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Two Days in Anchorage - Beginning of October

Two Days in Anchorage - Beginning of October

Old Aug 14, 11, 2:14 am
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Two Days in Anchorage - Beginning of October

So I have booked the DL mileage run from FLL to ANC for October 1-3. I get in around 8pm on October 1 (a Saturday) and leave around 9pm on Monday the 3rd. So I've got about 48 hours to work with. This will be my first trip to Alaska.

I'll be staying at the Marriott downtown -- unless you have a better suggestion?

I'd like to do some sea kayaking, but most of the web sites I've looked at seem to stop the guided tours in September. I am a very experienced kayaker, so would renting a kayak make sense? Does anyone know of any tours that continue into the first week of October?

I'm probably going to try to play a round of golf -- the courses in the Anchorage area seem to stay open until the middle of October.

I thought I might do the drive North from Anchorage and try to catch a glimpse of Mt. McKinley from Trapper Creek -- I have heard the view is pretty good from there, if the mountain isn't under cloud cover.

The weather outlook for October suggests I'm going to experience temps in the 30s and 40s. Though I live in Florida, I'm a PA native, so shouldn't be too bad.

Any suggestions for things that I must see or do? I love the outdoors, love to see things, capable hiker. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!
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Old Aug 14, 11, 6:29 pm
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Drive south (toward Seward) along Turnagain Arm as far as Girdwood and the Alyeska Resort and stop there. Take the tram to the top of Mt. Alyeska and have lunch there. They have special combo tickets for this. Just outside Girdwood, visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center http://www.alaskawildlife.org and/or

Back in Anchorage, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center http://www.alaskanative.net and the Alaska Museum http://www.anchoragemuseum.org/
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Old Aug 14, 11, 7:09 pm
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fti
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Few if any tours that I know of operate that late. The 26 Glaciers tour in Whittier ends on Sep 30.

I would play it by ear, depending on weather. As Orlando Vic mentioned, the drive along Turnagain Arm is really nice. If the weather is nice, it could be worth it going up the tram. If the weather is not good, it's not a good plan IMHO.

You would need to verify that the Native Heritage Center is open on weekends in October. They might be closed.

If the weather is nice, the drive north like you mentioned is a great drive. I would probably drive to Talkeetna (at mile 99 of the Parks Highway there is a 15-mile long spur road that goes to Talkeetna). Great views of the Mountain from there. And a few places to eat.

You can drive north to Talkeetna on one day and south to Girdwood and along Turnagain Arm the other day.

If you like hiking and the weather is nice, you can drive from Anchorage west toward the mountains to the Glen Alps. Some great hiking trails near there, including Flattop among others.

Another hike you might like, either from the top of the tram in Girdwood if you want a longer hike or from the "other" side of the trail (follow signs toward Crow Creek Mine and there is a Winner Creek trailhead there). From the trailhead on the Crow Creek Mine side, figure 3/4 mile max to the "hand tram" where you get into a basket and pull yourself over to the other side. Very unique and fun experience.,

If you wanted to spend a night outside Anchorage, and if the weather is nice, and if you really like hiking, a great trip would be to Seward (2-3 hours south of Anchorage). There is a really nice trail called Harding Icefield Trail that starts near Exit Glacier just north of Seward. Very hard to do in one day with a drive from Anchorage and back again though. 8+ miles round trip with a 3K foot elevation gain. They say 6-8 hours round trip and that is pretty accurate. Incredible views and at the top you get to see the icefield. If this interests you, you might want to check to see that there is not a huge amount of snow on the trail before heading that way.
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Old Aug 14, 11, 7:10 pm
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October can be hit and miss as winter is starting to set in. Here are some of the things I did during my trips to ANC.

Well you'll enjoy the 50 draft beers at Humpy's and make sure you have the plank halibut. Also check out the Glacier Brewhouse.
http://www.glacierbrewhouse.com/
http://www.humpys.com/

Family ideas: the hotel desk clerk recommended all of the following things and I enjoyed them all.

Kincaid Park - West end of Anchorage. Nice hiking trails and plenty of moose to see.
http://alaska.org/maps/kincaid-park-anchorage-map.htm

About an hour north of Anchorage you'll find the Matanuska Glacier. It's an awesome experience to walk on the mouth of a glacier.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matanuska_Glacier


About an hour south of Anchorage you'll find the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
http://www.alaskawildlife.org/visit.html

Have Fun!
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Old Aug 14, 11, 10:22 pm
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Thank you, truly, for these great suggestions.

I heard back from one of the adventure outfits (Miller's Landing) today, and they will still have guided tours available during the first week of October. Since I am traveling alone on this MR, I'm limited to a paddle from Seward to Caines Head. I imagine all of the areas are beautiful, but does anyone have experience with this area? Should it be an enjoyable experience? I am an avid kayaker. The tour also includes a trip to an abandoned WWII era military outpost which sounds neat. I figure I could see Turnagain Arm while I am in this area?

I really wanted to do a kayaking tour of Alaik Bay, but it appears to be too late in the season for that.

FTI, is the view from Talkeetna better than that at Trappers Creek? I believe I had read that Trappers Creek was around mile 115 on the road to Denali state park.

The hand tram hike sounds pretty neat, though if I do the kayak tour from Seward I will probably be unable to do it if I try to head North on the other day.

I know once I go I'll have to go back! Probably as addictive as Hawaii.

Thanks again for your responses!
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Old Aug 15, 11, 9:12 am
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On my "To Do" list in Seward is to get to Caines Head. But if you take that trip, you really should spend a night in Seward. Otherwise you are really pushing it to make it a day trip. Many people take that tour and it sounds like a good one.

>>FTI, is the view from Talkeetna better than that at Trappers Creek? I believe I had read that Trappers Creek was around mile 115 on the road to Denali state park.

Where at Trapper Creek is a great place to view the mountain? I don't recall a specific great place for a "lookout" view of the Mountain. Yes, Trapper Creek is about mile 115. I stayed in Trapper Creek once and also drive by there a lot to/from Denali. At least in Talkeetna you have that nice overlook coming into town. Several places to eat in Talkeetna, perhaps the ranger station is open (double check). If so, they have a couple of great films you can ask them to play for you.

>>I know once I go I'll have to go back! Probably as addictive as Hawaii.

Way more addicting to me than Hawaii.
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Old Aug 15, 11, 3:48 pm
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I'm making the trip a week later - Oct 8-9 (arriving 2PM, leaving 9AM the next morning due to work). Let me know how it goes! Looking forward to the microbrews
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Old Aug 25, 11, 7:03 am
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Originally Posted by DeltaWings View Post
I heard back from one of the adventure outfits (Miller's Landing) today, and they will still have guided tours available during the first week of October.
Even though you are not going to use Millers landing for fishing, I have some strong feelings about them...and they aren't positive: http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...omment-5694613
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Old Aug 28, 11, 4:43 pm
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Originally Posted by fti View Post

Where at Trapper Creek is a great place to view the mountain? I don't recall a specific great place for a "lookout" view of the Mountain. Yes, Trapper Creek is about mile 115. I stayed in Trapper Creek once and also drive by there a lot to/from Denali. At least in Talkeetna you have that nice overlook coming into town.
While not a formal lookout, one spot to catch a (weather permitting) view is where the Parks Highway crosses Trapper Creek itself. That's right around milepost 115 and just before the pizza pub run by the entertaining German woman. And if the weather seems cooperative, a drive out the Petersville Road from Trapper Creek can provide lots and lots of photo ops.
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Old Aug 29, 11, 1:32 pm
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Thanks again for all of the great suggestions. Here is my tentative schedule (I realize that it is very full and I may have to cut some things out once I arrive).

Oct. 1
-Arrive 8:30pm
-Dinner, Humpy's?

Oct. 2
- Drive to Seward, Caines Head paddle, 8am to 3pm
- Drive to Girdwood after, take the Hand Tram hike
- Return to Anchorage, Dinner at Glacier Brewhouse?

Oct. 3
- Drive to Talkeetna, arrive there in time to see sunrise? (Is this a good idea?)
- Check out Talkeetna, drive back to Anchorage
- Golf at Anchorage Golf Course or Moose Run (anyone have any experience w/ the golf?)
- Dinner in Anchorage (any suggestions?)
- Flight departs ANC at 9:40pm

I realize this is a lot of driving and a lot of activity. I'm extremely skilled at operating with little to no sleep, so I plan to go full steam ahead for the two days I am there, see/do as much as possible, and organize a much longer trip for next year on the flight back.

Thanks again for all of the suggestions!
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Old Aug 29, 11, 8:27 pm
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Honestly, I think you are crazy, but you designed a very typical "first time Alaska visitor" itinerary. You don't realize there are no interstate highways in Alaska. You don't realize the roads are pretty much all two-lane. You don't realize there might be construction or accidents or even snow that preclude you from making good time.

>>Oct. 1
>>-Arrive 8:30pm
>>-Dinner, Humpy's?

So arrive 8.30pm, by the time you get your luggage it is after 9pm. By the time you get your rental car is is 9.30pm. By the time you get to your hotel it is after 10pm. By the time you eat and get back to your hotel it is midnight.

Then for an 8am Caines Head paddle, you need to be there probably by 7.30am. Figure 2-1/2 hours to get there so you need to leave by 5am (so get up about 4.30am?). Depart Seward 3.30pm, back in Anchorage without stops about 6pm or later. With your stops, figure another couple of hours. Then dinner. So really not back to your room until 11pm or so, and that is if all goes well.

If you want to see the alpenglow on Mt. McKinley (slim chance to even see Mt. McKinley) that means you need to be at a spot to see the Mountain before twilight, which is 7.30am. That means leaving Anchorage about 5.30am for Talkeetna - yes, on the same two-lane roads that have moose and other wildlife that you can easily hit due to the darkness and lack of sleep. And I can tell you right now that with a moose and your car, you and your car are always the losers.

"I realize this is a lot of driving and a lot of activity. I'm extremely skilled at operating with little to no sleep"

It is not a question of your skill at operating with little sleep. It is a question of your inexperience in driving in such conditions as in Alaska and in realizing that you really will mainly be seeing the Alaskan roads and not Alaska. With Alaska, less is always more.

Fortunately I won't be in Alaska at the time you are. If I were, I would be certain to avoid the roads you would be traveling on.

Sorry if I sound so hard, but it is my hope you will come to your senses
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Old Aug 29, 11, 9:19 pm
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
Honestly, I think you are crazy, but you designed a very typical "first time Alaska visitor" itinerary.
That's why I'm sticking to the brewpubs
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Old Aug 30, 11, 5:53 pm
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
Fortunately I won't be in Alaska at the time you are. If I were, I would be certain to avoid the roads you would be traveling on.
Well, I'll be here and won't hesitate to drive my little compact car around while you're here. Frankly, I'd say dodging other (bad) drivers in BOS or ORD is far more challenging than anything in Alaska. I've lived here 16 years and have driven every road in Alaska (many multiple times) as well as up and down the Alaska Highway to the Lower 48 three times, and the only encounter with wildlife was a cracked windshield from a moose near Muncho Lake in Canada well past dusk (I wasn't even the one driving). Other than that, I've not so much as even had to hit the brakes for an animal.

fti is a very experienced Alaskan traveler, but IMHO he's overstating the dangers here.
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Old Aug 30, 11, 9:53 pm
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I really do appreciate your warnings. I live in Florida now, but I'm from PA and am experienced with driving in sleet and snow.

I do realize that there are no freeways, mostly two-lane roads and wild animals.

Though it does sound as if I would be wise to focus my time in Seward and skip the drive North to Talkeetna. If I spend the night of the 2nd in Seward I could drive back and golf in Anchorage before my flight on the 3rd.
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Old Aug 31, 11, 11:01 am
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
fti is a very experienced Alaskan traveler, but IMHO he's overstating the dangers here.
It is not just the dangers, but the schedule - get to bed Day 1 about midnight in Anchorage and be in Seward by 7.30am on Day 2? I don't recommend Seward as a day trip for most people, much less scheduling an 8am tour there. Fine for some people I guess, but I prefer to spend my time in Alaska much differently.
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