Mandalapa's Excursions

Travel experiences, itineraries, tips, rants and more!

Currently in: New York | Miles traveled: 450,000 miles | Countries Visited: 27

10 day Alaska Itinerary

In 2009, I took a trip to Alaska for about 3 weeks. I had very little idea what I was going to do there and rented a car for the entire time I was there. One thing about alaska is that it is an extremely large state, traveling from one corner to another takes about 40 hours or so. It is two and a half times the size of texas. I mean its huuuuuge. OK OK, let me start with my 10 day Alaska itinerary.

Day 1 – Anchorage: Land in Anchorage, stay in a hostel or a hotel downtown. I recommend Alaska Backpackers inn. They are pretty amazing and helpful and if you are traveling alone, you will make a lot of friends there. Check out downtown, rent a bike and ride along the bike path by the coastal trail. If you feel like hiking on your first day, Pioneer Ridge Hiking Trail is a 5.7-mile route from Knik River Rd that climbs the main ridge extending southeast from Pioneer Peaks (6400ft). You’ll climb through forest until you reach the alpine tundra at 3200ft. Once on the ridge, South Pioneer Peak is a mile to the northwest, North Pioneer Peak is 2 miles. It is a bit of a drive though.

Anchorage

Anchorage

Day 2 – Anchorage, FlatTop Mountain, Glen Alps trailhead: Hike the Flattop Mountain at the Glen Alps Trailhead. Flattop is Alaska’s most visited peak. Ascend the 1.5 – mile, 1,350 vertical foot trail to the rocky, football field-sized summit in about an hour and take in panoramic views from the mountains. After your hike, check out downtown as they have some sort of festivities going on (usually some sort of music festivals in the summer). If you want to get pizza and beer, one of the best places to go is Moose’s Tooth pub and pizza.

Flattop mountain hike, Anchorage

Flattop mountain hike, Anchorage

Day 3 – Talkeetna, Denali: From this point on, you will be driving a lot as everything is so far away. They have tour buses to Denali and Alaska Explorer Trains as well. These train cars have open/glass roof and you can see panoramic views. If you have about $300, go to Talkeetna airport and fly on a tour plane. The one I took was Talkeetna Air Taxi. They will take you to the mountain ranges, show Mt.Mckinley, land and take off from a glacier in the park. Its an amazing view to see the park. Find a place to stay in Denali. I stayed in Mountain Morning Hostel in Denali. Pretty awesome place to relax.

Talkeetna Air Taxi - Landing on one of the glaciers in Denali

Talkeetna Air Taxi – Landing on one of the glaciers in Denali

Day 4 – Denali, Denali, Denali: Denali is such a huge park, that you can spend a week there. You cannot drive into the park. You have to take the park bus from the visitor center. The park bus goes up to Kantishna which is about 90 miles from the vistor center. Take this bus, you can get off anywhere go on a hike and get on the bus. There are so many beautiful hikes along the park road. You will see amazing wildlife and if you are lucky, you will see North America’s tallest mountain, Mt.Mckinley which is 21,000 feet.

Denali Mountain range Panaroma

Denali Mountain range Panaroma

Day 5 – Denali, White Water Rafting: Spend another day in Denali. Hike some trails, go on wildlife viewing trails and do a white water rafting. Rafting is pretty risky and dangerous but you will get to see some of the gorgeous views. The river water is glacier melt off and it is really really cold.

Denali National Park - Mt.McKinley During sunset

Denali National Park – Mt.McKinley During sunset – Credit: Denali Park Preserve

Day 6 – Up North or head South to Kenai, Seward and Holmer: You have two choices here, you can keep going up north, go to Fairbanks, Arctic Circle and Barrow. This is a long and intense drive but I don’t think it’s worth it as southern/south eastern Alaska is way beautiful. If you are going south, you have to backtrack all the way to Anchorage and stop at Portage Glacier, check out Girdwood and the road to Seward is simply stunning. One of the best drives I have ever driven. Rest up in Seward, eat some good seafood, go on a ocean kayaking trip. You can also take the boats from there see some wildlife. Whales, Dolphins, Sea Otters, Seals and so many other animals. If you have time, take full day kayak trip from Seward and bounce from island to island

Kenai Peninsula - Alaska

Kenai Peninsula – Alaska (Photo credit: Destination360)

Day 7 – Kenai Fjord National Park, Exit Glacier, Harding Ice Field: Hike the exit glacier trail which is about 8 miles and takes about 4 to 7 hours to climb. Once you go to the top, you will see the massive harding ice field which is miles and miles of pure ice sheet. You may see a lot of bear activity at the top of exit glacier as well.

Harding ice field - I was so hot from the hike that I had to take my shirt and shoes off.

Harding ice field – I was so hot from the hike that I had to take my shirt and shoes off.

Day 8 – Bear Glacier, Kenai Fjord Park: Another glacier you want to kayak is the Bear Glacier which is one of the biggest glacier located south of Seward. The best part of this kayaking trip is that you can get close to the huge ice sheets that are broken off the glacier, great photo ops here.

Ice floating in bear glacier - Credit: National Geographic

Ice floating in bear glacier – Credit: National Geographic

Day 9 – Homer: For the adventurous type, Homer places many trails, fishing spots and charters at your disposal. Follow a trail up a mountainside for a stunning view of glaciers and wildlife, or take a sea-kayak trip across beautiful Kachemak Bay to find your own special hidden spot. Fishing is really popular here and take some fishing trips.

Day 10 – Homer to Alaska: You are probably nearing the tail end of your trip. Spend the morning in homer, have a nice big breakfast especially with reindeer sausage or the pacific halibut. Drive back to Anchorage, sit back, relax and enjoy the views while you are driving back.

Homer - The Fishing town

Homer – The Fishing Town, Credit: National Geographic

This is just a 10 day Alaska itinerary. I spent solid 16 days there and felt that I should have spent more time there. Alaska always has a special spot in my heart as this was the first place I traveled by myself and survived it in grand style.

If you like this article, You might also like my article about Best National Parks in America.

Going to alaska soon? Share it with me. Good luck with your travels!

10 Comments

    • Rakesh Mandalapa

      Hi, It’s a little expensive in the summer. Car rental will cost your around 100 to 150$ a day and gasoline is 4$ a gallon. I stayed in hostels and camped out in the wild, so I didn’t spend much for living. I would say it would cost you around $1000-$1500 if you were to spend 10 days in Alaska. But the expenses can be greatly shaved if you can find other people to travel with you in the rental car. There are also public transportation/private tours that take you to places but they are expensive.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
  1. Udaya

    Alaska Backpackers Inn.. was filled with middle-aged crackheads with knuckle tattoos.. As a female solo traveler, it was not pleasant to be there…… Well, I didn’t feel threatened because they all just stared at me with disbelief as if I looked like an alien… :) There are better places to stay like Spenard or Arctic Adventures…

    Reply
    • Rakesh Mandalapa

      Oh, I am sorry. I am surprised. I was there 5 years ago and loved every second of it. Thanks for the tip anyway.

      Reply
          • Udaya

            oh yes! I saw 3 of them.. While hiking in Denali, I saw a bear so close I could have given him a hug, but I passed on that :D …….. Orca’s were so gorgeous and playful…. And Otters were so cute I wanted to steal them…..

So, what do you think ?