Anchorage to Fairbanks

Long drives and little children do not get along very well. When Ed gets the itch to go on a road trip, we usually break up the drive into shorter segments to keep the children happy and the parents sane. We spent a leisurely three days driving from Chicago to Estes Park, Colorado. We were also just as leisurely driving to Niagara Falls, with a stop in Pennsylvania’s Cook Forest. Our last long drive was during our vacation in Alaska. We wanted to drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks, which is about 359 miles…not much farther than our usual road trip to Des Moines to visit my family. But we were in Alaska! We definitely wanted to take our time on this long drive.

The morning we left, it was a typical June day in Anchorage: chilly and wet. My aunt, whose house was our headquarters, urged us to borrow her umbrellas for our trip. They definitely came in handy that day! Not far out of Anchorage was our first sightseeing stop: Thunderbird Falls. By then it was officially raining, but that didn’t stop us from hiking up to the falls. We couldn’t get close enough to feel the spray from the thunderous waterfall, but since it was already raining we could use our imaginations.

Thunderbird Falls

Thunderbird Falls, Alaska

After shaking ourselves off, we got into the car to dry off and head to our next destination: Independence Mine and Hatcher’s Pass. This is a little side trip off of Parks Highway, and well worth the detour. I have been there twice before, but unfortunately the weather was colder and foggier as we drove up into the mountains. We went as far as we could go before we reached a gate. The pass was still closed; too much snow. We got out of the car to stretch our legs and the air was definitely wintery.

Independence Mine

A trail near Hatcher’s Pass, Alaska

As we headed back to the highway, a cow and calf crossed the road. The girls were so excited! It was our first moose sighting in Alaska!

We spent the night in a very small, very cute cabin in Talkeetna. Talkeetna is often referred to as the backdoor to Denali. Sight seeing flights for Mt. McKinley take off in Talkeetna. Mountain climbers gear up and start their journey to the tallest North American mountain in Talkeetna. It’s a very interesting little town. Our cabin was just a couple miles outside of town in the woods.

Talkeetna Cabin

Our little cabin in Talkeetna

The next day was our second leg of the trip…on to Fairbanks! We started the day with some hot chocolate from a little cafe down the street and stopped to buy some smoked salmon for our lunch later on. As we drove further north, the rain clouds began to dissipate and the sun started to shine. We stopped a few times to take pictures, but we didn’t take any hikes. We passed Denali National Park…we were going to stop there for a couple of nights on our way back to Anchorage. We kept driving North.

mountain

Mountains!

Although this was my third trip to Alaska, I had never been up to Fairbanks. As we left the mountains behind, the land became flat and all we could see were spruces for miles and miles. For lunch, we pulled off at a spot by the side of the road and had a picnic in the back of our rented minivan. Triscuits, smoked salmon and cheese!

picnic in a van

Nothing beats lunch in a van!

While driving through miles and miles of spruce trees was not that exciting, it was still better than the miles and miles of corn fields we drive through to get to the Mississippi River. We reached Fairbanks in plenty of time to enjoy Pioneer Park and have dinner at their famous Salmon Bake.

Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park, Fairbanks, Alaska

Now this long drive was my kind of long drive; plenty of things to see, nice driving weather, and good food at the end of the day!

Have you had a memorable long drive?

Mama’s Losin’ It

 

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14 Responses to Anchorage to Fairbanks

  1. thehouseful says:

    We're lovers of long road trips! Did you drive from home to Alaska first? Or fly then hop in a car? Either way I'm a little bit jealous over here! Love the sites, and can't wait for us to pack up and go west on a road trip.
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  2. We once took a family vacation where the destination was 24 hours by car. Let me just say it was the first and last time we were ever that adventurous!
    My recent post Happy Mother’s Day

  3. Liz @ ANIAN says:

    Oh my loveliness, the scenic views are just exquisite, and like your girls, I would have been super excited at the moose sighting too!

  4. What an adventure!! Fabulous. That little cabin looked like something from out of a storybook!! Love the minivan picnic!!! –The Dose Girls
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  5. Dawn says:

    Sounds like you and your family had a wonderful trip! I have always wanted to go to Alaska but I haven't been there yet. I too have an Aunt there :)

    My most memorable road trip was when I was a kid. My parents took me on a road trip across country and we stayed in various places in many states along the way seeing many sights. It was a lot of fun and I would love to do this with our girls one day – we were on the trip for about 2 weeks.
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  6. debby9972 says:

    What a lovely trip that was. We did a lot of traveling before we had our children. With our children we took several trips to Florida from Illinois but we would leave in the evening so they slept for a good part of the trip. Happy Mother's Day!
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  7. tamaralikecamera says:

    This is my absolute dream. I can't even take it to think about. Never been to Alaska but it's pretty much #1 on the bucket list. Ah, when money and time align one day. I've had some memorable drives just the same, and many filled with moose. A long stretch of Maine – Portland to Greenville Junction – hours of moose and wilderness. Once during an ice storm in January, I drove with a boyfriend from Jersey to..Key West. I guess we just couldn't stop until the continental US literally ended. That's how rough that winter was…
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  8. OneMommy says:

    What a cute little cabin!
    So far the longest drive I've done is from Ohio to Florida — we are taking the drive again in a month!
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  9. Mara says:

    The most memorable drive I've had was a trip to Italy. We came from the South of Germany and from the beginning we had a lot of traffic to deal with. At some point I was so fed up and just wanted to quit right there and then, but my passengers were on holiday and I couldn't do that. By the time I was supposed to stop driving according to European driving laws, I still had over an hour and a half to go. Which turned into nearly two hours! It was memorable. Just not in a good way!
    My recent post 'Wet'

  10. crossroadsoftheheart says:

    ugh gorgeous! my family and i took a cruise a number of years ago to Alaska. we totally fell in love with the state. one of my favorite books is "If you Lived Here, I'd Know your Name" — all about a woman's life in Alaska. im jealous of you! :)
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  11. I love road trips. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are about road trips my family took and this was long before DVD players in cars! For a few early on trips, we didn't even have air conditioning… seems almost unimaginable now, right? My hubby and I also took our kids on a few road trips. At times they were trying, but I also like to think they created some fantastic memories for our kids. To this day, I love getting in the car and heading out on the road. Nothing like it.

    Your road trip sounds wonderful. The photos are spectacular. Some day maybe I'll get to Alaska. Thanks for sharing and for bringing up some nice memories for me.

  12. Janet says:

    Loved your post because I have been to all of those places with exception of Fairbanks…I have yet to make the drive from Anchorage while up there. It's a long drive when your time seems to go by so quickly! Sounds like a lovely trip to AK!
    My recent post moments…memories

  13. Andie says:

    I have yet to take too many road trips with all four. But I did drive five hours to Mammoth once while still pregnant with #4. But I'd love to do more in the future!

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