The great state of Alaska is a majestic wonderland. It’s a faraway place, best known for its rugged beauty, soaring mountains, ancient glaciers, and plethora of wildlife. Considering its vast size and many remote and wild places, the roads and highways connecting Alaska’s top natural attractions are easily accessible, exceptionally maintained, and unbelievably scenic.
Number of miles: 1000 miles
Recommended length of road trip: 7 days
When To Visit Alaska
The activities in this itinerary are based on a visit to Alaska in the summer. The summer months allow you to visit and hike in Denali National Park, see whales off the coast in Seward and enjoy warm weather. Summer temperatures average in the 50’s °F and 60’s °F, but be prepared with layers in case it is colder.
The spring and fall can also be wonderful times to visit Alaska, as you can still have great weather and there will likely be less crowds. Just be sure to check conditions ahead of time for places like Denali. Average spring and fall temperatures tend to be lows in the 20’s °F and highs in the 30’s °F and 40’s °F, all depending on which month you visit and where you go.
Alaska in the winter is absolutely beautiful but offers a very different experience. In the winter, you can see the northern lights, go dog sledding, ride snowmobiles and do other fun cold weather activities. Winter temperatures will likely be below freezing for the duration of your visit.
Tips for Driving in Alaska
- If you are renting a car, be sure to book several months ahead of time because Alaska has been experiencing a rental car shortage for the last couple years.
- Be prepared for the possibility of traffic delays. Road maintenance occurs in the summer and many of the roads you’ll drive for this itinerary offer no alternative routes. I had no serious delays, but I’ve heard horror stories of 8 hour delays due to construction. Whenever possible, keep your plans flexible and know that this is possible.
- The speed limits are pretty low in Alaska and I saw many people pulled over by police. Be sure to abide by the speed limit.
- Services are spread out in Alaska, so it is a good idea to fill up on gas whenever possible. I also recommend downloading offline maps because you may lose cell reception during parts of the drive.
- There are moose signs everywhere when you’re driving around Alaska! I only saw them in the national parks but keep your eyes peeled while driving. If you’ve never seen a moose, they are huge and you would not want to run into one (or any wildlife for that matter).
What to Pack for an Alaska Trip
The weather can change quickly so it is important to be prepared for both cold and warm weather in the summer.
Here are some things you should be sure to pack for your trip:
- A lightweight jacket or windbreaker for layering.
- Hiking shoes or boots.
- Trekking poles if you would like them for hiking.
- A camera with a good zoom lens for wildlife photography.
- Binoculars for the Denali bus tour.
- Sunglasses and sunscreen, especially for hiking on glaciers.
- A reusable water bottle.
- A first aid kit.
- Gloves, a hat and warm socks.
- A poncho or umbrella for rain.
10 Day Alaska Itinerary: Kenai Fjords, Denali & Anchorage
Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage
Day 2: Scenic drive to Seward
Day 3: Kenai Fjords National Park
Day 4: Kenai Fjords National Park
Day 5: Drive to Anchorage
Day 6: Drive to Talkeetna and Denali, optional flightseeing tour of Denali
Day 7: Denali National Park
Day 8: Denali National Park
Day 9: Denali National Park
Day 10: Fly home
Getting a Reservation at Brooks Lodge
Reservations for Brooks Lodge are only offered by lottery. This lottery takes place in December, a year and a half in advance of the summer season (for summer 2025, you will enter the lottery in December 2023).
The lucky lottery winners are notified by early February.
If you are not one of the lucky lottery winners, you still have a chance of getting a reservation. As people cancel their reservations, spaces will open. You will just have to be flexible with your dates.
This is what we did on our first visit to Katmai. In April 2021, we called Brooks Lodge and they had an opening for early July. We were able to get a 3-day, 2-night stay at Brooks Lodge in July of 2021. Once we made this reservation, we planned our entire Alaska itinerary around these dates.
With that being said, I don’t recommend waiting that late to plan a trip to Alaska. We got lucky, since COVID still kept travel light in Alaska at this point. We were able to make hotel reservations, flight reservations, and a rental car reservation 3 months in advance of our trip but that is not the case anymore, now that travel is back to normal.
We liked the experience at Katmai so much that in December 2021 we entered the lottery for 2023. We were #52 on the waitlist but by the end of January 2022, got a spot at Brooks Camp. Tim and I returned to Katmai for 3 days in July 2023.
Rooms at Brooks Lodge can accommodate up to four people and cost $955 per night. The dining room at Brooks Lodge also serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and this has an additional fee.
Once you arrive at Brooks Camp, spend the afternoon and evening at the Brooks Falls Viewing Platforms. It’s one of the best US national park experiences for wildlife viewing.
Additional Costs for this Alaska Itinerary
Rental Car: For this, I can’t give an estimate. Your rental car cost will depend on the length of your visit, the type of vehicle you plan to rent, and if your pick-up location will be the same as your drop-off location. Because rental car fees vary a lot from month to month and year to year, I can’t give an accurate estimate to what this will cost (it can range from $75 to $200 per day). When we rent a car, Tim checks the prices on the official websites and chooses the cheapest option.
Hotels: For double occupancy for a mid-range hotel, prices can range from $150 to $300 per night.
Food: For breakfast and lunch, we either ate the hotel breakfast or ate food that we purchased from the grocery store. For dinner, prices are typical for other places in the US, averaging about $10 to $18 per plate.
Seward to Denali
Transportation at a Glance
Many travelers are crunched for time during their Alaskan vacation and want to get from one scenic area to another quickly. And while it’s possible to get from Seward to Denali in one day, it’s not a quick trip. It’s even longer on the train, which requires a one-night layover in Anchorage.
You can rent a car in Seward and drive to Denali in one day; driving nonstop is the fastest way between the two areas. But beware! It’s a very scenic drive, so you’ll want to stop to take photos and enjoy a scenic lunch, making for a long day on the road. Bear in mind, too, that you can’t drop off your car in Denali.
It’s around 10 hours by motorcoach, making it a slower option than driving. However, of course, you don’t have to worry about renting a car or finding your way, and you can fully enjoy the gorgeous scenery along the way.