There are few places in America where a campervan is more resourceful than in the 49th state. Therefore, traveling to Alaska in a campervan, especially to the Kenai Peninsula, makes perfect sense when you factor in climate, wildlife, and leisure. After talking about why we valued being in a campervan for our Alaska road trip, we lay out our six-day Kenai Peninsula itinerary.
Over the last decade, van life has taken the outdoor space by storm. You can sleep, travel, and work with a campervan in Alaska. This is precisely what we wanted when we headed up to travel Alaska.
After doing a lot of research, we found Last Frontier Westys, a locally owned Alaskan company that rents out Westfalia Volkswagons. While not the uber-glamorous vans you’ve seen on Instagram, how cool would it be to travel to Alaska in one of these vintage icons? We obviously thought so and jumped on the Alaska road trip opportunity to live in our own type of “luxury” for a week.
Traveling Alaska in a Campervan
While Alaska as a whole is massive (understatement), the best place, in my opinion, to use a campervan is on the Kenai Peninsula. This is due to a few different reasons. First, the furthest you can drive south is about four hours away, which is a short trip in Alaska.
Plus, there’s a lot to see across the peninsula, so you’ll be getting a good bang for your miles. Lastly, there are a lot of campsites and sleeping locations next to beautiful places. Be warned though, Campervan rentals in Alaska are crazy due to low inventory so book early!
Overall, I think there are three main reasons to do Alaska in a campervan.
Traveling Alaska: Sleep anywhere. And easily.
Alaska’s a bit different than the lower 48. If there are no signs prohibiting sleeping, you can do it. This means you can legally sleep in a pull-off next to the road. It’s not the most ideal, but it’s an added freedom if you realize it’s already 11:30 at night and you don’t want to look for a pull-off or place to pop a tent.
Then, the added benefit of a campervan is your bed is just seconds away from being set up. In the Westfalia, all we had to do was fold out the backseat, and it made a bed. As we were constantly rolling into our campsite after 11 pm, it was nice not to have to set up a tent, especially in meh weather.
Protects you from the elements (including mosquitoes)
If you haven’t heard, Alaska can have some mosquito problems. I’ve even heard them called the unofficial state bird. There’s nothing worse than 1) Setting up a tent while being mauled by mosquitoes OR 2) Trying to eat surrounded by mosquitoes.
With a campervan in Alaska, both of these problems are solved. But, then, there’s always a chance a storm rolls in, and having a hard shell defense to stay dry was so lovely. We had about two to three nights when some precipitation was coming down. Staying dry while eating made for a much more excellent experience.
Camper van Alaska – Keeps us organized
In a car, I always feel things get stuffed away, and for the next three days, you’re trying to find where that spatula or shirt was hiding. However, while traveling in Alaska in a campervan, it was roomy enough that allow our gear to stay organized. Plus, on the photography side, I could have my camera accessible at all times just in case we ran into a bear (which never happened) or a moose and wanted to shoot it.
Overall, we had Sourdough, our ’91 Westfalia, for six nights. Here’s a brief rundown of our itinerary for those looking for a bit of guidance.
Kenai Peninsula Itinerary:
- Day 1 – Grabbed our Alaka camper van, went grocery shopping, and headed south to Girdwood, where we did the short Virgin Creek Falls hike. We then hiked in the snow to Byron Glacier before setting up for dinner just off the road to Whittier (though we never made it to Whittier).
- Day 2 – Drove into Cooper Landing and did the Kenai River Trail and Russian River Falls. Both are in bear territory, so don’t forget your bear spray. Also, both are relatively easy.
- Day 3 – Hiked the Slaughter Gulch trail in Cooper Landing, a challenging trail with about 2,500 feet of elevation gain in 2.5 miles. I’m not good with elevation grades, but it has some extremely steep sections. However, the views are jaw-dropping, and it shouldn’t take you more than two hours to go up. We then drove to Seward, which was a stunning drive. Be prepared to stop and take photos. This was probably our favorite day of our Kenai peninsula itinerary.
- Day 4 – Took the Kenai Fjords Boat Tour. This 6-7 hour tour was fantastic and allowed us to see one of the hardest-to-reach National Parks in the country. While you’re never technically in the park on the water, you can still see the glaciers and towering peaks around you. Highly recommend.
- Day 5 – Hiked to Exit Glacier, the only hike in Kenai Fjords National Park you can do. We then drove near Moose Pass and slept at Ptarmigan Lake Campground. It rained this evening, so we decided to keep it low-key. The two of us played some games and enjoyed staying dry.
- Day 6 – Hiked to Ptarmigan Lake, a nice, moderate hike, though the wind was ferocious coming off the lake. On a calmer/warmer day, it would be been perfect. After downing some post-hike food, we drove to the small town of Hope for the evening. As an ideal cap to our first week, they had a bar opening, and we celebrated with the locals! When planning your Kenai peninsula itinerary, try to add in some time to hang around locals.
Included in the Campervan Rentals – Alaska road trip
- Cooler and Chairs
- Alaska Mile-Book
- Camping stove and propane (Sourdough doesn’t have a built-in stove, the others do)
- Pots, Pans, and Dish cleaning
- Water jug
- Automatic transmission (the only one in the fleet that does)
- Four-person sitting area inside
- Collapsible interior table
- Two-bed areas when you pop open the roof
- Sheets and blankets (though we opted to bring our sleeping bags)
- Coffee and drip system
- They also have additional gear you can rent
We loved our time with Last Frontier Westys. They’re friendly and generous and made the entire experience so worthwhile. I highly recommend checking them out for your Alaska road trip. Be forewarned, though, they usually start seeing bookings in the first two months of the year. So start planning early and get your Alaska trip locked in!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
Subscribe to my blog at the bottom of this article!
To purchase my photos, click here.
Learn how to adventure on a budget.