Forest with snowcapped mountain in the background
Photo Credit: ATIA, Michael DeYoung

Fairbanks to Anchorage Road Trip

Fairbanks to Anchorage Road Trip

Link two of Alaska’s largest cities together in this 360-mile road trip from Fairbanks to Anchorage, with stops in Denali National Park, Talkeetna, and Eklutna along the way.

You can also follow this itinerary via passenger train, minus the stop in Eklutna.

Day 1: Fairbanks

After arriving in Fairbanks, rent a car or RV and tour some of the city’s biggest sights. Don’t miss the University of Alaska Museum of the North, one of the top 10 visitor attractions in the entire state. You can also see musk oxen and reindeer on a tour of the University’s Large Animal Research Station.

Day 2: Fairbanks to Denali

Start the morning with a riverboat cruise along the Chena or Tanana Rivers, followed by lunch on the deck at a riverside restaurant. In the afternoon, try your hand at panning for gold, then stop for a close-up view of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline on the Steese Highway. From there, end your day with a scenic, two-hour drive south to Denali National Park, home to North America’s tallest peak. Camp or stay at a hotel or cabin near the park entrance.

Day 3: Denali

Wake up early for a shuttle or tour bus ride along the road into Denali National Park and Preserve; buses are the only vehicles allowed on most of the road. The full round trip can take 12 hours, but shorter routes are available. Along the way, you’ll see wilderness landscapes, incredible wildlife, and maybe even get a peek at Denali itself, if the mountain is not hidden behind clouds of its own making. Once the tour is over, make your way back to your hotel or campsite for the night.

Day 4: Denali

There is no other place like Denali, so stick around for another day of wilderness adventures. Popular choices include whitewater rafting, off-road excursions, horseback trail rides, tours of the National Park Service sled dog kennels, and day hikes on trails near the park entrance. Stick around for one of the evening entertainment or educational programs, then spend one more night at your accommodations.

Day 5: Denali to Talkeetna

Hit the road again for a three-hour drive south to Talkeetna. If you weren’t lucky enough to see Denali the mountain while in Denali National Park, you might have better luck here: the road into Talkeetna offers some of the best viewpoints for seeing the mountain when it’s “out.” Once you make it to Talkeetna, take a scenic tour—flightseeingfishing trips, rafting, ATV tours, and jet-boat excursions are all popular—and then spend the evening exploring Talkeetna's wonderful, locally owned gift shops and art galleries and enjoying a local craft brew on Main Street before you turn in for the night.

Day 6: Talkeetna to Eklutna to Anchorage

Enjoy two more hours of scenic driving on the way south to Eklutna. Once in Eklutna, you can tour a Russian Orthodox church that dates from the 1800s and see brightly painted “spirit houses,” refuges created for the souls of those who’ve passed on. Another half-hour of driving will get you to the shore of beautiful blue-green Eklutna Lake, where you can enjoy the outdoor adventure of your choice: go kayaking, rent a bike to ride the lakeside trail, or hike one of the nearby trails. When you’re ready to move on, Anchorage is just an hour’s drive away. Enjoy a fine seafood dinner at one of the local restaurants before you turn in for the night.

Day 7: Anchorage

Entertainment and adventure options abound in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. Spend your last day in Alaska touring local attractions like the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Anchorage Museum, book a day cruise from a nearby port town, take a scenic day trip on one of the Alaska Railroad passenger trains, or fish for salmon right in the middle of downtown Anchorage. Another option: if you’re ready for a break from long-distance driving, you can follow this itinerary using the Alaska Railroad’s passenger trains, minus the stop in Eklutna.


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