Mount Blackburn as seen from Kennecott.

How to Plan (and Take) an Epic RV Trip Through Alaska

How to Plan (and take) an epic RV trip through Alaska. This is going to be a deep dive into planning and making an epic RV trip through Alaska. What did we like, what did we tolerate, was it worth it, and what did we think about each place? What should you skip or minimize and what were the must-see destinations in Alaska? This recap will tell it all.

Planning guide for an RV trip through Alaska

You can use this one article as a single-source planning guide for an RV trip through Alaska. We had a great time, thanks for allowing us to share about our RV trip through Alaska. The Milepost Book was a good resource but there was lots of extra stuff. This is going to be long but nothing like the Milepost Book, Here is a link to the Milepost publisher’s website: Milepost

The sign at the ALCAN border crossing means that we are less than 400 miles from the end of the Alaska Highway.
The sign at the ALCAN border crossing means that we are less than 400 miles from the end of the Alaska Highway.

This is part two of a two-part story.

How to Plan (and Take) an Epic RV Trip across Canada to Alaska is the first part of the story. We have lots of recommendations about how to plan an RV Trip through Alaska. I will cover our route decisions and which tools we used to plan our RV trip through Alaska. Planning an RV Trip through Alaska is perhaps the longest trip and furthest north destination that we intend to take our RV. Follow along and I will tell you how to plan an epic RV trip through Alaska.

Don’t miss part one of this story it includes details about it at this link. How to Plan (and Take) an Epic RV Trip Across Canada to Alaska

All roads go to Tok

Regardless of where you start your RV trip through Alaska, you will be going to Tok. Tok is the first city in Alaska on the Alaska Highway. This makes Tok the location of your first and perhaps biggest decision about your RV trip through Alaska. Tok is at the eastern “corner” of a large circle. Starting in Tok, you will either go clockwise or counterclockwise around the circle. There are advantages and perhaps disadvantages to both directions.

Plan an epic RV trip through Alaska
Plan an epic RV trip through Alaska. North of Tok is Chicken Alaska and Dawson City, Canada

Traveling Clockwise

If you choose to travel on your RV trip through Alaska in a clockwise direction you will most likely encounter more rain in June (in the southern cities) than if you take the circle in a counterclockwise direction. Weather in Alaska can be very wet and more rain might be something that you will regret.

Kayaking in Alaska.
In our kayaks, we explored the shallow sheltered areas hoping to see a moose at Moon Lake. We were quite careful not to make noise and since this was shallow water we were scared that we might see one and that the moose might not be in an inviting mood. Moose are known to have a grumpy streak.

Most tourists on an RV trip through Alaska travel the circle in a counterclockwise direction and this means that you will have less company traveling clockwise than if you travel the circle counterclockwise. While it is unlikely to be less expensive, you will have less competition when it comes to getting reservations at campgrounds during your RV trip through Alaska.

Alaskans love to get out in the summer and the places I mention will be very popular with Alaskans not just us tourists.

Traveling Counterclockwise

When traveling counterclockwise on your RV trip through Alaska, you will first go to the furthest north point in your circle at Fairbanks, during the longest daylight periods. This means that you will have plenty of daylight to explore. On our RV trip through Alaska, while in Fairbanks, sunset was almost twenty-two hours after sunrise. While we were in Alaska, especially in Fairbanks, it never got dark. At most, it was a bright twilight.

A small cabin at the Chena River Hot Springs with a traditional sod roof.
A small cabin at the Chena River Hot Springs near Fairbanks with a traditional sod roof.

In addition to less rain (we still had plenty of rain) we had better weather than our friends who were making their RV trip through Alaska clockwise. It was interesting to visit campgrounds, which they hated because of the constant rain, only to find we liked them, and for us, we didn’t have a rain problem.

Alaskans don’t stop going out in the summer just because it is raining. Expect them to be outside in all kinds of weather.

Fishing for us (me), while making our RV trip through Alaska, counterclockwise, was better than it would have been had we traveled the loop clockwise. This is because the most desirable fishing (for salmon) is dictated by the season. When we were there, most of the salmon were running up the river about two weeks later than expected due to the rain and temperatures. For us, the temperature was cold enough. Warm days were not common.

The Silver Salmon caught during our boat fishing trip in Resurrection Bay were quite a bit bigger than the Sockeye Salmon caught in the Russian River.
The Silver Salmon caught during our fishing trip in Resurrection Bay were bigger than the Sockeye Salmon caught in the Russian River.

We made it to the Russian River on the Kenai Peninsula while the Sockeye Salmon were running. Later in the year (fall), the river would have been full of Silver Salmon. Of course, had we been to the same spot earlier in the year I may have been able to catch King Salmon. All the Silver Salmon we caught were in the ocean. There are several different kinds of Salmon. I caught four out of the five different types during our trip.

Overall I think that we had a most ideal RV trip through Alaska by traveling the circle counterclockwise.

Start making reservations early

Reservations start getting booked in January for a June arrival. Every place had its own rules. Good planning will get you the best spots at the right time.

When making your RV trip through Alaska you don’t have to travel the entire circle

The way the highways in Alaska are designed makes it easy for visitors to make their RV trip through Alaska around the circle. Your furthest north point will be in Fairbanks. But perhaps you are not interested in Fairbanks. There is nothing to say that you have to go to Fairbanks or Delta Junction at all. You can have a great RV trip through Alaska without going everywhere.

If you are going to take an RV trip through Alaska you will be going to Tok at least twice. If we took another epic RV trip through Alaska, we probably wouldn’t go to Fairbanks even though we had a great time there. Instead, if we were to make another RV trip through Alaska, we would probably go south from Tok and take the southern route to Homer. After our arrival in Homer take the same route back to Tok.

This is the gas station at Chitna Alaska. The pump is open 24 hours a day, no attendant on duty.
This is the gas station at Chitna Alaska. The pump is open 24 hours a day, with no attendants, and no snacks. The restroom is out back. You will find the restroom rustic. Be careful where you step and bring your own TP and shovel.

If you want to go north of Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway (mostly gravel) I encourage you to travel the loop counterclockwise. You will need the longest days to make this very long trip to Prudhoe Bay.

On an RV trip through Alaska, there are no shortcuts across the middle of the circle. While there are some paved highways that we didn’t go on, we traveled almost the entire paved highway system in Alaska. The only major paved highway we missed was south of Delta Junction heading toward Glennallen. From Glennallen, we went northbound to Tok instead of going to Delta Junction.

Expect great views in Alaska and Canada on RV trip through Alaska.
Expect great views in both Alaska and Canada on your RV trip through Alaska.

The highways, however, only make an RV trip through Alaska to cover about 20% of the state. The rest of Alaska, except for the road from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, isn’t accessible by roads. When we were on the Alaska Highway, to the south of Tok, I often wondered how bad the road north of Fairbanks would be. Even though I don’t have any first-hand experience I am willing to bet that the Dalton Highway (Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay) is an exceedingly bad road.

If you want to explore north of Fairbanks I recommend arriving in Tok in May… not June. While snow will probably be a problem the views of snow-capped mountains would be majestic. Mind you that you will be one of the few travelers in early May to travel north of Fairbanks. Mud everywhere is going to be common. Don’t blast through a puddle, you don’t know how deep it might be. If you want to see large herds of caribou then north of Fairbanks, early in the year, is your best bet.

Timing your arrival in Alaska

Most tourists arrive in Tok during the first week of June and expect to be in Fairbanks for the summer solstice party on June 21. Planning an RV trip through Alaska needs to be in the summer. Arrival times between the end of May and the end of June will be in most visitors’ plans. If you don’t make it to Alaska by July you won’t have enough time to visit the most desirable destinations before the onset of winter. It takes more than two months to make a lap around Alaska. I recommend three months — but not more, there is that snow thing.

FoxRVTravel.com Glacier and waterfalls in Whittier Alaska
Glacier and Waterfalls in Whittier Alaska

You want to leave Alaska well before the snow flies. In Alaska, they call snow termination dust. It means the summer season is over. Most commercial RV parks and public campgrounds are closed until Memorial Day. If you go early, you will probably be camping in wide spots along the road. People who stay after Labor Day find that most of the tourists are already gone.

If you don’t have enough time to spend three months in Alaska you might consider flying to Anchorage and renting an RV to visit Denali and the Kenai Peninsula for a couple of weeks. This would save lots of time traveling across Canada.

An RV trip through Alaska might be a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

That being said, make sure to try to pack as much adventure as you can in your RV Trip through Alaska. Many of the things you can do in Alaska, can only be done in Alaska. Expect to pay more in Alaska for everything including adventures. We spent more on a one-day adventure in Alaska than we have ever spent on a single-day adventure anywhere. It was well worth it. If all you want is a ride in a helicopter you can do that almost anywhere. In Alaska, you are probably going to land on a glacier if you take a helicopter ride.

I didn’t plan our RV trip through Alaska

Our friends did most of the planning. What I did was deviate from the basic plan to leave some places early and leave other places later than the group. I planned to be with the group at the major locations and then also visit and camp at more remote places than the group. Overall my plan was more complicated than the basic plan for our RV trip through Alaska. Using RV Trip Wizard made merging the plans easy. While this sounds like a commercial break, I don’t get paid for this mention.

How to plan an RV trip using RV Trip Wizard

In our group, all of the planning and multiple revisions were made using RV Trip Wizard RV route planning software. Each member of our group had a copy of the software and each time a change was made, they could then send copies out to the different group members and then discuss the changes.

RV Trip Wizard works on all computers and tablets.
How to Plan (and Take) an Epic RV Trip through Alaska using RV Trip Wizard.

The fact is that RV Trip Wizard route planning software made planning our trip much easier than it would have been without it. I have a basic tutorial on how you can use it to plan any RV trip. The tutorial is based on our RV trip across Canada to Alaska. I will also tell you how to get a discount on RV Trip Wizard. Here is a link to my tutorial about how to use RV Trip Wizard and how to get the discount code. Easy Planning with RV Trip Wizard

How to camp for free in Alaska

Assuming your RV will fit, the road is not in a National Park, and the location isn’t on the road or marked for no overnight parking, you can camp along the roadside in Alaska. We saw lots of RVs camping in wide spots along infrequently traveled roads. There are also graveled locations near rivers that during the spring runoff may be under water that allow camping when conditions permit.

Alaska State Park Pass Disabled Veteran Camping Pass
Alaska State Park Pass Disabled Veteran Camping Pass

Disabled Veterans, from any state, also qualify for an “Alaska Disabled Veteran State Park Camping Pass” which allows free camping in any Alaska State Park. I detail this program in this article. Amazing State Park Passes that we love to use

Highlights of our RV trip through Alaska

Starting in Tok (counterclockwise)

We stayed at Tok RV Village and Campground which is at the center of Tok just after you enter the town. All of the campgrounds are fairly equal and all can handle large RVs in most spots. One of the great things about our campground is that they had a dedicated do-it-yourself pressure washing station. Plan on using that station as your vehicles will be the dirtiest you’ve ever seen them! We used it multiple times both northbound and southbound. Here is a link to our campground website. Tok RV Village and Campground

If you are more adventurous there is a campground at Moon Lake to the west of Tok that is likely to be overlooked by most RV travelers coming to Alaska.

Scott Kayaking on Moon Lake
Scott Kayaking on Moon Lake

Moon Lake is about 15 miles to the west of Tok on the way to Fairbanks. We put our kayaks in the water at Moon Lake but didn’t camp there. Tami saw our first moose while there. I was off doing something else, so no pictures of that moose. The campground at Moon Lake is small with no hookups.

The campground is first come first serve and only about half of the sites would hold an RV of our size. If we had camped at Moon Lake (and if I had an Alaska Disabled State Parks Camping Pass) camping would have been free. We didn’t camp there and I didn’t get my state park camping pass until we got to Fairbanks. Here is a link to the Moon Lake campground website. Moon Lake State Recreation Site

There is another state park to the south of Tok on the way to Glennallen. We drove through but didn’t camp there. There was nothing wrong with it other than at our other campground we had that pressure washer and that was a great selling point. Here is a link to that campground website. Eagle Trail State Recreational Area

Towards Fairbanks

The distance between Tok and Chena Lake Recreation Area (near Fairbanks) is right at 200 miles. The campground at Chena Lake Recreation Area is first come first serve so leave early if this is your goal to make the entire trip in one drive. You will want to arrive early and time your arrival for a weekday. Chena Lake is popular with people from Fairbanks, but fairly unknown to travelers from outside of Alaska. On Friday plenty of people from Fairbanks will want to stake a site for the weekend at Chena Lake Recreation Area. Here is a link to the story about our stay in Fairbanks. No beautiful sunsets in Fairbanks

This is a picture of part of the Chena River right next to our campground. It is very pretty.
This is a picture of part of the Chena River right next to our campground at Chena Lake Recreation Area. It is very pretty.

On our RV trip through Alaska, after stopping for three nights in Tok, we went towards Fairbanks and stayed in Delta Junction and at two additional lakes to the east of Fairbanks. Chena Lake was great and the other two lakes were very rustic. By the time we arrived at Chena Lake Recreation Area, we only had about 20 miles to drive. Based on the Alaska Disabled Camping Pass, Chena Lake was also free. Here is a link: Chena Lake Recreation Area.

Our campsite at the Chena River Recreation Area.
Our campsite at the Chena Lake Recreation Area. Don’t expect solar to work very well at this campsite. Too many trees.

South of Fairbanks

On our RV trip through Alaska, southwest of Fairbanks, we stayed at Anderson (a tiny town) between Fairbanks and Denali Park. Anderson and the previous two unnamed lakes were the only places in Alaska where we had a mosquito problem. I recommend skipping Anderson and driving to Denali Park with a reservation at Reily Creek Campground instead. You will want to arrive early at Reily Creek Campground. Here is a link: Riley Creek Campground

Dangerous Wildlife in Alaska Moose near Horseshoe Lake at Denali National Park
Alaska Moose near Horseshoe Lake at Denali National Park. Tami found this one too.

Denali Park

Reily Creek (in Denali National Park) has some curious rules. Reily Creek is open year-round (except when inaccessible due to snow pack) and free except during the summer. In the summer you need a reservation and can make one starting in December of the year prior. America the Beautiful Pass rules apply to the fees. Here is an article on that subject: Our Wonderful America The Beautiful Pass

Horseshoe Lake in Denali National Park FoxRVTravel
Horseshoe Lake in Denali National Park

At Reily Creek, you don’t pick your site until you check in, after arrival. What we did was park our RV at the reception check-in area and then park our car in a desirable unoccupied site. Then we walked back to the check-in area and checked in, specifying the site where we parked our car. This extra step ensured us a site that would fit our RV. Lumbering about a campground in our RV and searching for an acceptable site in a campground isn’t my idea of fun.

Dangerous Wildlife in Alaska, Mom and three Grizzly Bear Cubs at Denali National Park
Mom and three Grizzly Bear Cubs at Denali National Park. These guys might object to you walking or riding a bike in Denali National Park. I recommend carrying bear spray and getting off the bikes (if cycling) anytime you are close to the bears. Make sure that they don’t feel cornered and never get between mom and her cubs.

The sites at Reily Creek range from great to impossible. The loop closest to the check-in is by far the most desirable. When we were in Denali, the loop closest to the check-in was called the A loop. The other loops have more size restrictions and slope problems than the A loop. If you can get a site that is suitable in the A loop grab it.

This was our first view of Denali. It is about sixty miles away. This picture proves that we are in the lucky 30 % of visitors that get to see the big mountain. Our bus driver congratulated us for taking the afternoon bus ride. Visitors on the morning bus didn't get to see the big mountain.
This was our first view of Denali. It is about sixty miles away. This picture proves that we are in the lucky 30% of visitors who see the big mountain. Our bus driver congratulated us for taking the afternoon bus ride. Visitors on the morning bus didn’t get to see Denali.

Denali Park is always busy

Denali Park (both the town and Denali National Park) is between Fairbanks and Anchorage. Since Denali is Alaska’s number one attraction, it is busy all summer. From Denali Park, you can drive part of the way into the National Park. To go further than Savage River, you will need to take the bus. Even though we avoided catching Covid for nearly three years, we caught it when on the bus. Be careful.

Here is a second picture of the same view with more zoom and a few more clouds.
Here is a second picture of the same view with more zoom and a few more clouds. In this picture, you can see that it is a mountain and not just a cloud.

You should take the drive to the Savage River trail and take the bus into the park. Our bus driver was great and stopped for wildlife viewing on the way. Most of the wildlife sightings (including Grizzly bears) were beyond the halfway point. The bus had to turn around due to a landslide about halfway to the end of the road. The park service says that they will be reopening the road once repaired. The landslide is still moving. Repairs are going to take a while after the landslide quits moving.

These craggy mountains are viewed from Denali Viewpoint (South). I think they are called the little Switzerland. They are south east of Denali,
These craggy mountains are viewed from Denali Viewpoint (South). I think they are called the little Switzerland. They are southeast of Denali,

Besides the bus, the only other way to travel the road beyond the Savage River trail into Denali National Park is either to walk or bicycle. You are allowed to use the bus as a shuttle getting on and off as desired. For bicycling, E-bikes are highly recommended. Flat areas that make biking easy, are few and far apart on this road.

E-bikes, How to choose the best electric bicycle!
Since the road is gravel, make sure that you have a bike with enough tire width to handle the soft spots. Due to the weather in Alaska, we didn’t get to use our e-bikes nearly often enough. Still, they were fun.

Timing your visit to see Denali

Most visitors to Denali never see the big mountain. On our RV trip through Alaska, we had twelve days scheduled where we could have seen the mountain. While we were there it was cloudy all except one clear day. At Denali, seeing a partial view of the big mountain is considered a win. Visitors in May, have fewer clouds and less rain than we did during the last two weeks of June. We were about a thousand miles south, in Canada, during the middle of May. Despite our mistake of being there in June, we got to see Denali one day completely without clouds and felt lucky.

This photo is again from K'esugi Ken Campground viewpoint. It is a seperate photo but at the campground you loose some size perspective that you get with the normal picture taken from Denali Viewpoint South.
This photo is from the K’esugi Ken Campground. At the campground, you lose some size perspective that you get with a picture taken from Denali Viewpoint South.

The best place to see Denali

The best place to see Denali is not in the National Park or Denali Park. The best place to see Denali is at Denali STATE Park. Denali State Park is one hundred miles south of Denali Park and the National Park entrance. We didn’t know how much better Denali State Park was than Denali Park and the National Park until we saw the big mountain. Then it was obvious that we made a good decision to stay in Denali State Park hoping to see the big mountain. Here is a link to the state park website: Denali State Park

This photo was at maximum zoom on my camera and also cropped in my computer to get even closer to the top of the south peak of Denali. To get a picture better than this you would need a lens about the length of my leg and a tripod to hold it up. as for me I set the camera on a bench.
This photo was at maximum zoom on my camera and also cropped in my computer to get an even closer look at the top of the south peak of Denali. To get a picture better than this you would need a lens about the length of my leg and a tripod to hold it up. As for me, I set the camera on a bench.

To see Denali, we spent five days waiting for the clouds to clear at the K’esugi Ken Campground. My Alaska State Park pass made this campground free for us. At the end of the five days, we were rewarded with a wonderful view of Denali. It was right there, behind our RV the entire time. We couldn’t see it until the last day. Here is a link to the story: Denali is the big mountain in the clouds

On our final day at K’esugi Ken we were rewarded with a perfect view of Denali. Also in this picture to the left are the Little Switzerland mountains.
On our final day at K’esugi Ken we were rewarded with a perfect view of Denali. Also in this picture to the left are the Little Switzerland mountains. Compared to Denial the Little Switzerland Mountains seem to disappear.

Getting to Denali from the south

On our RV trip through Alaska, we approached Denali from the north after visiting Fairbanks. Denali Park is closer to Fairbanks than it is to Anchorage. Denali State Park is closer to Anchorage than it is to Fairbanks. Regardless, I think that you should make an effort on your RV trip through Alaska to go to both Denali State Park and Denali National Park.

Denali, the big mountain in the clouds
Denali was hiding behind our RV at K’esugi Ken all along. We just couldn’t see it. I hope they trim some of these trees.

Talkeetna

I mentioned that we got COVID-19 on our RV trip through Alaska on the tour bus when at Denali National Park. This caused us to miss visiting Talkeetna. Talkeetna is on the east side of the Sustna River south of Denali State Park and the only bridge is well south of town. We scheduled an air tour out of Talkeetna but had to cancel due to our illness. Especially if you are going to visit Denali from the south on your RV trip through Alaska most people recommend Talkeetna.

Dangerous Wildlife in Alaska Brown Bear at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
This is a Brown Bear at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Portage. Brown Bears are the very same bear as Grizzly Bears and the name is based on location. Grizzly bears are inland and Brown Bears reside near the coast.

Palmer/Wasilla

The Palmer/Wasilla area is one hundred miles south of Denali State Park. This day’s journey during our RV trip through Alaska was a little shorter than our average drive during our RV trip through Alaska. In Palmer, we stayed at Finger Lake State Recreation Area. Since it was an Alaska State Park, it was also free. It was not only free, but it was wonderful. We enjoyed our stay. Here is a link to the website: Finger Lake State Recreation Area

To the east of Palmer, there are some intimidating mountains including the one taken from our kayak launch.
To the east of Palmer, there are some intimidating mountains including the ones taken from our kayak launch at Finger Lake State Recreation Area.

Eagle River

We didn’t stay in Anchorage but stayed at the Eagle River Campground north of Anchorage and drove from there into Anchorage. We stayed at the Eagle River Campground both during our southbound leg and then one month later stayed again at the Eagle River Campground on our northbound leg. Here is a link to the Eagle River Campground website. Eagle River Campground

Our southbound leg took us to Homer and Seward. The northbound leg had us drive back through Anchorage and Palmer so that we could then drive back to Tok and go back through Canada. The story about our stay at Finger Lakes State Recreation Area and Eagle River Campground is at this link. Why Russia sold Alaska to the United States

Russia sold Alaska
Welcome to Eagle River

Eagle River campground is an Alaska State Park, so it too was free. Eagle River Campground is very popular but has a three-night maximum stay to keep sites from getting longer-term “residents”. I don’t blame them. I would stay there for a couple of weeks if I could.

Everywhere we have been in Alaska, including in the cities have bears. This sign was a posted a few days before our stay at Eagle River.
Everywhere we have been in Alaska, including in the cities have bears. This one was at the Eagle River Campground.

Portage

Portage is at the gateway to the Kenai Peninsula and in my opinion the Kenai Peninsula is a must-see location during any RV trip through Alaska. While in Portage we stayed at the Williwaw Campground and while at the Williwaw Campground, we made a day trip to Whittier. Here is a link to the story: It is Beautiful in Whittier

FoxRVTravel.com It is beautiful in Whittier
Try to make your trip to Whitter on a day with less rain. Whittier gets more rain each year than Seattle, Portland, and Sitka (Alaska) combined.

Cooper Landing

Cooper Landing is at the center of the Kenai Peninsula and a wonderful stop on our RV trip through Alaska. The salmon runs in the Russian River in Alaska are legendary. Cooper Landing is at the downstream junction of the Kenai Lake. While in Cooper Landing (this makes it sound like a city, it is not) we stayed at Quartz Creek Campground and loved it. We loved it so much that we stayed there again on our trip between Homer and Seward. Here is a link to the story about our exploring the Kenai Peninsula: Alaska’s Playground is the Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Lake and area
Kenai Lake and the area in central Kenai Peninsula.

The Russian River Campground, also at Cooper Landing, would have been closer to the fishing but Quartz Creek was right on the Kenai Lake and we could walk down to our kayaks on the shoreline. Quartz Creek Campground is more refined and the Russian River Campground is more rustic. If we were to do it again. Quartz Creek would be my choice again. Here is a link to the campsite website: Quartz Creek Campground

Tami kayaking on Kenai Lake.
Tami kayaking on Kenai Lake.

Homer and the Homer Spit

The “destination” for our RV Trip through Alaska was Homer. Homer is at the end of the road. We stayed at the very south end of the Homer Spit. If I had to do it over again I would have stayed at the very north end of the Homer Spit at Mariner Park. Here is a link to the campground website: Mariner Park on the Homer Spit

Homer and Kachemak Bay Map
Map of Homer and Kachemak Bay

The problem with the south end of the Homer Spit is that it is tight and expensive. On the north end, it was more open and less expensive. Each time we drove up the Homer Spit to Homer I scanned Mariner Park and was envious that they had everything we had at the south end of the Homer Spit except hookups. Homer and the things we did while in Homer were wonderful. The subject of these two stories is what we did at Homer:

Katmai Peninsula

The Katmai Peninsula isn’t on the road. There are no roads that go to the Katmai Peninsula. The Katmai Peninsula is to the west of Homer far from the roads. We flew to Katmai National Park during our stay at Homer. Overall it was wonderful. Here is a link to the national park website: Katmai National Park

FoxRVTravel Brown Bear (Grizzly bear) cubs picture at Katmai National Park
Brown Bear (Grizzly bear) cubs at Katmai National Park

The attraction at Katmai National Park is the bears. Each year hundreds of huge bears gather to eat the salmon. The subject of these next two stories is about the bears at Katmai National Park. If you have a chance to visit Katmai National Park while the bears gather at the river, I can’t recommend it enough. Here are the links:

Seward

On our RV trip through Alaska, we had to backtrack several times to visit locations that were not on the main loop. We stayed again at Quartz Creek between Homer and Seward. Homer is on the west side of the Kenai Peninsula and Seward is on the east end of the Kenai Peninsula.

Kenai Peninsula
Kenai Peninsula

Both Homer and Seward were wonderful. Camping in Seward was much better than our campground in Homer so by far Seward was more comfortable. In Seward, we stayed at the Marathon Campground right on the ocean, with an ocean view out our front window. Here is a link to the campgrounds website: Marathon Campground Seward

Seward and Resurrection Bay
Our RV parked at the Marathon Campground in Seward

Our campsite in Seward made this location special on our RV trip through Alaska, but the campground is only part of the story. Fishing was good while in Seward and while at Seward we took a wonderful boat trip to explore Resurrection Bay. Here is a link to the story. Exploring Seward and Resurrection Bay

Glacier View

After staying in Seward we traveled back north through Anchorage and Palmer making a right turn up the Matanmuska Valley. Halfway to Glennallen, we stopped at the Grand View Cafe and RV Park to view the Matanuska Glacier. A more rustic state park campground was available a few miles to the west. While staying at the Grand View Cafe and RV Park we drove through the state park campground and although it was nice it was not designed for our large RV. I recommend at least one night in this area. Here are some links. Grand View Cafe and RV Park Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site

Matanuska Glacier descending the Chugach Mountains
Matanuska Glacier descending the Chugach Mountains

Glennallen

After spending a night in Glennallen we pressed on to Valdez on our RV trip through Alaska. We spent the night at the Northern Nights RV Park in the center of town. While in Glennallen we explored and found a more rustic campground (Dry Creek State Recreation Area) that we considered using for our trip north from Valdez. Instead on our return trip northbound we pressed on further bypassing the Dry Creek State Recreation Area. Overall Glennallen was fine, but really for our RV trip through Alaska, it was just an intersection so that we could get to Valdez. Here are the links: Northern Nights RV Park (Facebook) Dry Creek State Recreation Area

Matanuska Glacier Map
Matanuska Glacier Map

Valdez

The city of Valdez was the last major location that we visited on our RV trip through Alaska. It was wonderful. Overall, if I had to pick only a few locations to visit in Alaska, Valdez would make the list. This is surprising because we hated our campground. Our campsite was right behind the grocery store. I think that either of the two other commercial campgrounds would have been better.

Welcome to Valdez Alaska
Welcome to Valdez Alaska

I’m not sure that the Bearpaw RV Park could accommodate our RV but it would be the first RV park I would call. If you need to stay at the RV park next to the grocery store make sure your site is away from the store, and away from the highway. Another campground to avoid would be the one at the end of the runway. Here is a link to the story: Valdez is the most important city in Alaska

This view is just to the east of downtown. The picture looks to the east across the Lowe River.
This view is just to the east of downtown. The picture looks to the east across the Lowe River.

From Valdez, we took a boat trip on the Lu-Lu Belle and the trip was wonderful. I can’t imagine that any boat trip to any glacier could be better. Here is a link to the story. Deep into the ice flows at the Columbia Glacier

Deep into the ice flows at the Columbia Glacier
Deep into the ice flows at the Columbia Glacier

Kennecott

By far the most difficult place we visited on our RV trip through Alaska was Kennecott. Kennecott is at the end of a hundred-mile-long mostly gravel washboard road. It is difficult to get to Kennecott but so worthwhile. We enjoyed every minute of it and then made the return trip back across the washboard road. The photo at the top of this blog post was taken while at Kennecott. The views were breathtaking. Here is a link to our story about our visit to Kennecott. Kennecott died when the last train departed never to return

This snowcapped peak north of the Kennecott Mill is called locally the Knoll. It's real name is unknown and even though it looks impressive in this picture it is a small peak and part of Regal Mountain.
This snowcapped peak north of the Kennecott Mill is called locally “The Knoll”. I don’t know the real name, Even though it looks impressive in this picture it is a small peak and part of Regal Mountain.

Skagway

Skagway is only accessible in your RV by traveling south through the Yukon and a section of north British Columbia. Most visitors get to Skagway on a cruise ship. For us, a boat was involved in our visit to Skagway. It was the second time we put our RV on a ferry. First, we drove to Haines then took the Alaska Ferry to Skagway. Skagway is a historic town that maintains its hundred-and-thirty-year-old charm based on being the feature destination of cruise ships. At Skagway, we stayed downtown right next to the cruise ship docks. Here is a link to our story about our visit. Historic Skagway and the Klondike Gold Rush

White Pass Railroad locomotive and snow blower
White Pass Railroad locomotive in Skagway. The red item is a snow blower to clear the tracks.

Visitation sequence of major stops

A sequence of stops on an RV trip through Alaska, with mileage between stops, starting in Tok, and ending in Tok. This is for a counterclockwise loop including minimum recommended stays at each location.

  • Tok, the first city in Alaska, stay for two nights, add a night or two for a day trip to Chicken, and Dawson City if desired.
  • Delta Junction, stop at the sign for the end of the ALCAN highway, stay one night, or keep driving.
  • Chenea Lake Recreation Area, east of Fairbanks — 188 miles, stay for four nights
  • Denali Park, Riley Creek Campground, — 142 miles, stay for six nights
  • Denali Viewpoint South, Parks Hwy, Trapper Creek, — 103 miles, stay for six nights
  • Finger Lake State Recreation Area, Palmer — 100 miles, stay for six nights
  • Eagle River Campground, Eagle River — 30 miles, stay for three nights
  • Williwaw Campground, Girdwood — 66 miles, stay for three or four nights
  • Whittier, (day trip) — 20 miles
  • Quartz Creek Campground, Cooper Landing, — 54 miles, stay for six nights
  • Mariner Campground, Homer Spit — 125 miles, stay for eight nights
  • Quartz Creek Campground, Cooper Landing, — 125 miles, stay for three nights
  • Marathon Campground, Seward — 45 miles, stay for eight nights
  • Williwaw Campground, Girdwood — 82 miles, stay for one or two nights
  • Eagle River Campground, Eagle River — 66 miles, stay for three nights
  • Glacier View, — 88 miles, stay for two nights (one night may be enough)
  • Northern Nights Campground Glennallen — 78 miles, stay for one night (one night is enough)
  • Valdez — 120 miles, stay for eight nights
  • Squirrel Creek Campground, Copper Center — 85 miles, stay for four nights
  • Kennecott (day trip to the Kennecott mine and glacier) — 200 miles
  • Tok, — 170 miles, stay for two nights

Total distance traveled in our RV. 1675 miles,. Recommended stay, 77 nights minimum.

List of our RV trip through Alaska stories

Here is our reading list about our RV trip through Alaska. The last couple of articles are about our return trip south through Canada and our visits back to Alaska cities not in the main part of Alaska. The very last article is about our engine repair in the most remote part of British Columbia. Even after having an engine problem we still took time to visit Hyder Alaska.

Final thoughts

Winter stays late and arrives early in Alaska. Depending on your location, chain laws require each vehicle to carry chains in some areas of both Canada and the United States. These chain laws usually end on May 1st and start on October 1st. When you plan an RV trip across Canada to Alaska make sure you consider the chain laws. We didn’t have any issues getting fuel either in Alaska or Canada. Make sure to include a good fuel plan for your trip.

How to Plan (and Take) an Epic RV Trip through Canada to Alaska.

Here is the link to our trip through our trip through Canada. Canada to Alaska

About the photos

Every scenic photo in this article was also included in previous articles. These two links are lists of all our articles about Alaska and Canada. When using these links note that there is plenty of overlap in these two links.  Alaska   Canada

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6 thoughts on “How to Plan (and Take) an Epic RV Trip Through Alaska”

    1. David mentioned that we missed several cool places when we decided not to go north of Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay… Gates of the Arctic would have been very cool. All true we missed plenty of places.

      He also assumed we didn’t make it to other places just because we didn’t mention them. I should have added Chena Hotsprings it was great. The photo in this article of the log cabin with sod on the roof was at Chena Hot Springs.

      Some of the stuff you will have to read all the weekly blog posts about Alaska to dig out some of the key details. Not everything is in this one article.

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  2. Oh, you are making me itch to return. We went in 2022 and hit many if not all of the major places you mentioned, not always at the same RV parks, of course. It is so epic! I won’t want to duplicate what we did before, but try something different, so thank you for all of this detail.

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