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Anchorage-Fairbanks-Anchorage loop - which direction?

New York City
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Anchorage-Fairbanks-Anchorage loop - which direction?

We will be doing a loop from Anchorage to Denali to Fairbanks, then back down the Richardson and across the Glenallen back to Anchorage. Does it make a difference if we do this loop clockwise or counterclockwise? For example, I know that on the Seward highway, people say that the pull-outs are best used going south. I'm wondering if there are certain views, scenery, pull-outs, etc., that make it better to do this loop in one direction or the other. This will be in August if it makes a difference.

Also, I have mixed feelings about detouring down to Valdez. It seems like there's not much to do there, but people say the drive itself is stunning. Is it worth the detour, or even if we don't go all the way to Valdez, is there a certain distance south of Glenallen that would be worth continuing on to see before turning around?

Edited: 06 June 2014, 17:39
Wasilla, Alaska
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1. Re: Anchorage-Fairbanks-Anchorage loop - which direction?

If you have time for Valdez, I'd include it. But you didn't mention how much time you have, so...

In my opinion, going north on the Glenn Highway is more scenic than traveling south. So that would put you doing the loop counter-clockwise.

And it sounds like you are doing quite a bit of driving. I'd recommend a copy of www.TheMilepost.com .

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2. Re: Anchorage-Fairbanks-Anchorage loop - which direction?

Thanks for the quick reply. We already have our copy of Milepost and have read most of it at least once. I thought the Glenn runs E-W, not N-S; am I wrong?

For more info on our full itinerary, here is my original detailed post:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k74911…

Wasilla, Alaska
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3. Re: Anchorage-Fairbanks-Anchorage loop - which direction?

The Glenn Highway runs southwest to northeast from Anchorage to Glennallen. So I guess you could describe it either way.

Just an FYI: Keeping all of you questions in one thread on the Alaska forum will make it easier for those of us giving you feedback on your plan.

Bristol, Connecticut
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4. Re: Anchorage-Fairbanks-Anchorage loop - which direction?

I would also suggest the counter clockwise directions for the views driving east on The Glenn.

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5. Re: Anchorage-Fairbanks-Anchorage loop - which direction?

Heading north on the Richardson/Glenn gives you the advantage of driving toward the Wrangel Mountains as you head east toward Glennallen, an advantage only on a sunny day. The other great view is as you head toward the Alaska Range and Paxson - again on a clear day. I really like heading south on the Richardson, but that may be memories of getting to know it from the Fairbanks end, and the series of spectacular views as you head south. I am particularly taken by Isabel Pass between Paxson and Delta. I hope you read the review on TA at

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28923-d27…

which should give you a few good ideas.

Renting an RV gives you the advantage of cooking your own meals and setting your own places to stop for the evening without being bound to hotel locations. From cost of car+hotel, it is worth considering. This also frees you from obligations to be at a specific hotel each evening.

The best advice I can close with on going one way or the other on the loop, is, within your flexibility, follow the weather. The sun may well be shining on the other side of the mountains or clearing on one highway while it is deteriorating on the other.

Valdez is a tough call. I have always treated it as a transit town on and off the ferry, but the scenery is spectacular and the Worthington Glacier is rather close to the Richardson and worth a stop - in good weather.

I will join in and suggest the Park HQ for Wrangel St Elias park. There was one of the original roadhouses in Copper Center but it burned down in 2012. I have not heard that it has been replaced.

Some years ago some good friends did the loop and stayed at the Copper Center Princess Lodge and were quite pleased with everything; it was the place they rated highest on their hotel experiences and views.

71

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6. Re: Anchorage-Fairbanks-Anchorage loop - which direction?

At Valdez there are some great cruises to Columbia and/or Meares glaciers, (we are visiting the latter next month and taking the ferry from Whittier). Thus if you wanted to do a loop it would be Glenn and Parks from Anchorage to Fairbanks, Richardson to Valdez, AMHS to Whttier, then to the Seward Hwy into Anchorage to where you started (or all in reverse). There would be no repeated segments.

7. Re: Anchorage-Fairbanks-Anchorage loop - which direction?

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