Alaska RV Trip: The Ultimate Guide

Alaska RV trip

If you want to take the ultimate Alaska RV trip then keep reading! Alaska, a land of incredible natural beauty and adventure, beckons RV enthusiasts for a journey of a lifetime. Our adventure took us through Canada to Alaska, a route that added an extra thrill to our trip. However, for those seeking a quicker route, consider renting an RV once you fly to Alaska. It’s still a fantastic way to experience the countryside without sacrificing too much time.

Top 9 Places for an Unforgettable RV Adventure

Here are nine of the best places to visit in Alaska on your RV trip.

  1. The Alaska Highway: Embark on a thrilling adventure along the Alaska Highway, starting in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and crossing into Alaska. This journey is a gateway to wilderness and wildlife, promising an unforgettable experience for RV enthusiasts.
  2. Tok, Delta Junction, North Pole: An RV trip to Tok offers stunning views of the Wrangell Mountains and opportunities for hiking and fishing. Delta Junction is a great place to explore the historic Sullivan Roadhouse and learn about the area’s military history. In North Pole, you can visit the Santa Claus House and enjoy holiday-themed activities all year round.
  3. Fairbanks: Immerse yourself in the Alaska interior’s unique history and culture. Witness the awe-inspiring Northern Lights, a natural wonder that paints the night sky with vibrant colors. This phenomenon is considered more spectacular during winter, but we were fortunate to see it even during summer and Fall.
  4. Arctic Circle: Visiting the Arctic Circle in an RV is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It’s a unique opportunity to witness Alaska’s northernmost region’s stunning natural beauty and wildlife.
  5. Denali National Park: Experience Alaska’s breathtaking wilderness and wildlife while enjoying stunning views of North America’s highest peak, Denali. The park’s rugged beauty and diverse wildlife make it a must-visit destination for any RV enthusiast.
  6. Talkeetna: Known as the gateway to Denali, Talkeetna is a small, quirky town with a lively arts community and outdoor adventures.
  7. Anchorage: Alaska’s largest city is a great starting point for your journey. It offers cultural attractions, shopping, and dining options.
  8. Whittier and Matanuska Glacier: Take a guided tour of this magnificent glacier, or explore it on your own if you’re experienced in glacier hiking.
  9. Kenai Peninsula: Explore the Kenai Fjords National Park and visit the charming towns of Seward, Soldotna, and Homer. Go fishing for salmon or halibut in this picturesque region. Homer is a lovely town near the Gulf of Alaska and is an excellent spot for halibut fishing, exploring the Homer Spit, and enjoying art galleries and local seafood.

Bonus for the Brave: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park: This is the largest national park in the U.S., offering rugged wilderness, glaciers, and the chance to explore old mining towns. (In all honesty, we did not go here.) Beware that many RVs won’t fare well on the gravel roads leading to the park. And many rental agencies don’t allow cars to go here, so do your homework.

Alaska RV Tips

We relied on the book “Mileposts” to plan our trip and discover hidden gems along the way. It even guided us to specific mile markers where we could spot bison, moose, or other wildlife. The book lists RV parks, so I will list only a few in this article.

As avid boondockers, we found the iOverlander app to be a treasure trove of off-the-beaten-path spots. It’s a must-have for any RV enthusiast!

While some planning is essential, remember to embrace the unexpected. Alaska’s vast size and challenging terrain can lead to unique adventures, and you may fall in love with an area and decide to stay longer. So, don’t worry if you don’t make it to every place on your list. The beauty of an Alaska RV trip lies in its flexibility and the freedom to follow your heart.

What Supplies Do You Need on Your Alaska RV Trip?

It’s essential to have your RV well-equipped and prepared for various weather conditions. If you’re like us, you already carry spares for harder-to-get RV items and regular emergency supplies. If you’re renting an RV, ask what supplies are on board and what to do in case of a breakdown. Some items we regularly carry are these:

  • Flat tire fix kit
  • Small air compressor
  • Tire chains
  • Extra fuses
  • Battery charger

We saw other RVers carrying extra gas or diesel, but it was never necessary for us. We found gas stations regularly enough that we rarely dipped below a half-diesel tank. One thing we wished for was more electricity. We have 300 watts of solar, but it rained and stayed overcast much of the time. So a separate charger like a Jackery might be nice. We plan to look into a DC to DC charging system also.

Anchorage and Fairbanks are bigger cities with Walmart, Costco, tire shops, and auto mechanics. You will likely find common RV parts in one of those two cities. In addition, medium-sized cities like Palmer and Soldotna have Fred Meyers (Krogers) and other large grocery stores. Once you’re out of the bigger towns, repairs may need creativity. But we had no problems, even traveling down many gravel roads.

We suggest checking for any road and park closures or other travel advisories before and during your trip. Road conditions change quickly, and there is a lot of road construction during the summer months. So be patient as you wait in line and consider it an extra time to look at the beauty around you.

Top 9 Alaska RV Trip Destinations

Regarding awe-inspiring natural beauty, adventure, and the call of the wild, Alaska is a destination like no other. The Last Frontier is a paradise for RV enthusiasts, offering a unique opportunity to explore its breathtaking landscapes while enjoying the comforts of your motorhome. Let’s take a virtual journey to the top 9 places in Alaska for an unforgettable RV adventure, perfectly optimized for your Alaska RV travel or Alaska RV trip.

The Alaska Highway

On our way north through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory, we drove up Highway 2 from Whitehorse to Dawson City. Then we went through Chicken, Alaska, and Tok (rhymes with yoke) before heading south. However, I’m writing this article with you traveling in a different direction that takes less fuel.

Our trip centered around visiting children and grandchildren on their schedules. But the trip I’m laying out centers on driving directions from Canada. Of course, you can adjust if you’re starting with a rental RV in Anchorage.

Stop in Watson Lake, Yukon, Canada to see signs from all over the world. And don’t forget to bring your own to post. We didn’t know about this ahead of time but now we’ll get a sign made!

Signs in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, Canada

There are plenty of RV parks along the way, so if you’re a planner, I’m sure you’ll find excellent stops. But in our three months in Alaska, we only planned a stay at Denali National Park. The campgrounds get full, so we booked a few weeks ahead.

We enjoyed stopping at rest areas for the night along the Alaska Highway. There are so many pull-offs, and you’re allowed to stay the night, so we drove until we started getting tired and then looked for a place to pull off. We also looked ahead at iOverlander when we stopped to get gas and often chose a place for the night from there.

We had cell phone reception in towns, but only a little between them. On our way up, there were patches of terrible roads. We experienced lots of bumps and potholes from the winter frost heaves. But they were mainly repaired during the summer, so our September drive back south was enjoyable.

Tok, Delta Junction, North Pole:

Tok is the first big town on the Alaska Highway. You’ll find several RV parks, pizza, groceries, and gas. It is a pass-through type of town. We stayed a night, both coming and going, but we didn’t do much here. Chevron allows RVs to stay in its backlot for free. So we filled up with diesel, parked, and walked to the store. So, if you didn’t make a plan, don’t worry. You can stay at the gas station. It’s not fancy, but it’s safe.

Delta Junction is the next town you come to. It marks the end of the Alaska Highway. Stop by the visitor center to take a picture at the marker.

We stayed a few nights at the Chena Lake State Recreation Area. It is beautiful! You’ll find two campgrounds (or camp in the parking lot near the playground if, like us, you’re later in the season and the campgrounds are closed.) This park was a perfect place for us to see the Northern Lights. In the summer, you can rent kayaks and canoes. But in the winter, you can rent an ice fishing hut. They’ll even cut the holes in the ice so that you can start fishing!

Close to the lake is the small town of North Pole. It’s a fun stop on your Alaska RV trip. You’ll also find a huge Christmas gift store and many smaller ones throughout town. It’s definitely worth pulling over to explore.

Fairbanks

Venture into the interior of Alaska and discover Fairbanks’s unique history and culture. Located in the heart of interior Alaska, Fairbanks is a city that blends history, culture, and natural wonders. As the largest city in the interior region, it’s known for the mesmerizing Northern Lights displays during winter. Fairbanks is rich in history, with attractions like the University of Alaska Museum of the North and the historic Gold Dredge No. 8, where you can learn about the Gold Rush era.

We enjoyed the museum and liked checking out Bus 142 during its renovation in the University’s Engineering Building. The Magic Bus lived near Healy, Alaska, for about thirty years before becoming famous. Chris McCandless found it during his 1992 quest for a realistic Alaskan experience. 

The book and movie Into the Wild told his story, inspiring people worldwide to hike out to the bus. However, after a hiker died trying to find it and many other rescues proved necessary, authorities knew they had to move the bus to a safer place for visitors.

Bus 142 from Into the Wild

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in and around Fairbanks, from hiking to exploring the serene Chena Hot Springs. There’s even an ice museum. Steve and I skipped it, but our friends, Dennis and Linda, thoroughly enjoyed their visit. They sent us pictures of sipping apple martinis out of ice glasses.

Try to time your trip to Fairbanks to coincide with the weekend Farmer’s Market. All the artisans are local, so you’ll find plenty of souvenirs. Plus, there was a ton of fresh produce to choose from. The RV parking gets tight, so get there early.

Arctic Circle

Embarking on an Alaska RV trip to the Arctic Circle is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It offers the chance to journey to one of the planet’s most remote and captivating destinations. The road to the Arctic Circle, along the Dalton Highway in Alaska, is an epic trek through vast tundra, rugged terrain, and stunning wilderness.

To be clear, we skipped this portion of the trip because it was getting late in the season, and the weather was cold enough that we worried about snow. However, Dennis and Linda made the trip after we parted in Fairbanks. The road was so bumpy that their truck camper’s heating system quit working. Thankfully, they had a small space heater since nighttime temperatures dropped to the low-40s.

Alaska RV trip
Truck camper friends, Dennis and Linda

As you traverse the highway, you’ll experience the untamed beauty of the Arctic landscape, including expansive vistas, serene rivers, and the occasional wildlife sighting. The journey’s highlight is reaching the Arctic Circle, a symbolic marker representing the Earth’s northernmost region. Here, you’ll stand at a latitude where the sun never sets during the summer, so you’ll experience the surreal phenomenon of the midnight sun.

However, this adventure is not for the faint of heart. The Dalton Highway is remote and challenging, with limited amenities. Being well-prepared with a reliable RV, extra supplies, and a sense of self-sufficiency is crucial on this part of the road. But the reward is an unforgettable experience, a profound connection to the wilderness, and the bragging rights of having ventured to the top of the world.

We plan to make this journey on our upcoming trip back to Alaska. Yes, two summers in a row, we’re heading north!

Alaska RV Trip: Denali National Park

Your Alaskan adventure isn’t complete without visiting the iconic Denali National Park. The Riley Creek Campground is the first one you visit and the only one with cell phone service. We loved how convenient it was to everything in the park.

We walked to the Visitor Center from the campground. It took about 45 minutes and was well-marked. There are quite a few exhibits and two different movies to watch. From there, we hopped onto a bus to the Sled Dogs. It was a neat part of the park that doesn’t exist in any other national park. Petting the dogs and seeing their demonstration was a highlight of our Alaska RV trip.

Denali National Park
One of Denali’s Sled Dogs

Later, we took the Denali Park shuttle bus from the campground to the bus depot, only to realize it was a quick ten-minute walk! Then, we boarded a tour bus from the bus depot to explore the park. We paid about $140 each for the Tundra Wilderness Tour, but we heard the regular shuttle bus (non-narrated transit bus) was almost as good.

Other campers took both trips and said the transit bus had almost the same amount of narration, and it stopped for wildlife viewings, too. So, if your budget is too tight for the tour bus, know you’ll have a great time on a transit bus. They go to the same places in the park. Check out my article detailing Denali National Park.

Talkeetna

This picturesque small town is the gateway to Denali. It welcomes RV travelers through an RV park and the VFW campground. We opted for the small campground. Discover the quirky town and its vibrant arts community. We’ve been here a few years back during the winter, and the city is even prettier when covered in snow.

We enjoyed the Roadhouse, where you can still book a room for the night or stop in for lunch. Check out all the gift shops and local artists, or sit in the tap house to hear live music. Many cruise ships bus tourists here during the day, so it gets busy, but it’s still a fun place to visit.

Talkeetna’s Roadhouse

Anchorage

Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, is a perfect starting point (or midway point) for your Alaska RV trip. While in town, we stayed at our daughter and son-in-law’s home on the Air Force Base. The Base has five campgrounds, multiple lakes, and incredible wildlife viewing if you have a military connection.

There are multiple RV parks in town, as well. Plus, you’re close to so many outdoor activities. We went to the Independence Mine near Hatcher’s Pass and highly recommend it. You can even pay $5 to try your hand at gold mining. It was super fun.

Alaska RV Trip
Connor and RC panning for gold

Some of our favorite restaurants are 49th State Brewery, Moose’s Tooth Pizza, and Kami Ramen. After hiking around Kincaid Park or Flattop, visit one of these hot spots. 

We liked Grizzly’s Gifts on West 4th Avenue for local souvenirs. It has a vast selection of clothing, knickknacks, and food products. Plus, you can walk from there to nearby gold jewelers and furriers. It’s a fun downtown location. 

And if you’re looking for Alaska books, go to Title Wave Books. They’ve got an enormous selection of new and used books. Take your old ones in to trade for something new!

This section is light because I detailed all the best places to visit in Anchorage in another article. Check it out!

Whittier and Matanuska Glacier

Take some day trips near Anchorage during your Alaska RV trip. We loved the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It’s about an hour from Anchorage and is an excellent place to view all kinds of native wildlife. Most animals come there injured or orphaned, and they receive the rehabilitation they need. The gift shop is reasonably priced, and there are a few snacks for lunch.

Of course, you’re better off making lunch in your RV, but who can pass up a reindeer hot dog? I couldn’t!

The tunnel to Whittier, Alaska, is just down the road from the Wildlife Center. And, yes, you can fit through the tunnel in your RV. Whittier is the “gateway” to the Prince William Sound, so you’ll likely see a cruise ship at the dock. The little town is beautiful, but the tunnel is a unique adventure. Check the schedule before heading over because the Anderson Memorial Tunnel is one-way. It’s also the longest highway tunnel in the U.S. at 2.5 miles.

You can take any number of charters from the town for fishing and sightseeing. There is a campground, but we visited on a day trip, so I didn’t look into it. There is limited free parking but a good amount of paid parking sites.

Another day trip from Anchorage is a visit to the Matanuska Glacier. It beckons adventurers. Most visitors arrive through Glacier Park, which has private access near mile 102 on the Glenn Highway. You’ll pay for a guided tour from here, so check the details beforehand. You can also see the glacier (but you can’t access it) from the Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Area. With six campgrounds, you will indeed find one that meets your needs.

Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is a treasure trove of outdoor experiences like world-class fishing, hiking, and glacier viewing. Seward, Soldotna, and Homer are all great cities to visit for delicious seafood.

Seward is home to the Exit Glacier, where you can hike up close to the ice-blue edges. In Homer, there’s plenty of kayaking and fishing. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge covers two million acres of forests, mountains, and tundra.

Or check out the Kenai Fjords National Park near Seward, where camping takes you to the far outback! The park only offers tent camping at a walk-in campground, but there are also two public-use cabins to reserve. But they’re only accessible by water.

Alaska RV Trip: Visiting Soldotna

Soldotna gets pretty crowded during the salmon runs. We saw more camo and waders in one town than we realized existed in all of the lower 48! Ha! I’m only partly kidding. The city turns into a giant boys’ club. But we did see quite a few female anglers, too!

We met our son and his boys here, and it was the one time we likely needed to reserve ahead for an RV park. Instead, we joined about fifty other RVs who stayed in the Fred Meyer parking lot. It’s a solid alternative for late planners. They even offer a free dump station and potable water. It works out for the store since most of us walk in daily for lunch or dinner fixings.

The drive from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula is easy, and the view is stunning. You’ll see the Chugach Mountains and the Turnagain Arm. It’s one of the best drives you’ll ever make, honestly!

Alaska offers RV travelers a unique and unforgettable experience, with countless outdoor adventures and scenic beauty opportunities. As you plan your Alaska RV travel or RV trip, remember to check for road and park conditions and prepare your RV for the adventure of a lifetime in the Last Frontier. Safe travels and happy camping!

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