Explore Interior Alaska on the Alaskan Highway

Hit the road and discover America's Last Frontier State, complete with museums, amazing hiking trails and wildlife.

By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Z-lex

Photo By: Noppawat Tom Charoensinphon

Photo By: Daryl Pederson / Design Pics

Photo By: Kevin Miller

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Gary R. Johnson

Photo By: STEVELARESE

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: STEVELARESE

Photo By: mcveras

Photo By: David Rasmus/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Photo By: STEVELARESE

Photo By: STEVELARESE

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: STEVELARESE

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

The Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway

The Glenn Highway (AK-1) travels north from Anchorage and past Chugach State Park to Glennallen 179 miles away, where it meets the Richardson Highway (AK-4).

Stretch Your Legs along the Glenn Highway

The Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway (AK-1) follows the Matanuska River and passes the Matanuska Glacier, the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States. The Glacier is located at Mile 101, and is 27-miles long and four-miles wide. Matanuska Glacier Adventures offers guided glacier treks.

Whittier: Gateway to Prince William Sound

Whittier is a small community on Prince William Sound of about 200 people, most of whom live in a single 14-story, apartment-style building connected to the rest of the town via tunnels to avoid harsh winter weather. It connects to the Seward Highway (AK-1) via the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel that goes through Maynard Mountain and is the second-longest highway tunnel in North America at 13,300 feet long. Stan Stephens Glacier and Wildlife Cruises offers tours between Whittier and Valdez, where wildlife such as sea otters, seals and humpback whales are commonly seen in Prince William Sound.

Prince William Sound

Named in 1778 to honor the son of Great Britian’s George III, Prince William Sound is rich in marine life and is the terminus of five glaciers. It is a popular sight-seeing destination from Whittier and Valdez, and is known for its sea otter and whale sightings. It was the site of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and has since recovered. Kayak among sapphire iceburgs in Prince William Sound with Pangaea Adventures in Valdez.

Alaska's Little Switzerland: Valdez

Valdez is a commercial and sport-fishing port as well as the terminus of the Alaska Pipeline. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Valdez is called Alaska's "Little Switzerland."

The Richardson Highway

The Richardson Highway (AK-4) is a 368-mile-long stretch that connects Valdez to Fairbanks. The Richardson Highway passes many scenic stops such as the waterfalls of Keystone Canyon. This route makes a classic Alaska road trip, or leave the driving to John Hall's Alaska tours.

The Alaska Pipeline

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline, commonly called the The Alaska Pipeline, was completed in 1977 and stretches 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. It can be seen along Richardson Highway from Fairbanks as it travels to the Valdez Marine Terminal. Information kiosks along the route give details about this massive engineering feat, such as how heat exchangers are used to keep the permafrost from melting underneath the pipeline.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is America's largest national park and is filled with nine of the 16 highest peaks in North America, glaciers and miles of hiking trails through boreal forests. Its main visitor center is located off of the Richardson Highway (AK-4) between Copper Center and Glennallen.

End of the Road: The Alaska Highway

Completed in 1942 to aid the war effort during World War II, the Alaska Highway (also called the Alcan Highway) travels 1,387 miles from Dawson Creek in British Columbia, Canada, to Delta Junction, Alaska, where a monument marks its end point. Today it is a popular route for road trippers who pride themselves on completing the entire route through two nations. Alaska's segment of the Alaska Highay is also called the Richardson Highway (AK-4).

Fairbanks: Gateway to the Arctic

Fairbanks is the northern extent of many Alaska road trips and is home to the Golden Heart Review at Pioneer Park, which explains Fairbanks' storied history through song and comedy. The Fountainhead Antique Cars Museum has an impressive collection of rare autos. The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center explores Alaska's many indigenous cultures, as do the Chena Indian Village and the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

It's a Dog's Life

Visitors are welcome at Trail Breaker Kennel along the Chena River in Fairbanks. Established in 1980 by David Monson and four-time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher, Trail Breaker Kennel breeds sled dogs and educates the public about the dogs and sport. Dog sledding is a popular and often necessary sport in Alaska, and the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race takes place annually in March.

The George Parks Highway

The George Parks Highway (AK-3) travels 361 miles from Anchorage to Fairbanks, and is the gateway to Denali National Park and Preserve. The Alaska Railroad parallels much of the highway.

Denali National Park and Preserve

Grizzly and black bears, moose, wolves, caribou, Dall sheep and many other animals are seen within Denali National Park and Preserve’s six million acres. The 92-mile park road connects the park entrance to Kantishna, where remote lodges are located. Buses are the only public transportation permitted into Denali’s backcountry other than planes. Road trippers can park at the park’s main entrance and take a bus into the park.

Land of Lake–and Volcanoes

Wonder Lake within Denali National Park is one of Alaska's 3 million lakes larger than twenty acres. At 586,400 square miles, Alaska is the largest state in the U.S. Alaska also has more than 12,000 rivers and 40 active volcanoes.

Denali: The High One

Denali, meaning "The High One" in the Koyukon Athabascan language, is the highest peak in North America at 20,310 feet. It can be seen from vantage points along AK-3 near Denali National Park.

Denali Backcountry Lodge, Kantishna

Situated along Moose Creek within Denali National Park and Preserve, Denali Backcountry Lodge is 92 miles from the park's main entrance and reached only via a bus that takes guests through the park. Road trippers may park at Denali's main visitor center to catch a shuttle to the lodge.

Alaska's Friendly Skies

Alaska’s preferred method of transportation is airplanes, with many residents living in areas where there is no direct road access, if there’s any at all. The venerable Piper Cub is a popular plane, and is owned by many Alaskans in the same way as others would own a passenger car. Planes are often seen taking off and landing on waterways throughout Alaska, which uses its many rivers as roadways.

Flight Seeing in Talkeetna

Road trippers can trade their car for an airplane in Talkeetna for a flightseeing tour of Denali National Park to the north. K2 Aviation takes passengers on scenic flights into the park, and can even land on glaciers for hiking.

Roadside Beauty

Throughout the summer wildflowers such as fireweed add color along Alaska's highways.

Back to the Beginning: Anchorage

Often the starting and ending point for Alaska road trips, Anchorage offers much to see and do itself. The Anchorage Museum details the history, cultures and art of Alaska. Local shops and restaurants such as 49th State Brewing Company make exploring Anchorage's charming downtown worthwhile.

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