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Alaska

DAYS STYLE BUDGET
10 Active $$
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Shweta Reddy

Introduction

Alaska is enormous and is home to many of the best National Parks in USA. You can hike, climb, go fishing, take a cruise etc. and basically spend months exploring Alaska. This itinerary includes hikes, activities and sight seeing around three national parks. Be prepared to drive long distances but in Alaska that's not a bad thing.

Trip starts and ends in Anchorage.

Alaska Map

Itinerary

Day 1

Anchorage

car icon Anchorage to Seward

This will be the first of many long drives. Start in the morning so that you have time for some activities later in the day.

Drive time: Approx. 3hrs

Kayak in Resurrection Bay

Half day Kayak to Bridal Veil Waterfall. We saw dolphins and were surprised by an impromptu dolphins show while kayaking. We went with Miller's Landing tours.

Seward Hotels

It's a small town. Try to stay close to the Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward Hotels


Day 2

Seward

Harding Icefield

Hike to the see the spectacular view of ice/snow/whiteness all around. There is a very likely possibility of walking in a foot of ice near the top so wear really waterproof shoes and pants. The trail head is in Kenai Fjords National Park. Be prepared for bears, we saw black bears on the trail.

Difficulty: Strenuous

Time: Approx. 8hrs

Seward Hotels

Same as day 1.


Day 3

Seward

Kenai Fjords Boat Tour

You cann't go to Alaska and not do a boat tour. I recommend a full day tour with Kenai Fjords Tours. We saw otters, puffins, seals, dolphins and whales.

car icon Seward to Anchorage

Back to Anchorage to continue deeper into Alaska.

Anchorage Hotels

It's the biggest city in Alaska with many hotel options.

Anchorage Hotels


Day 4

Anchorage

Flat Top Mountain hike

Short and fun hike close to Anchorage. If you like scrambling you will like this hike. On a good day you can see Mt. Denali from the top. There are not many "can see Mt. Denali" days in Alaska but even on a regular day the views are amazing. Directions to the trailhead can be found at Chugach State Park and checkout the trail map.

car icon Anchorage to Copper Center

The idea is to break down the very long to McCarthy, Wrangell St. Elias National Park into two days via Copper Center.

McCarthy is a very tiny village inside the national park and you will have to drive on 59 miles long gravel road towards the end to get to McCarthy. Most cars rented at the airport do not allow driving on McCarthy road in which case you will have to switch your car in Anchorage for a sturdier 4x4 with a waiver to drive on McCarthy road.

Drive time to Copper Center: Approx. 4hrs

Copper Center Hotels

Hotels in Copper Center.

Vacation rentals are also a good option. We stayed at Sawing Logzz.


Day 5

Copper Center

car icon Cooper Center to McCarthy

Its 1hr drive to Chitina, AK where the good road ends and the gravel road begins. The 59 miles of gravel road takes about 3hrs. For directions and latest road conditions check the Wrangell St. Elias National Park website.

All cars have to be parked just outside the town. You can take the shuttle to the town or ask your hotel to pick you up. You can also walk if you have backpacks. We looked really stupid, dragging our luggage and walking!

Drive time: Approx. 4hrs

McCarthy Hotel

This is a town where everyone knows everyone. It has around 50-100 residents in summer and around 20 in winter. There are not many hotel options here.

We stayed at McCarthy Lodge.

Other McCarthy Hotels

If no hotels are available, you can camp. There are plenty of camp sites.


Day 6

McCarthy

Ice Climbing

When in Wrangell, do ice climbing. It will be the best thing you do. Steliasguides are probably the only ones that organize the tour and they are very good.

McCarthy Hotel

Same as day 5.


Day 7

McCarthy

Fly over Wrangell

You can take a hour long air tour in one of the small planes. Get a bird's eye view of the mountains and glaciers.

car icon McCarthy to Copper Center

Drive back to where you came from.

Copper Center Hotels

Same as day 4.


Day 8

Copper Center

car icon Copper Center to Anchorage

Instead of driving 6-7hrs straight to Denali take a break in Chugach State Park, Anchorage and do a quick hike. If you like you can switch from the 4X4 to a regular car in Anchorage.

Find directions to the trail head here.

Time: Approx. 3.5 hrs

Eagle and Symphony Lakes

car icon Anchorage Denali Park Village

Head to Denali for the night.

Time: Approx. 4 hrs

Denali Park Village

Stay close to the national park to get a head start the next day. I recommend Denali Park Village, they have nice lodges right on the river bank.

Denali Park Village


Day 9

Denali

Denali tour

Private cars can only go as far as 15 miles in Denali. Best way to explore Denali is to take one of the national park bus tours. They have many half day, full day and guided tours. More information on NPS website.

We did a full day tour and got to see a lot of wildlife and did one ranger led hike but it was hard not to doze off on long bus ride. I recommend doing a shorter shuttle ride and combining it with a hike.

Denali Park Village

Same as day 8.


Day 10

Denali

car icon Denali to Anchorage

Drive back to Anchorage.

Drive time: Approx. 4hrs


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