Focusing on Alaska's many natural wonders, this comprehensive self drive adventure includes a variety of excursions allowing you to see this US State not only by road but also from the air, on water and on foot. Visiting three national parks, witness epic landscapes as well as having the chance to search for whales, wolves, caribou, moose and, of course, grizzly and black bears.
- Take a full day cruise amongst the glaciers of the Kenai Fjords
- Visit three of Alaska's most breathtaking national parks
- Witness America's highest peak, Denali
- Ride the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry from Valdez to Whittier
This independent itinerary showcases Alaska's spectacular scenery, including a 2-night stay in the heart of Denali National Park. Offering a good mix of pre-planned activities and leisure enjoy a free day in Homer. Surrounded by white peaks, glaciers and home to the famous Homer Spit, use this day to explore the area. The town offers access to excellent hiking trails, or why not take a scenic boat cruise to spot wildlife. For those wanting to observe grizzly bears up close, take a scenic flightseeing tour to the Katmai Coast (not included).
Enjoy splendid views of the Wrangell St. Elias Mountains and stay in the historic town of Kennicott, an abandoned mining town. Access into the national park is by scenic bush plane flight over Root Glacier, Erie Mine and the awe-inspiring Stairway Icefall.
Itinerary & Accommodation
- Day 1 arrive Anchorage
- Upon arrival in Anchorage make your way to your hotel, the rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the sights.
- Day 2 Anchorage to Seward (204 km)
- This morning collect your rental car and drive along the Seward Highway towards scenic Turnagain Arm. Turnagain Arm is 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 or Dall sheep along the highway. In Seward we suggest a visit to Exit Glacier and the SeaLife Centre.
- Day 3 Seward with Northwestern Fjord Cruise (Cruise)
- Today we have arranged for you to take an all-day Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. Travel farther into Kenai Fjords National Park than with any other cruise and visit the magnificent Northwestern Fjord, home to three amazing tidewater glaciers and numerous alpine glaciers.
- Day 4 Seward to Homer (270 km)
- Continue your self-drive journey and follow the Sterling Highway - a designated scenic highway covering miles of spectacular landscape with snow capped mountains and its many active volcanoes known as the "Ring of Fire" with Mt. Iliamna, Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Augustine, deep ocean bluffs, excellent salmon fishing opportunities along the Kenai River and a magnificent coastline.
- Day 5 Homer
- Homer ("Halibut Capital of the World") provides you with truly incredible panoramic views of mountain ranges, white peaks, glaciers and the famous Homer Spit. Use the day to explore the area - kayak to a remote cove, take a scenic cruise and spot wildlife including whales, seals, sea otters and many shorebirds. If you prefer to observe grizzly bears up close, take a scenic flightseeing tour to the Katmai Coast (not included).
- Day 6 Homer to Cooper Landing (193 km)
- Leave Homer for a scenic drive to Ninilchik - the oldest settlement on the Kenai Peninsula. The Russian-American Company established Ninilchik in the 1820's for its elderly employees, who could not endure the long journey back to Russia. Continue to Cooper Landing - located at the world famous Kenai and Russian River and 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. The tour ends on the shores of a glacier-carved lake within the heart of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
- Day 7 Cooper Landing to Talkeetna (347 km)
- Continuing north towards Talkeetna you will be able to view the magnificent scenery back to the Kenai Peninsula across Turnagain Arm. Pass through Anchorage and drive the Glenn Highway north to Wasilla and onto Talkeetna. A stop should be made at the Alaska Native Heritage Centre. Talkeetna serves as a base camp for Mt. McKinley climbers; the community of 857 residents is located at the confluence of the Talkeetna and Susitna Rivers. A turn-of-the-20th-century gold-mining centre, the town 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.
- Day 8 Talkeetna to Denali National Park Entrance (169 km) - Entrance to Denali Backcountry Lodge by bus (149 km)
- Drive the Parks Highway north to Denali, passing by incredible forest and mountain landscapes. Leave your vehicle at the entrance to Denali National Park and transfer by bus deep inside Denali National 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.
- Day 9 Denali Backcountry Lodge
- Nestled in a snug valley, the Denali Backcountry Lodge is a true wilderness experience, with your own heated cabin. You can experience activities such as: day hikes (casual, moderate, or extreme), view and photograph Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), gold panning, botany walks, shuttle to Wonder Lake and mountain biking. You can also visit Fannie Quigley's Cabin, home of one of the original miners from early in the twentieth century.
- Day 10 Denali Backcountry Lodge to Denali National Park Entrance by bus (149 km) - Entrance to Fairbanks (198 km)
- Return by bus to the Denali National Park entrance area. Then drive the Parks Highway north to Fairbanks. Accompanied by incredible forest and mountain landscapes, drive through the communities of Healy, Nenana and Ester - an old mining camp.
- Day 11 Fairbanks
- In Fairbanks you have the unique chance for an optional day tour to cross the Arctic Circle and to visit the vast interior. Another option is to drive along Chena Hot Springs road (watch out for moose!), go on a hiking trip and visit Chena Hot Springs Resort. Here you can relax in the large heated indoor pool or the natural outdoor rock lake.
- Day 12 Fairbanks to Tok (325 km)
- Heading south, the Richardson Highway passes through stands of White birch and Black spruce, often close to the photogenic Tanana River. Soak up the raw beauty of the drive into the central Alaska Range, often paralleled by the Alaska pipeline. Tok's role in the world has never expanded much beyond being a stop on the road. The town has built an economy of gas stations, gift stores, cafes, and hotels to serve highway travellers.
- Day 13 Tok to Chitina (vehicle) (323 km) - Chitina to McCarthy (plane)
- This morning travel to Chitina for your bush plane flight to Kennicott. Travel south on the Glenn Highway to cross Mentasta, the highest point of the highway, where you will begin to see splendid views of the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains. These ancient volcanic cores form the southern boundary of the Copper Basin which you will descend to arrive in to Chitina. On the way to McCarthy fly alongside 16,000' Mt. Blackburn, over the Kennicott and Root Glaciers, past the Erie Mine and view the awe-inspiring Stairway Icefall. A flyby of Kennicott and McCarthy before landing will orient you to the area you are about to explore. Along the way your pilot will describe landforms and point out wildlife. Please note: Flying has the added benefit of saving 4-5 hours of driving on the single lane, gravel surfaced McCarthy road)
- Day 14 Kennicott
- This magical location is the furthest road extension in the massive Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. With only a handful of year-round residents, the area is attracting a growing number of people looking to experience Alaska as they imagine it – a mix of solitude and scenery. The park is the largest in the United States National Parks system and contains several of the tallest mountains in the country, as well as the greatest concentration of glaciers in North America. Together with Glacier National Park, and both Kluane National Park and Tatshenshini-Alsek Park in Canada, the area represents the single largest tract of protected land in the world, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another highlight today is a guided tour of an old ghost town outside a copper mine. A guided walking tour through the ruins of the mine is included.
- Day 15 McCarthy to Chitina (plane) - Chitina to Valdez (vehicle) (194 km)
- Today fly back to Chitina by bush plane while enjoying great views of the Wrangell Mountains. From Chitina continue south where you will begin to enter the Chugach Mountains that ring the coast of Alaska from Prince William Sound. At Thompson Pass you may wish to stop at one of the pullouts for the scenery and views of Worthington Glacier before you begin the descent into Valdez.
- Day 16 Valdez to Whittier (Ferry duration between 3 – 7hrs) – Whittier to Girdwood (43 km)
- Time for a visit of the southern terminus of the Alaska Pipeline Terminal or enjoy some kayaking or a short hiking trip. The Prince William Sound is one of the few places left in the world where a concentration of glaciers can be found in such abundance. During the comfortable ferry trip cruise through Esther Passage, view majestic alpine and tidewater glaciers covered with ancient ice (Columbia Glacier) from a distance and may observe a large variety of marine wildlife. A US Forest Service Ranger will point out interesting sites along the way. Watch for playful sea otters, harbor seals, kittiwakes, bears, whales or mountain goats. Drive from Whittier through the Anderson Memorial Tunnel to end in Girdwood. It is the longest shared rail and car tunnel in North America and it operates on a one-way basis with a schedule.
- Day 17 Girdwood to Anchorage (62 km)
- Continuing towards Anchorage, you will be able to view the magnificent scenery back to the Kenai Peninsula across Turnagain Arm. If you like, there is a great walking area in Potter Point Park along the ocean. Keep an eye out for beluga whales making their way towards the Cook Inlet or for Dall sheep combing the mountainsides. Upon arrival in Anchorage your self-drive ends.
Denali Backcountry Lodge
- Grade: Standard
- Type: Unique and Boutique
In the heart of Denali National Park, this lodge offers …
Kennicott Glacier Lodge
- Grade: Simple
- Type: Hotel
With 35 rooms set in the heart of Alaska's wilderness in…
Best Western Valdez Harbour Inn
- Grade: Simple
- Type: Hotel
Overlooking the picturesque Valdez boat harbour on three…
The above is a selection of accommodation available for this holiday. Other options are available based on your preferred category. Please contact us for further details.
Prices & Dates
08, 11, 13, 15, 20, 22, 25, 27, 30 June 2018
04, 06, 09, 11, 13, 18, 20, 23, 25, 27 July 2018
01, 03, 06, 08, 10, 15, 20, 22, 24 August 2018
From £3,916 per person, based on twin-share standard accommodation and compact rental vehicle.
16 nights accommodation in the category of your choice (Standard or Superior) • 16 days car hire (choose from compact, midsize, fullsize or 4WD) with unlimited mileage & LDW (excludes taxes - payable locally) • Full day Northwestern Fjords Cruise • 2 hr Kenai River Scenic Float Tour in Cooper Landing • Denali Backcountry Adventure Tour by coach with 2 nights in Kantishna • Meals as follows: 5 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners • Scenic return flight from Chitina - McCarthy (maximum luggage allowance 13kgs per person) • Historical Kennicott Tour • Alaska Marine Highway Ferry (vehicle and passengers) between Valdez and Whittier • Comprehensive travel documentation and information package including itinerary, driving descriptions and a Lonely Planet Guide to Alaska
Flights & airport taxes • Car hire taxes - payable locally • Additional meals and excursions not specified above • Airport-hotel transfer on arrival – some hotels offer an airport shuttle service; taxis are also readily available at the airport • Travel insurance • Gratuities & items of a personal nature
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