Are you planning to go on an Alaskan roadtrip? Here’s my 7-day itinerary to road trip through Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley.
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Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Alaska, also known by the Mat-Su is a vast area of Alaskan wilderness that covers more than 23,000 miles. It is one of my favorite places on the continent. Road tripping to Mat-Su offers breathtaking scenery, including mountains, glaciers and other wildlife. It is also home to tons of fun activities.
It can be difficult to plan an itinerary when there is so much space. We’ve got your back with this 7-day road trip itinerary. We can personally endorse all the listed hotels and activities!
Day 1: Fly to Anchorage/Drive to Knik River
Arrive in Anchorage on the first day of your Alaskan roadtrip. You will rent a car and then head out to Chugach State Park, Knik River, and back. Knik River, a quiet valley in Mat-Su is about an hour drive away and is home to many picturesque sights.
Day 2: Explore the Knik River Area
Enjoy the beauty of Knik River and take part in some adventure. You can choose to go on a Flightseeing Tour with Knik River Glacier Tour, where you will fly from your hotel to Knik Glacier. There are also wildlife viewing opportunities.
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Day 3: Drive through Hatcher Pass
Hatcher Pass is located in the southwest Talkeetna Mountains. The views from Hatcher Pass are breathtaking. Hatcher Pass Road, also known as Fishhook Road, runs approximately 60 miles between Palmer and Willow. It winds its way through the mountains while offering a significant dose of Alaskan paradise.
The Palmer-Fishhook road can be paved. However, the road to Independence Bowl must be plowed in winter. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are advised. The road opens over Hatcher Pass when the snow melts and can be used to travel all the way up to Willow. Even with the snow melting, 22 miles of this road are gravel and can prove treacherous.
Day 4: Visit the Matanuska Glacier
The Matanuska Glacier can be seen from the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway. It is the largest glacier that can be accessed by vehicle in Alaska. The glacier is located between Glennallen and Palmer. You can reach it by entering the Matanuska Glacier Park, which charges a small fee.
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If you don’t know how to navigate a glacier, it is a good idea to take a tour. The environment can be hazardous and only an expert guide will know the best places. MICA Guides was my tour guide when I visited Matanuska Glacier. They were amazing.
Hatcher Pass is another option if you don’t want to tour a glacier.
Stay at Majestic Valley Wilderness Lodge or Sheep Mountain Lodge for accommodation tonight.
Day 5: Drive to Talkeetna
It is approximately three hours to drive to Talkeetna from the lodges listed above. The road will take you along Matanuska River past Willow and Palmer, then parallel to the Susitna River. You might enjoy the incredible views on this drive so take your time.
Day 6: Experience Talkeetna
The base of North America’s highest peak, Mt. McKinley (Denali), Talkeetna offers breathtaking views and lots of adventure activities.
K2 Aviation offers a Flightseeing Tour that includes a Denali glacier landing, a hike through the natural surroundings, and a river tour with Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures.
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Day 7: Depart from Anchorage Airport
The drive from Talkeetna to Anchorage will take just over two hours. I recommend that you book either an evening or afternoon departure from Anchorage Airport. It is worth having a little extra time in Alaska.