By Lisa Maloney, author of Moon Alaska
Alaska doesn’t have many roads, but what it lacks in quantity is made up for in quality. Each of the following road trip ideas showcases Alaska’s natural beauty. And often, the destination at the end of the road is every bit as interesting as the journey it took to get there.
These are all one-way drives. That means you’ll have to retrace your route on the return trip, but that’s hardly a problem. The only thing better than taking these beautiful drives once is taking them twice.
The drive from Anchorage to Seward snakes along the coastline before ascending Turnagain Pass and eventually winding back to sea level around a series of beautiful—and enormous—alpine lakes.
The inland drive from Anchorage to Hatcher Pass does take you through some pretty scenery, but it’s the last 15 miles, which follow the winding, tree-lined Little Susitna River before bursting into the tundra where you can see for miles, that are really the most beautiful.
The drive to Valdez is arguably the most beautiful. It takes about six hours to get there from either Fairbanks or Anchorage, and while the first couple hundred miles are pretty, it’s the last 26-mile drive through Thompson Pass and Keystone Canyon—which helps earn Valdez its nickname as “land of the waterfalls”—that will really take your breath away.
Top of the World Highway
Open seasonally, the Top of the World Highway runs 185 miles (about a six-hour drive) north from Tok and east into Canada’s Dawson City. For real road-trip cred, make this an enormous loop by driving south to Whitehorse and then coming back on the Alcan Highway, for a total loop distance of about 900 miles or 20 hours of driving. Along the way, you’ll see plenty of beautiful scenery, of course, but this sort of drive is more for the pleasure—and pride—of saying you’ve done it.
About the Author
Lisa Maloney has lived in Anchorage, Alaska since the late 1980s, and travels extensively throughout the state for work and play. Even though she lives in “the big city,” Lisa thrives on the self-sufficient mentality that drives the rest of the state forward.
She makes her living as a freelance writer, focused primarily on travel, the outdoors, and profiling the unique personalities that call Alaska home. She is also the author of 50 Hikes Around Anchorage and a second guidebook tentatively titled Day Hiking Southcentral Alaska. You can see more of Lisa’s writing at maloneywrites.com or catch up with her latest adventures at hikingalaska.net and cometoalaska.net.
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