These include Denali a 16 million acre wilderness, sixteen of the country’s twenty tallest mountains, half the world’s glaciers and 34,000 miles of coastline, more than the east and west coasts of the ‘Lower 48’ combined.
Not surprisingly, there’s plenty of wildlife too, including bears, bald eagles, whales, sea lion and caribou.
Often considered America’s last frontier, this is an exciting destination for both the active traveler wanting to hike, fish or go white water rafting as well as those prefer to explore the landscapes of Alaska by car, coach or cruise ship along the legendary Inside Passage.
Upon arrival in Anchorage you will be met and transferred to the Captain Cook hotel downtown and the rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the sights.
With almost 300,000 people calling it home, Anchorage is the largest city and cosmopolitan centre of Alaska. While not the capital of the state, it is the self-proclaimed gateway to Alaska for many visitors. Built originally as a railway depot, the city grew with the development of the farming collective in the Mat-Su valley and the building of Air Force bases. With the discovery of oil, the city became the commercial and financial centre of the state.
Situated on the Pacific Ocean on Cook Inlet and moderated by the ocean, the city does not often get the extreme weather that much of Alaska is renowned for. A vibrant and unique city on the edge of the Alaskan wilderness – parks, trails, and moose all for a unique setting, and there are plenty of opportunities for exploring if you choose. The quaint log cabin visitor centre is a good place to start.
Stay: 2 nights Captain Cook hotel Anchorage
Anchorage to Seward (204 km / 127 mi)
Drive along the Seward Highway towards Turnagain Arm, a body of water featuring the world’s second highest tides at over 30 feet. Keep an eye out for Beluga whales chasing salmon in the bay.
A great stop for lunch is the Alyeska Ski Resort/Girdwood where you can take the tram up Mt. Alyeska while in Seward we suggest a visit to Exit Glacier and the SeaLife Centre.
Stay: 2 nights Exit Glacier Lodge, Seward
Take an all-day Kenai Fjords National Park cruise to inspect amazing tidewater and alpine glaciers and visit the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, an island home to teeming seabird rookeries.
Seward to Homer (270 km / 168 miles)
Following the Sterling Highway, a designated scenic highway with its many active volcanoes (known as the “Ring of Fire”), deep ocean bluffs, the salmon-rich Kenai River and magnificent coastline.
Stay: 2 nights at Land’s End Resort
Known as the “Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea” and “The Halibut fishing capital of the World” Homer sits on an amazing natural stage with the looming peaks of the Kenai Mountains standing sentry over Kachemak Bay. There are good places to eat, art galleries, museums, a theatre and music venues.
Homer to Cooper Landing (193 km / 120 mi)
A scenic drive to Ninilchik, the oldest settlement on the Kenai Peninsula established in the 1820s by the Russian-American Company for its elderly employees who could not endure the long journey back to Russia.
At Cooper Landing you can enjoy a two-hour float trip on the Upper Kenai River. Have your camera ready as you keep a keen watch for moose, eagles, Dall sheep, salmon and bears as your guide navigates you through the snow-capped mountain scenery.
Stay: 1 night Kenai Princess Wilderness Resort
Cooper Landing to Girdwood (106 km / 66 mi)
Girdwood is the home of the only 5-star resort in Alaska, the Hotel Alyeska. In the afternoon, experience dog sledding on a glacier and a scenic helicopter flight.
Stay: 1 night Alyeska Resort
Girdwood to Talkeetna (241 km / 150mi)
Continuing north, keeping an eye out for beluga whales making their way towards the Cook Inlet. Pass through Anchorage and drive the Glenn Highway north to Wasilla and onto Talkeetna which has retained much of its early Alaskan flavour.
Log cabins, a roadhouse and clapboard storefronts line the dirt streets, colourful locals and bush pilots stroll the wooden sidewalks, while Mount McKinley looms overhead.
Stay: 1 night Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Talkeetna to Denali National Park Entrance (169 km / 105 mi)
Entrance to Denali Backcountry Lodge by bus (149km/93mi)
Leave your vehicle at the entrance to Denali National Park and transfer by bus deep inside the park to your Lodge. Look out for different animal species such as bears, caribou, moose, sheep, wolves and a variety of birds as you travel within the park.
Stay: 2 nights Denai Back country Lodge, Kantishna
Day 11 – Denali Back Country Lodge, Kantishna.
Nestled in a snug valley, the Denali Backcountry Lodge is a true wilderness experience. Activities include day hikes, gold panning, botany walks and mountain biking.
Day 12 – Denali Backcountry Lodge to Denali National Park Entrance, with the rest of the day yours to explore Denali Village.
Stay: 1 night Grande Denali Lodge
Denali National Park Entrance to Anchorage (383 km / 238 mi)
A recommended stop is at Wasilla and the Iditarod Headquarters, home of the ‘Last Great Race on Earth ‘.
Arrive in Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska and visit some of the area attractions.