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The call of the wild still beckons in Alaska. Take this trip from the storied port city of Valdez to mythical Denali to see all facets of Alaska’s wilderness.


1. Valdez

Starting Point Nature, Outdoor Recreation

With its breathtaking scenery, captivating wildlife and ample outdoor opportunities, Valdez exerts a magnetic hold on travelers. Five glaciers attract sightseers, including the iconic Columbia Glacier. Tours of the Prince William Sound allow for close encounters with sea otters, horned and tufted puffins, humpback whales and bald eagles. Valdez boasts a network of accessible trails woven through primal forests populated with bears and eagles.

Recommended Stopovers

Eagle’s Rest RV Park & Cabins • Valdez, AK – (800)553-7275


2. Glennallen

Drive 120 miles, 2 hours, 4 minutes • Nature, Outdoor Recreation

Glennallen is the launch pad for the little-visited Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the largest national park in the U.S. Extending for 13.2 million acres, the park is home to snow-capped mountains that have never been scaled and everything from temperate rain forest to tundra, which provide refuge to profuse wildlife. Glennallen places travelers in striking distance of world-class fishing, rafting and wildlife viewing on the Copper River.


3. Delta Junction

Drive 153 miles, 2 hours, 40 minutes • Entertainment, History, Nature, Quirky

The Alaska highway terminates and joins the Richardson Highway in a place that ushers in an awe-inspiring mosaic of boreal forests, high-mountain tundra and snow-capped mountains. Watch for wildlife in the Quartz Lake State Recreation Area and then go fishing at Fielding Lake State Recreation Site. For a dose of history, the Sullivan Roadhouse Historical Museum (the oldest roadhouse in the interior of Alaska) focuses on the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail.


4. North Pole

Drive 81.8 miles, 1 hour, 23 minutes • Entertainment, History Quirky, Shopping

The town of North Pole celebrates Christmas with gusto all year long. Originally intended as a center for toy factories, the town embraces its identity as the home to St. Nick. Need proof? Just gaze at the 42-foot-high Santa statue overlooking the Richardson Highway or the much-storied Santa Claus House, which does a brisk trade in Christmas toys, Santa dollars and holiday kitsch. You can even order a letter to your child handwritten by Santa.


5. Fairbanks

Drive 13.5 miles, 18 minutes • Nature, Outdoor Recreation

As the gateway to the Arctic and the place where Alaska’s iconic routes intersect, Fairbanks sits on the doorstep of the ultimate in wilderness adventures. With an arty and left-of-field vibe, Fairbanks has a clutch of interesting sights. At the picturesque Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary, the focus is squarely on wildlife-watching with a couple of nature trails. The city has a high percentage of clear nights for sky gazers to see the northern lights. The signature yellow-green glow of the aurora borealis occurs in late August and mid-April.


6. Denali National Park and Preserve

Drive 123 miles, 2 hours, 7 minutes • Nature, Outdoor Recreation

Although Denali is one of the most visited and accessible of Alaska’s national parks, its merciless lands feel practically untouched by the human hand. With few marked trails, bus and car routes allow for adventures through a diverse range of habitats that include the tundra-covered ice of the Muldrow Glacier Taiga forest, the glacially fed streams of Teklanika and Toklat, and, of course, Denali itself: North America’s tallest peak at 20,310 feet.