The Best Road Trip Stops In Alaska

The Best Road Trip Stops In Alaska
Photo: Pixabay

If there’s one state in the US that most people don’t think about visiting, it has to be Alaska. It’s the largest state in the US, filled with rugged mountains, stunning glaciers, wild coastlines, and much more.

The problem is:

When people think about Alaska, they think about extreme cold and lots of snow/ice, which can put people off.

The thing is:

Alaska isn’t like that all year round; during the summer months, you’ll be surrounded by luscious green trees and temperate rainforests.

Where To Stop On Your Road Trip To Alaska

Alaska is the largest and most northerly state in America, and it often gets overlooked when people are planning a road trip.

And this is why I wanted to spend some time showing you all the glorious road trip stops Alaska has to offer you:

Kenai Fjords National Park

The Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Alaska. The park maintains Harding Icefield, glaciers, and coastal fjords.

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the National Park is to take a boat trip, particularly at night. From the boat, you’ll experience islands striking up from the bay while watching glaciers twist their way down into the water,

And most of all, you’ll see the mountain ranges towering above it all in the distance, making it a spectacular photo opportunity.

During a clear night, you’ll be able to gaze up at the stars in amazement, and if you plan your trip at the right time, you’ll even be able to see the Northern Lights.

Denali National Park & Preserve

National Parks are one of the most significant selling points of taking a road trip to Alaska, and it doesn’t get much bigger than the six-million-acre Denali National Park & Preserve.

The 6 million acres of wilderness is home to the 20,310-foot Denali (Mount McKinley), which is North America’s tallest peak.

On top of that, you’ll find spruce forests, glaciers, and more wildlife than you can imagine. You’ll find anything from grizzly bears, moose, wolves, Dall sheep, and caribou.

Mendenhall Glacier

You can enjoy a 13-mile-long river of ice at the Mendenhall Glacier while watching blue icebergs float in the water. It’s one of the significant icebergs connecting the vast Juneau Ice Fields, a remnant of the last Ice Age.

Several trails you can take of varying difficulties bring you closer to the waterfalls and salmon streams. And while you’re walking the trials, you should be prepared to meet some wildlife along the way.

The national park has everything from bald eagles to black bears and so much in between that makes it a must-go road trip stop.

The Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site

At 300 acres, the Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site is one of the smaller Alaska State Parks… but also one of the most scenic parks.

The Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site gives visitors spectacular views of the glacier, the Chugach Mountains, and the Talkeetna Mountains.

You’ll find 12 recreational campsites on the gravel loop road, fully equipped with all the necessities to make your trip enjoyable.

While there, you can also participate in seasonal activities ranging from hiking to glacier trekking to skiing or snowshoeing.

Indian Valley Mine National Historic Site

The Indian Valley Mine represents the early mining settlement that settled on the north side of Turnagain Arm during 1920-1939.

Reports had been growing since the early 1880s of gold being in the area, pushing people to start staking their claims.

Now, it’s a place where people come to learn the history of gold mining, along with learning how to pan for gold themselves.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

In 1897 the headlines were reporting gold, which started the Klondike Gold Rush. Thousands of people sold their farms and businesses and moved to the area, hoping to ease their woes during the economic depression.

Like anyone, they wanted to strike rich to live the true American Dream. And this national park was kept to commemorate all the brave people that took their chances and braved the epic voyage.

Now, it protects the local trails and wildlife while introducing people to a fantastic museum that covers the Klondike Gold Rush and the local history.

Last Chance Mining Museum

The museum features one of the world’s largest air compressors and many other industrial artifacts associated with hard rock gold mining.

The Last Chance Mining Museum gives visitors a unique Gold Rush experience by introducing them to historic mining buildings, 3D glass maps, and underground exhibits.

Access to the museum takes a short hike up the hill on a trail on uneven surfaces, but it’s well worth the effort.

Star The Reindeer’s Pen

If you have kids, you might want to take a trip to see Star The Reindeer’s Pen. Star isn’t the first of his name; he’s seventh in a line of reindeer named Star who have lived in the downtown corner.

Reindeer aren’t native to the area but have been living on the peninsula since they were imported from Siberia in 1892.

And since then, they have become entirely domestic creatures where people can enjoy a one-to-one experience with these beautiful creatures.

Stan Stephens Cruises

The final place on our list is the Stan Stephens Cruises. The Stephens Family are experienced Alaskans that have been operating in Prince William Sound out of Valdez since 1971.

The captains have an average of 25 years of experience on the water, culture, land, and wildlife that makes people proud to call Prince William Sound their home.

The tours operate daily and take people around some spectacular glaciers that will make your eyes water. While on your cruise, you have the chance to see wildlife such as whales, seals, sea lions, puffins, and much more.

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

Alaska is a beautiful state that many people think is its own independent country. Traveling around Alaska isn’t easy due to its size, but it’s 100% worth the effort.

The state is full of stunning wildlife, mesmerizing mountains, massive mountains, and beautiful glaciers. And with our help, you should have a few fantastic spots to add to your road trip list.

Road Trips > Cross Country Road Trip > Alaska Road Trip Stops

About the Author

Jason Fox
Jason Fox

Jason Fox: Four years ago, I decided to quit my job as a chef to travel the world and see where life took me. The skills I learned while traveling led me to become a freelance writer so I could share my experiences with the world. Since then, I've been traveling the world working as a digital nomad. Find me on Instagram.