Humpbacks to eagles, glaciers to fjords, Indian villages to gold rush towns – Alaska is wilderness on a grand scale
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- Fly over Mt. McKinley – America’s tallest mountain
- Spot whales on fjord cruises
- Hike through a caribou-dotted wilderness
- Drive impossibly scenic routes to stop at remote glaciers
- Stay in homely mountain lodges
- 1 Night Anchorage
- 2 Nights Seward
- 1 Night Talkeetna
- 2 Nights Denali National Park
- 1 Night Fairbanks
- 2 Nights Valdez
- 1 Night Glacier View
- 1 Night Anchorage
Free car hire | Natural world | Self-drive | Wildlife
This comprehensive road trip showcases ‘The Last Frontier’ at its very best, with included excursions that range from scenic flights over the continent’s tallest mountain to a pair of fjord cruises that bring you to husky kennels and pods of whales. You’ll even enjoy a guided drive and hike in a national-park wilderness, spotting bear and moose as you go. Along the way, you’ll link cosy lodge stays in old gold rush outposts with scenic drives that plunge through forests, summit high mountain passes and skirt beluga-dotted rivers.
Day by day itinerary
Begin your trip with complimentary airport lounge access before you board your overnight flight to Alaska.
On arrival, you’ll pick up your hire car at the airport to make the short drive to your central hotel, perhaps relaxing after your flight with a dip in the hot tub or soak in the sauna. Otherwise, you’ll be perfectly poised to explore, with the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail just three blocks away. A hiking route right in the middle of the city, its verdant route showcases sweeping views of the Chugach Mountains, Fire Island and the glittering fjord. Otherwise, Alaska’s largest city welcomes with polar bear zoos, a native heritage centre and a collection of hearty restaurants.
Stay: Hotel Captain Cook (Superior)
This morning, you’ll head out on the spectacularly scenic Seward Highway, tracing riverside contours before plunging into pine-tree-dotted valleys. You’ll also brush up against Turnagain Arm – the perfect place to spot beluga whales chase salmon. You might also want to pause for the cable-car ride up snow-capped Mt. Alyeska’s or a trip onto Exit Glacier. Then, overnighting in a homely timber lodge, you’ll enjoy an included full-day cruise on the Northwestern Fjord. Look out for whales, sea lions and eagles as your small-vessel route brings you up to the great glaciers and carving cliffs of the Kenai Fjords National Park. You’ll also be treated to a complimentary breakfast and deli lunch.
Stay: Exit Glacier Lodge (Standard)
Retracing your route back towards Anchorage you’ll then turn north, through the plains of the Knik River Delta, to arrive at Talkeetna. Home to fewer than 1,000 people, this turn-of-the-century gold rush outpost retains much of its Alaskan heritage, with log cabins and clapboard houses lining wooden sidewalks. It’s all watched over by Mt. McKinley – North America’s tallest peak and the backdrop to your cosy lodge.
Stay: Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (Superior)
Continuing north, you’ll have two days in Denali National Park – a true wilderness of spruce forests, towering mountains and myriad wildlife. To get your bearings, we’ve included a full-day tour. You’ll head out along a restricted road by coach, your guide keeping you informed on the local geology while pointing out bears, caribou and moose. After an included lodge lunch, you’ll then have a choice between panning for gold and a guided hike before a scenic, bush-plane flight brings you back via close-up views of Mt. McKinley. Between nights at a mountain lodge, you’ll also have time to explore at your own pace, with river walks and backcountry bike rides among the highlights.
Stay: Grande Denali Lodge (Standard)
Travelling along the Parks Highway, you’ll journey on through mountain-framed forests to arrive at Fairbanks. Here, you’ll be treated to a river cruise into the Alaskan interior aboard a historic sternwheeler paddleboat. Travelling the region’s sweeping, tree-lined waterways, you’ll watch floatplanes take off, visit a champion sled dog kennel and enjoy a personalised tour of the Chena Indian Village. Perhaps end the day with a hot-tub soak at your contemporary waterfront accommodation.
Stay: Springhill Suites by Marriott, Fairbanks (Superior)
Today you’ll turn south along the lake-dotted Richardson Highway to reach the dramatic vistas of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. A UNESCO-listed natural treasure, it’s the size of Ireland and features no fewer than nine of North America’s 16 highest peaks. Be sure to pause at Thompson Pass for giant views of Worthington Glacier before your descent into Valdez. Here, you’ll end days spent kayaking, rafting, hiking and cruising with the chance to sip cocktails in your hotel’s harbourside cocktail bar. For the more adventurous, there’s everything from white-water rafting to heli-skiing.
Stay: Best Western Valdez Harbour Inn (Standard)
Dipping north again, you’ll follow the Glenn Highway through near-endless plains of pine to arrive at Sheep Mountain Lodge. Comprising just a handful of log cabins, this rustic retreat has been hosting weary travellers for over 70 years with home-cooked meals dished up to pretty mountain views. The freshly caught Alaskan salmon is especially good. But, with those spectacular panoramas on your doorstep, you’ll want to explore with over twelve miles of hiking trails setting off from your cabin. There’s also the likes of river rafting, mountain bike trails and scenic flights.
Stay: Sheep Mountain Lodge (Standard)
Your last leg will see you pass the remote communities of the verdant Mat-Su Valley, affording you the chance to stop off at the Independence Mine State Historical Park. Here, you’ll be able to learn about the 19th-century life and work of Alaska’s hardy gold prospectors. You’ll then end back in Anchorage, perhaps celebrating your trip with a tasting visit to one of the city’s microbreweries.
Stay: Hotel Captain Cook (Superior)
Depart for UK
Dropping your car back at the airport, board your flight home.
Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.
13-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,290 incl. flights
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