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If there is one destination about which I receive more questions than any other, it’s Alaska. At the core, everyone wants to know: how do you plan a trip to Alaska?

Since I started this blog, I’ve become a bit of an expert in Alaska trip planning and at times I publish so many stories that it seems like I’m running an Alaska travel blog! After all, I grew up in Alaska and I go back to explore my ‘home’ state with some frequency (about every 2-3 years). On top of that, I worked for three summers in hospitality. I love answering questions and giving tips about how to plan a trip to Alaska, The Last Frontier!

If you’re planning a trip to Alaska – a destination many people dream of visiting for years – you’ve got to do it right. As a local and one who has worked in hospitality, I’m happy to share all my knowledge and tips so you can have an amazing trip.

Bonus! I just set up this new quiz as an Alaska trip planner you. If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, check it out to get a ✨customized itinerary✨ based exactly on your own travel details and preferences.

“Write what you know,” they say. Okay, friends. Let’s do this!

This post was published in September 2017, and was updated in October 2018, March 2019, September 2019, and April 2020.

Tips for Planning a Trip to Alaska

Fireweed in Alaska

Alaska is a bucket-list destination for many travelers, so there are some important details to know before you start planning your trip.

Note: This post has been updated for 2020 to reflect accurate prices and times for all suggested activities and accommodations. If you see an error, please let me know in the comments or email me.

The Best Months to Visit Alaska

Though most people don’t, you can visit Alaska year-round. Yes, it’s colder and darker in the winter, but there are several reasons to visit during Alaska’s winter months:

Similar reasons make visiting in the shoulder season (spring and autumn) appealing. If you’re on the fence, I put together a list of reasons to visit Alaska in the spring (these apply to autumn too).

If you’re looking for the best weather, it’s undeniable that the best months to visit Alaska are June through August. These are the months with the best weather – most sun and least rain – and warmest temperatures. Unfortunately, this short peak season means you’ll be visiting at the same time as every other traveler, so consider whether shoulder or off-season travel might be a better option for you.

Almost all of the activities I recommend in this post are only available in the summer months. If you plan a trip to Alaska in the spring, autumn, or winter, be sure to check available dates before you book.

Booking a Guided Tour vs. Doing it On Your Own

Many people visit Alaska as part of a cruise or guided tour, as these tour operators make it easy to see popular cities and sights without worrying about logistics.

While it’s definitely easier to book with a tour operator or guide, it’s not too hard to visit Alaska on your own and book everything independently. Alaska may be ‘The Last Frontier,’ but it has all the modern amenities you need, and with a smartphone or map, you can easily navigate yourself around the large state. That’s why I’ve put together this itinerary and so many others as an Alaska trip planner for you!

The Cost of Travel in this Alaska Trip Itinerary

Alaska is not a cheap destination, especially in summer when prices are higher because of the tourist season. Many “normal” conveniences (like groceries and food) will be more expensive, as they need to be imported from the “Lower 48.” Though a lot of oil comes from Alaska, gas prices are not significantly cheaper; you can expect a gallon of gas to cost roughly the same as one in New England.

What to Pack for Alaska

Pack for Alaska Hero

If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, you need to pack the right gear. It’s not the kind of destination where you’ll enjoy yourself if you’re underdressed or underprepared! I’ve put together a full packing list for Alaska, but here are some quick tips:

  • Pack layers! You can always take them off.
  • Pack rain gear. You don’t want to spend the whole trip feeling damp and cold.
  • A hat, gloves, and scarf can’t go wrong, even in summer.
  • Skip the skimpy shoes and opt for sturdy walking or hiking shoes.
  • Throw sunglasses and an eye mask in your bag. That Midnight Sun is bright!

See the full packing list here.

Alaska Trip Planning Tip: By Train or By Car?

As you’ll see as you read the rest of this Alaska itinerary for 10 days, there are two main times where you’re traveling a long distance during your 10 days in Alaska:

  1. Anchorage to Denali (Day 3) and back (Day 6)
  2. Anchorage to Seward (Day 6) and back (Day 10)

Let’s break each one down!

Anchorage to Denali and Back

  • Travel distance and time:
    • By car – approximately 4 hours
    • By train – approximately 7.5 hours
  • What I recommend: Train
  • Why I recommend the train: While it’s significantly faster to drive to/from Denali and it makes your Day 6 travel time substantially shorter, the Denali Star route cuts through one of the most beautiful parts of Alaska. Also, when you’re in Denali, you don’t need a car. Most hotels offer a shuttle to/from the train depot, and most of the tour companies will pick up and transfer you for any tours you book.
  • Book the train: directly on the Alaska Railroad website

Anchorage to Seward and Back

  • Travel distance and time:
    • By car – approximately 2.5 hours
    • By train – approximately 4.25 hours
  • What I recommend: Car
  • Why I recommend renting a car: The Coastal Classic train route is beautiful, but the highway to Seward goes along much of the same route. You also need a car to get to/from most hotels and other excursions I recommend in the Seward area (like Exit Glacier).
  • Book a car: I recommend renting from Sixt or Alamo. They all offer budget rentals and run regular deals and specials. If you’re not sure (or not loyal to any particular car rental company), consider using a tool like Momondo or TripAdvisor to compare a bunch of options (yes, TripAdvisor does rental cars!)

I hope that helps as you plan a trip to Alaska – obviously the final choice is up to you!

The Perfect 10-Day Alaska Itinerary

Here’s the quick version of a 10-day itinerary for Alaska. You can read below for greater detail. Note that this estimated time on the map is based on driving the entire route, not taking the Alaska Railroad.

1Arrive in Anchorage

Photo via Google Maps
2Explore Anchorage
3Travel to Denali
4Visit Denali National Park
5Sightseeing Denali
6Travel to/Explore Seward
7Sightseeing in Kenai Fjords
8Travel to/Explore Girdwood
9Exploring Turnagain Arm
10Return to Anchorage

Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage

Depending on your city of origin, it may take almost one full day to fly to Alaska. For example, from Seattle, most flights to Alaska leave in the afternoon or evening, and you arrive in Anchorage late in the day.

If you’re arriving for your 10 days in Alaska via cruise ship, it will take most of the day to disembark and travel from the ship to Anchorage. Cruise companies typically use Anchorage as a base for “land excursions” in the state, so you can expect to catch a bus or train from Seward or Whittier to Anchorage on your day of disembarkation.

Given that you’re arriving in Anchorage during the evening, don’t plan much for your first day between settling in. If, as this Alaska trip plan proposes, you decide to travel Alaska on your own (without a guide), you won’t need a rental car until the morning on Day 3. For now, it’s best to settle into your Anchorage accommodation and enjoy dinner.

Resources for Day 1

Day 2: Explore Anchorage

Since I grew up just outside Anchorage, I could easily give you a week worth of things to do, but let’s try and keep it to just one day – there’s so much to see in Alaska and it’s such a big state that you need the rest of this Alaska itinerary for 10 days to see other amazing sights!

If you’re in Anchorage on a weekend, be sure to add the Anchorage Market & Festival to your list. This downtown market features local gifts and vendors, musicians and performers, and some really delicious food. On a good day, you’ll also have great views of the surrounding mountains and scenery from the edges of the Market.

On my most recent trip, I also made a visit to the Anchorage Museum, which has undergone massive renovations since my family moved away from Alaska 10+ years ago. From a Smithsonian-sponsored exhibit on the Native cultures of Alaska to the classic Alaskan artwork in the original part of the Museum, the exhibit on Alaska’s unique relationship with Russia to the “Imaginarium” downstairs where kids and alike can experience science first hand… the museum is a surprising delight.

Resources for Day 2

  • Stay in the same accommodation for Day 2.
  • For lunch, eat at the Anchorage Market or at Tia’s Reindeer Sausage on 4th Avenue.
  • For dinner, book a table at the Crow’s Nest. The views are stunning.

Day 3: Travel to Denali

Alaska Railroad

Today’s plan: head north to Denali! There are two ways to get to Denali:

  • By car, 4 hours via Alaska Highway 1 (the Glenn Highway) and 3 (the Parks Highway)
  • By train aboard the Alaska Railroad, 7.5 hours

While I have most commonly driven between Anchorage and Denali, I highly recommend the Alaska Railroad, since it offers a unique experience of the Alaskan Wilderness as well as great service and the ability to relax the whole way. If you choose to drive, be sure to keep an eye out for the mountain of Denali (here are some of my favorite Denali viewpoints), and be sure to stop at Miller’s Landing and get a huge ice cream cone!

Note: I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people about taking the train to Denali and renting a car one-way to drive back to Anchorage. This is not an option. Car rentals are prohibitively expensive in Denali. If you choose to take the train one way, you’re taking it both ways – same goes for a car.

Either way you get there, you’ll arrive in Denali in the mid-afternoon, so spend the rest of the day relaxing.

Resources for Day 3

  • Book 2 nights in Denali.
  • Denali has a limited number of accommodations in the small town; I recommend basically all of them, including the Grande Denali Lodge (from $329/night on or, McKinley Chalet Resort (from $139/night on or, or Cabins at Denali (from $238/night on
  • There aren’t a ton of Airbnb options near Denali National Park, so you’ll need a car if you choose to stay in an Airbnb instead of a hotel right in town. This house (from $335/night, good for families or small groups) or this house (from $335/night, good for large groups) are both good options. (Don’t forget: You can receive $40 off your first Airbnb stay if you click here first.)
  • For dinner, head to Lynx Creek Pizza. Order the ‘Polychrome Pass’ with artichoke hearts added. You’re welcome!
  • Another dinner option is the Salmon Bake. This Denali-area institution draws a local crowd and they serve a massive blue margarita named after the mountain.

Day 4: Denali National Park

Under normal circumstances, I’d advise you to rise early and board a bus into Denali National Park. Usually, Denali National Park is not accessible by private vehicle, so National Park Service buses are the only way to really get into the park, see wildlife, and potentially, see the mountain of Denali herself. This year, there are some new options for visiting Denali in summer 2020 in addition to the bus tours.

Speaking of bus tours, there are three Denali National Park tour options:

  • Denali Natural History Tour: 4.5-5 hours in the park to Mile 27 (Teklanika River)
  • Tundra Wilderness Tour: 7-8 hours in the park to either Mile 53 (Toklat River) or Mile 62 (Stony Overlook).
  • Kantishna Experience: 11-12 hours in the park to Mile 92 (Kantishna)

To be honest, I don’t believe it’s worth it to go for any less than the Tundra Wilderness Tour. The DNHT (so-called by the National Park Service) is interesting but caters more toward travelers that can’t handle sitting on a school bus for long periods of time. The tour will give you a flavor of the park, but will definitely leave you wanting more. The TWT is much more palatable, and a good duration at 7-8 hours long. There’s an optimal chance to see wildlife, and you’ll ride along a significant length of the park road.

If you’re up for a 12-hour day, go all the way and book the Kantishna Experience. I’ve only done this once when I was very small, but I remember being amazed at how big the park was!

Note: I get a lot of questions about Denali National Park specifically, so here’s a really helpful resource that illuminates the 11 things you need to know about visiting Denali. Also, please note I whole-heartedly support the fact that you can’t drive vehicles in the park – it dramatically improves the protection of the natural environment. If you want to visit inside the park, you need to take the bus like everyone else.

Resources for Day 4

  • Stay another night at your booked accommodations.
  • Depending on the length of your tour, you may want to book a seat for Alaska Cabin Nite, a dinner theater show that’s both cheesy and charming. Tickets are $75 per person.
  • Denali Bus Tours started from $85.50 per person in the 2019 season.

Day 5: Sightseeing Denali

Fly Denali Flightseeing

Because Denali and Denali National Park are almost too big to comprehend, I recommend taking two full days here. It will give you a true sense of the scale of Alaska, and a better chance of seeing the mountain while visiting.

On this day, book the 8:30 am guided flightseeing tour with Fly Denali. They are my preferred provider after trying many of the flightseeing providers in the area when I worked in Denali one summer. Their Denali Glacier Landing tour is expensive at $599 per person, but 100% worth it. You’ll spend almost 2 hours in the air, plus 20 minutes on a glacier on Denali itself. So cool (literally and figuratively – there’s always snow!).

At 12:30 pm, catch the Alaska Railroad south to Anchorage. You can enjoy dinner aboard the train before arriving in Anchorage for the evening.

Note: If you chose to drive to Denali, you have some flexibility in this schedule.

Resources for Day 5

  • Stay another night in Anchorage. As advised above, I recommend booking this night when you book the earlier nights for your 10 days in Alaska.
  • The Fly Denali Glacier Landing tour is $599 per person. The only time for the flightseeing tour that works in this Alaska trip plan is 8:30 am, so be sure to book in advance.

Day 6: Travel to Seward

Day 6 is another travel day. While the Alaska Railroad is a beautiful route from Anchorage to Seward, I recommend renting a car for this portion of the drive for several reasons:

  1. It is a 2.5-hour drive from Anchorage to Seward.
  2. While the Seward Highways is known as one of the more dangerous highways to drive, it is reasonable to drive as long as you are aware of other drivers and don’t take risks while driving or park on the side of the highway to look at whales or Dall sheep.
  3. The train from Anchorage to Seward leaves at 6:45 am – yuck!
  4. The rest of this Alaska trip itinerary works much better if you have a car to get around.

After making the 150-minute drive from Anchorage to Seward, you’ll have most of the day to explore the city. Spend a few hours at the Alaska SeaLife Center in downtown Seward; you can see a variety of sea creatures including several in rehabilitation or research studies.

Reasons to Visit Alaska in Spring: Winter Experiences

In the afternoon, head to Exit Glacier, just north of Seward. As I mentioned in my post about hiking in Alaska, Exit Glacier has a bunch of hiking trails and it’s easy to get pretty close to Exit Glacier and learn more about how glaciers have shaped the Alaskan terrain.

Resources for Day 6

Day 7: Sightseeing in Kenai Fjords

Whale Watching on Major Marine Tours

Today, you’ll board a sightseeing tour in Seward that will take you out into Kenai Fjords National Park. As the name suggests, these fjords are massive waterways that are home to some of Alaska’s greatest sealife, including humpback and orca whales, seabirds like puffins, and plenty of otters.

My preferred tour provider in Seward is Major Marine Tours, though there are others to chose from. I’ve taken several tours with Major Marine Tours over the ages and put together a review of two different tours I’ve done recently: the 6-hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise and the 7.5-hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise.

As this tour will take up most of your day, the rest of the day can be spent at your leisure.

Resources for Day 7

  • Stay another night at your Seward accommodation.
  • For dinner, try The Cookery. I’ve never been, but it has rave reviews on TripAdvisor.
  • The Major Marine Tours 6-hour tour is $169 per person; and the 7.5-hour tour is $189 per person. Click here to see all full-day tour options and tickets and be sure to book in advance during busy summer months.

Day 8: Travel to Girdwood

For Day 8 and 9 of your 10 days in Alaska, the pace of travel slows significantly; there’s much less time spent traveling and more spent relaxing and/or looking around at the sights.

After the second night in Seward, the goal is to reach Girdwood on Day 8, a 1.5-hour drive. En route, I recommend taking a small detour to enjoy lunch and walk around my favorite small Alaska town, Hope. There isn’t a ton to do in Hope, but it gives you a good picture of what life is like outside the “cities” in Alaska. Enjoy lunch at the Sea View Cafe, walk along the river, and try your hand at gold panning.

In Girdwood, spend the afternoon by taking the Alyeska tram up Alyeska mountain. This tram is part of the Alyeska Resort and takes about seven minutes to bring you up the mountain. En route, you’ll see hanging glaciers on nearby mountains, and maybe even some wildlife in the landscape below.

Once you’ve arrived at the top of the tram, you can hike around (this is another easy hike I recommend for first-time travelers to Alaska) or enjoy dinner at Seven Glaciers restaurant. If you want to have dinner, be sure to book a reservation in advance.

Resources for Day 8

  • Book two nights in Alyeska.
  • For hotels, your options are a bit limited, but The Hotel Alyeska (from $119/night on or is worth the splurge, or the Ski Inn (from $80/night on offers a more budget-friendly option.
  • For Airbnb, this log cabin (from $106/night) is a perfect mountain home base, this guest suite (from $85/night) is nicely modern, or you can stay at this alpine home (From $101/night) with a hot tub. (Don’t forget: You can receive $40 off your first Airbnb stay if you click here first.)
  • If you want to splurge on dinner in a different style, head to the Double Musky. This was my parent’s favorite restaurant, and they also have rooms.
  • Tram tickets start from $29 per person.

Day 9: Exploring Turnagain Arm

On the last full day exploring Alaska, you have a bit of flexibility. There are two main experiences I recommend while based out of Girdwood for the day:

  • Portage Glacier Tour – A short boat tour to see Portage Glacier, an easily accessible glacier.
  • Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – A facility where many species of native Alaskan animals live permanently or in rehabilitation. This gives you a good chance to see some animals you may have missed while traveling.

Both of these activities will take a few hours, so you could do one in the morning and another in the afternoon at your leisure.

Resources for Day 9

  • Stay a second night at your Girdwood accommodation.
  • For dinner, head to Jack Sprat in Girdwood. This dinner spot has a delicious, hearty menu.
  • The Portage Glacier Cruise is $39 per person.
  • Admission to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is $15 per car.

Day 10: Return to Anchorage

Wake up on your final day of this Alaska trip itinerary. It’s an easy day: all you need to do is get back to Anchorage from Girdwood (~60 minutes driving). Along the way, you could stop and do the following:

  • Go for a short hike at McHugh Creek, a day-use hiking area.
  • Walk along the boardwalk at Potter Marsh, a huge wetland where you can still occasionally spot a moose.
  • Go for a hike up Flattop, one of Anchorage’s popular hiking mountains near the city.
  • Watch airplanes land at Earthquake Park near the Anchorage airport.

At the end, you’ll need to board a plane home at Ted Steven’s International Airport. Many flights are red-eye when heading east toward the contiguous United States, so settle in for the long flight with dreams full of your Alaskan adventures!

Resources for Day 10

  • None! We’re all done!

Have other questions about this Alaska trip plan? Let me know in the comments!

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Such a great re-cap! I cant wait to go one day!!


Thanks, Ruthie! I hope you can make it!


Alaska has never really been on my radar but looks so much fun! My best friends dad has a hunting resort in Alaska!


Oh very cool! Do you know where the resort is??


Alaska is totally on my bucket list!! My parents went a few years ago and I was so jealous then, and even more jealous now!


It’s pretty amazing, I hope you can visit someday!


This post is so, so helpful! Definitely pinning this for later. I’m one of the many who would love to go to Alaska someday. I wouldn’t mind going during winter or spring, either.


Thanks, Crystal! I hope you can make it at least sometime in the future, no matter the season!


Wow! Such great and detailed info! I realllllly want to make a trip to Alaska. It’s on my short list! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!


Thanks – you can make it a priority! It’s closer than you think, and super accessible for U.S./Canadian travelers! Good luck planning your trip 😉


I need this trip Planning Aug -Sept 2018 Nothing is mentioned about Fairbanks or Talkeetna. If I want to add a few days here would you give me some ideas. Also my first thought when I began planning was to start in Fairbanks Thoughts?


Thanks for your comment, Ruth! So are you planning to try and do all of the spots I mentioned plus Fairbanks and Talkeetna too? That would be pretty ambitious in just 10 days! Happy to give you some tips, if you can please confirm how long your trip will be 🙂


Yes, we would add 2-3 more days. We would follow your itinary going in the opposite direction flying into Fairbanks and fly out of Anchorage. We would plan to go by train and rent a vehicle


Ruth, if you’re adding extra days, it should be no problem to add in Fairbanks for sure — you don’t really need more than a day there, and you definitely don’t need more than a day in Talkeetna. If you want to do Talkeetna though, you probably need to rent a car and make the drive from Fairbanks > Denali > Talkeetna > Anchorage.


Well I’ve got my flight. We start in Fairbanks. Because of the flight times we will spend 2 nights in Fairbanks but really only one day. From there to Denali. I would like to go to talkeetna prior to our trip heading south to Anchorage. Do you have any thoughts or excursion ideas to add Following most of your itinerary we will have 2weeks I welcome yours or anyone else input


Ruth, sorry I missed your reply! This sounds like a great trip. You have 2 weeks for Fairbanks > Denali > Talkeetna > Anchorage?

What are your thoughts one a one way trip, into Fairbanks and down to anchorage vs in/out of anchorage?
Will it allow you to save driving time but not take the train to Denali? Are there issues with one way rentals?
I am trying to understand the differences, looking at a trip in July with 9 whole days in Alaska, +1 day flying on the front and back of trip.

Thanks for asking, Kaelee. A couple of comments:

1. Please don’t book a trip to Alaska if you don’t already have one planned. There is no guarantee that Alaska will allow out-of-state visitors this summer, and it costs all of the hotels/tour operators/etc when you book AND when you cancel or change your reservation – even if it’s because of coronavirus. Here are my travel suggestions this year:

2. You can totally do a 1-way trip – it’s easy to book a single one-way flight from Anchorage back up to Fairbanks and have a round-trip ticket to/from Fairbanks if that’s cheaper. I would definitely take the train though, as one-way car rentals are a lot more expensive (usually 1.5-2x more) in Alaska. You can then rent a car in Anchorage to drive to Seward or anywhere else you want to go.

I hope that helps!


Thanks for sharing this itinerary! We’re planning our first trip to Alaska this year… my partner wants to go for 2 weeks in the summer (July) but after reading your blog I’m wondering about late June/early July! Is 10 days sufficient to fit in a few decent hikes and still see Denali and Seward. I’m also worried Denali may not be open at this time. What’s your thoughts? I’m mainly motivated by the price but your ‘reasons to visit in Spring’ post did make me think maybe money isn’t the only reason!


I would highly recommend June over July — there’s a joke among locals that July 4th marks the start of rainy season in July!

I think 10 days is enough for what you’re suggesting, but it’s worth clarifying: are these “decent hikes” day hikes? Or multi-day hikes?

Also, Denali will definitely be open! Summer is a great time to visit the park. Be sure to research backcountry camping/hiking through the Park Service if that’s on your itinerary.

Feel free to ask any other questions you have and I’ll get back to you as I can 🙂


Okay great – we’re thinking of going Memorial weekend to early July. When I mean decent hikes I mean day hikes (but longer than 5 miles). I am an experienced hiker but backpacker not so much… and I love the outdoors but love sleeping indoors (!) I would be open to camping but am worried about temperatures at this time of year. I read your blog last night and it really got me inspired (thanks for reply on kayaking trip too) – here’s what I am thinking for an itinerary:
Day 1: Fly to Anchorage
Day 2: Pick-up hire car, food shop, drive to Seaward (Portage Pass hike en-route)
Day 3: Harding Icefield hike
Day 4: Kenai cruise
Day 5: Kayaking/ shorter hike
Day 6: Lost Lake/other hike
Day 7: Driving day – Seward > Denali (lunch-stop in Anchorage)
Day 8: Denali (entrance and hike)
Day 9: Denali (coach trip)
Day 10: Drive back to Anchorage (hike at Hatcher Pass en-route)


Becky, Memorial Day to July is the sweet spot — I was there Memorial Day weekend 2017 and it was great weather!

Everything on your itinerary sounds pretty good with two notes:
– Day 7 – that’s a long day in the car (1.5 Seward > Anchorage, 4 Anchorage > Denali); just be prepared! 🙂
– Day 10 – Are you planning to enter Hatcher Pass on the west side and exit on the east side? Google’s mapping it at 5 hours but NOT by traversing Hatcher Pass (not a well maintained road). Be sure to try and figure out if the Hatcher Pass road is even open before trying to cross it (link:… looks like it only opens on July 1st typically.

Good luck!

We’re pretty used to long drives (last year we drove from California to Montana) so am happy to do it. We plan to leave very early and take our time. Thanks for pointing out about Hatcher Pass – I’d given it no further thought than “oh that’s on the way” (must do some more research). You’ve sold me on a May trip!


Hello Valerie,

Many thanks for sharing this itinerary, as we (a family of three, including our 7 year old daughter) are planning the same trip from 30th of April to 9th of May 2018. We are from India (wrong side driving) and will be carrying our IDP, and wanted to know the rules & tips while renting out a car in Anchorage. Finally will the rules allow us to drive with our Indian license & International Driving Permit (IDP)?

Finally is it a good time of the year to do the same itinerary?

Cheers & Thanx



Avijit, sorry I missed your comment. Your IDP should be sufficient, but I recommend checking the terms of your rental car reservation to be sure.


Hi , thanks so much for itinerary, sounds like fun. I am planning a trip for my son 21 and myself. We want to do kayaking, water rafting, salmon fishing and dog sledding. Can you suggest where would I go to do that in your itinerary ?


Hi, Teena! I got your email as well so I relied there 🙂


My husband and I would love to visit Alaska for our next vacation. Your advice on how to plan our trip is very helpful. I think it would be best to find a vacation package, though.


Thanks so much for reading, and for your comment Sarah! I hope you have a great trip!


Hi Valerie,
Thank you for suggesting an awsome 10 day iternary. I have been searching for this and your’s definately tops among few others! We are family of 4 ,kids are 19 and 21 years old, we are outdoorsy and love to do outdoor activities. We are planning to visit in early august this year for 10 days on ground and 2 days for airline travel from California, we were thinking of driving to fairbanks on day 1 via delta juction and stay a night at fairbanks and then go to denali the next day from Fairbanks and that way we can see the little city of North Pole ….but we dropped that idea as we thinking it might be too much but we do want to add Homer to this iternary, what do you suggest?


Thanks for your comment, Vipinder. I think you’re trying to squeeze too much in, to be honest. I’m also not as familiar with Fairbanks and interior Alaska. Good luck planning your trip!


I’ve looked a dozens of suggested itineraries and I think yours is the best I’ve read. We’re planning on using almost this exact itinerary when we go in mid August this year however I had looked at and really wanted to add in Wrangell St. Elias National Park for a few days of hiking and wondered if you had any thoughts on that. Thanks Valerie!


Thanks so much for your kind words, Bill! I’ve actually never been to Wrangell St. Elias… so I’m not much help there! Have an AMAZING trip!


Thanks for putting this up for people to use. We are from Brisbane Australia.
We have spent time in Canada a few years ago but missed Alaska. We are coming back for a second visit to Alaska this time in August 2019.
We are starting with a 7 day cruise from Vancouver to Seward (16th-23rd August)
We will then travel from Seward to Anchorage on the 23rd by train and stay in Anchorage over night.
We have already arranged the hire of a car in Anchorage from the 24th August until the 2nd September.
From there I am up for suggestions from yourself or locals on what to see and do. We love the outdoors and wildlife but aren’t big hikers. The thing that I have gathered so far is that I need to stay 3 nights at Denali. The rest is up for grabs.
I have ready your itinerary for 10 days. How would you suggest adjusting it to suit the stuff that we have already booked?
Thanks in advance.
Mark & Leita


Mark, thanks for reaching out! I’d recommend maybe 3d/2n in Anchorage (maybe 1 night at the beginning and one at the end), 4d/3n in Denali, and 3d/2n in Fairbanks (I don’t know Fairbanks too well, so Google is your friend here!). That makes the most sense given the time you have! You won’t be moving at a fast pace like my original itinerary, but you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy what each place has to offer. I hope that helps give you some ideas!


Do you have suggestions for landing in Fairbanks to Denali? Itinerary suggestions with tips for Arctic Circle tour and town of North Pole, worth visit? We Riverboat?


Susette, sorry, I’m not familiar with Fairbanks. Alaska’s a pretty big place so it wasn’t close enough to visit often, and I was only there a few times.


Hello Valerie,

Your tips are amazing.

I’m planning my trip, but right now i’m only able to spend 5 days in Alaska. I’m trying to get one more day but not sure if will be possible.

What do you recommend that should be a must? I know that this is difficult but this is my only opportunity to go to Alaska and I want to go there, even for 5 days only.



Ivan, thanks for reading! I’d do Anchorage and Denali in a five day trip:

Day 1 – Arrive
Day 2 – Anchorage
Day 3 – Train to Denali
Day 4 – Day in Denali
Day 5 – Train to Anchorage, fly home

I hope that helps!


Thanks for your detailed itenary.I am planning a 7 day drip to Anchorage, Denali and Seward.For Denali I am planning to take a RV from Anchorage to Denali and Back. I have not travelled on a RV before but thought it may be interesting . And for Seward I am planning to take the train and back.


Sounds like you’ll have a great trip, Vinod! Drive safely 🙂


Hi Valerie –

I am looking to check Alaska off my bucket list. I will be travelling solo. I often pay for guided tours because it can be fun to meet new people, travel with a group. As you know these can be stupidly expensive so I am thinking on doing it differently this trip.

I love the cold weather and my vacation time is around October- January. When I vacation I vacation for months at a time. So I’m thinking maybe two weeks in Alaska. I am all about adventure and the outdoors when I travel (rafting , kayaking, backpacking, camping etc..). I want to see and experience the landscapes. I don’t need fancy accommodations.

Any thoughts and local adventure company’s that could help me put together an amazing trip.




Luke, thanks for reading! Unfortunately I don’t know any companies who are good at winter adventure travel… that’s not my area of expertise. I hope you have a great trip!



Where will I fit in river rafting and fishing?


Teena, I think I responded about this in my email. Please check that out.

You can go rafting in Denali. Unfortunately, this itinerary doesn’t work for fishing, and I don’t think you can fit this in with all the other activities I have recommended.


Wow, I had no idea that you can visit Alaska year-round! My husband and I have always wanted to visit Alaska. We will be sure to check that the things that we want to do are operational during the winter months.


Sounds like a great trip – have a good one, Sandra!


Hi Valerie,
We are planning for family trip to Alaska this Aug 2019. We are so confused whether to take land or cruise at the first place…both has their own pros and cons but this is our first trip to Alaska . Please suggest.
Secondly, If we just do land tour or fly out to Anchorage what’s should be our best places to visit in 7days itinerary?



Thanks for your comment, Rajvi. I don’t think it matters whether you do land or cruise first, to be honest. Regarding a 7-day itinerary, I recommend looking at what I say for 10 days and adjusting it to the time you have based on your interests.



Great post! My husband and I usually travel independently. But, because of the vastness of Alaska I was considering a tour. YOU HAVE CHANGED MY MIND! Thank you!
One question – What do you suggest regarding bear viewing? I’ve read mid-to late July is best near Homer. Is there a plane service you suggest to fly us for the day from Seward (or other town) to view bear catching salmon? I know. I’m a cheechako. It’s soooo obvious!

Thank you for your assistance!


Teri, glad I inspired you! You can totally do it on your own 🙂

I’ve never done a flightseeing tour for bears, but I think the greatest variety of option will be available from Anchorage…. A popular company, Rust’s Flightseeing Tours, based in Anchorage, offers a full-day Grizzly Bear viewing tour. I hope that helps!


Awesome post! In fact I planned my trip for Boulder Colorado, also one of the finest places in USA.


Valerie, my wife and I just returned from our first trip to Alaska. We used your itinerary as a an outline and customized it for the things we desired to do (ie: fly fishing Talkeetna). It was absolutely amazing! Great pace, awesome weather (although really hot) and we really felt like we got a great feel for this wonderful place.
We were supposed to go to Alaska 25 years ago for a honeymoon. In the time frame between getting married in late September and the delayed honeymoon the next Summer, we got pregnant and thus cancelled the trip.
With your help we finally made it and it seems to have been worth the wait.
John and Marna, Williston Vermont


John, this is the kind of comment that makes it all worth it. I’m so glad you had a great time and enjoyed your trip to Alaska – even if it was a bit delayed in your life plans. Happy travels, wherever you go next!


Loved this itinerary-will follow it for our trip.
How soon can one reserve the train tickets?
When should one book the hotels/lodges?



Sangeeta, thanks for your comment. I recommend booking as soon as you know your dates – you can always call the hotels if you are unable to book online for some reason. Alaska is very popular during the summer and big tour companies tend to fill up the hotels so it’s best to try and arrange everything as early as you can.


Great site! There appears to be a mistake in this paragraph. I believe you mean Seward instead of Denali.

“After the second night in Denali, the goal is to reach Girdwood on Day 8, a 1.5-hour drive. En route, I recommend taking a small detour to enjoy lunch and walk around my favorite small Alaska town, Hope.”


Randy, thanks for the catch! I fixed this error.


Great trip plan Valerie. Do you need to rent a car for the first few days or doe you wait until you return from denali?


Great question, Joel. You don’t need a car for the Anchorage days, nope. You will need to use Uber or a taxi or hotel shuttle to get to your hotel though.


Excellent post, thanks a lot! Do you know if uber or lyft is available for pickup from Denali hotels to Denali visitor center? Looking at the map it seems to be 2-3 miles away from visitor center. Are there buses available which may drop to the visitor center?


Thanks for your comment, Anshu. No, I don’t believe there is Lyft or Uber in Denali – so you should definitely contact the hotel you’re staying at to confirm their shuttle arrangements. (All of the big hotels have shuttles and buses to help people get to/from the Visitor Center.)


We did this itinerary with an extra stay over in Anchorage on day 6 to allow some of our party to return home. The rest of us went on to Seward, Kenai, Girdwood and Turnagain Arm. Can’t thank you enough for the recommendations and tips. We did it all by rental car in late August – early Sept. 2019. This was a great time to see wildlife in Denali as they were feeding to fatten up for winter. Beautiful autumn colors too. Major Marine informed us of high swells on the day of our cruise and gave us the option to reschedule the next day, which we did and the weather was perfect. Glad we had the flexibility in schedule and transport. A super trip — thanks again!


Kate – so glad to hear you had an amazing trip!! If you have any photos, I’d love to see them by email (and share with the community if you’re okay with that!):


Hi Valerie!! So excited to have found you! I’m planning an Alaska vacation, grad gift for my daughter, May 28th-June 7th,2020. So overwhelmed by this! I’ve booked all hotels & 1 tour (Backcountry Adventure in Denali) not that I’m excited about spending all that time on a bus but wanted the opportunity to fully see Denali. Can I please share my itinerary for your suggestions before booking more tours/activities? I’m also going to guide myself by your 10 day itinerary.

Kindest regards!


Evelyn, thanks for reading! I can’t really do custom itinerary suggestions, but if you follow my suggestions and your instincts, you’ll be great!


Great guide on all all the things to do and see in Alaska, have to see the coastal brown bears while there. Well worth the trip.


Great tip, Tom! Thanks for sharing 🙂


Hi Valerie – A great guide for Alaska. We are planning a trip this summer ? A question for you, if we plan our trip during May end (memorial day weekend), will we be able to cover Denali ? Are all roads open in Denali National park ?



Thanks for your comment, Sarang! I recommend checking out the Denali National Park website to be sure they’ll be open on the specific dates you have in mind. They’re the ultimate source for that info!


thanks for the amazing itinerary… I am heading to sterling in June for a friends wedding! what would you say the ball park price is for the trip you suggested minus the air fare to and from…?
Thanks again


Thanks for your comment, Caleb! Unfortunately, tough to say without knowing which hotels you’re staying at, which days (weekends vs not), and which restaurants you plan to eat at… I’ve never priced it out because there’s too many variables!


Valerie, can you provide any information about Valdez, Alaska? We are planning to travel there for a few days and mainly looking for the best place to stay.


Thanks for your comment, Cindy. I’ve never been, so unfortunately I can’t help there!


Hi Valerie,
Ok, so i read a lot of the posts above and of course your blog too ( a super pointer towards a 10 day trip ) and i was wondering if there are any Dog sled rides to be had /

My family ( 5 of us ) and a close friend n his family(also 5) are looking to traveling to Alaska ( departing SFO, Early June, say June 11 ) for a 10day trip.

We were doing a budgeting plan and i reckon , that possibly the biggest chunk of the expense would be accommodation. So we figured maybe we could do an RV trip – 2 RVs of 5-6 beds each- what would you suggest ? The Route you outlined is pretty much similar to the one we had in mind….

Awaiting your suggestions / feedback and pointers.
Thanks in advance.

Do reply/email me directly(too!) :-)… much appreciated.



Thanks for your comment, Nitin. There will not be any dog sledding available on snow in June because of the weather. Additionally, I have not done an RV trip so I am not confident to recommend where you could rent RVs or where you should stay with your RVs. Unfortunately Alaska is not a budget destination and I don’t recommend trying to make it so or you’ll miss out on the fun of being there!


If you were to add another 2-4 days to this trip, what are some other accessible, must see destinations that might naturally fit into this itinerary?


Thanks for reading, Damaris! Try checking out my other Alaska posts for inspiration:


Dear Valerie,

How would one fit in a day or two exploring Glacier Bay via a cruise and/or kayaking? Where would you get there from on your itinerary, and is there a reason you do not include it? We could expand our trip to 12 -13 days and plan this in August 2020.

Thanks very much,


Helen, I don’t think you could fit this into my suggested itinerary. It’s also not something I have ever done, so I’m sorry but I can’t really provide any suggestions on how to do it.


Great itenary, will be arriving in June 2020, I also have an RV rented for 10 days. I am retired military so I plan to use as many military base campgrounds as possible. I would appreciate your input. Looking at doing Anchorage- Delani for two days – Steward- Valdez – Homer Spit. Thoughts??


Thanks for your comment, Keith! I offer consulting on itineraries like you’re asking for as a paid service. You can learn more and buy an itinerary here:


Hello Valerie,
Can you give me an itinerary related to driving north from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway? What all places can be seen and what all activities can be done along the way etc? Thanks!


Hari, sorry but I have never done this and it’s not a common trip – most car rental companies won’t let you rent a car to do this either. I recommend reaching out to the team at Explore Fairbanks to see what they suggest:


Great ideas! You’ve given me more budget friendly ideas than I’ve found on my own. I’m a 65 year old female and have slightly limited mobility. My plan is to take a roadtrip in 2021 based in Girdwood. No hiking or long walks so you’ve given me several great ideas for tours and sightseeing. Thank you!


Sounds like it will be a great trip, Denise! Happy to help 🙂


What an amazing state to be born and raised! I had an opportunity to explore Alaska for the first time this December and was just blown away! I wrote about the first part of our trip where we explored Seward and Anchorage a bit before heading more North to try to see the Northern Lights. We were told about Alyeska while we were on our trip and didn’t get the chance to check it out, but it looks beautiful! I can’t wait to return in the Summer or Fall and explore even more!


Thanks for reading, Kara! I hope you can make it back up there soon – I’ll be headed back in the autumn this year and I’m really excited for it. (I was just there in February and there’s definitely a magic about winter too!)


Alaska is definitely on our bucket list. I love your itinerary break down, thank you. My husband and I reviewed and he would like to go salmon fishing while in Alaska. Any recommendations where we could fish and fit into this itinerary?


Thanks for reading, Jo! I’m not a fisher-person so I typically don’t suggest fishing excursions, but I recommend checking for half- or full-day tours you could book from either Anchorage or Seward based on this itinerary. I hope that helps!


I am planning a trip to Alaska in September, 2020. I hope that they open their doors to tourists and let us fly into the state. My husband and I had booked a cruise for our 50th Anniversary. It was cancelled. 🙁 It’s VERY important to us to go this year. We have promised each other that we would go BACK to Alaska for our 50th! We lived in Anchorage the first 3 years of our marriage. I have planned and booked a very similiar itinerary that you have posted here. I love your suggestions and will be updating mine!! Thank you!! I HOPE ALASKA WILL BE THERE FOR US THIS YEAR!! <3


You’re so welcome, Rene! I hope Alaska will be open by then too – I’m set to go on a cruise in September also!


Thank you for this write up. I’m anxious to finish off all 50 US states with Alaska and Hawaii, hope to combine them. Safe travels!


I hope you can make it! Both aren’t quite ready for visitors right now, but they’ll be eager for them soon!


Hi! This was a helpful read but I was wondering if you have any advice or tips about a bike tour? For maybe a round trip between Anchorage and Fairbanks? Thanks so much!


Courtney, sorry but I don’t have any suggestions here. I’m not a cyclist and I’ve never heard of tours like this. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist on it – but I’m definitely not the person to make a recommendation!


Hi! We are looking at staying inside Denali at one of the few lodges. Do you have any recommendations? Would any of the lodges include transit and/or to where you would not need to do the Denali tour bus to see things? We would be taking the train in from Anchorage and staying 2-3 nights in Denali.


Haley, I’m not sure what you mean by “inside” Denali – there’s only one lodge in Denali but I don’t think it’s open this summer. Try checking out this article: but be aware I don’t think non-residents will be likely to get any of the drive-in permits and you’d need to get a rental car to do that. Also, there is no way to see Denali except to take the tour bus or get one of those permits – so if you want to see the park, you have to take a bus.


Hi! This is an excellent summary. We are planning to go the first week of September. A couple of questions:

1. Do you have any recommendations for making this trip a little more active – maybe some half day hikes or some other physical activity?

2. As far as you know, are all of these places open this summer? Is there anything else that we would have to prepare this summer compared to last year?



Ray, thanks for reaching out. Try checking here for more Alaska tips: I have written about hiking already!

And regarding what’s open – no, I can’t verify that all of these places are open. I don’t recommend people book trips to Alaska this year, so you’ll need to check everything you’re interested directly. (I especially recommend calling hotels since I’ve heard that have been listing properties as “open” when they’re actually not.) Have a good trip!


Fantastic post! We are currently scheduled to cruise from Vancouver July 2021 but this post has me replanning! We’re not sure we’ll be comfortable with the current health scare but I still want to come to Alaska. This is perfect.


Glad to help, Sarah! I think cruising *might* be okay by 2021, but I would definitely look into a small ship instead of a big one! Have a great trip, whenever you go and whatever you do!


This is a great itinerary — we’re planning on Honeymooning here early Oct 2020 — do you have any tips on AK in October? Also, if we were looking to extend our trip to closer to 14 days instead of 10, would you recommend spending extra time in Anchorage or elsewhere? Add another stop along the way?


Thanks for reaching out, Amanda! I’ve got this article about Alaska in the autumn: It might help give you more insight into what it’s like during October! With 14 days, I would look into visiting Fairbanks too, so you can try to see the northern lights. Here’s an article about that too:

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