Starting and ending in Anchorage, you’ll take in the wonderful landscapes, cultures and wildlife of Alaska and Yukon on your own four wheels. You’ll get to explore incredible and unspoilt wilderness areas like Kluane National Park and Denali National Park, and visit historic gold mining towns that have hardly changed for years.
You’ll cruise – windows rolled down – along legendary roads like the iconic Top of the World Highway, and discover that these regions are packed with photographic opportunities. Snowy mountains, rich green forests, dazzling lakes and wide horizons are all part of the landscape. As you journey through Yukon and Alaska you can also expect to encounter a variety of interesting wildlife, from the rare dall sheep to intriguing beluga whales.
London – Anchorage – Talkeetna
Your journey kicks off in Alaska. Pick up your hire car and drive from Anchorage to Talkeetna, with the option to stop en route at the Alaska Native Heritage Centre. Talkteetna is a quintessential gold-mining town with a history dating back to the early 20th century. With dirt roads, log cabins, wooden sidewalks and clapboard storefronts, the town has retained much of its early Alaskan flavour and its locals are friendly and full of character.
Stay: One night in a guest lodge room at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Denali National Park
Next you will drive to Denali where you will have the day free to enjoy at your leisure. You could spend the entire time experiencing the majesty of the Denali National Park, with its glaciers, rivers, deep valleys and snowy peaks. Wildlife are often drawn to the glistening waters of the park’s Wonder Lake, so keep an eye out for wolves, dall sheep, moose, caribou and grizzly bears.
The following day enjoy a full-day narrated coach trip to the Denali Back Country Lodge. Your driver-guide will point out the biology of the area along the way, and stop now and again so you can view wildlife and take photos. You’ll have lunch at the lodge, and whilst there you can enjoy a nature walk or try panning for gold. A small bush plane will return you to the park entrance.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Grande Denali Lodge
En route to Fairbanks make a stop at the renowned Alaska University Museum where you can browse the finest natural history collection in Alaska. Dubbed the Golden Heart City of Alaska, Fairbanks is the gateway into the interior and during the summer can have nearly 24 hours of daylight. There are many activities to enjoy, including a fantastic opportunity to cross the Arctic Circle on a day tour. You can also soak in a natural outdoor rock lake at the Chena Hot Springs Resort.
Stay: Two nights in a double suite at Fairbanks SpringHill Suites by Marriot
Head south on the photogenic Richardson Highway which threads through thickets of White birch and Black spruce, and at times adjacent to the Tanana River. Soak in the raw and majestic beauty of the region as you drive into the central Alaska Range, before stopping for the night in Tok.
Stay: One night in a cabin at Cleft of the Rock Bed & Breakfast
Your journey continues along the aptly named Top of the World Highway, a route filled with photographic opportunities as you navigate spectacular backcountry and gold mining areas. When the highway reaches its highest elevation, you’ll access sensational and far-reaching views over the countryside.
You’ll cross the Yukon River by ferry into Dawson City, Yukon. It’s a charming historical town with beautifully restored buildings and its very own mountain – Midnight Dome. You’ll have a full day to explore the Dawson City’s historical sites which include the SS Keno – a preserved steamer – Jack London Cabin and the fascinating Gold Diggers Museum.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Dawson City
Continue south onwards to Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital city. You’ll stop to view the infamous Five Finger Rapids and numerous old post offices, tiny villages and road houses that echo the Gold Rush era of a century ago. You’ll arrive in Whitehorse – a unique city with urban flair and pioneer values – by the late afternoon.
Stay: One night in a deluxe room at Best Western Gold Rush Inn
Today’s drive via the South Klondike Highway, which connects the Yukon Territory with the Inside Passage ferry system in Alaska, offers some truly impressive scenery. Passing through the subalpine landscape of the Tormented Valley, scenic highlights include Tutshi Lake, Tagish Lake and the picturesque Emerald Lake.
Stay: One night in a standard room at Westmark Inn
This morning can be spent exploring Skagway’s old town before hopping on the Alaska Ferry to Haines in the afternoon. The relaxed one-hour journey will take you along the Lynn Canal which has impeccable fjord walls rising 7,000 feet above sea level. Haines is a small village located in the Valley of the Eagles, a place so named because of the thousands of American bald eagles that congregate along the nearby Chilkat River.
Stay: One night in a standard queen/double room at Hotel Halsingland
Today’s journey will lead you along the Haines Highway towards Haines Junction, which neighbours the glorious Kluane National Park. As well as being the biggest national park in Canada, the Kluane region covers the largest glacier area outside of the North and South Poles. Whilst here you can also enjoy the interpretive programs at the Sheep Mountain Visitor Centre, and look through a viewing telescope to see the snow-white Dall sheep grazing on the mountain slopes.
Stay: One night in a standard room at The Raven Hotel
The morning of day 13 will see you driving north along the shores of the vast and picturesque Kluane Lake. You’ll make a quick stop at Sheep Mountain before continuing on the Alaska Highway through seemingly endless wilderness areas. You’ll eventually arrive in Tok, which is known as the “Dog Mushing Capital of Alaska”.
Stay: One night in a cabin at Cleft of the Rock Bed & Breakfast
The journey from Tok to Valdez will give you a fabulous view of the Wrangell Mountains. Make a stop at the historic roadhouse in Copper Centre where you can watch native fish wheels at the nearby Copper River. Not long after the Worthington Glacier will come into view; you can walk along a boardwalk which leads right to the edge of the glacier.
In Valdez, which is commonly referred to as “the Switzerland of Alaska”, you’ll have opportunities for salmon fishing trips, cruise tours to the impressive Columbia Glacier, hiking and kayaking. You may also like to visit the terminus of the Alaska Pipeline Terminal.
Stay: One night in a view room at Best Western Valdez Harbour Inn
Valdez – Whittier – Seward
Today board the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry through the waters of Prince William Sound all the way to Whittier. As you sail keep an eye out for whales, seals and otters. Upon arrival, you will drive through the Whittier-Portage Tunnel, before joining the Seward Highway to Seward. Before you reach the city, it’s worth taking a detour to see the mighty Exit Glacier.
Stay: One night in a deluxe queen/double room at Exit Glacier Lodge
Seward – Anchorage – London
On the final morning of the trip enjoy a wildlife and glacier cruise into the beautiful Kenai Fjords National Park. Established in 1980, the park protects over 600,000 acres of Alaska’s most awesome wilderness, from countless glaciers to stunning fjords. You’ll then head back to Anchorage, enjoying the delights of the Seward Highway as you go – you might be lucky enough to spot beluga whales en route. You’ll have the evening at your leisure.
Return flight home from Anchorage.