Land Tours: Choosing Your Destinations

Most visitors to Alaska:

  • Cruise the Inside Passage/Southeast
  • Tour the Southcentral region by land
  • Do both!

If you want to cruise, check out our cruising page.

But if you're a landlubber or want to combine your cruise with a land tour, where do you begin? Anchorage—that's the hub and the origination of most itineraries. The well developed road and rail system here in the Southcentral/Railbelt region (where most people live) make it the easiest part of Alaska to explore on your own.

We've broken down your non-cruise choices into the most popular places—with highlights, minimum recommended stay, and ways to get there—so you can mix and match, building the trip of a lifetime.

Most Popular Alaska Land Destinations From Anchorage

1. Denali and Seward

The two most popular land destinations are Denali and Seward. Put them together, and you have a 5-day itinerary.

On a cruise that disembarks in Seward? Train it to Anchorage. It's the most scenic rail section, and you can pick up a car in Anchorage. If you don't mind driving (Alaska's highways are easy), a car is cheaper and allows more freedom.

TownHighlightsMinimum StayGetting There

Denali National Park

2 nights, 3 daysCar, rail, bus
Seward1 night, 2 daysCar, rail, bus

2. Fairbanks

Next comes Fairbanks, just two hours north of Denali. Add it to Seward and Denali, and you have a roughly 7-day itinerary.

HighlightsMinimum StayGetting There
1 night, 1 dayCar, rail, bus, air

3. Talkeetna

Talkeetna is halfway to Denali from Anchorage. People short on time (or who can't get a room in Denali) go here instead of Denali, but most visitors spend 1 night on the way.

HightlightsMinimum StayGetting There
1 day, 1 nightCar, rail, bus

4. Valdez

Though not on the railbelt like the previous towns, Valdez is a port town on Prince William Sound that forms a nice circle route by bus or car from Fairbanks. Put these 5 destinations together and you have a 10-day itinerary that is the classic "Alaska Highlights" itinerary sold under different names and targeted at first-time visitors who want a good overview of Alaska.

HighlightsMinimum Stay

Getting There

1 night, 2 daysCar, bus, air, ferry

5. Homer

Still On The Road System, Yet More Off The Beaten Path. The artist and fishing community of Homer lies 5 hours south of Anchorage and off the cruise circuit. Most people rent a car in Anchorage and drive to Homer (great day trip) rather than fly there (1 hr) and then rent a car.

HighlightsMinimum StayGetting There
2 nights, 3 daysCar, air, bus

6. McCarthy/Kennicott

To get further off the beaten path, drive 7 hrs from Anchorage to McCarthy/Kennicott (or half that from Valdez or Glenallen). You don't need a car once there, so consider flying from Anchorage or Glenallen.

HighlightsMinimum StayGetting There
3 days if drive, 2 days if flyCar, air, bus

7. Day or Overnight Excursion to a “Bush Town”

Four often-visited "bush" towns (off the road system) can be reached in a short jet flight from Anchorage or Fairbanks.

Bush TownHighlightsMinimum StayGetting There
  • Gold Rush history
  • Iditarod Trail endpoint
1 day, optional overnightAir (1.5 hr)
  • Native village
  • Gateway to nearby fly-in parks
1 day, optional overnightAir (1.5 hr)


  • Farthest north in Alaska
  • Native, whaling culture
1 day, optional overnightAir (3hr)
Prudhoe Bay
  • Trans Alaska Pipeline pump station
  • Arctic Ocean
1 day, optional overnightAir, guided bus tour from Fairbanks
  • All are single day or overnight options, except Nome, where some visitors rent a car and spend 2 – 3 days exploring the roads.

8. Day or Overnight Excursion to Katmai or Kodiak

Popular for their scenery and bears are Katmai and Kodiak, both an hour's flight from Anchorage by jet. For most visitors, a visit to either will add 2 days to their trip.

9. Alaska Wilderness Lodge Excursions

A stay at a wilderness lodge usually adds 2 or more (very relaxing) nights to your trip. The most popular are the Kantishna lodges at the end of the Denali Park Road, fly-in lodges from Anchorage, Homer wilderness lodges (across the bay from Homer), and lodges reached by a day-cruise boat.

Other Less-Visited Alaska Destinations

Most Alaska itineraries are just combinations of the above building blocks. Other possibilities exist for those seeking the unusual or remote.

Bush TownsHighlightsMinimum StayGetting There
Dutch Harbor
  • Aleutian Islands
  • World War II history
  • Birding, fishing
2 or more days3-hr flight from Anchorage
Pribiloff Islands
  • Fur seals rookery
  • Birding
2 or more days3-hr flight from Anchorage
Round Island
  • Walrus sanctuary
2 or more days3-hr flight from Anchorage
  • Prince William Sound
  • Fishing, rafting, birding, other outdoor activities
2 or more days50-min flight from Anchorage


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