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Alaska Itinerary June 19, 2015

Drives (all with some stops):
Day 1
Anchorage (overnight in Anchorage) If your flight is long like ours was, rest up in ANC, maybe visit Point Worwonzof for a view of the water with downtown Anchorage in the background.  But if you have a short flight and are not too tired, get a head start on your activities…really, there is VERY little to do in Anchorage and not worth spending precious vacation time here.

day 2_ANC-Girdwood
Day 2

Anchorage to 20 mile river/ Portage/ WildLife Conservation Center and then back to Girdwood. 1hr total drive, very scenic. Stop on the way at Potter’s Marsh Wildlife and Bird viewing and stop at all the pullouts on the Turnagain Arm.

(overnight in Girdwood)

Day 3Day 3- Girdwood-Seward and back

Girdwood to Seward (visit SeaLife Center, take a cruise) and back to Girdwood. 4 hrs total drive,  very scenic drive. Lots of alpine forests with greenish blue rivulets and creeks.

(overnight in Girdwood)

Day 4Day 4- Girdwood to Talkeetna
Girdwood to Talkeetna 2.5-3 hr drive not scenic at all, very few places to stop for gas and rest rooms, almost none for food. Stop in Anchorage, buy tons of grocery, snacks, water and fill up your car’s pantry to last you 3-4 days. You are going to be bored on your drive and will want to snack-a-lot.

(overnight in Talkeetna)

Day Day 5-Talkeetna to Healy5

Talkeetna to Healy (Denali) 5 hr drive 160 miles, the second half of it (80 miles) are significantly prettier (tons of photo op)… but the last 12 miles the roads are horrible and slow, having a AWD/4WD will prove immensely helpful

(overnight in Healy)

Day 6

Healy to Denali NP and back

(overnight in Healy)

Day 7
Healy to anchorage… your GPS will say 4 hours, but really you are at the mercy of the cars in front of you because it is a long stretch of single lane highway. Our trip got interrupted big time by the #SockeyeFire and we feel so blessed to be safe and being able to go back to talkeetna for the night. Read more about the adventure in Alaska: Fireweed to Forest Fires

(planned overnight in Anchorage, but we stayed in Talkeetna instead)

Day 8
Anchorage (fly out)

But really don’t leave a whole vacation day to spend it in ANC, it’s a terribly boring place. If there are no natural disasters around you, take a drive to Potter’s Marsh, try out Kincaid Park (we didn’t like it), or drive again on the Turnagain Arm if you’re flying red-eye like we did.

Overall our itinerary covered over 1000 miles including all the back and forth. The key is to stop and savor the scenic parts even if it feels like getting out of the car every 5 minutes for a stretch, it really is worth it. Alaska is done by so many people in trains and buses and really those are great options. One of the main upsides of driving your own car is the ability to stop as many times and wherever you’d like… so do that if you’re driving.

Another big part of planning your itinerary is deciding on where to spend the nights…how to combine the night halts and rest with entertainment, food and adventures…read Alaskan communities: where to stay, what to do and where to eat, for our accounts of Anchorage, Girdwood, Seward, Talkeetna and Healy areas. Check out all our pics on my Flickr album

full itinerary

If I had to redo the same trip without kids (and not accounting for natural disasters and roadblocks) this is how I would plan it.

Day 1: Anchorage

Day 2: ANC-Girdwood (do local hikes) (maybe add Whittier if interested)

Day 3: Portage Glacier tour by GrayLine & drive further south  to SeaLife Center (or you can do glacier tours in Seward); omit SeaLife Center if you’re not interested

Day 4: Girdwood to Talkeetna (try to do this on a Friday, so you’re spending a weekend night in Talkeetna- lots of activities)

Day 5: Drive to Healy (canoe or boat in Otto Lake)

Day 6: Denali National Park (do a all-day tour or shuttle bus trip)

Day 7: Healy-Talkeetna

Day 8: Talkeetna-Anchorage and flight home from Anchorage

If traveling with kids:

Day 1: Anchorage

Day 2: ANC-WildLife center back to Girdwood (then do local hikes)

Day 3: Drive south to Seward  to SeaLife Center, spend some time in touristy Seward

Day 4: Girdwood to Talkeetna (try to do this on a Friday, so you’re spending a weekend night in Talkeetna- lots of activities)

Day 5: Drive to Healy (canoe or boat in Otto Lake)

Day 6: Denali National Park; drive in the 15 miles allowed, do the local hikes (baby carrier recommended)

Day 7: Healy-Talkeetna

Day 8: Talkeetna-Anchorage and flight home from Anchorage

Or spend an extra night in Girdwood and 2 extra nights in Talkeetna and only drive up to Denali State Park to view the gorgeous snowclad mountain ranges instead of all the way to Denali NP.
For more kid-friendly travel advice, read Traveling with kids

I hope you have lots of fun!


2 Responses to “Alaska Itinerary”

  1. […] We just got back from a 8 day long vacation in Alaska. Check out all our pics on my Flickr album. This travelogue is more a travel story, a collection of anecdotes. We created our own itinerary and learned as we went. So if you are looking to create your own itinerary, looking for the best/scenic routes and convenient stopovers: Alaska itinerary […]

  2. […] interested you can find our full itinerary and recommendations for planning here. And on the topic of planning, here are some cool places to stay and play […]

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