The first we-have-to-pull-over-the-Alaska-scenery-is-so-spectacular moment came early on Day One of our Alaska road trip. We were driving south on the Kenai Peninsula’s Seward Highway, and we stopped at Beluga Point (at Milepost 16.7 from Anchorage), named for the whales that pass by here.
My wife, Vani, and I scampered down to the mudflat shoreline, taking in a sweeping view of the Turnagain Arm waterway framed by majestic mountains in Chugach State Park. We wore down our cell phones taking photos and videos before returning to the road. Two miles later we stopped again, after seeing our first bald eagle sitting in a tree. At yet another spot, we admired swans swimming at an inlet. “Every turnout is so stunning,” Vani said.
As we continued south on the Seward Highway, glaciers came into view and we gave up comparing the Alaskan landscape with other places we’ve seen. Nothing matched the scale of its raw beauty. And this was just Day One.
Alaska is so immense—it could hold our 22 smallest states—that exploring it in a week on our own seemed daunting at first. Vani and I prefer crafting our own trips rather than joining tours, and we knew we wanted to travel by car, so we decided to chart an eight-day road trip. Even then, we covered only a sliver of this vast state. Our itinerary: Fly into Anchorage and pick up a rental car, drive south to Seward, drive back north to Denali National Park, and end up back in Anchorage.
For each day, we plotted activities, meals, and stays that gave us a good feel for the landscape, the wildlife, and the culture.