Whether travelling by air, shuttle, ferry or rental car throughout Alaska, we make sure you get here and into the mountains easily. Book your flights to Anchorage, and leave transportation from there to the start of your adventure via plane, shuttle, ferry or car rental with us! We even have a gear store with all your adventure essentials, maps, directions, and lodging recommendations to help you get beyond worry-free.
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Anchorage serves as the gateway to most Wild Alpine adventures. Officially incorporated in 1920 (Alaska was granted statehood in 1959) this central hub is a relatively young community founded on success waves of development stemming from the construction of the Alaska Railroad, military activity during WWII, and North Slope oil exploration. All the comforts of major cities in the Lower 48 can be found here; necessities for wilderness expeditions are easy to locate, too.
We recommend including at least one night in Anchorage on either end of your trip as many flights arrive and depart late in the night. Complete your Alaskan experience with a visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum, or the Alaska Museum of Natural History.
Ted Steven’s International Airport (ANC) is served by several international carriers. Anchorage is the hub for flying within Alaska, too. Lake Hood Seaplane Base and Merrill Field are home to independent airlines serving far-flung regions of this Last Frontier.
The Alaska Highway
According to the MILEPOST: The Alaska Highway was originally built to create an overland link between Alaska and the Lower 48 states during World War II because Alaska was considered vulnerable to Japanese invasion. The road is now a major attraction for those who want to experience the Last Frontier. Visitors from around the world are drawn to the wildlife and fishing, mountains and meadows, grandeur and adventure of the highway. The two-lane road winds and rolls across the vast, varied and breathtaking wilderness of two countries – the United States and Canada. It’s enjoyed by everyone from bicyclists to RVers with expensive Class A rigs. These days, surfacing on the highway ranges from fair to excellent; there are relatively few steep grades, and services are found an average of every 20 to 50 miles.
The Alaska Marine Highway System has been operating year-round since 1963 with regularly scheduled passenger and vehicle service to 31 communities in Alaska plus Bellingham, Washington and Prince Rupert, British Columbia. There are currently eleven vessels in the AMHS fleet.
The AMHS also operates numerous ferries sailing across the iconic Prince William Sound. Link up your Wrangell – St. Elias adventure with the Kenai Peninsula via Valdez in the east and Whittier in the west end of the Sound. Some ferries are high-speed, others are not. Some carry vehicles. Book in advance to ensure availability and proper coordination with your itinerary.
Just 45 minutes from Anchorage, Girdwood is a quintessential Alaskan ski town. The area boasts 650+ inches of snow annually, the summertime Forest Faire, and a few nice places to eat and hear live music. The Alyeska Hotel is known for its mountain-side location, skiing, hiking and mountain biking trails, indoor pool and full-service spa. Girdwood is best explored by car and foot. Wild Alpine stages backcountry ski adventures, mountaineering and avalanche education courses in the Chugach Range from here.
Head south from Anchorage along the New Seward Highway (AK-1) following Turnagain Arm. Blink too long and you’ll miss the settlements of Indian and Bird. At mile 90, turn left on Alyeska Highway. Pass through the Old Townsite on your way to the New Townsite where you’ll find Crow Creek Mercantile and a few restaurants. Continue to the end Alyeska Highway, turning left when you reach the junction at Arlberg Avenue and you’ll reach Hotel Alyeska. There are multiple trailheads and scenic view-points along the way.
McCarthy & Kennecott
The McCarthy Road is the only overland route to and from the settlements of McCarthy and Kennecott. Beginning in Chitina and continuing for 60 unpaved miles, it ends at the west bank of the Kennicott River. There is public parking for a small fee. Plan to leave your car there as both communities rest beyond the east bank of the Kennicott River. They are connected by a four-mile single lane dirt road permissible to foot, bicycle, ATV and locals-only vehicular traffic. To get between the West Side and the East Side, visitors cross a pedestrian footbridge. Public bus, hotel, and Wild Alpine shuttles provide rides on the East Side between the footbridge, downtown McCarthy, the McCarthy Airstrip and Kennecott. We recommend packing your essentials in easy-to-carry duffel bags as shuffling gear is an inherent component of getting around here!
For those looking to cut back on road time and maximize in-flight time we recommend driving only as far as Chitina, approximately five hours from Anchorage. There you will meet your plane for a 45-minute scenic flight to the McCarthy Airstrip followed by a short shuttle ride to your hotel. It is also possible to catch the mail plane or to charter one from elsewhere in Alaska. Contact us for assistance with these arrangements.
From Anchorage, follow the New Seward Highway (AK-1N) north to the AK-1E Palmer/Glennallen exit. Continue through Palmer to Glennallen, approximately 140 miles. Turn right onto the Richardson Highway (AK-4S) following signs to Valdez. At mile 31 on the Rich, turn left onto the Edgerton Highway. Travel straight on through Chitina (ask yourself “Where the hell is Chitina?!”) and onto the 60 mile McCarthy Road. With a reliable car the drive takes approximately eight hours or less. This route is one of our favorites in North America. The landscape is dramatic and the potential for seeing wildlife as you travel at your own pace is high.
For those wishing to hire a car and driver, Wild Alpine provides round trip shuttle service between Anchorage, Valdez, Chitina and McCarthy. We are happy to accommodate other arrangements on request. This is the most economical way to travel.
The Alaska Marine Highway Service operates numerous ferries sailing across iconic Prince William Sound. Link up your Wrangell–St. Elias adventure with the Kenai Peninsula via Valdez in the east and Whittier in the west end of the Sound. Some ferries are high-speed, others are not. Some carry vehicles. Book in advance to ensure availability and proper coordination with your itinerary.
Valdez is an Alaskan oil and harbor town at its finest. Crude oil from the North Slope is loaded onto barges here and shipped via Prince William Sound to refineries outside of Alaska. The people here are hearty and kind; the accommodations are comfortable and the food satisfies a big appetite. Valdez is a no-frills town and that’s just why people love it. It’s a perfect jumping-off point for big adventures–the fish are big, the mountains and waterfalls are big, the glaciers are big. The Alaskan pride is big too.
Era Air offers regularly scheduled flights between Anchorage, Valdez and other destinations. Anticipate about 40 minutes for this flight to and from Anchorage. It is possible to charter flights from Valdez to McCarthy & Kennecott. Some of our itineraries include this leg of the adventure. Contact us for assistance with these arrangements.
Another epic journey, the overland journey into and out of Valdez, passes between the Chugach and Wrangell Mountains. The Alaska Range – far to the north – is visible on clear days. The Matanuska Glacier and volcanic peaks of Marcus Baker, Sanford, Drum, and Wrangell are worth stopping for. On the way into town, Thompson Pass is the capstone of this scenic ride dropping road travelers down on coastal Valdez.
From Anchorage, follow the New Seward Highway (AK-1N) north to the AK-1E Palmer/Glennallen exit. Continue through Palmer to Glennallen, approximately 140 miles. Turn right onto the Richardson Highway (AK-4S) following signs to Valdez all the way through to town. Couldn’t be easier. Plan for about six hours of driving from Anchorage including a few stretch and photo breaks.
The Alaska Marine Highway Service operates numerous ferries sailing across the iconic Prince William Sound. Link up your Wrangell – St. Elias tour with the Kenai Peninsula via Valdez in the east and Whittier in the west end of the Sound. Some ferries are high-speed, others are not. Some carry vehicles. Book in advance to ensure availability and proper coordination with your itinerary.
Historically, Talkeetna has served at the primary jumping-off point for mountaineers accessing Denali (aka Mount McKinley) and other popular areas of Denali National Park, the Alaska Range and other destinations. Comfortable accommodations, a good selection of restaurants, a local brewery and the popular Fairview Inn make this place a favorite staging spot for climbing parties. Located just two hours north of Anchorage, Talkeetna is accessible by road, rail and chartered airplane.
Merrill Field and Lake Hood Seaplane Base are home to multiple carriers offering service between Anchorage and Talkeetna. With a little but of research, you’ll find lots of good options.
From Anchorage, follow the New Seward Highway (AK-1) north to the Glenn Highway. Follow the Glenn to the George Parks Highway (AK-3) and continue north on the Parks. Continue on the Parks Highway for approximately 60 miles passing through Wasilla, Willow, Sunshine and other small communities on your way to the Talkeetna Spur Road. Turn right on the Talkeetna Spur Road, heading east. You can’t miss Talkeetna – it’s at the end of the road.
On July 15, 1923, President Warren G. Harding tapped a golden spike and officially completed the Alaska Railroad. Since completion, the Railroad has played a central role in Alaska’s growth. It provided a means for communities to settle and flourish, supplied the Fairbanks gold fields, helped to build the Alaska Highway, and more. Offering Adventure Class and GoldStar Service, trains depart Anchorage daily May 18 to September 18. Anticipate about 3 hours for the ride to Talkeetna.
Ultima Thule Lodge
Accessible only by their fleet of airplanes, Ultima Thule Lodge is located on a private in-holding deep within the heart of the Wrangells. Pick-ups are scheduled on request only. Meet your chartered airplane in Anchorage, Valdez, Chitina or McCarthy. Contact us about these details as you plan your trip.