Alaska Highlights Self Drive

10 Days / 9 Nights | Anchorage to Anchorage

Highlights: | Anchorage | Seward | Talkeetna | Denali | Fairbanks | Valdez |

Perfectly suited for travelers with a limited amount of time. Visit Seward, the starting point for scenic wildlife & glacier cruises into Kenai Fjords National Park, Denali National Park and towering Mt. McKinley, take the wildlife tour deep into the park and explore the towns of Talkeetna & Valdez.

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The below itinerary is only a suggestion, we offer tailor-made personal service and solutions to help you plan your perfect vacation.

Day 1 Anchorage to Seward (204 km / 127 mi) This morning travel 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. A great stop for lunch is the Alyeska Ski Resort/Girdwood. Here you can take the tram up Mt. Alyeska (optional). Another interesting stop might be Portage Glacier and its interesting visitor centre. In Seward we suggest a visit to Exit Glacier and the SeaLife Centre.

Day 2 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. Kenai Fjords National Park boasts abundant wildlife, alpine and tidewater glaciers and breathtaking scenery. This cruise is the best way to see this pristine National Park and its inhabitants. Also, visit the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, an island home to teeming seabird rookeries. Don’t miss this opportunity to see the untouched beauty of Alaska’s coastal waters. (A continental breakfast & deli-style lunch is included onboard)

Day 3 Seward to Talkeetna (386 km / 240 mi) Head back to Anchorage today taking in the sights of the Seward Highway as you go. Keep an eye out for beluga whales making their way towards the Cook Inlet or for Dall sheep combing the mountainsides. Continue on through Anchorage and drive the Glenn Highway north to Wasilla and on to 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, while Mount McKinley looms overhead. Main Street, the only paved road in town, begins with a “Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna” sign at the town park and ends at the banks of the Susitna River, a nice place to view the big mountain when it’s out.

Day 4 Talkeetna to Denali National Park Entrance (169 km / 105 mi) Today, explore Denali’s south side or depart early for the drive to Denali National Park. You’ll have as much time as you like to experience the majesty of Denali National Park, take in the sights of the George Parks Highway or arrive at your hotel near the park entrance to take advantage of an optional excursion or a visit to the Denali Visitor Centre.

Day 5 Denali National Park Backcountry Adventure (Coach / Bush Plane Flight) This full-day narrated coach trip explores the entire 148km /92mi of the restricted Denali Park Road on your way to the Denali Backcountry Lodge. During your journey to the lodge, your experienced driver-guide will help in the search for bear, moose, caribou, Dall sheep and other wildlife while pointing out the biology and geology of the area. There are numerous stops for wildlife viewing, photography and to stretch your legs and enjoy complimentary snacks. Lunch is included on this full day journey at the Denali Backcountry Lodge and while at the Lodge you can take a nature walk or try panning for gold. You will return to the park entrance via a flightseeing tour in a small bush plane. If weather permits, you will fly close to Mount McKinley. (lunch is included)

Day 6 Denali National Park Entrance to Fairbanks with Sternwheeler Riverboat Cruise (198 km / 123 mi) Continue on 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. In the afternoon climb aboard the Riverboat Discovery III for an unforgettable 3-hour cruise into the Alaskan Interior; travel the Chena and Tanana Rivers on the only authentic sternwheeler riverboat operating in Alaska. This narrated tour provides background on the area’s natural history and the Athabascan Indian culture. You will see a floatplane take off, meet sled dogs, witness the “wedding of the rivers,” and gain insight into the ancient Athabascan Indian culture. Athabascan guides who have worked and lived in Alaska will take you on a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village.

Day 7 Fairbanks to Valdez (584 km / 363 mi) Drive the spectacular Richardson Highway south. Near Delta there are some opportunities to see the Trans-Alaska Pipeline – the great construction project that brought so many people to Alaska, and brings oil from the fields in Prudhoe Bay some 800miles/1300km from the Arctic Coast to Valdez. Crossing 34 rivers and 3 mountain ranges above-ground, the line could not be buried due to the possibility of earthquakes and permafrost. Continuing south, you can’t help but be impressed with the spectacular mountains of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to 9 of the 16 highest peaks in North America including Mt. Blackburn, at just under 5000m! All told it is bigger than Switzerland, or roughly the same size as Ireland. At Thompson Pass you may wish to stop at one of the pullouts for the scenery and views of Worthington Glacier before beginning the descent into Valdez. Just outside town, you’ll see evidence of the devastating 1964 earthquake. Though the quake was felt in Valdez, it was the tsunami that caused most of the damage. Dead trees miles inland show just how far the saltwater traveled up the valley!

Day 8 Valdez free Day Today enjoy a free day in Valdez. Take a cruise into Prince William Sound to Columbia or Meares Glacier on which you also have a chance to see sea lions and even Humpback whales. Or enjoy a guided kayaking or rafting tour (not included).

Day 9 Valdez to Sheep Mountain Lodge (309 km / 192 mi) Today you will drive back north on the Richardson Highway with great views of the Wrangell Mountains as you return to Glennallen (weather permitting). Here you follow the Glenn Highway towards Palmer / Anchorage until you reach Sheep Mountain Lodge. The rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the scenic mountain views or recreational activities in the area. There are over 20 km / 12 mi of trails near the Lodge perfect for exploring. Birds and wildflowers abound. Maps are provided in each cabin for self-guided hiking.

Day 10 Sheep Mountain Lodge to Anchorage (172 km / 107 mi)Drive the Glenn Highway south to Anchorage. Highlights on this part of today’s trip include the Independence Mine in beautiful Hatcher Pass and the many communities in the Mat-Su Valley. This valley contains many farms with the remarkable growing season in Alaska and offers beautiful views of the Chugach Range.


  • Accommodation including taxes for 9 nights
  • Full day Northwestern Fjords Cruise with lunch
  • Denali Backcountry Adventure Tour by coach one-way with flight back to Denali National Park Entrance
  • Sternwheeler Riverboat Cruise (3 hours)
  • Exclusive travel documentation package including personalized maps, itinerary and driving directions, and a Lonely Planet Guide of Alaska

Not included:

  • Rental Car
  • Road and Tunnel Tolls
  • Gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • Activities other than specified

Hotel Information (Moderate Grade)

  • Seward – Windsong Lodge (Standard Room)
  • Talkeetna – Susitna River Lodge (Standard Suite)
  • Denali National Park – Denali Grizzly Bear Resort (Cedar Hotel Room)
  • Fairbanks – Rivers Edge Resort (Garden Cottage)
  • Valdez – Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn (Standard Room)
  • Sheep Mountain – Sheep Mountain Lodge (Cabin)

Hotel Information (Suerior Grade)

  • Seward – Exit Glacier Lodge (Deluxe One Queen Room)
  • Talkeetna – Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (Guest Lodge Room)
  • Denali National Park – Grande Denali Lodge (Standard Room)
  • Fairbanks – Fairbanks SpringHill Suites by Marriot (Standard Room)
  • Valdez – Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn (View Room)
  • Sheep Mountain – Sheep Mountain Lodge (Cabin)

Valdez accommodation is the best available in the area and considered lower end of 3 star.

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