If you’re like me and I know I am (as my daffy friend says), I don’t get around Alaska much in the summer or often enough as noted here. When I have and do, here are my top five favorites.
1. Top of the list is driving along the Alaska Highway. I authored a book on the highway years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite northern destinations despite I’ve been more times than I can remember.
Head out of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway, following it to the Tok Cut-off. When you reach Tok head south on the Alaska Highway. It’s hard to get lost, but there’s so much to see along the way it can be slow going.
If you have the time, make your destination Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, Canada, (don’t forget your passport). Here you can find lodging to enjoy the surrounding area or if camping, stay in Kulane National Park and Reserve at the Kathleen Lake campground. Lots of hiking nearby and canoeing and kayaking on the lake. One summer we spent three weeks camped in one spot. Heaven. (Last trip five years ago.)
2. Denali National Park and Preserve is a must for all Alaskans and it’s so close for most of us (240 miles from Anchorage). Take the Glenn Highway out of Anchorage and turn off on the George Parks Highway until you reach Denali Park. You can book campsites or accommodations in advance and then take the shuttle bus into the park. Rain or shine, it’s one of Alaska’s gems. (Last visit 12 years ago.)
3. Denali Highway from Cantwell to Paxton, 209 rough, spectacular miles. A turn off from the George Parks Highway (Parks Highway) this is a true Alaskan experience since most of the road is dirt. This highroad gets you off the beaten path and has absolutely amazing views on a clear day, plus tons of wildlife. This is one of the places where I really feel like I’m in ALASKA. (Last visit 10 years ago.)
4. The Alaska Ferry crossing Prince William Sound. You can board with your vehicle from either Valdez or Whitter. It’s a poor man’s cruise ship with fantastic scenery. You’re likely to see whales, puffins, otters, eagles and other unidentifiable birds not to mention more glaciers than you can count on two hands.
It’s a great family trip and one the kids won’t forget. (If you need a book and don’t mind an old one by this author check out Paradise of the North, Alaska’s Prince William Sound.) Last visit 25 years ago.
Take the Glenn Highway to the Richardson Highway then go south on the the Richardson turning east onto the Edgerton Highway to Chitina and on to McCarthy, a three or four hour drive on a paved and gravel road. Here you can hike to your hearts content (Rover will love it too). Kennecott is a mesmerizing historical place that takes you back in time and I hope to visit again. (Last visit 18 years ago.)
Well guess my summer is booked if I return to all my favorite places. Get out your map and plot your trip now to one of these “don’t miss sites”.
Most of us don’t spend a lifetime in Alaska and one shouldn't leave without visiting each of these places at least once, least we miss the real Alaska mystique.