So, you’ve just decided on a 10-day trip to Alaska – lucky you! Now, how do you maximize every minute of your Alaska vacation?
With 10 days, you could spend your entire trip immersed in a popular and intriguing region (the Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska, Denali National Park, the Kenai Peninsula) all while pursuing a favorite personal passion or two (classic Alaska fishing, chasing the Northern Lights, wildlife viewing, or just lounging and adventuring based at a remote luxury lodge). And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
Ambitious Alaskan explorers might be surprised at how much they can see and do in a 10-day visit to America’s last frontier. Even in a state as massive as Alaska, which offers equally large lists of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and “only-in-Alaska” adventures, a savvy traveler can make many checkmarks on their must-do and must-see bucket lists in a 10-day span. And they can do it without the stress of a ticking time clock getting from point-to-point, but at a relaxed pace that balances making memories at every stop, appreciating a diversity of experience and receiving maximum “Alaska impact”.
However you choose to spend your 10 days in AK, it’s critical to have a solid game plan before arriving. The professional travel experts at Alaska Tours can help you plan the most efficient, effective and seamless itinerary that maps out destinations, activities and explorations and transportation solutions that get you exactly where you need to be, when, doing exactly what you want – without wasted time, money or energy.
For those travelers hoping to make every day a new thrilling Alaska adventure in a different area, we have a perfect fit for you. Our 10-day Alaska Highlights Self-Driving Tour lets you and your crew lap the Alaska map with special “only in Alaska” experiences at every stop and spectacular views every mile along your way.
This 10-day extravaganza starts and ends in the ideal kickoff spot: Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and its big-time travel hub, offering excellent accommodations, fantastic food, sensational cultural and historical experiences like the Anchorage Museum and Alaska Native Heritage Center to lots of nearby activities from fishing, to hiking, biking, and shopping for Alaskan artisan wares.
And that’s just a start – one day later, you hit the road in your rental car on a scenic drive north into Alaska’s Interior and the gateway to Denali National Park. During this drive to remember, there are many reasons to pull over, from the quirky mountain town of Talkeetna to views of the great mountain of Denali to flightseeing tours, among other adventures.
After an overnight stay at your Denali Park accommodations, your third day is dedicated to exploring the park. A guided bus tour will take you deep inside where you’ll see wonderful wildlife (caribou, bears, porcupine, moose and more), colorful landscapes, and experience a feeling of exhilaration as you travel through one of the wildest places on earth. And there’s enough time after your bus trip to take in another adventure (rafting, biking and hiking are big hits) or to dine and relax in your comfortable accommodations.
Day four, you’ll drive further north into Alaska’s Interior to the “Golden Heart City” of Fairbanks. This Alaskan town is a traveler’s dream, displaying equal parts of Alaska’s past, present and future. The options for Alaska fun are almost endless in Fairbanks from gold mining, hot springs soaking, riverboat cruising, to visiting world-class cultural and Alaska history museums. And a summer night in Fairbanks might not feel like night at all, as Alaska’s famous Midnight Sun provides replenishing rays and extra energy to play hard and play late.
The next day, you’ll enjoy a long and lovely drive down the Richardson Highway to the small but welcoming southern port town of Valdez. Along the way, you may want to stop in towns like North Pole (yes, the home of Santa Claus), Delta Junction and Glennallen, and photograph the countless mountains of the Alaska Range and St. Elias, pristine Alaska lakes and a few grand glaciers. You’ll be while driving alongside the iconic Trans Alaska Pipeline System, whose magnitude, engineering and synergy with the environment are mind-blowing stuff. The closer you get to Valdez, the more fun the drive becomes and you travel down Thompson Pass and past the awe-inspiring waterfalls of Keystone Canyon. Once in Valdez, you can settle into a classic Alaska meal of the state’s best seafood and even spot some of Alaska’s famous sea wildlife during a walk along the docks.
Day six is all about Valdez, though its best experiences are found on the waters of Prince William Sound. There are many day trips available, from wildlife and glacier cruises, to fishing trips, to kayaking. Whatever you choose, the views are breathtaking as the Sound has countless coves, is surrounded by snowcapped mountains, and is populated by a range of aquatic life, from sea birds to breaching whales, otters to seals to sea lions.
After an overnight in Valdez, you’ll drive north back through those crazy canyons, waterfalls and passes on the way to Glennallen, and then head west on the great Glenn Highway. The Glenn certainly lives up to its National Scenic Byway status by offering near-constant sightings of wildlife, glaciers and mountains. Be prepared to pull over for photos often, especially when the magnificent Matanuska Glacier is visible. Want an even closer look? You can literally drive to, and walk on, the famous glacier. Now your only decision is whether you want to end your day. Choose between a stay at the quaint Sheep Mountain Lodge or continue another hour down the Glenn to the Mat-Su Valley towns of Wasilla and Palmer, which each offer more comfortable accommodations and diverse dining options in a more urban setting.
Day eight, your morning is spent driving down the Glenn Highway to Anchorage, where you can make a pitstop for breakfast or lunch, and to replenish some favored snacks and supplies. Once loaded up, continue driving south to another sweet port town, Seward, at the end of the scenic Seward Highway. This is arguably Alaska’s most scenic drive along Turnagain Arm with mountains, glaciers, wildlife, water and, if you’re really lucky, beluga whales. An hour or so south of Anchorage lies the ski hamlet of Girdwood, which sits at the base of Mt. Alyeska and has a range of dining and hiking options, as well as a tram to the top of the mountain. Even more mountains, glaciers and dining await you in the Alaska port of Seward, where you can overnight before another day of adventures.
Wake up in Seward and it will be tough to decide what’s next: a day spent cruising through Kenai Fjords National Park, completely packed with views of glaciers, mountains and water wildlife; a day hiking above Exit Glacier and the Harding Ice Field or a leg-and-lung burning climb up the infamous and ominous Mt. Marathon, which looms over Seward with a million-dollar view. Your might also choose a day at the Alaska Sealife Center, which is a living museum, marine research and science laboratory, and home to some of the cutest and curious marine wildlife, or a day getting all of the Alaskan puppy love you can handle at an Iditarod musher’s home and sled dog yard, where you’ll meet present and future dogsledding champs and even get a thrilling ride with the sled team. Play it smart and you can knock out more than one of these cool experiences in one day.
On your final day, once the Seward soirees wraps up, it’s a two-hour drive on the Seward Highway back to Anchorage, where you’ll spend your final night – ideally, enjoying King crab, halibut and an Alaska-brewed craft beer while you remember every amazing thing you’ve done over the past nine days.
On a 10-day vacation in Alaska, you and your travel companions can choose to do as much, or as little, as you want. You can also customize your Alaskan trip to suit your passions and your interests and we offer many other itineraries in addition to the one illustrated above. Who knew 10 days in Alaska could fly by so fast and be filled with so much fun?