Best Road Trips in Alaska

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From Fairbanks to Seward, the best road trips in Alaska deliver incredible views. After all, the mountains are tall and the highways are empty—it’s a recipe for road trip perfection!
But the state itself is enormous. So where can road trippers discover the best hidden gems?
Keep reading to find the perfect itinerary for your Alaska road trip. Only want to spend a few hours on the road? No problem! Do you prefer a multi-day excursion with a chance to see the Northern Lights? Strap in. From the classic Alaska Highway to the Dalton Highway on the Arctic Ocean, we’ve got it covered.
Don’t leave home without roadside assistance. A wildlife sighting sounds nice now, but it won’t be fun when your car is stuck in a ditch and you’re face-to-face with a curious moose. Jerry’s is only $6.99 and it’s a great way for adventurous drivers to enhance their car insurance coverage.
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Fairbanks to Valdez

This route will take you six hours one way to complete. You’ll follow Alaska’s oldest highway, the Richardson Highway, from Fairbanks in the north to Valdez in the south. The roads are also known as AK-4 and AK-2.

Why you should go from Fairbanks to Valdez

Sunrise at the docks in Valdez, Alaska. Snowy mountains are in the background.
Valdez, Alaska
If you want to enjoy stunning views and historic charm, this is the route for you. It’s beautiful in every season. In summer, you’ll get to see wildflowers against the backdrop of snowy peaks. In winter, this route reveals a frozen tundra and ice-encrusted forests. Boating enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Valdez, which offers excellent access to the Prince William Sound glaciers. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.

What you should do in Fairbanks and Valdez

  • Start in Fairbanks, then follow the Tanana River south. The stretch between Paxson and Gulkana is one of the best in the state.
  • Once you reach Glennallen, you’re only two hours from Valdez. Glennallen is the gateway to an incredible national park called Wrangell-St Elias.
  • In Copper Center, you can go rafting or head straight to Valdez to conclude your adventure with a cruise through the glaciers.
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Juneau to Point Bridget State Park

This hour-long drive will get you up close and personal with the Mendenhall Glacier. From Juneau to Point Bridget is just 36 miles on the Glacier Highway. If you want the shortest trip with the biggest impact, choose this road trip.

Why you should go from Juneau to Point Bridget State Park

Fjords, epic glaciers, and trails beside waterfalls—how dreamy does that sound? The drive is beautiful but the view over the glacier is unspeakably moving. Plus, the coastal rainforest at the concluding point of your journey, Point Bridget State Park, will easily warm you up after your glacial encounter.

What you should do in Juneau and Point Bridget State Park

  • Pack a picnic in Juneau and then head west on Glacier Highway, or AK-7. The Mendenhall is to your right and Favorite Channel is to your left. Make sure to stop at the visitor’s center to learn about the region and its ecology. Spend some time hiking on a nearby trail. You’ll want to meditate on the glacier’s incredible majesty—and you may even see a bear.
  • Once you reach Point Bridget, keep an eye out for sea lions and enjoy feeling puny before the universe while you picnic overlooking Berners Bay.
Key Takeaway The Mendenhall Glacier is one of Alaska’s best attractions, and it’s only 36 miles from Juneau.

Tok to Dawson City

186 miles is nothing to sneeze at, especially in Alaska. This route is called "Top of the World Highway" because it’s one of America’s most northerly highways. Plan to spend one to two days on this route. Beware: services are few and far between and this road is completely closed in the winter.

Why you should go from Tok to Dawson City

It’s desolate but beautiful here, and this Highway will reward your thirst for adventure with gorgeous vistas and solitary recreational activities. (There are also some killer cinnamon buns in a town called Chicken, just one hour west of the Canadian border.)

What you should do in Tok and Dawson City

A local gas station in Dawson City, Canada. Its sign reads "Gas 4 Less".
Dawson City, Canada
  • Please note that this route is only partially paved and services are rare. Bring food, water, and a full tank of gas. Tok is known as the dogsled capital of Alaska so it’s worth spending an hour or two in town to learn about the Iditarod.
  • On your route, the best ( place to get out and stretch your legs is Chicken (Population: 7). The Walker Fork Campground is just 40 minutes from the border but the road is pretty gnarly.
  • If you do intend to complete the route across the border in Canada, make sure the seasonal border post is open. Adventurers who are able to cross the border will enjoy a truly special grand finale: a free ferry across the Yukon River to Dawson City in Canada. This is a former gold mining town that hasn’t changed much since the mid-1800s.
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Anchorage to Seward

This two-and-a-half-hour route is classic Alaska. The Seward Highway skirts the Turnagain Arm and passes through lakes, mountains, and plenty of Instagrammable vistas. Truly, the Kenai Peninsula is not to be missed—and you should plan to spend a few days exploring once you arrive in Seward.

Why you should go from Anchorage to Seward

This route is perfect for first-time visitors or nervous drivers. Due to its attractive views and historic significance, this road is well-established and there are a fair amount of services and restaurants. Plus, Seward is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring southern Alaska. The Exit Glacier and the Kenai Fjords National Park are right next door.

What you should do in Anchorage and Seward

A sea otter floats on the water of Seward Harbor, Alaska.
An otter floating in the Seward Harbor
  • Fill up your tank and start in Anchorage. Alaska’s oldest city is the perfect place to learn about Native Alaskan culture. It’s two hours from Anchorage to Moose Pass, where you can pull over to grab a refreshing bite to eat at Trail Lake Lodge. Once you reach Seward, head to the waterfront to plan out the rest of your stay.
Key Takeaway Anxious about driving in Alaska? Try the Anchorage to Seward route.

Anchorage to Fairbanks

If you’re ready for a bit of a challenge, take AK-3 north for six hours from Anchorage to Fairbanks on the George Parks (or Denali) Highway. The road is well maintained and the views are unbeatable, as noted by many others.

Why you should go from Anchorage to Fairbanks

A single glimpse of Denali is the high point of this road trip (mile 163 is a great place to look out the window). It’s a 358-mile trip but there’s something special about traveling slowly at the feet of a major mountain.

What you should do in Anchorage and Fairbanks

A scenic view of the mountains and forest in Denali National Park.
Denali National Park, Alaska
  • Seasonal closures are common in winter, so double-check announcements before you head out. The northernmost portion of this road is gravel, so be certain you can handle it.
  • The Iditarod is a small museum in Wasilla if you want to learn more about dog sledding. Trapper Creek is a good place to stretch your legs and refuel, and it’s only 15 minutes from Denali State Park. There are some lovely trails off AK-3, like Ermine Hill.
  • The Hurricane Gulch Bridge will really knock your socks off. You can always stop in Cantwell if you (or your car) need fuel. There’s also lodging here if you want to split up your drive. From Healy to Nenana there is world-class whitewater rafting, and Fairbanks is just one hour away.

Nome to Council

This is one of the most remote routes on the list, going from Nome on the Bering Sea to inland Council. You can’t drive to Nome—you’ll have to fly and then rent a car. The route is about 70 miles and should take two and a half hours one way.

Why you should go from Nome to Council

  • This is as close as you can get to Russia without swimming across. The Nome-Council Road is beautifully empty, and there is a proud history of gold miners alongside the modern-day fishers that call this area home. You can also go dog sledding here and summer drives are equally magnificent.

What you should do in Nome and Council

Go in March to witness the conclusion of the Iditarod (we won’t tell if you’re more into the dogs than the freezing cold sledding). Look out for the nifty Soviet-era installations referred to as "Nomehenge" by locals.
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Off-road to the Arctic Ocean on the Dalton Highway

Finally, the most epic adventure of all is the Dalton Highway. This is a completely gravel road that goes 400 miles up to Deadhorse in Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean. It will take you 10 hours one-way to complete this journey, and only the hardiest of travelers should attempt this route.

Why you should go on the Dalton Highway

Northern Lights, the Arctic Ocean, and the most intense adventure of your life awaits you on the Dalton Highway. You won’t forget this trip anytime soon.

What you should do

A grizzly bear walks along Prudhoe Bay.
Prudhoe Bay, Alaska
  • If you’re renting a car, be sure the company allows you to drive on gravel roads. Then, pack your warmest clothes and emergency gear and take AK-2 to AK-11. Plan to stop in Coldfoot Camp to get your footing (and possibly see the Northern Lights). Once you reach Deadhorse, stay at the Aurora Hotel and book a tour to go out on the Arctic.

Why you need roadside assistance

If you’re concerned about changing a flat tire with frozen fingers, you may want to consider getting roadside assistance. Jerry’s is only $6.99 and it works in every state, including Alaska. Stop worrying about running out of gas and get roadside assistance!

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Where is the best place to rent a car in Alaska?

Cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks have rental agencies like Alamo and Avis. The airport is a good place to start looking. Plan ahead, as there have recently been rental car shortages in Alaska.

What type of car do I need for a road trip in Alaska?

You should drive a car that has durable, all-weather tires. An embedded navigation system could also be helpful. Ask the agency what they recommend based on your intended route. Another option is to drive part of the time and then take the railroad for other parts. After all, it’s hard to enjoy the stunning scenery while you have to keep your eyes on the road!

How far apart are gas stations in Alaska?

In some areas, there are very few (if any) services. Plan ahead and carry supplies. Stop at every gas station. A satellite phone may be helpful since you are unlikely to get cell service in most areas. Happy travels!
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