With the exception of stuffed moose one would see in restaurants, Anchorage is one of those cities that could belong anywhere in the US. It’s so unforgettable in fact that we can’t remember anything about it from our first visit to Alaska.
Maybe we never gave Anchorage much of a chance. The surrounding areas around Anchorage were so beautiful it felt like a crime to stay in the city. Whenever there was free time, we jumped in the car and started driving.
I love driving in Alaska. The roads are wide and compared to California traffic they’re blissfully empty. It also doesn’t hurt that it doesn’t seem to matter which direction you go, you’ll find sceneries worth driving for.
If you’re looking for road trip ideas from Anchorage that you can do in one day – well, here’s some to get you started:
Road Trips North of Anchorage
– Talkeetna is a quirky little frontier town located about 4 hour drive north of Anchorage. Its mayor is called Mayor Stubbs. He has been a mayor for 15 years and he is a cat. Yep, that’s how quirky the town is. In Talkeetna you can take airplane rides for a bird’s eye view of Denali mountain range. As soon as I have $300 to spare, I’ll pack a vomit bag and get myself on one of those planes.
Matanuska Glacier – Located 100 miles Northeast of Alaska along Glenn Highway is Matanuska Glacier, one of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers. Once you pay a $20/person entrance, you’re free to walk around among the glaciers. Crampons are highly recommended if you’re thinking of doing this. Or else, you can take a guided tour from MICA Guides and they’ll provide you with all the necessary equipment.
Road Trips South of Anchorage
A drive along Turnagain Arm
– this is one of those drives where the rewards so outweighs the effort. The road is wide and the view of glacier topped mountains is astounding. There are many pullouts along the road. This is a good thing since it was hard to keep my eyes on the road.
– Portage Glacier is a short 1 hour drive from Anchorage along Turnagain Arm. You have to get on a cruise boat to get close to it, but it’s possible to catch a glimpse of it from the road.
Harding Ice Field and Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjord National Park
– 4 hours South of Anchorage will get you to Kenai Fjord National Park. You can easily drive to Exit Glacier and take a short hike that’d take you to the base of the glacier. For a more rigorous hike, there’s an 8 mile trail (roundtrip) you can take that will lead you to a viewpoint overlooking the Harding Ice Field (see leading pic).
There are some areas of the States that seem to be naturally built for road trips. The Southwest region of the continental US is one. Alaska is definitely another.
I’m not quite done with Alaska’s roads just yet. I’d love to drive to the Dalton Highway, following the oil pipeline 440 miles from Fairbanks to the Artic Circle.
That’d be pretty epic, I think.