I spent like 4 hours reading and reading and reading, but I am torn as to what to do? Me and my GF are going to Anchorage and have no clue as to where to start....
1. The major decision is whether to rent a car(Alamo $175 for 3 days), or just do bus/train/shuttles? I somehow feel that $175 is outrageous and refuse to pay that much(can get 3 weeks worth rental for that here). I even tried local joints, and they are not much different.
2. What would you say would be the things most worth to see in that short period of 3 days? I read there are glaciers/parks/hiking/biking...
I am in my mid-20s and active, and so is my gf, so we are open to anything on budget...
Below is my itin:
Denver, CO (DEN)
Wed, JUL 28, 2010 6:10PM Anchorage, AK (ANC)
Wed, JUL 28, 2010 9:45PM 0 A319
Anchorage, AK (ANC)
Sat, JUL 31, 2010 10:45PM Denver, CO (DEN)
Sun, AUG 01, 2010 5:53AM 0 A319
3. I looked around and I saw the meet-up thread which is awesome, but do we have a thread here where I can call up and ask other FTers if are around to travel with them? Like to share car and gas? I heard gas is like $5+ vs $2.33 here... : )
Thanks for all the advice guys... : )
Jun 24, 10, 12:23 am
I can't imagine not having my own wheels up there, especially with only 4 days. Skimp on food, car-camp a night, sell a sibling.... Great idea about finding other travelers--try couchsurfing. FT has it's own "branch" of CS. It's not very active, so I'd try the main site. You don't have to be looking for a place to stay. Or try a thread on thorntree, virtual planet, tripadvisor. You'd think some entreprenuerial Alaskan would have a matching service for car renters. While she's at it, she should have a service so people could rent a car one way and take the train the other, especially to Seward. Beautiful ride on Alaska Railroad, but slooooow.
I missed the "do" thread--next time I'll be better prepared. Just go, be prepared to spend some serious money on hotels and car. Gas was $3.55 give or take. My car, with tax , (and I rented off-airport) was $302 picking up a.m. 14th, dropping off 5-ish the 17th. And, beware--they were out of economy cars and "would I be comfortable driving a pick-up?" I said sure, driving, but not so much filling the tank. Even though it was a sissy pick-up I figured the mileage would be considerably less than a little car (never did do the math). They did discount the rate 10%-YMMV, so be a good negotiator.
Jun 24, 10, 9:05 am
sounds like car is the way to go, albeit very expensive...
Jun 24, 10, 9:15 am
I totally agree with the above poster. So just because the cost does not fit into what your idea of what it "should" be, you will cut off your nose to spite your face and not rent a car?
What are your interests? What are you planning on doing? Where are you planning on going? My guess is that even at $175 + gas it will be cheaper for two people than taxis/buses/trains/shuttles. And actually, I think that is a decent price for 3 days. I booked for $150/week when I booked 11 months in advance, but I have seen prices of $100/day for those booking now for this summer.
With that short amount of time, I would concentrate on either Denali NP or Seward and the Kenai Peninsula.
Personally I love Denali and it is quite reasonable price-wise if you can find lodging. There is a great hostel there, the McKinley Creekside Cabins are across the street from the hostel, Faith Hill Lodge in Healy has some rooms with shared baths.
Maybe something like this:
July 28 arrive Anchorage, to hotel
July 29 shop for groceries (no food available inside Denali NP and the only good places to stop for groceries are Anchorage and Wasilla). Stop in Talkeetna on the way to Denali (funky town, great place to stop for lunch), continue to Denali. Pick up your pre-reserved shuttle tickets at the Wilderness Access Center (WAC). Entrance-area things like exhibits and film at the visitor center, film at the WAC, drive the first 15 miles of the park road, sleddog demo at 4pm.
July 30 all-day shuttle bus to Eielson or Wonder Lake (+-$40/person for 8-11 hours). Excellent chance to see wildlife. You can get off the bus anytime to hike and hop on a later bus. I would book to Wonder Lake but only go there if Mt. McKinley is "out." If not, turn back at Eielson. Bring highly-concentrated DEET and even a headnet for Wonder Lake. The mosquitoes can be brutal.
July 31 drive back to Anchorage. You want to be at the airport 2 hours before departure (return car, check in, security - lines in the summer can be brutal at the airport). On the way back to Anchorage you have lots of options.
-Wasilla (Iditarod HQ)
-north of Wasilla is Martin Buser's kennel and tour (Iditarod racer)
-Independence Mine/Palmer/Muskox Farm/Matanuska Glacier (maybe even a glacier hike with Nova or Mica Guides)
-Native Heritage Center in Anchorage
-weekend market in Anchorage
If you headed to Seward, I would go on July 29th to Seward (stopping in Girdwood and along Turnagain Arm, Portage Glacier Visitor Center, maybe a short hike to Byron Glacier), July 30 6 or 9 hour Kenai Fjords tour ($139/person for 6 hour tour, coupons readily available for 2-for-1). July 31st Sealife Center or Exit Glacier (nice hiking and walking near there), other options, leave Seward by 5pm to allow plenty of time for the trip back.
Jun 24, 10, 10:57 am
I've done two trips to Anchorage in the last 6 or 7 years, the last three weeks ago, and basically did everything that fti mentioned.
All are good. If the weather is bad up in Denali, I don't think you will enjoy the long bus ride into and out of the park, but you can never tell the weather.
The dog sled place near Wasilla was interesting and Talkeetna is a cute little town. The West Rib makes a really good halibut sandwich.
If you do the Denali trip, on the way back we drove to Fairbanks and then came around the other side through North Pole and completed the loop to Anchorage. We stopped at Matanuska Glacier and Palmer for dinner. The ride is very long and you don't see many cars along the way, but it's very interesting. You get to see the Alaskan Pipeline occasionally.
In Anchorage, if you're a beer drinker, Moose's Tooth has many beers and some pretty good pizza that won't break the bank. We ate dinner there before we took our night flight home. Snow Goose/Sleeping Lady is good too, they have a deck with a decent view of the port. Glacier brewing isn't too bad either.
If you want to head south and don't feel like doing the long glacier cruises at Whittier or Seward, in Portage you can do a short 1 hour long cruise to Portage Glacier for $29 a person (I'm sure there are discounts available somehwere). There are hikes there, too. Exit Glacier is definitey worth the short hike if you are in the Seward area.
Jun 24, 10, 1:58 pm
If the weather is bad up in Denali, I don't think you will enjoy the long bus ride into and out of the park, but you can never tell the weather.
Probably more often than not, the weather in Denali has been worse rather than better when I was there. And I camp inside the park at Wonder Lake. But cooler, damper weather has some advantages - often the wildlife are easier to spot. When it is hot out in the middle of the day, the wildlife (like humans) prefer to not roam around outside in the heat.
My philosophy is to always bring layers and be sure your outer layer is a good waterproof layer.
Jun 24, 10, 2:21 pm
We had been to AK recently and I would also agree with all the other posts that Car is a must especially for shorter itineraries; and gas was definitely not $5/gallon :)
If you decide to take on the itinerary as prepared by fti, you can very easily add a glacier landing in Talkeetna. Although its not cheap but it was one of the best activities we did when we were in AK. You might find some coupons, not sure if they would be valid for those dates.
Another thing you might want to consider if you are not a wildlife buff, is going to Seward instead of Denali and then may be taking a Glacier cruise out of Seward or Whittier.
Jun 30, 10, 2:42 am
The major decision is whether to rent a car(Alamo $175 for 3 days), or just do bus/train/shuttles? I somehow feel that $175 is outrageous and refuse to pay that much(can get 3 weeks worth rental for that here). I even tried local joints, and they are not much different.
Hey, give us a break--we only have 3 months to make enough money to pay off an entire year's car payments! ;)
Bus/train/shuttles here are NOT cheap. The Alaska Railroad markets its trips towards tourists, not budget-conscious travelers or people requiring functional transportation (like Amtrak). An Anchorage-Fairbanks round-trip would run $420 per person. As for buses, take a look at http://alaska.org/gettingaround/alaska-bus-lines.htm--you won't find too many good deals there, either, and you're lucky to find a bus going the way you want (and if you do, it's likely to go at most once a day).
As alluded to above, you may very well find a car ends up being cheaper even at $175. (And if you want to avoid getting a free upgrade to a pickup truck, avoid renting from Enterprise. ;) Conversely, if you want to get a pickup truck for cheap, rent with Enterprise. ;))
Tons of good hiking even right in Anchorage--from the quick 1.5-hour round-trip of Flattop to the calf-beating 8-hour Wolverine Peak trail to the secluded (you'd swear you were 1,000 miles from nowhere) Hidden Lake trail, you don't even need to leave the city limits to see nature and majestic mountains. Tons more from Seward to Denali and beyond. There are lots of good resources out there for the trail-seeker, both in print and online. I can probably assemble some info for you if you are interested in this.
And do take a look at the link normally in my signature (currently absent because I'm promoting our end-of-summer DO instead ;)): http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/communitybuzz/822275-consolidated-anc-meet-up-thread.html
Jul 12, 10, 3:21 am
In my opinion, a car is a must. Gas is running $3.33 a gallon lately here (ANC). :eek: