See some of Alaska’s most scenic destinations by air with this sample four-day itinerary. Perfect for aviation enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers, this action-packed adventure takes you through aviation museums, world-class bear-viewing, and a dramatic flightseeing trip to Denali.
Day 1 Anchorage
Arrive in Anchorage and get your bearings. The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum is right next door to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and even the most seasoned of airport connoisseurs enjoys watching float planes take off and land at nearby Lake Hood, the busiest seaplane base in the world. If it’s still early in the day once you get checked in to your hotel, consider renting a bicycle from one of several downtown vendors and pedaling along the 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which hugs the town’s western shoreline. The trail passes right next to a tall bluff known as Point Woronzof, where locals often stand to watch jets taking off and landing at the airport. If you looked out of your jet during the initial approach, you might have seen them waving at you.
Day 2 Bear Viewing by Bush Plane
In the morning, head back to Lake Hood. This time, you'll be taking off in one of those float planes, bound for either Katmai National Park or Lake Clark National Park. Both are known for their spectacular bear-viewing, and can be reached with a full-day air tour from Anchorage. Guides will escort you and your fellow travelers (just a handful per plane) to a good vantage point, where you'll have the thrill of 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; spend the night there.
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, located about 115 miles north of Anchorage. From there you’ll take a stunning aerial tour of Denali National Park and Preserve, flying with the same local carriers that shuttle climbers to and from base camp on 20,310' Denali, North America's tallest peak.
But before you reach Talkeetna, you can learn more about Alaska's iconic bush pilots and aviation history at the Museum of Alaska Transportation Industry in Wasilla, conveniently located on the way from Anchorage to Talkeetna. Once you do reach Talkeetna and have your flightseeing adventure, end the day by strolling Main Street and exploring the town's many locally owned gift shops, galleries and restaurants. Spend the night in Talkeetna.
Day 4 Talkeetna
In the morning, rise and shine for an entirely different type of aerial adventure: You're going ziplining! Although Southcentral Alaska's ziplines may not be the tallest in the world, you can't beat the scenery, which includes views of Denali and its surrounding peaks—if they're not obscured by clouds of their own making. Next, visit the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station to learn about local mountaineering history, then make a stop at the Talkeetna Historical Society’s small museum, where you can see an impressive scale replica of Denali and learn about legendary local pilot Don Sheldon. Spend one more night in Talkeetna. Tomorrow, you can either drive back to Anchorage or continue north to see Denali National Park from the ground.