Why This Trip?
While most people visit Alaska in summertime, the fall is an absolutely gorgeous time of year too! You'll get to check out some of the state's awesome foliage on this trip as you drive out towards America's largest national park, Wrangell-St.Elias. You'll then have two full days to explore this vast wilderness, both on foot and by plane!
Arrive & Overnight in Anchorage
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Welcome to Anchorage! Because this itinerary includes driving the McCarthy Road, you'll need the grab a rental car that allows for travel on gravel roads, like Alaska 4x4 Rentals or Alaska Overlander. Take today to explore Alaska's largest city. Walk or bike the dramatic, 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Go on a city tour via trolley or bike to get an overview, or join a brewery tour and sample some of the innovative suds being brewed here. Then 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. Of course, you'll also want to experience the city's fantastic bars and restaurants.
Day & Overnight in Glacier View
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From Anchorage, it's about a 2-hour drive to Glacier View—a wonderful drive through the fall colors. There's no actual downtown here, but it's a great place for adventures. The centerpiece is the mammoth Matanuska Glacier, one of Alaska's few roadside glaciers. Get right up to it and take a guided hike on the ice. You'll also find the two fastest ziplines in Southcentral Alaska here, as well as great opportunities for rafting and hiking.
Morning in Glacier View - Day in Copper Center
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If there's time, sneak in one more tour, like one of the exceptional ziplines, or go for a hike along one of the many pretty trails. Then drive another 90 minutes or so to the tiny town of Copper Center, on the edge of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The park is open year-round, but be aware that many of the visitor centers and other services close down in the second half of September. If you're here before then, 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.
Drive from Copper Center to Wrangell St. Elias National Park
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Today you'll begin an unforgettable two-day exploration of America's largest national park, with its whopping 13.2 million acres. Primitive gravel roads enter the park, and many rental cars aren't allowed to drive them. But if you have an approved car, you can drive in on the McCarthy Road. Otherwise, you'll then take an air taxi on a short, spectacular flight into McCarthy.
Day & Overnight in Wrangell St. Elias National Park
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With just a short time here, you'll only be able to explore a tiny section of this vast national park, but it's as fascinating as it is beautiful. Start with a tour of the Kennecott 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 on a guided hiking or flightseeing tour in Wrangell St. Elias National Park.
Drive from Wrangell St. Elias National Park to Anchorage
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Today you'll make the scenic 7-8 hour drive back to Anchorage. (Or take the air taxi back from McCarthy to Copper Center before starting your drive). Depending on when you arrive in Anchorage, check out the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. And don't forget to pick up some souvenirs to remember your trip by!