21 Day Grand Alaska Loop
Mid-May through mid-September
Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali National Park, Fairbanks, Copper Center, McCarthy-Kennicott, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Valdez, Whittier, Girdwood, Seward & Kenai Fjords, Homer, Cooper Landing Area
Why This Trip?
This unforgettable 3-week itinerary lets you hit Alaska's most iconic highlights and experience its most exciting activities—from fishing and rafting to flightseeing and wildlife viewing! You'll begin by witnessing the grandeur of Denali National Park, see bustling Fairbanks, go fishing in famous Copper Center, and head into America's largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias. Visit the seaside towns of Valdez and Homer, and get out on the water among the glaciers of Kenai Fjords National Park before exploring Alaska's largest city, Anchorage.
Don't want to book on your own? Work with a local itinerary specialist to customize this trip for you.
Arrive in Anchorage | Overnight in Talkeetna
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Pick up your car or RV and make the 2-hour drive to charming Talkeetna. Then explore the one-block main street, ducking in and out of the quaint shops and restaurants, like the legendary Talkeetna Roadhouse, which has been around since the early 20th century. And take a tour. You're close to Denali, so go flightseeing and check out the mountain up close; you could also take a guided walk, a rafting trip, try ziplining, or go for a thrilling jetboat ride.
Drive from Talkeetna to Denali National Park
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Depart from Talkeetna for the 2.5-hour drive to iconic Denali National Park Head to the park's visitor center to start getting acquainted with this vast expanse of nature. And try an activity! Go flightseeing and get a bird's-eye view of the vast Alaska Range as well as the summit of Denali. Enjoy some river rafting, go for a guided hike, or take a Jeep/ATV tour and drive yourself over the tundra.
Day & Overnight in Denali National Park
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Today, you'll spend all day exploring the beauty of this park. Private vehicles are not allowed beyond mile 15, so you'll explore by bus. Opt for the National Park Service's hop-on, hop-off transit bus, or take a narrated tour. Spend 7-8 hours traveling 62 miles into the park on the Tundra Wilderness tour, or take 12 hours and go all 92 miles to the end, at Kantishna. Along the way, look for wildlife and of course, North America's tallest peak.
Drive from Denali National Park to Fairbanks
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Travel from Denali to the largest city in interior Alaska; it's about a 2-hour drive. Check out the University of Alaska Museum of the North, where you'll get a fascinating glimpse of the cultures and wildlife that call this part of Alaska home, as well as a deep dive into contemporary Native Alaska art. You can also drive over to see the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and witness this feat of engineering.
Day & Overnight in Fairbanks
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Travel back in time today. This morning you'll board a historic riverboat for a ride along the Chena and Tanana rivers, then pan for gold in the afternoon...and keep whatever you find. You could also take this opportunity and do something very special: a tour of the Arctic Circle! Fly, drive, or do a combo trip north, where you'll get a real sense for not only this rugged landscape, but also for the people and culture in this unique area. Other activities include fishing, getting nose to nose with reindeer, and dog sled demonstrations.
Drive from Fairbanks to Copper Center
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Drive about 5 hours to the tiny town of Copper Center, on the edge of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Stop in at the Copper Center VIsitor Center Complex and start to learn about the beautiful park you're about to explore. Also tour the Ahtna Cultural Center next door to see a hand-built fish wheel and hear about the Native Alaskans in this area.
Day & Overnight in Copper Center
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Copper River Basin offers some wonderfully remote rivers that take you deep into the Alaskan wilderness. They're perfect for rafting, as you you can choose anything from calm water up to raging whitewater. They're also full of salmon in the summer, and it's easy to go out angling with a guide and ship home anything you catch!
Drive or Fly from Copper Center to Wrangell St. Elias National Park
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Head into the park today, to the McCarthy/Kennicott area. You can go by air taxi from Chitina, which takes about 30 minutes, or you can drive. It's only 60 miles, but because it's a rough gravel road, the trip takes about 3.5 hours. Also, you have to have a rental vehicle that allows for travel on gravel roads. But it's worth the effort: You'll end up in this very secluded former mining area that's Alaska's most famous ghost town.
Day & Overnight in McCarthy / Kennicott
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Start today with a tour of the Kennicott Mine, an abandoned copper mine established in 1903. Then try some activities. Have the unique experience of going for a guided hike on the Root Glacier; you can even try ice-climbing here. Enjoy some rafting, either on a placid glacial lake or speeding along a river, propelled by whitewater. You can also choose to go flightseeing and get a spectacular bird's-eye view of the tundra and snow-capped peaks of Wrangell St. Elias National Park.
Drive from McCarthy / Kennicott to Valdez
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Today you'll make the almost 5-hour drive through gorgeous scenery on your way to the seaside town of Valdez, situated on the shores of Prince William Sound. As you get closer to your destination, check out Worthington Glacier, which you can take in from a viewing platform; or get a different perspective on it by doing a two-mile hike. And stop by the spectacular steep cascade of water known as Bridal Veil Falls; there's a great overlook about a mile down the trail.
Day & Overnight in Valdez
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Valdez sits along spectacular shimmering waters and is surrounded by mountains, with wildlife and glaciers galore. So get out there! Take a day cruise out to see those glaciers and look for sea otters, puffins, whales, and bald eagles. Or grab a paddle and take a kayaking tour to explore icebergs and even paddle into a glacial cave.
Travel from Valdez to Girdwood
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Today you'll enjoy another spectacular boat ride—this one aboard a ferry (with your car or RV) to Whittier. It'll take around six hours, during which you can kick back and soak in the scenery as you look for wildlife. Once you arrive in Whittier, it's a quick, 40-minute drive to Girdwood—a place with a world-class ski resort but also lots to do year-round. Stay at the luxurious Hotel Alyeska or at a quaint cabin rental or B&B. There's a campground for RV'ers, or you can camp in nearby Portage Valley.
Drive from Girdwood to Seward
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Drive 90 miles to the quaint seaside town of Seward. Explore the shops and galleries or go for an outing in a kayak. Either way, make time for a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center—an aquarium and research facility where you can get an up-close view of Alaska's unique marine creatures, like Stellar sea lions and harbor seals, as well as birds like puffins. Also, don't miss the unique opportunity of walking right up to the face of a glacier! Exit Glacier is just a 10- to 15-minute drive from town; a 20-minute walk brings you right up to the mountain of blue ice, where you can listen to it crackle.
Day & Overnight in Kenai Fjords National Park
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Jaw-droppingly beautiful, Kenai Fjords National Park plays host to some of the state's most spectacular fjords and glaciers. And several great tour operators offer half- or full-day cruises that take you out to witness their majesty and experience the thrill of a calving glacier. You'll also be on the lookout for willdife like whales and sea otters. Interested in fishing? Book a charter and head out angling for halibut, salmon, lingcod, and rockfish.
Drive from Seward to Cooper Landing
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Today you'll make a short, one-hour drive to Cooper Landing. Enjoy the experience of a relaxing rafting trip out on the turquoise Kenai River. Surrounded by lush forests with mountains climbing high in the distance, you'll float down the river, learning about the history of the area and looking out for wildlife.
Day & Overnight in Cooper Landing
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Wake up early today and learn why fishing in the waters of the Kenai Peninsula is truly world-class. You'll go out for a day of guided angling and fish for salmon (Kings, reds, and silvers), rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden. All equipment and instruction are included, as is the gorgeous surrounding wilderness!
Drive from Cooper Landing to Homer
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It will take about 2.5 hours to drive from Seward to Homer; look for volcanoes along the way, and when you reach the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula, take time to appreciate the beauty. Homer is Alaska's capital of halibut fishing, but this charming town offers many delights beyond fishing, including art galleries and wildlife. Go for a walk along the Homer Spit, the narrow finger of land that stretches into the bay, and keep an eye out for otters and eagles.
Day & Overnight in Homer
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You'll have all day today to explore this town and try some of its many activities. Fishing here is both a business and a passion, thanks partly to the monster-size halibut in the nearby waters. Take a half- or full-day fishing charter to angle for them, or cast your line for salmon instead. You can also hop a scenic flight to Katmai or Lake Clark national parks, where you can experience the magic of seeing bears in their natural habitat. Love to hike? Katchemak Bay State Park has some of the state's best hiking, just a 20-minute water taxi ride away.
Ferry from Homer to Seldovia
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Take a 45-minute fast ferry across the bay, to the remote and fascinating town of Seldovia. Once home to a cannery and a boardwalk, the town was devastated by the 1964 earthquake. Today it's a laid-back town with a lot of options for outdoor activities. You can choose to stay the night here, or spend just a few hours and return to Homer.
Drive from Homer to Anchorage
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Spend some more time out taking in the beauty of the Homer Spit and check out some of the town's famous art galleries. You'll then drive 4.5 hours to Anchorage.
Day in Anchorage
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It's your last day in Alaska, so enjoy it! Get an in-depth picture of the city and state at the Anchorage Museum, or visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center for a dose of history and culture. Don't forget to pick up some souvenirs before you depart!