If you want to explore Alaska without going deep into the wilderness, consider an Anchorage to Fairbanks RV road trip. This adventure passes right by Denali National Park and Preserve. There are fantastic places to explore at nearby state parks, and you will love learning about the state’s cultural groups and cuisine. It is an outstanding trip to make in an RV as the road between the two cities is well-maintained.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve sits at the head of the largest salmon fishery in the world. This location near Port Alsworth is the ancestral home of the Denali people. Several areas at this park, including Chinitna Bay, Crescent Lake and Silver Salmon Creek, are excellent places to see bears. This location is an ideal place to ride your fat-tire bike on ice, especially in February and March. The salmon runs during July and August continually delight anglers. Approximately 372,000 salmon return to this site annually to lay their eggs. Early summer is a great time to hike through birch groves along the Beaver Trail, where you will see an old beaver pond. Late summer is the perfect time to go on a hike along the dogwood-lined Tanalian Falls Trail, where you will often see water gushing off the 30-foot lava-bed waterfall. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is home to three wild and scenic rivers. While you will generally need to use a floatplane to get to the water, going with a guide on a rafting adventure can be a thrilling experience.
Denali National Park and Preserve
Denali National Park and Preserve covers 6 million acres. At 20,310 feet, Denali is North America’s tallest peak. Denali Park Road is the only road through this location. Reflection Pond at mile marker 85 offers one of the best views of this mountain that is not visible in other parts of the park because other peaks hide it from view. The mountains in the northern area of the park lose their snow during the summer while those with summits over 6,000 feet in the rest of the park tend to have snowy caps throughout the year. An ideal time to visit this park is in August and early September when the trees are putting on their fall colors. Check the calendar during the summer to see when the sled dogs will be performing. You can visit the kennels where the sled dogs are housed during the summer months. It is a beautiful 1.5-mile hike, or you can take the free park shuttle. A late spring biking trip to Denali before the shuttle buses start running in late May is an outstanding opportunity to experience this park when it is less crowded.
Chugach State Park
Chugach State Park covers over 495,000 acres, and most of it sits in Anchorage’s city limits. If you love kayaking, visit Eklutna Lake in the park’s northern section. The water is crystal clear because high mountain glaciers feed it. Be amazed at the views as you climb the 3-mile trail up Flattop Mountain. The Arctic Valley is just a little way north of Anchorage and is a great place to pick cranberries, blueberries, crowberries, and blackberries in the late summer. Bring your camera to capture stunning wildlife photos as this park is home to black and brown bears, mountain goats, beavers, and wolves.
Denali State Park
Denali State Park covers more than 325,000 acres. George Park Highway, which is the only highway in this area, runs through the middle of the park, and it shares its western boundary with Denali National Park and Preserve. Most of this park is wilderness with only three developed campgrounds and two day-use areas. Leave time on your road trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks to hike along the trails along the Little Coal Creek and leading to Byers Lake. The 8-mile-long Little Creek Trail is a fabulous place to go hiking with stunning views of Eldridge Glacier, Mount Deception, and Denali.
Harding Lake State Recreation Area
You will have to go to Fairbanks and come back down the Richardson Highway to reach Harding Lake State Recreation Area, but this site is well worth your extra effort. Take a boat out on Harding Lake to fish for lake trout, Arctic char, and burbot. The short nature trail is a great place to go on an easy hike. When the weather is warm, this lake is also a fabulous place to go for a swim.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a fabulous place to see native wildlife up close as you stroll along the 1.5-mile nature trail. While animals vary depending on the need for care, expect to see bald eagles, bears, caribou and other animals. Participate in the daily programs with a naturalist to learn even more about selected animals. You can ride bikes along the trail and ski or kick-sled during the winter months.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Feel the drumbeat as you watch indigenous people dance on the center stage at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Head to the Hall of Culture to learn about the five people groups that call Alaska home. If you have children along, they will love doing native art projects in this hall. Learn even more about the native people by watching the films in the theater. The highlight of your stop will be visiting the different types of homes located around Lake Tiulana.
Glacier Discovery Train
Leave from Anchorage on the Glacier Discovery Train. Several different options are available. Get off in the resort town of Girdwood or choose to take the train to Portage, which is home to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. You also have the option to get off in Whittier for a Prince William Sound glacier and wildlife cruise. You can choose to ride the train to Spencer to explore Spencer Glacier by canoe or on a hike. Even if you decide to stay on the train, you can see Bartlett Glacier, Trail Glacier, Placer River Valley and Grandview’s alpine meadows.
University of Alaska Museum of the North
Understand more about Alaska Native cultures, natural wonders and wildlife over the last 2,000 years by stopping at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks. See art created in or about Alaska in the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery at this museum.
Running Reindeer Ranch
Enjoy a hike with a reindeer and a guide through a boreal forest. Your host, who has lived in Alaska her whole life, will show you adaptations that reindeer have that make them uniquely suited to live in this harsh environment. Before or after your walk, participate in reindeer yoga. Exercise while the reindeer walk nearby or even paw at your mat.
Explore Alaska’s agricultural economy while visiting Palmer by stopping at the Running Reindeer and the Musk Ox Farms. There are terrific campgrounds in Palmer, including Big Bear RV Park in the Mat-Su Valley and Mountain View RV Park, where moose often wander through the campground. Palmer RV dump stations are available at Matanuska River Park, Big Bear RV Park and the Shell gas station.
Trapper Creek, Alaska
Trapper Creek is in the Alaska Range's foothills, and it is called the southern gateway to Denali State Park. Three Bears Trapper Creek Inn & RV Park offers a well-stocked general store and beautiful views of Denali. Alternatively, when looking for a campground in Trapper Creek, think about staying at K’esugi Ken Campground in Denali State Park. RV dump stations are available at H & H Lakeview Restaurant, Talkeetna Camper Park, and Three Bears Trapper Creek Inn & RV Park.
Healy is the nearest community to Denali National Park and most of the residents of this community work in the park. Go on a horseback ride, a canoe adventure, or an ATV tour when visiting this town on your Anchorage to Fairbanks RV road trip. Consider Healy campgrounds like Waugaman Village R.V. Park, where you will find full hookups, or Denali Park Village Resort, located at the entrance to Denali National Park. RV dump stations are available at Denali Grizzly Bear Cabins and Campground, Denali R.V. Park and Motel, and McKinley RV & Campground.
If you have always wanted to see Alaskan sled dogs, be sure to include a stop in Nenana on your road trip itinerary from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Nenana is the perfect place to do it at Bill Cotter Kennels or YoopAK Kennel and Tours. Campgrounds in Nenana include Nenana RV Park & Campground, where you can use their bikes and play miniature golf, or the city-owned Riverside Park in Anderson. RV dump stations in Nenana are available at Tatlanika Trading Co & RV Park, Cripple Creek Campground, and Goldhill RV Park.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Anchorage to Fairbanks, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Anchorage or Fairbanks.