Caravan Sonnet: A Trip To Remember: Our 9 Day Alaskan Road Trip Itinerary

1/29/19

A Trip To Remember: Our 9 Day Alaskan Road Trip Itinerary

Six months ago I was incredibly blessed to embark on a road trip with a friend that was absolutely stunningly beautiful in every way through a small section of Alaska. Over these past six months I have received hundreds of emails asking if I could share the exact itinerary for the trip that we took and how I organized this trip. I am so excited to share it with y'all today! Sometimes when you are planning a trip and want to travel through so many different places in a short amount of time it can be hard to figure out the distances between destinations, what is worth seeing, and where to even start. Please note that I am so incredibly grateful to J for all of the tips, advice, thoughts, and time of answering countless questions for this trip. Thank you J! You are the best!

Overall I was really happy with the itinerary (although I wish that I had more time to explore lots of more places!) and I hope it will help those of you in the midst of your own planning. Doing an Alaskan Road trip is simply incredible...there is so much more that I want to see and do and I am excited to share with y'all another road trip that I am doing there in this upcoming summer! Alaska stole part of my heart...and although I wasn't there long, I definitely left part of my heart there. *smiles*

This trip was busy with a lot of driving, but we were excited to see as much as we could and the itinerary just flowed and it was so much fun! I hope that it will be helpful for you. 

This is a 9-day itinerary but could absolutely be altered for all different time frames: 
Day 1: // Anchorage // 
Traveling to Anchorage was really simple. The easiest way was to fly directly into the Ted Stevens Airport which is located less than 5 miles from downtown Anchorage! Since we were flying from different parts of the country to meet up, we met up in Seattle and then flew from there directly into Anchorage. We flew on Alaska Airlines (I loved the experience and thought that they were awesome!) and arrived before midnight (Alaska time). When we arrived the first thing that we saw outside of our gate was the moose in the above picture and we giggled a bit knowing we had definitely arrived in Alaska. *smiles*

We arrived into Alaska around midnight so it was 4 o'clock in the morning from the east coast and we were both exhausted. We stayed at the Hyatt House (located less than 10 minutes from the airport) and it was quiet and restful. [Due to the time I did not take a picture of the property so this picture above is Hyatt's picture.] Despite being in Alaska in the summer, we arrived in the dark but the next morning our mouths dropped open because...
Even from the parking lot the views were absolutely incredible. You can read more about Anchorage in the travel guide below!

Key Things to Do & Where to Stay
I wrote a travel guide to Anchorage that includes the places that we stayed at, restaurant recommendations, experience recommendations, etc. This guide is really helpful as so many "Anchorage guides" I saw before my trip actually had people leaving Anchorage. All of the tips in my post are for Anchorage specifically.

// Anchorage Travel Guide //

To read more about things leading up to our trip, planning, and what you should pack for an Alaskan Summer Road Trip check out these posts:

// Best Alaskan Books to Purchase for Your Road Trip //
// What to Pack for an Alaskan Summer Road Trip //
// Why You Should Dream About Visiting Alaska //
Day 2: Little Sustina River // Hatcher Pass // Mt. Mckinley Princess Wilderness Lodge
On Day 2, we headed out on our big Road trip! We were heading to Denali that first day. Our first stop on the way to Denali was spending time at the Little Susitna River before hiking in Hatcher Pass. After this we drove to Mt. Mckinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. 

If you are driving from Anchorage to Denali it is about a 3 hour round trip road trip. I decided that we would stop on the way to Denali at the Little Sustina River and Hatcher Pass. This scenic detour does add a couple of hours (or more if you are like us and stop often to admire the beauty and explore!) to your trip north (if you choose to do the same thing) but it is an absolutely priceless couple of hours and I can't recommend taking the time to do it enough. 

Key Things to Do & Where to Stay:
This was a really great start to the trip- it introduced us to the beauty that we were about to experience, we did a little hike, and we just were amazed by all that we were seeing! It was the perfect first day! We stayed at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge for our 2nd night! 

To read more about our adventures from day 2, check out my posts below:
Day 3: Drive to Cantwell //Denali Highway//
The next morning we woke up and left early because we had a huge day of driving ahead of us. We first drove north to Cantwell and then drove across the Denali Highway before heading to Copper River. The Denali Highway was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. It was absolutely incredible and something that you must drive at least once in your lifetime.

Another thing that I wanted to point out about this section of the trip is something that I think us "lower states" will not understand until you experience Alaska for yourself. In the trip planning phase I had about a thousand questions for J who is from Alaska. Hahaha. Maybe several thousand. *smiles* He patiently answered each of them and all of his tips and advice were incredibly helpful in making this trip an absolute dream. 

One thing though that I was very skeptical on was when he was saying that you could literally pull off in so many places and park your car or RV to get some rest. Even though I am coming from a rural area in upstate NY I was skeptical of this, but in the first day of traveling (to Hatcher Pass) I saw a small snippet of what he meant, and then on this part of the drive I started to really understand. There are literally hundreds of places you could do so if you needed or wanted to and we saw many cars and RVs throughout the trip that did so. I add this in because if you are like me and coming from a "lower state" and hear this advice you may be as skeptical as I was, but it honestly is true. *smiles*

Key Things to Do & Where to stay
We stayed the night at the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge after our beautiful day of driving and exploring the Denali Highway. 

To read more about our adventures from day 3, check out my posts below:
//The Drive to Cantwell//
// The Denali Highway: Part One// 
// The Denali Highway: Part Two //
// One Last Adventure on the Denali Highway// 
// Denali Highway Video//
//Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge //
 
Day 4: Thompson Pass// Worthington Glacier // Worthington Glacier Hike
This day we headed south towards Valdez (we didn't end up driving all the way, but most of the way) and loved our adventures of exploring and hiking a glacier! The first part of the trip (as you can see in the first picture), on the way to Thompson Pass, taken less than 20 minutes from the lodge, were so stunning. The backdrop and scenery looks "fake" it is so beautiful! The first part of the day was a beautiful experience and one that I would love to do again. This area of Alaska truly intrigues me. I will be writing more about this in the future but there was something that seemed so unique and different about the Wrangell-St.Elias area that we just saw from mainly a distance. 

The national park is huge and getting to see this little space of it in this drive was an incredible blessing. It is definitely an area that I want to come back and explore so much more of! I already have a HUGE growing list of places I want to see and explore more of the next time I am in Alaska and this area is high on the list. McCarthy and Kennicott is definitely a dream thing to do. I may need to start taking a couple of trips a year to Alaska. *smiles* 

And the hike... well the hike was incredible in so many ways. As you read the post about the hike, I hope that you are encouraged that whatever hills or mountains or steep, primitive, and difficult paths you find yourself on today... keep pressing on friend... the ending will have a beauty and view you can't imagine.

"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere."

"When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top."

Key Things to Do & Where to stay
We stayed another night at the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge after our beautiful day of driving and exploring the Thompson Pass Area. I can't recommend this beautiful section enough. The views, the hiking, the mountains, the glaciers, the waterfalls, ... all of it. Simply gorgeous.

To read more about our adventures from day 4, check out my posts below:
Day 5 we spent driving from Copper River down to the Kenai Peninsula which was a stunning drive too. Around every single corner I found myself saying, "oh, oh my" and taking thousands of pictures. It was absolutely beautiful. 

Key Things to Do & Where to Stay
On Day 5 we spent time driving Alaska 1-South and then stopped briefly for a couple of hours in Palmer, Alaska, grabbed lunch in Anchorage, and then drove down to the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge in Cooper Landing where we spent two nights. 

To read more about our adventures from day 5, check out my posts below:
// A Cloudy & Beautiful Drive on Alaska 1-South //
// A Beautiful Lake Adventure Near Chickaloon //
On Day 6 we drove down and spent the day in Homer which was absolutely adorable in so many different ways. This place was so cool and I loved the vibe of this area. I know some of you may be curious (like I was before this trip) about what exactly Homer Spit is. So basically it is an area of land (about 4 and 1/2 miles) that juts out into the Kachemak Bay that hosts restaurants, shopping, art galleries, food trucks, beach areas, swings (attached under the collection of shops/restaurants/galleries), music, and tour boats in some areas. 

Key Things to Do & Where to stay
There was so much to see and do in Homer and we didn't have the time to do everything, but it was incredible to check this area out for the day. I would love to go back and spend more time here! We stayed again at the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge for this night. 

To read more about our adventures from day 6, check out my posts below:
// A Brief History of Homer //
// Bishop's Beach//
// Homer Lighthouse//
// Homer Spit//
// Homer Video//

Day 7: Winner Creek Trail // Alaska 1-North- Turnigan Arm// Anchorage
On the 7th day of our trip we left the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge and drove to Girdwood to hike Winner Creek Trail. Afterwards we headed back to Anchorage along Alaska 1-North which was simply breath-taking. I then checked into a hotel in Anchorage, we grabbed dinner, walked along the Coastal Trail and then I dropped Ali back at the Anchorage Airport. I stayed a few extra days which were special and after the airport I went back to hike more of the Coastal Trail that night. 

Key Things to Do & Where to Stay
To read more about our adventures from day 7, check out my posts below:
Day 8: Eklutna Lake// Anchorage
Day 8 was so sweet as I explored Anchorage and went to so many different places, saw so many different areas, and then also spent time on Eklutna Lake and also more time along the coast. It was really a sweet day full of hiking and adventuring. 

Key Things to Do & Where to Stay
To read more about our adventures from day 8, check out my posts below:
// Eklutna Lake//
// Anchorage Travel Guide //
Day 9: Chugach Mountains// Anchorage //Flight Out to California
Day 9 was so bitters-sweet as I explored more of the Chugach Mountains and more of Anchorage and went to so many different places, saw so many different areas, before heading back to the airport. I cried on my way to the airport and as I returned my rental car. I definitely didn't want to leave and was already planning the next trip in my head back to Alaska.

I hope that this itinerary is helpful friends and helps in your planning of your own trip to Alaska! I hope it also helps answer your questions! Please let me know if I can answer anything else specifically! 

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope that you have a wonderful day!

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