Just got back from our Alaska road trip and let me tell you, beautiful doesn’t even scratch the surface. Ever since I met my husband, he and his family have talked about their love for Alaska and now I finally understand, it truly is an amazing place. Let me start with the back story… When Jon’s parents got married his mother’s parents took them to Alaska with an Airstream trailer and they traveled around for a summer. They loved the state so much that they decided to go back when they had a family and back again when their kids got married with their new spouses, thus that brings us to our Alaskan road trip vacation and the best family tradition ever (did I get lucky or what!?).
We arrived in Anchorage on a Friday afternoon and were greeted by Jon’s parents in the RV along with the best halibut sandwich of my life and an ice cold Alaskan beer. We then started our journey along Highway 1 (aka-Turnagain Arm, one of the most scenic drives in the US) to Seward. This seriously was a gorgeous drive along the water through the Kenai Peninsula, just before we reached Seward we saw this on the side of the road:
Yes this is happened in real life. I’m telling you, this place is unbelievable! Later that night we arrived in Seward which again took my breath away. The harbor surrounded by snow-capped mountains was phenomenal.
The next day we drove to Whittier and went sea kayaking in Prince William Sound, hiked a glacier and saw a woman walking a reindeer.
After Whittier we made our way up to Valdez just in time to see the fishing charters bring in their catch of the day, fresh halibut yum!
After Valdez we started our journey to my new favorite place on earth- Denali National Park. We made a quick stop in Chitina, a small (population 125) town located on the outskirts of Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve. It is an old mining town that is especially known for being near the Copper River, home to those famous salmon catching fish wheels.
On Tuesday night we arrived in Denali National Park and set up camp at one of the park’s campgrounds deep in the woods. Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy because on a clear day you should be able to see Mount McKinley from our campsite. Luckily we had a couple of days there so we kept our fingers crossed that the summit would make an appearance later in the week.
The next day we caught the bus from our campground that takes you through the park. It is a genius system; you can get off anywhere you please and go anywhere in the park for as long as you want. You just need to make sure you catch the final bus out that night or your could be tent-less camping in bear land. We got off the bus a few times and hiked throughout the day, it was magical and an experience I will never forget. We saw tons of caribou, foxes, bald eagles and 2 grizzly bears! I even took my first selfie ever:
Later that night we lucked out big time, Mount McKinley made its debut. I then realized why every time I asked “is that it? is that it?” everyone said “trust me you will KNOW” and there it was; massive, snow covered, breathtaking.
The next day we took a float plane ride to get up close and personal with the mountain. This was hands down one of the top coolest experiences of my life. Small planes allow you to really see it all. When we got close to Mount McKinley we saw 3 climbers just about to reach the summit. Our pilot said it usually takes climbers about 20 days to make it to the top so these guys were just about to reach their goal, it was so exciting! (Jon was super envious, he would love to climb a big mountain one day- we’ll do it babe!)
This was without a doubt one of my top 3 favorite vacations of all time. I want to go back every year.The beauty, the isolation, the lakes, the snow-capped mountains, the national parks, the teal colored glacial water, the animals, the delicious fish… everything that Alaska has is one of kind. It is an outdoorsy person’s paradise. We were only able to see a small part of the state because of the time frame we had, but renting an RV is definitely the way to go. The campgrounds were perfect and being able to go at your own pace and stop in random mountain towns made the driving part of it well worth it. The quality time with my husband and in-laws was so wonderful and the 21 hours of daylight let us maximize every second. If you are thinking of taking a trip somewhere awesome, book your next vacation to Alaska. Trust me!
Side note- No running for 10 days! Since we mostly stayed deep in the woods in campgrounds where there were bear warnings, bear prints and bear scat EVERYWHERE. I REALLY wanted to get in a run while I was in Alaska but I was pretty terrified to run in the woods alone so I didn’t. No biggie I had this as an off week in my marathon training anyways, I did however get in some glacier push ups!
A few more photos: