This drive follows the 368 mile Richardson highway from Valdez to Fairbanks, and takes approximately 7.5 – 8 hours to complete. Even though the travel time is an investment, like most Alaskan highways, the views are incredibly rewarding. In fact, there are two 100 mile sections that have been designated as State Scenic Byways, with views of glaciers, towering mountain ranges, and more. Take a look at the highlights you can see along the way.
Valdez to Glennallen
The museum portrays the community’s unique and colorful history from European exploration in the 1700s to contemporary oil transportation. Permanent exhibits are accented by temporary exhibitions of arts and crafts. Major artifacts include a 19th century Fresnel Lighthouse Lens, a beautifully restored 1907 Ahrens “Continental” steam fire engine and a companion 1880s Gleason & Bailey hand-pumped fire engine, saltwater aquariums with the… ...more
This family-run company operating out of Valdez will show you the best glaciers, with great customer service along the way. On any given day trip you’ll likely see huge rafts of sea otters, horned and tufted puffins, cormorants, humpback whales, or even bald eagles. Stan Stephens offers two daily tours, one of which features Columbia Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in Southcentral Alaska.
The Crooked Creek Information Center and salmon viewing platform are located on the outskirts of Valdez at Mile 0.5 of the Richardson Highway. Pink and chum salmon return to this clear water stream each summer to spawn with peak numbers seen in mid-August. Occasionally, black or brown bear can be observed feasting on the returning fish.
If you’ve yet to set eyes on an iceberg, here’s your chance. This lake sits at the terminus of the Valdez Glacier and is often home to chunks of ice that are making a go of it on their own. It’s a nice place to get unimpeded views of the Chugach Mountains and the Valdez Glacier. And with the warming climate, it’s a place worth seeing before the glacier retracts farther than it already has.In fact, the ice on this glacier has been more or less… ...more
Bridal Veil Falls and the Valdez Goat Trail: This two-mile-long hike is a restored section of the Trans-Alaska Military Pack-train Trail that was the first glacier-free route from Valdez to the interior of Alaska. There’s a fantastic overlook about a mile down the trail.
Alpine tundra often brings unimpeded views, easy walking, and an indescribable lightness of being. It also usually requires several hours of hiking to reach. But what if you could skip the exhausting hike and just drive there? The Thompson Pass is a great opportunity, rain or shine, to take advantage of easy access to this special environment — make the time for a stop. There are spots to pull over on either side of the road-cut that marks the… ...more
Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site is made up of 113 acres, and includes one of the most visited spots in the Copper River Basin, Worthington Glacier. There are trails, picnic sites, and picnic shelters within the roadside park, along with water and restrooms. Make sure to stop at milepost 28.7 on the Richardson Highway to view this favorite glacier, or take a short walk to the glacier and see it up close!
Pump Station No. 12. This is the last of 11 pump stations located along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. There is no Pump Station No. 11. Only 6 pump stations are used to move oil today. These pumps move the oil through the 800 mile-long pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. Most stations have three gas-turbine-driven mainline pumps. Each pump can move 22,000 gallons of oil a minute, that’s 754,000 barrels a day.
The mountain range you see at this point is over 50 miles away. Mt. Drum (12,010 ft.) is the nearest peak; Mt. Wrangell (14,163 ft.) is a semi-active volcano to the east; Mt. Sanford (16,237 ft.) is partly hidden and Mt. Blackburn (16,390 ft) is the tallest of the four major peaks. The Wrangell Range is over 5,000 square miles, and has 12 peaks above 10,000 ft. This is a great photo opportunity on a clear day, the mountain range reflects off… ...more
Traveling the Richardson Highway south of Glennallen, you will pass Willow Lake with spectacular views of the lake and the Wrangell Mountain volcanoes in the distance. Read about how ancient Lake Atna once filled the area you’re driving through and shaped the Copper River valley.
Historic Copper Center is one of the oldest non-native communities in Alaska’s Interior. Founded as a government agricultural experimental station, it later served as a transportation center for gold rush prospectors. Also find the interpretive sign where you’ll learn about the local fish species that make their home in different habitat niches of Copper River watershed creeks and rivers.
Just outside Glennallen you’ll find some great views of the Copper River and the Wrangell Mountains, as well as the chance to take some photos that don’t include any roads or buildings. Mt. Drum will be straight in front of you, with Mt. Sanford on the left side, and Mt. Wrangell— a massive shield volcano — on the right. Cloud cover is the only way you’ll miss this dramatic scene. And these mountains are definitely dramatic. The western… ...more
It’s disorienting to drive through mile after mile of wilderness only to suddenly arrive in a small town. You might ask, “Why in the world would anyone live out here?“Glennallen may seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but its origins make sense. And about 500 people call it home. They work in several industries, mainly tourism, government services, education, and healthcare. There are also a few small farms in the area.
Glennallen to Fairbanks
Paxson Junction (pop. 28) This small community began when Alvin Paxson opened the Timberline Roadhouse at mile 192 in 1906. His cook, Charles Meier, later opened a roadhouse at mile 170. Paxson built a larger roadhouse at mile 191 adding a barn with two sleeping rooms and a bath. Soon, a post office, store, woodhouse and small ice room were added.
This highway is named for the former Alaska road commission director, Captain Wilds P. Richardson. In 1903 Richardson presented the need for Alaska roads. He impressed Congress with his knowledge of Alaska and his abilities as an engineer. The monument here honors Richardson’s contribution as the Alaska’s first great road builder.
Dall sheep are easy to see on this postcard-worthy ridge that parallels the Richardson Highway about 150 miles south of Fairbanks. With bands of rust-colored rock alternating with talus fingers and tundra, the terrain is almost perfect for showing off the white dots of grazing sheep.
Denali Fault/Pipeline view. Notice how the Trans-Alaska Pipeline is built in a zigzag pattern? This allows the pipeline to expand and contract due to extreme temperature change or earthquakes. The pipeline has an earthquake detection system that measures ground movement. Computers can identify areas that should be checked after a large earthquake.
Just 2.5 Hours from Fairbanks on the Richardson Highway, The Lodge at Black Rapids is an undiscovered gem.The peaks of the Alaska Range, trout-filled lakes, swift rivers, and alpine tundra surround the lodge, which is named for the Black Rapids glacier. The owners built the Lodge over nearly 10 years, designing it to fit into the landscape. There are six rooms in addition to the bunkhouse, with queen beds and private baths. Large windows ...more
This is one of the states most scenic campgrounds offering views of some of the tallest peaks in the Alaska Range. Twelve campsites are situated along a loop road; the grounds are equipped with water, toilets, fire pits and hiking trail. The Delta bison herd can often be seen from the campground and nearby viewpoints.
Home of the Delta Historical Society Museum, Rika’s Roadhouse at Big Delta State Historical Park is in a ten-acre state park on the shores of the Tanana River. The Valdez-to-Fairbanks Trail ran through here and continued across the river, aided by a ferry. The roadhouse was built to accommodate the travelers and is a National Historic Site. The museum is a separate building behind the roadhouse and has displays of artifacts from the Alaskan ...more
Experience the thrill of flightseeing in areas that most tours can’t reach. Go with Golden Eagle Outfitters and enjoy fully customized flightseeing tours from Kotzebue or Delta Junction — or take advantage of their air-taxi drop-off and pickup service to access some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Alaska.
The Sullivan Roadhouse Historical Museum is housed in the oldest roadhouse in the interior of Alaska and is located in the heart of Delta Junction at the End of the Alaska Highway. Built in 1905 by John and Florence Sullivan, the log lodge now houses a museum that focuses on the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail and the roadhouses that operated along its route. Beautifully recreated rooms, as well as interpretive exhibits give our visitors a real feel… ...more
It’s Christmas year-round in North Pole, Alaska at the Santa Claus House, just 20 minutes from Fairbanks. The Santa Claus House is a frontier general store and post office turned holiday shop. The postal tradition lives on — official letters from Santa are postmarked from the North Pole and stamped with an official Santa seal. The store also has live reindeer, a coffee shop, holiday gift items, the world’s largest Santa statue and, in summer ...more
Come visit and you might see up to 15 different kinds of mammals — from beavers to red foxes, flying squirrels, snowshoe hares, and even moose — and several species of birds. Throughout the Sanctuary’s trail system there are 14 interpretive signs, so you can learn how the birds, fish, frogs, and mammals survive in interior Alaska’s tough climate.
Alaska’s road to modernization a century ago was a dramatic journey, and the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum explores that journey in fun, vivid detail. On the grounds of Wedgewood Resort — a member of the city’s premier, locally owned hotel group — the museum showcases dozens of historically significant pre-World War II automobiles, and offers visitors a trip back to Alaska’s rugged and exciting formative years.