Anchorage, Katmai and Lake Clark national parks, Talkeetna, Denali National Park and Preserve, Hatcher Pass
Experience some of the most scenic Alaskan destinations by air on this sample four-day itinerary. Perfect for both aviation enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers, this action-packed adventure covers three regions to explore aviation museums, view bears and fly over Denali.
Day 1 — Anchorage
Arrive in Anchorage and get your bearings. The Alaska Aviation Museum is right next door to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and an easy addition to your arrival day. There, you can check out airplanes that played a big role in Alaska’s history and development and learn about the iconic pilots that helped open up the territory to development while bringing needed supplies to remote villages. Consider staying and dining at the The Lakefront Anchorage, also located close to the airport and right on the shores of Lake Hood, the busiest float-plane base in the United States. Sit on the outdoor patio under the midnight sun and watch airplanes take off and land while enjoying a cold beer and some fresh Alaska seafood.
Day 2 — Bear Viewing by Bush Plane
Head on over to Lake Hood for your flight to one of two national parks known for top-notch bear viewing: Katmai or Lake Clark. Your tour provider will recommend a destination based on where bear viewing is at its peak. Bears go where the salmon are running, so the best spots vary throughout the summer. Either way, your day trip will feature a flight of an hour or two to a remote viewing location. Guides will help escort you and your fellow travelers (just a handful per plane) to a safe and thrilling vantage point for quietly observing massive coastal brown bears and their cubs as they fish, fight and frolic the day away. At the end of the day, you’ll fly back to Anchorage. Overnight in Anchorage.
Day 3 — Drive to Talkeetna
In the morning, pick up a rental car and get ready to hit the highway. Today’s destination: the aviation-centric Southcentral community of Talkeetna. From there you’ll take a stunning aerial tour of Denali and Denali National Park and Preserve, but don’t be in too big a rush to get there. Talkeetna is about 90 miles north of Anchorage, which leaves plenty of time for a stop in Wasilla at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry to learn more about Alaska’s iconic bush pilots and aviation history. You may also want to consider a short detour to Hatcher Pass for hiking or to check out Independence Mine State Historical Site. Arrive in Talkeetna in the late afternoon and enjoy checking out the charming “downtown” shops and restaurants.
Day 4 — Denali
In the morning, rise and shine and head to a local flightseeing operator — there are several to choose from in Talkeetna for a tour to the top of Denali. At well over 20,000 feet tall, it is the tallest mountain in North America and a site to behold, with massive glaciers spilling out of its peaks and braided rivers flowing around its base. Your tour length and features are up to you – some providers even offer the option to land on Ruth Glacier and experience the mountain’s base camp, where mountaineers prepare to make their attempts at summiting the mountain. Talkeetna has long been the jumping off point for mountaineers intent on bagging Denali, and when you return to town, you should check out the Talkeetna Historical Society’s museum for more on mountaineering and legendary local pilot Don Sheldon. Overnight in Talkeetna. The following day, return to Anchorage or continue north to see Denali National Park from the ground.