Driving from Anchorage to Fairbanks

Old Jul 12th, 2008, 04:01 PM
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Driving from Anchorage to Fairbanks

We will spend seven days in AK after our cruise. Would you recommend driving the Glenn, Richardson, and Tanana highways going to Fairbanks as we'll drive the Glenn Parks Hwy. to go to Denali on our return to Anchorage. Is it worth the extra mileage and how are the highways (gravel)? Thanks for any help.
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Old Jul 12th, 2008, 05:54 PM
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I had similar question for our trip last month - we had a week prior to our cruise. Try doing a search here on Fairbanks to see if you can find tghe thread. The consensus was that Fairbanks was not worth the miles, even though the road is a real paved road.

Based on suggestions here we did 3 nights (2 days) in Denali then drove to Seward on Kenai Peninsula and did 2 nights there. One night in Anchorage at either end of the week. I was also advised to pick one place on Kenai Peninsula rather than driving around it as I had planned.

Both pieces of advice were absolutely correct - glad we did it the way we did.
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Old Jul 12th, 2008, 08:48 PM
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We drove from Denali up to Fairbanks and down all the way to Valdez, in one day, and while parts of the highway closer to Valdez were gorgeous, it took HOURS. Frankly, I thought the road between Fairbanks and wherever the Glenn Highway connects wasn't as gorgeous as other parts of the state, and the time would have been better spent elsewhere, especially not just driving and driving.

That said, dinner at the old lodge in Copper Center was delicious, and the scenery south to Valdez was gorgeous, although that's not really what you asked. I don't know about the Tanana highway, but as I recall, the Glenn Highway scenery is spectacular, especially east of Anchorage (i.e. not toward Denali).
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Old Jul 13th, 2008, 01:56 AM
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Unless you have loads of time, I'd give Fairbanks a miss north of Denali. We drove there in the Fall, and the colours were pretty, mainly yellow, but the scenery can't compare with that going to Valdez.

Apart from roadworks, the road was good. In fact, once we drove from Anchorage to Valdez and back in one day - not nearly enough time, but we were so impressed, we came from Australia for a second look, and stayed in Valdez. I think the road from the turnoff to Valdez is one of the most spectacular drives in the world.

For a day trip from Anchorage, Hatcher Pass in very nice, as are Portage Glacier and surroundings.
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Old Jul 13th, 2008, 08:14 AM
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From the Denali park entrance, the road distance to Glennallen or Copper Center (using the paved roads and not the Denali Hwy (SR 8)is very similar. Going back down the Parks to the Glenn and then over to Glennallen is probably faster and, although you'd be retracing 150 miles or so, more scenic and interesting IMO than going through Fairbanks. But all are reasonably fast roads, unless you get stuck behind elephants on parade, i.e. RVs or people towing boats etc.

However with only a week I think trying to squeeze the Valdez loop into your itinerary is a bit ambitious. You'll likely be a bit rump-sprung from all the driving. I probably head back to Anchorage and down the Kenai for a couple of days - Seward, Homer, or even hang out in Girdwood and take the 26 Glacier cruise out of Whittier for a very different type of scenery than you'll get in Denali.
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Old Jul 13th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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Gardyloo---would you recommend the 26 Glacier cruise over the PWS Glacier Cruise company? I know the catamaran is fast and smooth, and visits more glaciers, but is it just a case of quantity versus quality?
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Old Jul 13th, 2008, 08:38 AM
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I've only done the 26 Glacier cruise so can't compare.

I think faster also means more face time at the ice, which is what you're really paying for.
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