We landed in the night and stayed in the Extended Stay America.
Picked a rental car booked on Turo. Caught up with our friends who were traveling all the way from New York.
• Drove to Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (Total 1 hr drive)
Stopped on the way at Beluga point
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a great way to see Alaskan Wildlife like Bears, Moose, Marmots, Reindeer, and more.
• Drove to Portage Pass Trailhead (There is a tunnel that opens at intervals of 1 hr from each way here is the schedule for summer). Make a stop at portage lake overlook. It's absolutely amazing.
Hiked the Portage pass trail (4.2 mile, 1433 ft elevation). This hike is muddy and there are spots where you will be attacked by mosquitoes if you are hiking in the summer. Also as you get to the end of the trail it gets bushy and not very comfortable to hike. But at the end of the trail, you are presented with an amazing view of the Portage Glacier.
• Drove back to Anchorage, dinner in Serrano's Mexican Grill
• Drove to Eklutna Lake Campground (50 mins from Anchorage)
On the way to Denali we did a small detour to Eklutna lake which is absolutely gorgeous for the time it added to our trip
• Drove to Hatcher Pass ( 1 hour from Eklutna Lake)
After Eklutna lake we drove to hatcher pass which was absolutely stunning. There is a very short hike to Summit lake which gives you a nice view of the pass.
• Drove to Healy (3 hrs 50 mins from hatcher pass)
That where our Airbnb was. Pro-tip, make sure how to enter your bnb if you are arriving late.
•Drove to Denali Park
You can drive 15 miles by yourself within the Denali national park. To go further up to 43 miles (usually 92 miles but road reconstruction undergoing), you need to take the shuttle which costs about $30 for adults
You can do the Tundra Bus Tour (costs $128 for adults) which is a narrated bus tour. It stops at some scenic locations and helps you breathe in the fresh Alaskan air during the 5-hour bus tour.
• Drove to Horseshoe lake trail
This is a short hike to Horseshoe lake you also get a nice view of the river that's close to the lake.
We ended that day a bit early just to chill a bit.
• Drove to Denali park for our 7 o'clock Tundra bus tour
Tundra bus tour can be a good way to get a glimpse of Mt. Denali but because the tour currently is limited to 43 miles mark it is kind of disappointing.
This can be an optional thing for folks who are short on time
• Drove back to Healy to our Airbnb for a short rest time
• Drove to Fairbanks and further to Chena Hot Springs (3 hours from Healy)
We took a dip in the hot springs in Chena and later went to aurora viewing point which was a short hike of not more than half a mile. This was around 11 pm and we didn't see any northern lights so we returned.
• Driving back to Healy
While driving back between 1 and 2 am we started to see some northern light activity so we stopped and got the witness one of the most mesmerizing experiences we have ever had. The skies were filled with northern lights. It danced in various colors and we couldn't believe our eyes what we were seeing. It was truly an out-worldly experience.
Day 4 was one of the roughest days for us because we did the tundra bus tour and chena hot springs in one day. I highly recommend separating these two activities so you have enough time to rest.
• Drove to Talkeetna (on the way to Talkeetna we stopped at Denali Viewpoint south) (~3 hrs)
In Talkeetna, we had a glacier landing activity planned, where you tour by plane around the Denali mountain range and land on top of a glacier and get to spend some time. We booked K2's denali flyer tour which was absolutely jaw-dropping. It was a bit steep on pricing but totally worth it since you won't be coming to Alaska that often.
• Drove to Seward (4hr 30 mins)
We drove straight to our Airbnb in Seward.
• Checked out Lowell point. It is a pretty scenic and chill spot to take some pictures. We got some drone videos here.
Had drinks and dinner at Exit Glacier Salmon Bake (highly recommended)
We had a glacier hiking activity planned to hike Kenai Fjords. We started early morning with our tour guides and drove with them to Exit Glacier Trailhead.
We hiked the Harding icefield trailhead to a point where we can gear up and hike on top of the Glacier. The hiking was a bit strenuous so make sure are ready for it. Our guides were great to make sure we were comfortable. On the way hiking back to the trailhead, we saw a cute black bear cub which was nice icing on the cake.
We had a Wildlife Cruise and Kayaking activity planned which got canceled due to bad weather. It was very disappointing that we couldn't do this activity but if you get a chance definitely try to do it.
We alternatively found a kayaking activity in resurrection bay which was short and fun. We also managed to pack in a Resurrection bay cruise tour which was pretty good.
In the evening after our activities, we drove straight to Anchorage and had dinner in Taste of India which was surprisingly good.
Returned our rental and boarded our flights back home.
You can see this trip itinerary on google maps here.