town which means there is Halibut and Salmon on almost every menu in town. We wish we had spent another day in Seward as we would have had time to kayak around the bay and or hike into the national park and hopefully see some bears.
2 – Wrangell St. Elias National Park – Top 10 Places in Alaska
Most of you reading this have probably never heard of Wrangell St. Elias even though it is the largest National Park in the United States. It is also one of the least visited because there is only one 60 mile gravel road that enters into the park. The town of Kennicott is one of the coolest old mining towns you can visit in Alaska because of how remote it is. You can take a tour of the old mines from some of the local tour companies and get a real sense of how big and powerful these companies used to be. Wrangell St. Elias could have easily been first on this list but we are truly lovers of off the beaten path destinations and #1 is even more remote than this national park.
Kennicott also offers glacier hikes, ice climbing, river rafting, ski trips, base camp hiking and so much more. If you are looking to get away from the crowd and experience the true beauty that Alaska has to offer Wrangell St. Elias is for you. McCarthy has running water and electric so you won’t feel as if you are completely off the grid, although we barely had internet reception. The picture below is of the old copper mine that once used to thrive in the town of Kennicott / McCarthy.
Were to stay – McCarthy Lodge
Were to eat – Golden Saloon
1 – Gates of the Arctic National Park – The Least visited National Park
Gates of the Arctic National Park is #1 on our list of the top places to visit in Alaska because of how remote and undeveloped the entire national park is. We love exploring new places that aren’t touristed very often and unknown to the general public. Gates of the Arctic National Park only receives around 11,000 visitors every single year. The great smoky mountains national park gets around 30,000 visitors per day! Gates of the Arctic is truly every outdoor lovers paradise as there is not a single established road inside the national park. The best way to get in and out of the park is by plane, which can drop you off and pick you up after your backcountry experience.
What we love the most about Gates of the Arctic is that it truly is untouched beauty. If you don’t feel comfortable backpacking by yourself you can book an overnight air taxi that will fly you into the park, help you’re set up camp for the night along a river bed, and then fly out the next afternoon all with a local guide. There are Caribou and Bears scattered throughout the national park so be cautious if do you decide to backpack without a guide. You can also join a boating or kayaking tour down some of the multiple rivers in the National Park. Gates of the Arctic National Park is the most remote and untouched wilderness that you will find in Alaska to explore.