Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali National Park, Fairbanks
Day 1 – Anchorage
Start today with a heart-thumping hike along Alaska’s most popular and well-known trail – Flattop Mountain Trail. The short 1.5-mile trail climbs 1,280 feet from the Glen Alps parking area in Chugach State Park to the top of Flattop Mountain. From there, a panoramic view of Cook Inlet, Turnagain Arm and the city of Anchorage lies below. Bring snacks and plenty of water. When you’re done, head down the hill toward one of Anchorage’s excellent brewpubs for a tasty meal and local beer – you’ve earned it!
Day 2 – Talkeetna
In the morning, you’ll board the Alaska Railroad en route to Talkeetna, an artistic backcountry hamlet about 120 miles north of Anchorage. You’ll reach Talkeetna midday, so spend the rest of the day exploring the many shops and galleries that line the town’s main streets (all of which are unpaved, adding to its charm). If weather conditions permit, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of North America’s tallest peak, Mount McKinley, from vantages near town. Options for lodging in the area range from a large, sophisticated hotel to dozens of more modest inns and B&Bs.
Day 3 – Talkeetna
This morning, hop on a flightseeing tour to get a bit closer to the mountain. Tour options vary, but whether you opt for a glacier landing at the National Park Service-run base camp at Ruth Glacier or stay airborne for a looping circumnavigation of the top of Mount McKinley, you’re certain to come away with a new appreciation for the size and scale of the mountain. In the afternoon, book a zip line tour and get a better feel for life in the forest. While zipping from platform to platform through the forest, you’ll learn about the flora and fauna found in the area while experiencing the thrill of flying through the treetops. Spend another night in Talkeetna.
Day 4 – Anchorage or Denali National Park and Fairbanks
After soaking in the charm of Talkeetna, your options include riding the Alaska Railroad back to Anchorage or continuing north to Denali National Park and, beyond that, Fairbanks. No matter which you choose, opportunities to hike, boat and otherwise explore Alaska’s backcountry are near limitless.