We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
15,210 posts
27 reviews
Save Topic
Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

I know a lot of people like to try and do this - drive from Seward to Denali in one day (or v.v.). Certainly it is possible, but as someone who wants to experience Alaska, stop for scenery or wildlife, etc. it is usually not a very good idea. That doesn't even consider construction, slow RV's or what seems to be a more common occurrence - the Seward Highway being closed for some length of time. There was a manhunt just a week or two ago that closed the highway for a couple of hours. Then just last night the highway was closed for 2 hours due to a fatal accident.

adn.com/2012/08/08/2577953/motorcyclist-dies…

Someone is taking their chances as a tourist trying to "make time" in driving this entire 360+ mile stretch on a two-lane road all in one day. Remember, this is not like driving 6-8 hours on the interstate at home. It is like taking back roads in the lower 48.

Baton ROuge
Level Contributor
50 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

This is the one things I am very leery of in our trip plans. I understand why your are making a post about this. I don't want to be on the roads at night.

I want to enjoy the ride down south esp. from anchorage to Kenai. Right now we have the a whole day devoted to the drive. We will be leaving from Denali early on Aug. 24 (hopefully no later then 6:00 am). We have no activities planned for the day. I have done research on short hikes and places to stop and eat. Some you have mentioned wienner, byron, russian falls, flattop mountain (pushing it really). etc. We would like to stop and do one of these plus general site seeing stops.

We will have three able drivers so no one person will be doing the whole thing. We would like to get to our lodge in soldotna by night fall which will be around 10:00 hopefully not any later then 1030. (so I am told)

At this point I am traveling with two other people and not sure I will be able to get them to change. That gives us roughly 16 hours to do this trip. It will be a long day. Honnestly I think this will happen for better or worse at this point. We may end up doing no short hikes and just stopping at wildlife, scenery, eat and rest stop.

I will report back and tell you how it went. My friends have not been pro active in researching the trip like I have. Hopefully my style of research and planning and their style for laid back will balance each other out.

Estero, Florida
Level Contributor
1,253 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

how long of a hike are you looking for? Rendezvous Peak is close to the route, Russian River Falls is not.

Chugiak, Alaska
Level Contributor
2,104 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

Thunderbird Falls is right off there, too. I think stopping a bit north of Anchorage for an Eagle River area hike would be a good choice. Having the whole day to do it with stops and sightseeing and multiple drivers makes it less horrible- I just learned my lesson from driving in Ireland that less is so absolutely much more. Three hours of driving there was about the same as six hours here, though.

If you break it up with a nice couple hour hike, go into Anchorage and stop for food in say Indian at the Turnagain Arm Pit as well as stops for scenery, I don't think it will be awful- just a very long day. And switching out drivers every three hours or so would be nice. Personally, I'd drive the stretch from Denali to Eagle River since there's less to see there than from Anchorage south. :)

But John makes good points. Besides the two he mentioned, there was also an incident on the Glenn Highway between Wasilla and Anchorage last Friday that had people stopped in traffic for five hours. My co-workers left their homes in Palmer at 7 am and got to work at noon. So, you definitely want to count on things not going to plan so you aren't driving tired. Enough locals do that in the Summer with fishing runs (called suicide runs for a reason) down to the Kenai Penisula and back. I like to be on full alert for those people in the Summer driving poorly so I don't end up one of the fatalities.

Baton ROuge
Level Contributor
50 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

I was thinking 1.5 miles one way for steep incline hikes or 2.5 with little incline. Something that takes less then 3 hours. Time will be a factor. If we hit traffic or delays we won't make a hike on the way down.

I thought russian river falls was on the way? My friends hit it up on the way to homer last week. It looks like its off the main highway in route. Do you have any hikes that you would suggest?

Thanks

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
Level Contributor
10,311 posts
197 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

fti... good post.

Travelers unfamiliar with this route do need to be cognizant that, as you alude to, this is just not the "google map miles" between points A & B. It's not just about if you are a good driver and don't mind the time/distance/etc. It's about all of the events that actually do happen frequently that can upset people that are on a schedule.

I travel from Anchorage, north towards Denali and south towards Seward frequently (for pleasure) and in just the past year, I've been held up for:

- tourists stopping (on the hwy) to take pictures of sheep

- car accidents (stopped for 2+ hours)

- police "evidence scene" (2+ hours)

- avalanche (4+ hrs)

- following "oversized load" ... it is construction season

- construction (north of Wasilla) (15 minutes +)

I'm lucky and don't have to be anywhere at a certain time when I travel; but tourists usually do. As well they need to understand if they drive from A to B with "blinders on", they are missing a lot here. It's not like driving the interstates "outside".

The wise traveler/driver in AK has more than half a tank of fuel, water, snacks, blanket and is willing to sneak off into the bushes on the side of the road in case "nature calls"!

Scott

Chugiak, Alaska
Level Contributor
2,104 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

EverTrip- I'd stop in the middle to intentionally break it up. Driving all the way down there and then thinking you are going to be feeling like a hike then seems unlikely. You'll be tired just from sitting the car that long. Getting your blood pumping a bit would be a better choice for going that long of a distance. That would still allow for delays and other stops.

Here's some info for Rendezvous Peak:

www.alaskahikesearch.com/Hikes/Rendezvous.htm

and for Thunderbird Falls:

alaskahikesearch.com/Hikes/ThunderbirdFalls.…

Both are right off the highway, Thunderbird is less taxing and closer to the Glenn. The first half of Rendezvous isn't too much uphill (hiking in a valley) but the last bit is pretty much straight up. Driving up to it is on a rock road, so FYI on that.

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
Level Contributor
10,311 posts
197 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

Girdwood has some good restaurants whether you're going by there near breakfast, lunch or dinner (just google restauraunts girdwood).

As well in the Girdwood Portage area there's a couple of good, easy hikes... Winner Creek (awesome hand tram over a gorge) and Byron Glacier (great scenery - especially on a nice day). They're both a good return on your "time/effort investment".

USA
Level Contributor
9,465 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

Bluewater, Evertrip is going to Soldotna for the night so Russian River falls trail is on the way.

Evertrip, we drive Denali to Anchorage in less than 5 hours & Anchorage to Soldotna in around 3 hours. That's driving time only.

My friends & I had to abort a backpacking trip from our homes in Anchorage to Crow Pass due to a death on the Seward hwy, but that was a once-in-15-years happening for us; but it does occur.

Edited: 08 August 2012, 22:51
New South Wales...
Destination Expert
for Fiji, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory
Level Contributor
4,019 posts
243 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

Just last week we made the drive from Talkeetna to Seward. We left Talkeetna around 6.30am and stopped at a roadhouse outside Wasilla for breakfast. Stopped again in the Palmer Hayflats area for a brief hike by a lake ("Mystery Lake"????) then continued on through Anchorage to fill up with fuel at Tesoro's on the Girdwood turn-off. Further down the highway we stopped at a couple of the lay-bys for views, photos & to stretch our legs. Roadworks outside Seward slowed traffic down quite a bit and just after the roadworks we took another break at a large lake by the side of the highway. We arrived in Seward around 2pm. This was pretty much continuous driving with few stops as we had driven most of the route previously and with no delays still ended up an 8 hour trip from Talkeetna! I wouldn't have wanted to head out along the Sterling Hwy after the run down. Even with 3 drivers, you will be pushing it and will have little time for breaks.

haines, alaska
Destination Expert
for Haines
Level Contributor
7,032 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Driving between Denali and Seward in one day

Good post, John.......too bad it seems to falling on deaf ears.......

In Alaska, everyone needs to have a back up plan........there can always be unexpected changes that will effect your plans.....

Just a couple of days ago we had a visitor here who was due to fly out from Haines to Juneau to connect with his return flight to the lower 48.......he allocated plenty of time, but we awoke to clouds sitting on the water, no visibility, no flying.......hurried to get him on the ferry from which he taxied and ran into the Juneau airport only to find out that they had closed the plane doors 5 minutes earlier........he had to reschedule his flight, stay in a motel and fly out the next day.......You just never know.......

Take your time, you're on vacation for heaven's sake.........