A leisurely drive at your own pace through some of the world’s most beautiful scenery—is it any wonder that driving tops many peoples’ lists of favorite Alaskan activities? Wherever you go, wilderness surrounds you: mountains loom large, animals show themselves, and small towns appear like mirages. And whenever you like, you can explore a side road, make discoveries, and linger for as long as you like.
Anchorage is a great base for scenic day drives—it’s easy to rent a car here, and iconic sites are easily accessible. Take off on the legendary Parks Highway, with views of Denali (Mt. McKinley); meander on the Seward Highway, enjoying coastal views; or set off down the Glenn Highway to witness the Matanuska Glacier. Each has its own detours, and each detour has its own stories. So take the wheel and create some stories of your own.
Southcentral & Interior Alaska
Roadside glaciers, scenic valleys, coastal views and more
It’s 92 miles and about 5 hours from the park entrance to Kantishna, the end of the Park Road. Private vehicles aren’t permitted after Mile 15, so you’ll need to take either the hop-on, hop-off park shuttle bus or one of the tour buses. This road is only open in the summer months between May and early September. Dates vary depending on annual snowfall.
In the Talkeetna Mountains between the towns of Willow and Palmer, Hatcher Pass is a local favorite for recreation or a scenic drive. Hike in alpine tundra dotted with wildflowers and ptarmigan, ski fresh, deep powder, or visit Independence Mine Historical State Park.
To enjoy a scenic drive just a few minutes from downtown Anchorage, head north to mile 6.1 on the Glenn Highway. From here, you can head up the steep and winding, Arctic Valley Road. The drive itself is only 45 minutes, but once you get there, you’ll want to spend more time photographing and exploring.
Portage Valley southeast of Anchorage at the head of Turnagain Arm offers so many potential adventures that you might have to tow a trailer loaded with gear to sample them all. What will you find here? Biking, hiking, picnicking, fishing, paddling, wildlife viewing, potential iceberg sightings — plus a natural history visitor center packed with interactive displays about the ecosystem of the valley and Prince William Sound. It’s like an outdoor ...more
Driving north from Anchorage isn’t as instantly dramatic as going south, but within an hour you’re immersed in stop-and-shoot scenery. The Glenn Highway runs northeast to agricultural Palmer, then twists east along the Matanuska River Valley, sandwiched between coastal and interior mountains.
The scenic, essential 323-mile-long Parks Highway connects Anchorage and Fairbanks, threading its way past some of Alaska’s most iconic Alaskan areas, including Denali National Park and Mt. McKinley. But we’ll take you far beyond what you can see from the road. We’ll also show you some of the hidden gems you wouldn’t find on your own, like an old trapper’s cabin that offers a glimpse into Alaska’s past. We’ll let you in on cool trails to… ...more
Under an hour from Anchorage, this 22-mile drive takes you away from Alaska’s towns and cities, and into Chugach State Park. The road is smooth with twists and turns, and runs alongside Eklutna River, and the beautiful and glacial Eklutna Lake. You can also see Twin Peaks over the trees.
To explore the road less traveled, take the Old Glenn Highway to Palmer, a back road that feels like old Alaska. This 19-mile country road cuts through the heart of Alaska’s farmland and is a scenic, quiet alternative between Anchorage and Palmer. The road accesses state parks and recreation areas, petting zoos, and hiking trails and passes through picturesque terrain: pastoral countryside beneath the Chugach Mountains and Pioneer Peak. The… ...more
Kodiak View All
Access to beaches, mountains, state parks, and historic sites
Heading southwest out of town and then curving towards the north, this relatively short road offers access to salmon streams, wildlife habitat, hiking, winter recreation, the Coast Guard golf course, and a protected bay that’s great for sea kayaking and beachcombing.
A 17 mile one-way jaunt from Chiniak Highway, this road was completed alongside the development of the Alaska Aerospace Corporation launch site, which is at the end of the road. In addition to accessing the private site, the paved road offers recreationalists and travelers access to great fishing beaches and rivers, surf spots, state parks, and scenic views of alpine passes and ocean. There’s also a private ranch here, where semi-domesticated ...more
Nome View All
Less than 150 miles from the Arctic Circle, there are no trees, so you can see forever
The Nome – Teller Road brings you within 55 miles of Russia, and is as close as you can drive to the Bering Strait Land Bridge. The road travels 73 miles northwest and takes about 2 hours one-way without stops. You end at Teller, an authentic Inupiat village of fewer than 300 people who survive on a subsistence lifestyle.
Nome — Council Road spans 72 miles (East) and takes 2 hours one-way without stops. For spectacular birding, sweeping coastal views, and the famous “Last Train to Nowhere,” explore the Nome — Council Road. Additional highlights include the Safety Roadhouse, which is the last stop on the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, and the small community of Council, which boasted a population of 15,000 in its heydey.
When locals want to see trees, they head north on The Nome — Taylor Road (also called Beam Rd. or Kougarok Rd.) The 85-mile gravel road runs north-south and takes 2 hours one-way without stops. The route winds past many old mining claims, the popular Salmon Lake, and offers a side trip to historic Pilgrim Hot Springs.