Rough Draft: 12 Day Itinerary through Alaska

Rough Draft: 12 Day Itinerary through Alaska

June 2020

Rough Draft: Alaska Adventure

Due to the COVID quarantine, I am creating rough draft, “off the shelf” travel itineraries for when travel resumes normal operations so we do not waste any time getting out and exploring!

An Alaska Adventure! This has been on our list for awhile. Since post-quarantine has left travel – especially international travel – with one big question mark, I decided to transition to planning a more extended domestic trip. It is unclear if domestic travel will be permissible before the Alaska travel season is over in September, but its worth a shot.

Many people visit Alaska via cruise as it makes travel accessible and hassle free but that is not our type of travel experience. After learning about the endless options for building an itinerary, I picked my favorites to create a 12 day trip. This can easily be extended to two weeks and it very well may be once the opportunity to travel presents itself.

One destination that I definitely wanted to include is Katmai National Park to see the salmon run. This is not included on many people’s two week trips for two reasons – it is a pain in the butt to get to and it is expensive to get there. From Anchorage it takes two planes and they are not cheap flights. However, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the bears and the salmon run so for me, it is worth it. I stuck it at the front of the itinerary so in case there were any issues it would be easy to adjust accordingly. 

Renting a car is essential but I did read about train options that can get you to a surprising number of locations in Alaska. The draw back with the trains is they are expensive and slower but it certainly makes things easier for the longer distances. I structured the stops so that there would not be too long of a drive in one stretch.

What is there to do?

There are tons of things to keep you occupied in Alaska for months. It was tough to make cuts for a short trip. In addition, there are tons of activities from hiking, rafting, kayaking, fishing, and more. You can rough it out and be one with the outdoors or treat yourself with upscale accommodations, and everything in between. While Alaska is a more expensive trip in general due to the location and abbreviated tourist season, there are ways to make it more affordable for your budget. And I know most people say to skip Anchorage but there is a ton of great hikes around Anchorage so if anything, make it a hub to explore the area around the city.

  • Katmai National Park – salmon run and bears
  • Denali National Park – North America’s tallest peak and third tallest peak in the world
  • Seward – perfect base for exploring the southern parts of Alaska
  • Kenai Fjords National Park – glaciers!
  • Prince William Sound – more glaciers!
  • Anchorage – not the capital of Alaska but the capital of tourism
  • Hop aboard the iconic yellow and blue Alaska Railway System

Where to eat?

Alaska is not necessarily a culinary destination but there is some of the freshest and best seafood around. That being said, it is pricey to eat out every meal so one way to save money on the trip budget is to go grocery shopping to pack your own meals – especially breakfast and lunch. You will be hiking and being active anyway so you need more on-the-go options. Treat yourself to a meal occasionally but road trip food is key.

One surprise was what a brew culture there is! Each major town has its own brewing company and Anchorage along has over twenty breweries. Alaska is ranked 4th in per capita craft breweries in the country! Sounds like a decent Beer Christmas destination to me.

Here is how I would spend 12 days in Alaska!

Day 0Arrive in Anchorage
Flight to Katmai (King Salmon, Brooks Camp) 
Brooks Camp
Day 1Ten Thousand Smokes Tour
Day 2Flight to Anchorage
Pick up car rental
Drive 4 hours to Denali
Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre (1730)
Day 3Denali Bus Tour   
– Eielson Visitor Center
– Lakes
– Stony Hill Overlook
Denali Park Salmon Bake
Day 4Denali Visitor Center  
– Mt Healy Overlook
– Horseshoe Lake Trail
Denali Sled Dog Kennels
Triple Lakes Trail
Drive 2 hours to Talkeetna
Mckinley Creekside Cafe   
The Roadhouse
Stop for Rafting or Fishing
Denali Brewing Company 
Day 5Hatcher Pass  
Eklutna Lake (kayak, bike, hike)
Thunderbird Falls Mirror Lake
Eagle River Nature Center
Odd Man Rush Brewing 
Drive to Alyeska
Seven Glaciers 
Day 6The Bake Shop
Aerial Tram  
Virgin Creek
Wildlife Conservation Center
Tern Lake
The Ice Cream Shop
Drive to Seward 
Day 7Kenai Fjords National Park  
– Exit Glacier
– Harding Icefield Trail
Seward Brewing Company
The Cookery 
Day 8Boat tour of The Fjords
Sealife Center 
Day 9Drive to Whittier
Prince William Sound – boat tour and kayak 
Crush Wine Bistro
Drive to Anchorage
Day 10Black Cup Coffee
McHuge Creek Trail  
Flattop Mountain
Potter Marsh Boardwalk
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Crow’s Nest
Day 11Snow City Cafe
Point Woronzof Park  
Lake Hood
Earthquake Park
Elderberry Park
Day 12Beer Tour  
– Anchorage Brewing Company 
– Midnight Sun Brewing Company
– Double Shovel Cider Company
– Glacier Brewhouse
– 49th State Brewing Company
– Matanuska Brewing Company
– Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse
Day 13Dark Horse Coffee
Anchorage Museum 
Flight Home 

If you have been to Alaska, let me know what I missed and what your favorites are!

Don’t forget to check out all DESKRIB itineraries here!

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5 thoughts on “Rough Draft: 12 Day Itinerary through Alaska”

  • Hello!
    This popped up in my feed since I follow talk about Alaska. You have obviously done your research! I’ve been in Alaska for 10 years. You have lots of great places chosen. I have some tips for Denali. Eielson is actually an 8-9 hour trip. If you take the 6:30am (roughly), you get back around 3pm. There is no food in the park. People bring boxed lunches. You can go to a grocery store or order one from The Overlook at the Denali Crow’s Nest Cabins. I guarantee that after that tour you will be hungry and tired. Most people go to the Bake or Prospectors after the tour since it’s so close. Or you could drive down to Creekside they are very nice. You’ll just really want to give yourself some time to relax before you get in a vehicle again. Talkeetna is 2 hours south on the highway and then about 25 minute drive into the town from the highway. It is very cute there. I love the baked goods from the Roadhouse! You’ll probably not make it there until later in the evening though.

    If I may, I suggest doing your big trip into the park on your first day as you have listed (8-9hrs to Eielson or 10-11 hours to go all the way to Wonder Lake). Then eat at the Bake or Prospectors. Then, the next day you could go on a short tour and then head to 49th State Brewing to eat. They also have the bus from the movie, Into the Wild. There is memorabilia of Chris McCanless’ including photos and journal entries. Or you could choose Creekside along the drive. With this adjustment, you won’t be exhausted when you reach Talkeetna.

    Hope you enjoy your adventure in Alaska! (and yes! our beer scene is epic!)

    • Wow Ellen!!! Thank you so so so much for all this great information! I will certainly take all your recommendations and update the itinerary. It’s been fun to build these “rough drafts” as I have called them but it is hard to know if they will work in real life as I typically only blog places I have been – adapting to the travel down time! I hope that we may be able to squeeze this trip in August or early September (fingers crossed!). Any other recommendations you have are certainly welcomed!!! Thank you for reading 😁

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