Our latest update on our Florida to Alaska road trip takes us through the remainder of Alaska’s Interior on a route going from Fairbanks to Anchorage and the coastal city of Valdez. We weren’t originally planning on spending so much time in Alaska but the combination of it’s immense size, beauty, exotic location, and so many things to do, made us stay for as long as we could. We covered 1000 miles over 6 days and had such an amazing time that we’ve added Alaska to one of the places we would consider living!
Upon our arrival back in Fairbanks, Alaska, after finishing our excursion along the Dalton Highway, we decided to treat ourselves to some fine dining. We had dual cause to celebrate as it was our 9 year wedding anniversary and we had just completed the pivotal point of our trip. We had asked some locals what they recommended and found an obscure, yet fantastic, restaurant in the town of Fox (just 10 Miles North of Fairbanks) called the Turtle Club. The menu is very basic, serving mainly various cuts of prime beef and some seafood, but the food and service was amazing! The atmosphere also suited a nice romantic dinner. It’s definitely a must visit place if you’re in Northern Alaska for a few days.
The following morning we began our trek south and set our sights on Anchorage, AK. We were once again completely wowed by all the changes in the landscape due to all the mountains in the area. The drive takes you up and down many mountains and into beautiful valleys carved by receded glaciers and rivers. One of my favorites was this pass over the Tanana River. The driving conditions in Alaska can change pretty drastically from day to day, so I recommend checking road conditions along your route regularly before you set off on your trip.
Our trips route also took us along Denali National Park and gave us a beautiful view of Mt. McKinley. We were hoping to visit the park on this trip, but the majority of the park can only be accessed by tours which shut down over the winter due to road maintenance issues. We didn’t mind though as it will give us an excuse to come back soon :-)
We arrived in Anchorage early in the evening and checked in to our hotel. The following day we decided to play tourist in the downtown area.
Running around like idiots left us searching for a snack. We found just what we needed at Cake Studio in downtown. We had a great cup of Alaska roasted coffee and shared this delightful Pumpkin Cheesecake tart.
After our snack we decided to attend a local Christmas themed craft show that was being held at the convention center downtown. It was a bit odd seing all the Christmas Decor up in October, but it was a great chance to see some local arts and crafts. Once we wrapped up the craft show, we were ready for lunch and stumbled into a great Irish bar called McGinley’s. They had a good mix of local brews and Irish favorites on tap. You must try the Hot Corned Beef sandwich and their Irish Chili while you’re there.
The following day we continued our trek through Alaska’s Interior and began driving towards our only stop along the coast in a town called Valdez. We took the Glenn Highway East an ran into more breathtaking scenery when we travelled through the Palmer area.
As if that wasn’t enough, we were completely floored when we came to the Manatuska Glacier! You can see the glacier right off the highway as you head east and have some great opportunities to stop and photograph it.
Our route then took us South along the Richardson Highway. The highway runs along and through the Wrangell Mountain range which gave us another opportunity to do some glacier watching before we crossed through Thompsons Pass and into Valdez. You can pull right off the highway and into a viewing area for the Worthington Glacier. It’s definitely worth the stop as you can get a few hundred feet away from the glacier and really appreciate it.
Once we crossed through the pass we entered Valdez.
We heard that there was a large population of Bald Eagles in the area (see our post here with more pictures and video), but were shocked to see how many of them were readily visible while driving into the meandering road into the town of Valdez itself.
There are also a couple of great waterfalls to see along the way in. Make sure to stop and take in the beauty of Bridal Veil Falls. If you come in the winter you get a real treat and get to see them frozen!
We were so taken by the beauty of the area we decided to take hike in the morning along the Mineral Creek trail. You can drive through a portion of the trail and then you have to get out and hike the rest. We drove a bit, until the GTI couldn’t make it any more and then hiked up the road. We were treated with another great waterfall that was frozen in time.
One of the things on our to do list in Valdez was seeing the end of the Trans-Alaska pipeline. After our hike we took a scenic drive along Dayville road and arrived at the end of the line. Once upon a time, you could walk right up to the end, but after September 11th, you now have to view it from a distance for security reasons. We had seen the beginning in Deadhorse, so it was cool to see the end.
After hiking and touring the city we wrapped up our evening with some truly Alaskan Fair at Alaska’s Halibut House.
After having a great time in Valdez, and the rest of Alaska, it was time for us to take one final drive the following morning that brought us full circle in Alaska. If you are planning to visit Valdez but don’t want to make the drive, it’s is home to to one of Alaska’s busiest ferry ports due to the combination of all the oil tankers and the fact that it is a stop on the Alaskan Marine Highway. You can easily take a ferry from Seattle, Anchorage, or Juno to Valdez, and then tour through the rest of Alaska from there. As for us, we took a drive north along the Richardson Highway and along the Tok Cutoff and back to our lodging at the Mooseberry Inn B&B.