I went on a trip in 2014, I went on what I consider my most “exciting trip”. I visited Alaska! Which is one of the biggest states in the United States and where the tallest mountain in North America is located, the Mount Mckinley.
Lots of friends asked me why I chose Alaska as a destination, the answer for that is simple… I love adventure, animals and nature 🙂 If you are an adventurous person too, Alaska is perfect for you. I went during the summer, which has some of the longest days with almost 20 hours of daylight (the famous midnight sun). If you’re lucky, you might have a chance of seeing one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the world; the Aurora Borealis (also known as the northern lights). Unfortunately, I didn´t get to see it during my time there 🙁
If you plan to go to Alaska, I would recommend renting a car if you are going with more than 2 people. Driving in Alaska is a wonderful experience in itself, with beautiful scenery all along the way. A good point of having a car is that you are free to stop anywhere you want to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful landscape. If you decide to not rent a car, there are bus tours or you can also use the train (you can check the Alaska Railroad site here for more information about prices and locations)
Where to stay?
I stayed for 4 nights in Anchorage, which is the most populous city in Alaska. On my first day, I stayed in a hostel (Spenard Hostel International) and for 3 nights in a host family’s house, which I found it using Couchsurfing. I also stayed for one night in Denali (I´m going to talk more about the hostel).
I am going to describe my summer adventure in Alaska. However if you plan to go in winter, this itinerary won´t work because of the snow. You may have winter activities from October to March. I am sure winter in Alaska is amazing as well, and I would love to go there again to enjoy all the winter attractions.
I started my adventure in the amazing place city of Anchorage. My first day was packed with exciting adventures. I went hiking on Flattop Trail (approximately 30 minutes from Anchorage). The trail is quite challenging and requires decent physical preparation beforehand. The beginning of the trail seems quite easy, however, getting to the top of the mountain was quite tough for me (I almost gave up halfway). This trail is very steep and you will need to climb some rocks at the top, so there’s also some climbing too. I would recommend wearing a really good pair of hiking shoes (some areas are very slippery). The Flattop Trail can be a bit much for some people, but it’s worth all the effort. The view from up there is simply breathtaking. You can see all of Anchorage from the top, and if you’re lucky, perhaps even a moose or two, but unfortunately they were too far away to take pictures.
It takes about three hours to finish the trail. After the hiking, I went to have lunch at one of the most popular pubs in Anchorage, The Moose´s Tooth. It’s an awesome traditional pub, and they even brew their own beer. I recommend trying one of their pizzas, which was probably the best I’ve ever had!
After lunch, time to explore more the city of Anchorage. The next adventure was cycling along Tony Knowles Caostal Trail. It´s a pavement trail that you can start in downtown Anchorage and one of the famous in the city. The trail provides an extraordinary view of the coast and an excellent opportunity to hike, bike, run, walk and skate. You are very likely to encounter mooses and some other animals along the way. If you decide to bike, I recommend renting bicycles at Pablo´s Bicycle Rentals.
The day was long, and after hiking, climbing, and biking, I deserved some rest for the next day. Just to remember that if you are going in summer, the days are longer. Enjoy over 20 hours of daylight 😉
Time to get on the road towards the city of Seward, approximately 2 hours by car from Anchorage. The driving is incredibly scenic, surrounded by mountains and lakes. Our destiny was Seward Habor, to board a cruise to the glaciers. I bought my tickets in advance at Major Marine, you can click here to take a look at the website for more information. The price of the tour was 169.00 dollars (a bit expensive, but was worth the investment). The tour that I chose was Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise, a 7.5-hour cruise.
A special day to visit the beautiful Denali Park, approximately 5 hours from Anchorage. The main road to get there is Alaska Highway 3 or George Parks Highwasy as it is also known. Prepare to take plenty of pictures along the way again.
After almost 5 hours on the road, we finally got in Denali Park
As soon as we got there, we stopped at a nice café, close to the hostel we were staying at for the night. The name of the place is Creekside Cafe, and has one of the best “cinnamon rolls” I’ve ever had. By the side of the cafe, there is a river (Carlo Creek), which is a nice place to relax and enjoy the beautiful view.
After we got something to eat, we started our adventure in Denali, going hike on a trail that´s right at the entrance of the park. We chose the Triple Lakes Trail, with the entrance next to the Alaska Highway 3. To get access to the trail, we had to cross the Alaska Railroad. The duration for the hiking is approximately 5 hours, but, we just went to the second lake. You can have more information about hiking in Denali here.
After two hours of hiking, we went back to check-in at the hostel and change clothes for the next adventure. We stayed at Denali Mountain Morning Hostel (you can check the website here) I simply loved the view from the hostel and everything about the location. To add a bit more excitement to the trip, we decided to stay in a tent, avoiding the comfy cabins, private rooms or regular dormitories. We had a two-man tent and got lucky with a spot right by Carlo Creek, where we could enjoy spectacular mountain views. The facilities they have are great as well (you can use the kitchen, shared bathrooms and lounge area). They also have a parking area, if you go by car.
Next was one of the best adventures I´ve ever had…whitewater RAFTING! I bought my ticket in advance at Denali Outdoor Center (you can check the website here). We picked one of the most popular whitewater river trips in Alaska, with two hours of action-packed paddling. The name of the tour is Canyon Run (Paddle Raft), and it cost $92.00 US. I was very scared beforehand because I don´t know how to swim. However, after I got in the boat, my feelings changed and I got so excited to have that amazing adventure in the cold waters of Nenama River. They recommend you wear two layers of clothing and provide a special drysuit.
I jumped in the cold water of Nenana River (They stopped the boat in a safe area). It´s was a truly amazing experience that I definitely recommend. Afterwards, we went back to warm up around the fire next to our tent. It was a long day in Alaska, and the 20 hours of daylight was great to enjoy every single minute until midnight.
I had such a great night listening to the soothing sound of the river next to the tent. I have to confess, it was a bit uncomfortable to sleep in a tent, but when you are in Alaska, this is another must.
My last day in Denali (and Alaska) :(. I just had half a day to enjoy the park, as we had to drive back to Anchorage. We picked an easy hike, the Taiga Trail (that leads to Healy Overlook Trail), with easy access to the Visitor Center.
Unfortunately, I couldn´t explore Denali park as much, since I just had 2 days there. I also didn´t see any bears :(. Alaska is a place that I definitely would come back again. My opinion: I would stay at least eight days to explore.
Kisses and hugs <3