Go deep into the icy Alaskan wilds

Alaska may be part of the USA, but it feels like another world. This Lonely Planet Experience gives the freedom to hike, kayak, climb or fly your way through the iconic Denali and Wrangell-St Elias national parks. It’s a big, bold landscape filled with incredible mountain ranges, diverse wildlife and shining glaciers. Delve well and truly deep into the wild before reemerging into civilisation with stops in Anchorage and Valdez, and have plenty of free time to explore this beautiful landscape at your own pace.


Start
Anchorage, United States
Finish
Anchorage, United States
Destination
United States
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
SSRAC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Drive across frozen plains and past massive peaks, walk across remote tundras to glacial rivers and kayak in the spectacular waters of Prince William Sound.

  • Look out for diverse wildlife like moose, grizzly bears, and wolves in Denali National Park, then get close to sea otters, puffins and humpback whales on an optional kayak trip among glaciers in Valdez.

  • See North America's biggest collection of glaciers and some of its tallest, most impressive mountains in Wrangell-St Elias National Park – the world's largest internationally protected area.

  • See both sides of the Kenai Peninsula – Homer, with remote beaches and the stunning Kachemak Bay State Park, and Seward, with accessible glaciers and marine life.

  • Spend two nights at a remote hostel that can only be accessed by kayak or water taxi.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a participatory trip. That’s a fancy way of saying you’re not just along for the ride – you’re part of a team! You know the phrase ‘the more you put in, the more you get out’. Well that’s extra true on this trip. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help out with camp activities like food prep and washing up. It’s all about giving your new travel mates a hand – everyone knows there’s nothing worse than trying to put up a tent on your own!

  • That teamwork also extends to our optional food kitty of approximately USD 90 per week, run to cover the cost of meals. This kitty saves you worrying about stuff like where to get food or what exactly sales tax is, and actually helps keep your costs down. Instead of paying individually as you go, it means we can bulk purchase items and cook our own food – though there’s always the chance to use it for the occasional pizza night! The kitty is optional and for your convenience, so if you've got specific dietary requirements you can opt out and purchase (and cook) your own food.

  • Some of the roads on this trip can be extremely long and fairly bumpy. You could be driving down a remote dirt road for hours at a time, but that's all part of this Alaskan adventure.

  • As Alaska is a huge state with large distances between towns and cities, be prepared to spend a lot of your time in the car. Some journeys can take up to eight or nine hours, but there will breaks along the way. This is also a great way to see a variety of Alaskan landscapes.

  • While Alaska can experience warm summers, you should still be prepared for cold temperatures, especially at night. Bring warm clothing with you, including base layers, a warm hat, gloves and a thick coat.

  • Mosquitoes are found across the USA, even in the colder regions. They can be a problem a lot of the time, especially in July. It’s recommended that you bring insect repellent with you and anything else you think is applicable.

  • The summer months in Alaska see very long daylight hours, with the sun not completely setting until after midnight. As most people are likely to sleep before midnight, you might want to bring an eye mask to block out the light.

  • The weather around Denali can be extreme at times. Be prepared for blizzards, ice cold winds and quick shifts in weather. It is Alaska after all.

Itinerary

Welcome to Anchorage, the most populous city in Alaska with one of the most beautiful backdrops you’ve ever seen! Things kick off this evening with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, but we highly recommend arriving early to see the sights. This is a unique environment; a city in the heart of the wilderness. It's worth spending some time in the cafes and bars and getting to know the hardy locals who have more than a few entertaining stories up their sleeves. After you meet your fellow travellers and leader in the evening, why not join them in town for an optional group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Leave the city behind this morning and venture into a world of lakes and glaciers in the epic Alaska Range. Head north along the Parks Highway to Denali National Park (approximately 5 hours), keeping an eye out for caribou as you go. Home to the highest peak in the United States known as Denali (Mount McKinley), as well as grizzly bears, wolves, moose and Dall sheep, this national park is a true wilderness with endless snowy peaks.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Denali National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Denali National Park Visitor Centre
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Buckle up for an 8-hour bus safari deep into Denali National Park, visiting the Eielson Visitor Centre as you go. This scenic tour will take you through the park's backcountry, travelling 106 kilometres (66 miles) to the visitor centre. The journey is worth it as the rangers and interactive displays provide great insight and information about the park. The bus driver will help you spot wildlife while answering questions and, if needed, make bathroom stops along the way. Be sure to bring some food and beverages with you as there aren't any available on the bus.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Denali - Scenic bus tour
Optional Activities
  • Denali - Glacier Landing Flight - USD525
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Rest stops occur around every 90 minutes throughout the bus trip. Bus riders are permitted to depart the bus within regulations to hike in the park.
After experiencing a Denali dog sled demonstration this morning, traverse through high alpine country as you drive Alaska's second-highest highway pass to the Maclaren River Lodge. Kick back with some music and take in the scenery, getting to know your travel buddies along the way. On arrival at the lodge, take a canoe upriver to the remote wilderness Glacier Camp, where you'll spend the night camping out beneath the stars. Explore the frosty surrounds once the campsite is set up.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Maclaren - Wilderness Glacier Overnight Canoe Trip
  • Denali's Alaskan Huskies - Dog Sled Demonstration
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Wake from your peaceful slumber and take a canoe back to the lodge in the morning. Today is a big travel day, with approximately 8 hours total driving time, but it's also a really beautiful drive with plenty of wildlife and some great views along the way. You'll leave the main highway and start to head deep into Wrangell-St Elias National Park: the largest national park in the USA, being almost six times the size of Yellowstone. The evening is free once you've arrived at the campsite, so take a hike and do some exploring, or just kick back and soak up the camp vibes.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
You’re free to explore Wrangell-St Elias National Park today, and there are a whole host of optional activities to take part in. Perhaps take a scenic flight over the park, venture out for a glacier walk on the spectacular Root Glacier, or maybe try your hand at some adrenaline-pumping ice climbing. Your group leader will be able to provide you with other recommendations for the day. Alternatively, spend the day hiking and exploring the park – all 13 million acres of it. Keep an eye out for moose, bears and caribou and then, in the evening, return to the campsite for some much-needed (and well-earned) rest.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Wrangell-St Elias - Scenic flight (50 mins) - USD250
  • Wrangell-St Elias - Ice climbing - USD140
  • Wrangell-St Elias - Scenic flight (90 mins) - USD325
  • Wrangell-St Elias - Full-day Glacier Hike - USD115
  • Wrangell-St Elias - Half-day Glacier Hike - USD90
  • Maclaren - Kennecott Copper Mill Tour - USD30
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Depart Wrangell-St Elias and make tracks for Valdez, a small town on the edge of Prince William Sound. The trip should take approximately 7.5 hours, including a stop at Worthington Glacier en route. Valdez, which is surrounded by the steep, snow-capped Chugach Mountains, is best known as the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. After setting up camp, why not check out the town and grab a bite to eat?
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is free to do as you please in Valdez. Kayaking is hugely popular here, so take a paddle on Prince William Sound among the glaciers and down the fjords, spotting some wildlife along the way. On land, you could visit the Valdez Museum and Historical Archive for an interesting history lesson of this important port city. Just like Anchorage, Valdez is framed with mountains, so wherever you look, there’s something new to see.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Valdez - Glacier kayak trip - USD270
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning drive back to Anchorage, which will take around 6 hours. This may be a tiring drive, but it's also a spectacular one as you cross the snowy Thompson Pass. Upon arrival, you've got a free afternoon in Anchorage. There will be a meeting at 6 pm to welcome any new travellers joining you on the next stage of your adventure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary so please attend, and this is also a great chance to meet the new group. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Journey via the Turnagain Arm (approximately 2.5 hours; 200 kilometres)to the coastal town of Seward and the surrounding Kenai Fjords National Park.  There will be time to explore some of this Arctic wonderland, with its numerous lakes, glaciers and fascinating coastline. The area is also famous for its many anglers, who follow the salmon on their annual migration up the peninsula's many wide rivers. Seward is one of Alaska's oldest towns, as well as one of the most scenic. The town itself boasts galleries, boutique shops and a bustling harbour, but it's perhaps best known as a gateway to exploring Kenai Fjords National Park. Depending on your departure date, you may be camping in town or you may be jumping into a water taxi across Resurrection Bay, where you will spend the next two nights staying in a hostel. This accommodation is so remote it can only be accessed by kayak or water taxi. Our hostel in Resurrection Bay isn't your typical hostel. You may need to climb a ladder to reach your bed, and should note that bathrooms are external to the main building. It's rustic, but that's made up for by the remote location.
Accommodation
  • Basic hostel or camping (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Due to limited availability in this remote destination, some departure have minor changes to the itinerary. In all cases, included and optional activities will remain the same. We cannot update the itinerary or the Essential Trip Information Document at a departure level, however your leader will be able to assist with any questions about driving times or itinerary details.
- For groups departing on the 15th June and 20th July, the accommodation experiences in Homer & Seward are switched. You will stay in a remote rustic hostel outside of Homer and camp in Seward.
- For the group departing on the 17th August, you will visit Homer and Seward in the reverse order. The group will stay 2 nights in Homer and then 2 nights in Seward, before returning to Anchorage.
Enjoy a free day to soak up stunning surrounds. Maybe hire a kayak and hit the water with the majestic snow-capped Alaskan mountains looming in the background. If you do, remember to look out for porpoises and sea otters in the water. Your lodging is also perfectly situated for exploring the surrounding woodlands, so maybe head off on one of the many trails. 
Accommodation
  • Basic hostel or camping (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Seward - Hiking - Free
  • Seward - Kayak rental - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today head the 125 kilometres to Homer (approximately 4 hours) to arrive at your gateway to the incredible Kenai Peninsula. Keep an eye on the water as you head south because today you might catch a glimpse of beluga whales breaching off the coast. Again, depending on your departure date, you may be camping in town or you may be jumping into a water taxi across Kachemak Bay, where you will spend the next two nights staying in a hostel.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) or basic hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Make the most of a free day in Homer. Perhaps explore the area by kayak and watch sea otters, or visit the beautiful rock arches, cliffs and remote beaches surrounding the city. Homer is a good place for animal watching, with bald eagles, puffins and moose plentiful in the area. Some of the activities around Homer are expensive, but they are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. The Kachemak Bay Adventure includes sea kayaking, a tour of the old Russian settlement of Seldovia and a flight over the bay. The Bear Viewing Flight can sometimes sell out, but if you can afford it, the feedback from previous travellers is that it’s a highlight.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) or basic hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Homer - Day on Kachemak Bay Adventure - USD220
  • Homer - Halibut fishing (half-day charter) - USD105
  • Homer - Bear Viewing Flight - USD625
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Return along the Turnagain Arm and the National Forest Scenic Byway; this route is around 380 kilometres and takes approximately 5.5 hours but remember it is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world. This trip finishes on arrival in Anchorage at approximately 5 pm. For those wishing to stay on in Anchorage, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Private vehicle, Water taxi

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Camping (with facilities) (6 nights), Hostel (2 nights), Hotel (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Denali National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Denali National Park Visitor Centre
  • Denali - Scenic bus tour
  • Maclaren - Wilderness Glacier Overnight Canoe Trip
  • Denali's Alaskan Huskies - Dog Sled Demonstration

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Alaska Adventure trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1.
2. On the final day, this trip finishes at approximately 5 pm on arrival into Anchorage. If departing this day, please do not book any flights before 9 pm.
3. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Night 4 (Maclaren) and the 2-nights at the hostel in either Homer or Seward (depends on the departure) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
4. If you wish to spend more time in Anchorage, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
5. To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
6. Please note that the legal drinking age in the US is 21 and in some parts of Canada it's 19.
7. A sleeping bag is required for this trip.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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