Alaska, the last frontier!

This country is not comparable to anything else I have seen before. Wild, vast, lonely,... everything you can dream of if you want to escape the civiliziation. Alaska is a dream for many people seeking for the true nature experience. If the leave one the few roads beyond the cities you are in the middle of  the wilderness, totally unaffected by human beings.
But if you plan to visit this country you have to consider a few things:

  • Large areas of the county are unpopulated. Nevertheless, if you use a car to travel through Alaska you have to take one of the few roads with partly heavy traffic.
  • There are not many hotels beyond the few cities. And all hotels with a minimum standard are extremely expensive (>>150$ per night). So you either have to carry a tent and a warm sleeping bag or rent a mobile home. For a single person sleeping in the car could be a cheap alternative. If you are visiting Denali NP a tent is a must.
  • Cost of living in Alaska is high. Buy food in one of the bigger supermarkets before you leave the cities.
  • The weather is unpredictable – and I really mean unpredictable, especially along the Alaska range. Local rainfalls are possible, even when the weather is quite stable on larger areas. You have to expect bad weather during most of the summer season. Be prepared with good raincoats, trousers and weather proven shoes.
  • Mosquitoes are really annoying. Wear long shirts and trousers and use repellents.

If you plan to drive through Alaska with a rental car some major attractions should be on you itinerary

  • Denali National Park is – in my humble opinion – the most fascinating National Park of the US. The unprecedented view onto the Alaska range and the 6000+ meter Mt McKinley (Mt. Denali) are breathtaking. Driving through the park you will probably see bears, deers, caribous, Dall sheep, fox, etc. However, you can just enter the Park by the public bus system (which you have to reserve in advance). This is quite annoying, as you cannot stop whenever and wherever you want, especially if you are seeking for nice photo locations. In addition to that the buses are often quite full and you may not have a window seat or you are sitting at the wrong side of the bus as most of the time you just have a nice view of the park and the Alaska range to the north (left hand side of the bus if you drive into the park, right hand side towards the exit).
  • I can recommend to stay at Teklanika campground, as this is the farthest point you can drive with your own car, if you have a reservation for this campground. In addition to that you can buy a Teklanika bus ticket, which allows you to use the bus as often as you want (space provided). The campground is clean, but not very suitable for tents but more for RVs. You can walk along the Teklanika river, which is a quite nice walk.
  • Even better is the Wonderlake campground, which is only accessible by bus. Good weather provided, you have a breathtaking view onto the Mt McKinley and the Alaska range, and the valley of the McKinley river. At the nearby Reflection pond (a 45 min. walk from the campground) you can see the reflection of Mt. McKinley in the pond. At the pond, across the street you walk up the hill and take a tour through the tundra and some very lonely ponds, which are not visible from the street. But watch for bears, as they are quite often searching for berries in that area.
  • People who like Denali national Park will probably love driving the Denali Highway. This “Highways” is not inside the Denali Park but connects Parks Highway with Richardson Highway. It is a 200 km long gravel road and I can really recommend to drive it with a 4-wheel SUV as a normal car could get a flat tire or even two (in this case you really have a problem, as there is not service on the road). However, I meet a lot of RVs and normal cars on that road.
  • From most of the parts of Denali Highway you have a wonderful view onto the Alaska range with many glaciers and peaks up to 4500 m height, good weather and no fog or haze provided.
  • Valdez at the Prince William Sound Coastline is probably the city with the worst weather I have ever seen. Nevertheless, doing a boat tour to the Columbia Glacier and the Mendenhall Glacier is a must see, as the coastline of Alaska and its wildlife is just accessible by boat. There is a high chance to see whales (Orca or Humback), dolphins, sea lions, different kind of seabirds and even bold eagle.
  • The Kenai peninsula has some really interesting things to see, too. You can do a boat tour at Seward to see the glaciers of Kenai Fjords National Park (only when good weather and calm sea) or you can hike the Exit Glacier near Seward. In many of the rivers on Kenai Peninsula you can see lax.