The Best 10 day Road Trip in Alaska – Alaska Itinerary 10 Days
Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on earth. This Guide will highlight the best spots to visit while on your Alaska road trip itinerary. The remote wilderness and wild animals grabs everyone’s attention and makes them want to visit. A road trip in Alaska is going to be the one that is unforgettable, with so much to see we have narrowed down the must see places into a 10 day Alaska Itinerary.
Alaska is a top destination for most travelers, as it should be. With that being said, it also means an Alaska road trip is more expensive than other places because of its popularity and remote location. Here is a complete travel guide to an Alaska 10 day vacation. Find cheap flights to Alaska!
Best Time to Road Trip Alaska: May – September
- My dates – June 21st – July 30th
- The best weather is from June to August (Alaskan summer)
- We didn’t run into “over” touristy areas
- Sun doesn’t set
- Little Rain
Alaska’s bug season is in May, so we were lucky enough to not encounter too many bugs or mosquitos. We only encountered rain while down in Seward, which is known for being rainy because of the Kenai Peninsula. I don’t recommend going in the winter because of the minimal daylight, harsh winter conditions, tourist attractions and national parks are closed. An Alaska vacation is going to be best during the summer months, but don’t worry no place we went felt over touristy.
How to get around Alaska: Car or Train – 10 Days in Alaska
During our Alaska road trip we chose to use a rental car from Alaska 4×4 Rentals They allow all of their vehicles to go on any road in Alaska, including the road to McCarthy. Most rental companies will not allow their vehicles to go on gravel roads or charge an extra fee of $500 or more. We ended up renting a 2018 Jeep Cherokee that only had 1,500 miles on it. They replace their vehicles every year and offer a 10% military discount. I highly recommend them, they are located in the North Terminal (International Flights) and are only a 5 minute walk from the South Terminal (Domestic Flights). Another advantage about Alaska 4×4 Rentals , the driver only has to be 21 unlike other companies which require drivers to be 23.
Alaska Road Trip Travel Guide – (10 Day Alaska Itinerary)
Day 1 – Arrive in Anchorage
Day 2 – Explore Anchorage
Day 3 – Glacier Landing in Denali
Day 4 – Hiking in Denali National Park
Day 5 – ATV in Denali
Day 6 – McCarthy Alaska
Day 7 – Ice Climbing
Day 8 – Drive to Seward
Day 9 – Kenai Peninsula (Kenai Fjords Tour)
Day 10 – Drive back to Anchorage
Day 1 – Arrive in Anchorage – The Start of your 10 days in Alaska
Begin your Alaska vacation by flying into Anchorage as it is generally cheaper than Fairbanks and there is a lot more to do. Depending on what time you arrive in anchorage you could either have a full day or no time at all to explore on your first day. We flew into anchorage and landed around 7:30pm, and picked up essentials such as water bottles, food. We ate dinner in the hotel for the first night since it was late.
We stayed at a Best Western in Anchorage for 2 nights, that had breakfast (not included) that started at 6:30am and a bar inside of the hotel. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone coming to alaska because they were reasonbly priced and right off the Seward highway.
Anchorage consists of 2/3 of all of Alaska’s population, but even when driving around in peak season there was not a lot of traffic. At least compared to cities in the lower 48, and even the shopping districts didn’t feel all that crowded. I wouldn’t recommend staying in a hotel on the outskirts of Anchorage because it feels more like a suburban town rather than a city.
Day 2 – Alaska Road Trip Itinerary (Anchorage)
This day in your Alaska Itinerary it is very flexible and completely up to you. There are countless things to do in anchorage such as museums, shopping, day hikes, and excursions. But with only one day I recommend checking out the Native American Heritage Center in Anchorage. They offer history on all the different cultures in Alaska. There is also countless native Alaskans working there that will tell you how people used to live, cook, hunt, and preserve. I found it very informative and spent around 2 hours walking around the site.
Another museum I recommend is the Alaskan Air Museum This museum is huge and consists of information on how Alaska really expanded due to plane travel. It also depicts the role Alaska and the Aleutian Islands played in World War II in multiple rooms throughout the museum as it is also scattered with historical planes. The last museum I recommend but didn’t go myself would be the Anchorage Museum. It is located in the heart of Anchorage, we never went but the locals in Alaska recommended going there.
Depending on you or your group’s interest, I either recommend going for a day hike in or near anchorage. Another option would be to walk around the market in anchorage by the water. We decided to go on a popular hike in Girdwood, it is about a 45 minute drive south of Anchorage called the winner creak trail which is a 3.5 miles each way and ends at the Alyeska Hotel which is a massive and gorgeous resort in the mountains. It was a great day hike and includes a hand tram, which is the coolest way to travel across the river flowing below.
Day 3 – Glacier Landing in Denali National Park
- Drive from Anchorage to Talkeetna for flight and than drive to Denali
- Anchorage to Talkeetna – 2.5 hour car ride
- Flight Schedule – Arrive at 10:30am for 11am plane departure
- Talkeetna to Denali – 2.5 hour car ride
The very best way to see Alaska in 10 days is to take a bush plane over the vast wilderness. No Alaska Vacation could be complete without getting a view of Denali National Park from the sky. The HIGHLIGHT of the entire trip and one of the best experiences of my life. No matter what type of tourist you are I highly recommend including this flight in Denali National Park to any Alaskan vacation. A two-hour round trip flight from Talkeetna to Denali National Park with a glacier landing. We did our tour through K2 Aviation which offer military discounts, and is only a 2.5 hour drive north of Anchorage. We did the Denali Flyer with Glacier landing which was $375 per person. It is an expensive flight but it was well worth the money as all four of us kept saying that it was the best experience of our trip. Flying over the wilderness into Denali was amazing, and once we reached the mountains it was breathtaking. We flew directly in-between mountains which make you realize just how truly massive they are. The pilot talked to us via headsets and was telling us information throughout the flight which made everything come alive. You land on the ruth glacier in-between the mountain range. Words cannot describe how amazing the experience was and I recommend spending the extra money for the glacier landing.
After the plane ride I recommend walking around the town of Talkeetna which is a 5 minute walk from K2 Aviation. It’s a small town with lots of shops and places to eat so don’t worry about planning where to eat as there are so many options once you get there. We ending up eating at Kahiltna Bistro which was across the street. They have a nice front deck for outdoor seating and serve anything from burgers to crab cakes.
After Talkeetna drive 2.5 hours to Denali Grizzly Bear Resort and spend 3 nights there.
Day 4 – Denali National Park – Alaska Itinerary 10 Days
The next 2-3 days in your Alaska road trip itinerary will be spent at Denali. Wake up early, and hop on a bus at the visitor center to tour the park. The buses drive slow in the park so get there early so you have time to hike.
You will be able to hop of the bus anywhere in the park but some areas are restricted for hiking because of animals, but most of its free to hike. We got off around mile 45 after a bridge and just roamed around the park for a few hours before boarding back up. I recommend at least taking the bus to the Toklat River as that is where the park really opens up and the road rises in elevation.
- The Toklat River: 7-8 hours in the park to either Mile 53
- To Kantishna: 11-12 hours in the park to Mile 92
After the Toklat River the road is much more flat and in the valley and means less time for hiking. I recommend stopping between mile 27 and 50 to go hiking off trail to get the full experience and hopefully see bears, moose, bald eagles or dall sheep.
We ended up eating dinner at Prospectors Pizza.
Day 5 – ATV Tour in Denali National Park
After hiking the previous day it will be nice to get off your feat and go for an adventure ride on the outskirts of Denali National Park (No ATVS are allowed in Denali). We did our excursion through Denali ATV Adventures and rented two side by sides. The tour went from 10am to 2pm. There were about 10 total vehicles in the group which slowed the speed down but it was still a great time as you drive through small streams about two feet deep.
This is where you can choose to do a couple of different things with your Alaska Itinerary because ATV’s may not be for everyone. I would recommend going back into the park to hike (I wish we had more time in the park).
The ATV excursion was $250 per Side by Side and the guides are informative and will tell you history about the area you are driving in. The ride is rough as it’s all gravel roads or river beds you are driving through. (Make sure you book in advance)
After the tour you will have the rest of the day to relax, get some good food to eat and prepare for the long drive ahead tomorrow. Eating out everyday in Alaska can become very expensive so I recommend grabbing dinner at a local food truck for about $10 a meal. Thai and Chinese food is very popular in Alaska so you can be sure to find different types of food.
Day 6 – Drive to McCarthy – 10 Days in Alaska
This day will be almost completely dedicated to driving, as it takes 10 hours to drive to McCarthy from Denali. McCarthy only has 28 year round residence and will be the most remote location you experience on this Alaska road trip. (Yes; there is electric, running water and toilets)
Where to stay: McCarthy Lodge which includes two Hotels; Ma Johnsons Hotel or a cheaper version the Lancaster Backpacker Hotel. Buffet breakfast is included with both hotels.
NOTE: The road to McCarthy is a 60 mile stone road with huge potholes and 35 mph speed limit. Make sure you plan ahead during your Alaska trip because most rental companies don’t allow cars on this road.
I Recommend leaving very early in the morning so that you are able to catch the 3:30pm tour (last tour of the day) of the Kennicott Copper Mine since you won’t have time the following day. The town is known for this mine, as it is what started the tourist boom here. The tour takes around 2.5 hours, very informative and unique as there is nothing else like it.
After your tour I recommend going to the Golden Saloon for dinner as they have burgers, fish and beer.
Day 7 – Ice Climbing in Wrangell St. Elias National Park
You will be outside all day so prepare to pack enough food and a water bottle. You only need one bottle as you can drink the water that is melting off the glacier. This day spent on the glaciers was one of my favorites during our Alaskan road trip and we would recommend to anyone.
What to pack for Lunch: We got our lunch at the Bistro which is where your included breakfast is served. You order your lunch the night before and then pick it up in the morning before you go on your Ice Climbing tour. The lunch come with a wrap, chips and a cookie.
What tour package: There are two companies that offer ice climbing tours. I recommend choosing Kennicott Wilderness Guides for your tour because it will be just your group.
We did the full day ice climbing tour which is anywhere from 7-9 hours. They give you all your gear including gloves, helmet, boots and sunglasses. I recommend wearing layers as I regularly got hot and then cold.This tour includes a free shuttle to Kennicott so don’t buy tickets that day. The pick you up and drop you off at your hotel when the day is over.
We arrived at 9:30am and got back to their store at 8pm. Our guide was the nicest person in the world as we were out for over 10 hours. He even offered for us to keep climbing until 10pm because it doesn’t get dark but we were too tired. Very knowledgable and friendly guide who helped us out in any way he could. You will realize that during your Alaska road trip that temperatures change a lot during the day so be sure to wear multiple layers.
Ice Climbing: The day was absolutely amazing and a one of a kind experience, but not as tough as you might think. I found ice climbing to be easier than rock climbing because your spikes hold you up so well. You don’t need to be an amazing athlete to do this as all four of us made it to the top of every single climb. You also get to relax while other people in your group are climbing and while the guide sets up the anchor which means you don’t be burnt out from climbing.
After the long day of Ice Climbing we went to the Potato for dinner which is cheaper than the Golden Saloon and right on the outskirts of McCarthy.
Day 8 – Scenic Drive to Seward – 10 day Kenai Peninsula
Day 8 is another full day dedicated to driving, and is 9 hours from McCarthy. The Seward highway is known as one the most beautiful drives and will be one of the most scenic along your Alaska road trip.
Depending on when you arrive in Seward you can either walk around the town which has a bunch of restaurants and shopping outlets or just hangout at your hotel. Seward is a small fishing town that will be the coldest place you visit during this trip. It was 45 degrees at the end of June.
Where to stay: We stayed 2 nights at the Resurrection Lodge which I could praise more. Buffet breakfast included, king size beds, cabin style rooms, and views of the bay and mountains from our window. This was our favorite hotel from the entire trip. It’s about 5 minutes past Seward which is nice because it’s so quiet.
Best food in Seward:
Things to do in Seward Alaska:
Day 9 – Kenai Fjords – 10 day Kenai Peninsula
The entire day will be spent touring Kenai Fjords National Park by boat while watching wildlife such as otters, whales and sea lions. There are many different tour options to choose from depending on how much you like being on the water.
We did our tour through Kenai Fjords Tours which offer 6 different tour packages. We did the 9 hour tour which was amazing but we felt was too long. With that being said, I recommend the 6 hour Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which departs at 8am or 11:30am.
Weather: It was 45 and raining the entire day on our tour.
- Bring a rain jacket and a sweatshirt also
- Lunch wraps and chips are included
- Cinnamon rolls are served in morning
- Chocolate chip cookies are served when returning to Seward
After the tour the day is yours! Go to dinner or just head back home and relax.
Day 10 – Free Day / Back to Anchorage
For your last day on your Alaska road trip I have left it open. There are countless things that you can do in in-between Seward and Anchorage. It’s only a 2.5 hour drive back to Ted Stevens airport in Anchorage so there is no need to rush back.
There are plenty of day hikes in Seward and Anchorage or you can rent Kayaks in Whittier which is about the midway point. Tours are offered or you can rent them without a guide for cheaper.
Other options: Top 10 places to visit in Alaska
- Do activities in Anchorage you didn’t do the 2nd day (Museum, Market)
- Rent Bikes in Moose Pass
- Hike Mount Marathon in Seward
- Fishing Excursion in Seward (Expensive)
Once your day is over you will need to drop your car off at Ted Stevens International Airport. I recommend leaving as late as possible so that way you can enjoy a full final day. Our flight left at 1:30am the following day and landed back in PHL at 3:30pm.
If you have any questions feel free to contact us! Enjoy your Alaska Vacation!
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