Featuring: Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Chitina, Valdez
Fairbanks is the second-largest city in Alaska, and a great start for your RV trip down the Richardson Highway. Before heading south, spend a few hours touring the city and head 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks on Chena Hot Springs Road to Chena Hot Springs Resort. Soak in the healing waters of the resort’s mineral springs, enjoy a meal and visit the Aurora Ice Museum. Spend the night at one of the 24 marked campsites at the resort and make sure to step outside at night and check for the aurora borealis.
Drive back toward Fairbanks to connect with the Richardson Highway. If you have kids in tow, they may enjoy a visit to North Pole on your way out of the Fairbanks area at mile 348.7. Home to many Fairbanks commuters, North Pole is also the official home of Santa Claus and his elves and offers a great photo opportunity by the giant Santa Claus sign. Drive on for another 73 miles and pull off at Rika’s Roadhouse at Mile 275. Built in 1913, Rika’s was one of the original roadhouses along the former Valdez-to-Fairbanks trail and includes a lot of historical information about the area.
Continue south to Delta Junction State Recreation Campground at mile 267 of the Richardson Highway. Directly across the highway from the recreation site lays the Delta River. This allows for some spectacular views of the Alaska Range beyond. On a clear day you can see Mount Hayes, one of the tallest mountains of the Alaska Range. Spend the night at the campground and mingle with other like-minded travelers.
After enjoying a stroll in the area or a nice breakfast in this beautiful spot, get back in your RV and take in the beauty of the scenic drive south toward Chitina. Keep an eye out for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline viewpoint at Mile 243.5 and stop for a picnic at Fielding Lake State Recreation Area near Mile 200.4. Continuing south you’ll reach the town of Glennallen, and the Richardson’s junction with the Glenn Highway. You can fill your tank and pick up supplies in Glennallen before moving on. Head another 10 miles south to the tiny town of Copper Center, where you’ll find the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Visitor Center. The center offers information on the park’s 13 million acres and the history of the former Kennecott Copper Mine, the restored ruins of which are one of the park’s primary draws. Once you’ve oriented yourself, head south again until you reach the junction with the Edgerton Highway and drive 33 miles east to Chitina. Park your RV at Kenny Lake RV Park and take a walk around the town. Several businesses in Chitina offer flightseeing or glacier hiking tours on Root and Kennicott glaciers, fishing charters or tours of Kennecott Mine near the town of McCarthy, which is just a short flight from Chitina via bush plane.
There is a lot to see and do at Chitina and Wrangell-St. Elias. If you haven’t had your fill of the area, spend a few more hours before heading back to the Richardson Highway and the rest of the way south to Valdez. Take your time driving as the rest of this highway offers unobstructed views of snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and a great drive-up access to Worthington Glacier at the Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site (Mile 28.7). Continue the rest of the way to Valdez, the southern terminus of the Richardson Highway on Prince William Sound. There are several RV parks to choose from in Valdez. The visitor information center is located at 104 Chenega St.
Dedicate this day to the City of Valdez and all the sightseeing it offers. Explore the beautiful waterfront and see the fisherman try their luck. Look closely at the water. You may see a sea otter floating by and snacking on fish. Take a cruise or kayaking trip out on Prince William Sound and eat out or walk over to Ruth Pond Park where you’ll find picnic tables and a trail. Visit the Valdez Museum and Historical Archive for its interpretive exhibits on the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, the construction of the pipeline and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup.