Alaska Summer Trip

Harshita Kasera
Digital Global Traveler
14 min readSep 10, 2023

Alaska is a land of vast wilderness and dramatic scenery. If you are looking for a summer vacation that is full of adventure, beauty, and wildlife, Alaska is the perfect place for you.

We went on a summer trip to Alaska in 2019 and we fell in love with this place. Visiting Alaska is truly an experience of a lifetime.

Colony Glacier, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

Everything about Alaska is on a grand scale. Not only is Alaska massive, but much of the state is spread out, so a single visit to this place is not enough.

Alaska is the largest state in the United States, nearly two and a half times as large as Texas (the second largest state in the United States).

Alaska in different seasons has its own charm. We have been to Alaska in both summer & winter. This post talks about our trip in Summer. With wildlife active, most of the trails accessible, long days (more than 20 hours of daylight), and Alaska’s warmest average temperatures, July can be the best month to visit Alaska.

If you are planning a trip to Alaska in winter checkout this post.

Trip Overview

We planned a 10 day trip to Alaska in the first week of July. On this trip we explored Anchorage, Denali and the nearby Kenai Peninsula.

Alaska has 8 national parks: Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, and Wrangell-St.

We also visited two of Alaska’s most popular national parks -

  • Kenai Fjords National Park, and
  • Denali National Park

Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage

We picked up our car at the airport. After picking up the car, we went to Costco and Walmart in Anchorage to buy groceries and other essentials for our road trip. We usually buy ready to eat items so we can have simple breakfasts on trips which can be a big money saver. After the groceries pickup, we were quite hungry and we went to an amazing Thai restaurant, So Thai.

I love the spring rolls and lemonade here! The owner was really friendly and can customize the food as per your request! We requested vegetarian options and she made us delicious fried rice! Definitely check this place out, if you get a chance.

After the dinner, we headed to our AirBnB. We stayed at this beautiful & cozy rustic mountain studio in Anchorage. We loved its location the most, it seems you’re out in the wilderness cause the cabin itself is surrounded by a lot of greenery and mountains. The place was perfectly clean and it had all the mentioned amenities. We’d definitely like to come back and stay here!

Mountain Studio | AirBnB (Photo Credits: Shot by author)

Day 2: Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway

We started the day with breakfast at Snow City Cafe. It was quite busy and glad we got on their Yelp wait list in advance. It was a lovely place and there were plenty of vegetarian options. We’d definitely come back again if I am traveling to Anchorage again!!

We then headed to explore the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway.

The Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway is a 135-mile stretch of road that runs north of Anchorage, Alaska. It is designated as a National Scenic Byway for its outstanding natural beauty and historical significance. It’s perfect for a day trip from Anchorage.

🌟Reindeer Farm | Google Maps

The Reindeer Farm in Palmer is a fun opportunity to see some of North America’s biggest animals up close on a self-guided tour. There’s a herd of 100 reindeer, a wood bison, a yak, bunnies and more. Tours are one hour, with the last tour at 5pm through most of the summer.

Included in the Summer Reindeer Farm Experience is the opportunity to view and hand feed moose, reindeer, bison, yaks, alpacas, highland cattle and more!

Another option in the area is the Musk Ox Farm.

Reindeer Farm, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by author)

🌟Musk Ox Farm | Maps

Locat­ed 45 min­utes from Anchor­age, the Musk Ox farm is a fas­ci­nat­ing place to look at Musk ox, survivors of the ice age. We were able to get up close to them and learn about them.

🌟The Matanuska Glacier | Google Maps

At Mile 100, you arrive at Matanuska Glacier, with amazing views for those just passing through. The 27-mile glacier is Alaska’s largest road-accessible glacier, so take the opportunity to get out and walk on the timeless glacial ice.

The Matanuska Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska. Visitors can take a guided tour on the glacier, or simply enjoy the views from the roadside pullouts.

Matnushka Glacier, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

Day 3: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

We started our day at Middle way cafe. We booked the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center & Turnagain Arm Tour for the day.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Alaska is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through educational programs, research and animal care.

The 1.5 mile loop around the center is perfect for a leisurely walk, and spot all sorts of animals along the way. We saw bears and moose up close, watched bison, reindeer and elk.

So whether you’re a wildlife lover or you’d prefer to see a bear from a safe distance, this is a great place to visit.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

Beluga Point

Beluga Point lookout is a great point to see Beluga whales and see the 180-degree views of the breathtaking Turnagain Arm. This is a great spot to visit at high tide when you have the highest chance of spotting the Belugas’ whiteheads popping out of the water.

We didn’t see any beluga whales but it’s a beautiful place to take in the view.

Beluga Point, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by author)

Potter Marsh

With its nearly panoramic view of Turnagain arm, Potter Marsh, peppered by spruce, cottonwoods and alder trees, is one of the most accessible and scenic wildlife viewing areas in Anchorage.

Day 4: Train to Denali

This was the most exciting day of the trip! We were going on to the Denali National Park.

Alaska is a land of vast wilderness and dramatic scenery, and there is no better place to experience it than Denali National Park. The park covers an immense six million acres, and its centerpiece is Denali also called Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America .

Did you know Mount Mckinley is taller than Mount Everest!

There are various ways to reach the park from Anchorage — car, bus or a train.

I love train rides as it is always an adventure and hence we chose the train route. If you don’t prefer trains, there are other options like Park Connection Bus. Additionally if you prefer the flexibility, having a rental car will make it easier to get around Denali — but the car will also only get you so far, so it’s not necessary to have a car to enjoy all that Denali has to offer.

Alaska Railroad Adventure Ticket (Photo Credits: Shot by author)

I loved riding the Alaska Railroad and I highly recommend it.

The Denali Star is a semi-luxury passenger train operated by the Alaska Railroad between the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska. It is a seasonal train, only operating between the months of May and September.

Views from Alaska Adventure Train (Photo Credits: Shot by author)

The Adventure Class was the most budget friendly for us and we enjoyed spacious, comfortable seating, large picture windows and had access to shared dome cars on a rotating basis. If your budget allows it, checkout the GoldStar or Wilderness Express, as they provide access to open air platforms, and spectacular views from the upper level 360 degree dome windows.

Riding the train was a great experience and offered plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife like bears and moose along the routes. You can even see glimpses of Denali on the Denali Star route if the sky is clear.

Alaskan landscape from the train ride (Photo Credits: Shot by author)

Our stay was at McKinley Chalet Resort. The resort provides extensive local shuttle service for guests between the hotel and Denali rail depot, Denali National Park Visitor Center, and other local attractions and services.

We took the complimentary bus from the train depot to the park visitor center. We checked out the visitor center and walked in the nearby trails and then caught the shuttle back to the resort.

Denali, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

Day 5: Explore Denali

Everything about Alaska is on a grand scale and Denali mountain is no exception. Denali National Park is home to the highest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley.

Denali is an Athabascan word, meaning, “The High One.” At 20,320 ft. it is the highest peak in North America, so large that it creates its own weather system.

If you’re lucky and it’s a clear day you’ll get a stunning view of Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America.

Only about 30% of visitors actually get to see Mount Denali.

On our trip, the weather was cloudy so we were not one of the lucky ones but hey that is a pretty good reason for another trip to Alaska ;)

Tip : Keep your expectations low so that you’ll be extra appreciative if the sky is clear during your trip.

Denali National Park, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by author)

We took the Tundra Wilderness Tour. It’s a long (~7 hour) excursion with a narrative guide into the park.

Tundra Wilderness Tour, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

Viewing wildlife is a peak experience during the summer months. We saw bears, foxes and so many other wildlife.

Denali National Park, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by author)
Bears in Denali National Park, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

Note: An ongoing landslide at Pretty Rocks is impacting bus service. Through 2024, buses will travel no further than Mile 43 of the 92-mile long Denali Park Road. Checkout the NPS Website for up to date information.

Midnight sunset viewing

This was a great tour. The guides were fantastic and very informative. They took us to some great views of the national park areas even though we were not directly in the park. Viewing the sunset at midnight is one of a lifetime experiences.

Midnight Sunset viewing on an ATV Tour, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by the tour guide)

Day 6: Return to Anchorage

We checked out of the resort in the morning and went back to the Denali visitor center. Later in the afternoon we took the train back to Anchorage. We stayed the night at a BnB before heading to Seward the next day.

Day 7: Seward

Seward is a city in southern Alaska, located on the Kenai Peninsula.

The drive from Anchorage to Seward is absolutely beautiful and will take you along the coast with views of the water on one side and mountains on the other. It is one of the most scenic road trips in America.

At nearly 120 miles long, this breathtaking scenic route offers amazing views, beginning with the Turnagain Arm. Before we headed south to Seward, we took a detour to explore Whittier. Whittier is a small town located about 1 hour and 15 minutes southeast of Anchorage.

On the drive you’ll experience the 2.5 mile drive through the Whittier Tunnel, a World War II relic designed for one-way train use. The tunnel is a marvel of engineering and is shared by both cars and the Alaska Railroad. It is the longest highway tunnel in North America.

Whitter is the gateway to the stunning Portage Valley. The valley provides access to fantastic hiking trails, camping, wildlife viewing, an informative visitor center, and views of one of the most easily-accessible glaciers in Southcentral Alaska, Portage Glacier.

Portage Glacier, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by author)

Portage Glacier is retreating and is no longer visible from observation decks. To get up close to the glacier, you can take a sightseeing boat tour on Portage Lake that cruises out to the face of the glacier. If you prefer a hike, the 4 mile round trip Portage Pass hike is highly recommended.

We did the Portage Pass hike. This 4 mile trail remains the only easy way to see Portage Glacier on foot. This hike combines a railroad tunnel, glaciers, waterfalls, mountains, and water views into one hiking experience.

Portage Glacier Trail, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

After finishing the hiking, we drove the rest of the highway and reached our accommodation at Midnight Sun Log Cabins.

Day 8: Kenai Fjords National Park

Seward is the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, one of the 8 national parks in Alaska. The park is known for its dramatic glaciers. There are more than 36 named glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park! Harding Icefield in the park is the source of 38 glaciers, including Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier is the only site accessible by car. All other parts of the park are only accessible by boat.

When you arrive in Seward, you’ll have two options for entry into the park: you can drive into the park at Exit Glacier, or you can float into the park in Resurrection Bay. We chose to do both.

Exit Glacier | AllTrails

Behind the nature center, the trail system begins with a one-mile paved loop, which includes an overlook and view of the glacier. From this trailhead, we had the option to take an easy two mile trail toward Exit Glacier, or trek up a mountain to the Harding Icefield. We only did the Exit Glacier trail.

The most popular trail is the Exit Glacier trail, a 2.2 mile hike that will lead you to a view of the beautiful but shrinking Exit Glacier. The glacier has been shrinking at an alarming pace in recent years and you can see yearly markers of where the ice used to end. It was interesting yet sad to see the year markers that indicate where the glacier reached at that time and to see how quickly it is receding. It’s definitely a powerful place where you can see the impact of climate change right before your eyes.

Exit Glacier, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

Boat Tour

There are many boat tours that depart from Seward and take visitors to see the stunning scenery, glaciers, fjords, wildlife, and seabirds in the park.

All boat tours go through Resurrection Bay, and longer tours will take you through the fjords and between floating ice. On these Kenai Fjords National Park boat tours, you will not only get an up-close look at the glaciers, but you will also get to keep on the lookout for the various wild animals you can spot both on land and at sea.

No matter which boat tour you choose, you are sure to see some amazing scenery and wildlife in Kenai Fjords National Park.

We decided to take the 7.5 hours Major Marine Tours. This took up our almost the whole day.

Kenai Fjords boat tour, Alaska (Photo Credits: Major Marine Tours Website)

The scenery is beautiful. We went through Resurrection Bay and then out in the open waters of the Gulf of Alaska. We saw many glaciers including Holgate Glacier and Aaliak Glacier. Both of these are tidewater glaciers, which gave us the chance of seeing them calving!.

Kenai Fjords, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)
Aialik glacier, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

The boat was narrated by both the captain and an on-board National Park Service ranger. The captain stopped whenever they spotted some wildlife. The boat had multiple levels and we could view from any level, inside or outside. We saw glaciers, eagles, otters, sea lions, puffins and so many whales! Humpbacks and Orcas!

Bald Eagle, Kenai Fjords Tour, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)
Otters, Kenai Fjords Tour, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)
Seals, Kenai Fjords Tour, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)
Orcas, Kenai Fjords Tour, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)
Whale, Kenai Fjords Tour, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

We planned to drive to Homer after the cruise. We stayed at the beautiful Alaska style cabins in Homer.

Day 9: Homer

Homer, Alaska is located on the Southwest end of the Kenai Peninsula. It’s known as the Halibut Capital of the World.

Homer has one of the largest populations of Bald Eagles on the planet.

Bald eagles just can’t seem to resist this ancient glacial moraine that reaches five miles into Kachemak Bay from the town of Homer.

Bald Eagle, Homer, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

During the year we were visiting Alaska, it saw its hottest month in recorded history in July 2019, accompanied by several wildfires. On our drive, we could see choppers everywhere on the drive to Homer.

Helicopter for Fire Relief, Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)

Day 10: Anchorage

We had booked a helicopter tour: Alpine Air Alaska Glacier Landing Tour in Girdwood. Highly recommend the tour as you would see absolutely stunning scenery! Landing on the glaciers were spectacular. This was definitely the highlight of our trip.

Glacier Landing Tour by Alpine Air Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)
Glacier Landing Tour by Alpine Air Alaska (Photo Credits: Shot by Antriksh Saxena)



Planning a trip to Alaska can be overwhelming! I hope the above itinerary can help you plan the trip in summer.

If you are planning a trip to Alaska in winter checkout this post.

We will definitely go again to explore the rest of Alaska. I hope you enjoy your time in Alaska, get ready for epic views and stunning places!

Enjoying my travel stories? Leave me a clap (👏) or a comment on this post, to let me know. I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading! If you would like to get an email whenever I share a new travel itinerary you can subscribe here.