5 Days in Alaska ...

Old Mar 5, 12, 8:23 pm
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5 Days in Alaska ...

Hi Flyertalk,
A couple of friends and I are travelling to Alaska for four/five days in June. We plan to arrive in ANC (late night) and start our journey the next morning and this is what we're thinking of;

Day 1: Drive from Anchorage to Seward in the morning and spend the day in Seward kayaking, canoing, glacier hiking (Exit Glacier + Harding Ice Field) + Portage Lake + open to any other suggestions.
Drive back to Anchorage at night.

Day 2: Drive from Anchorage early morning to Denali National Park and get there around 9-10am. Spend the day at the park and drive off at night to Fairbanks. (or should we spend a night at Denali?)

Day 3: Drive from Fairbanks to Tok - spending the day at various state parks (Tanana). Spend the night at Tok.

Day 4: Drive from Tok to Anchorage - via. Matanuska Glacier

We're trying to keep the cost of this trip to a minimum - but would love your input and suggestions to make this a memorable trip!
Thank you in advance!

Last edited by im.daniel; Mar 5, 12 at 9:31 pm
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Old Mar 5, 12, 8:53 pm
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If you like baby Alaskan animals there is a wildlife conservation center near Girdwood. Great chance to get some good pics of bears, moose, etc. Not to mention a beautiful drive on the Seward highway.

www.alaskawildlife.org
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Old Mar 5, 12, 9:27 pm
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Originally Posted by skitch23 View Post
If you like baby Alaskan animals there is a wildlife conservation center near Girdwood. Great chance to get some good pics of bears, moose, etc. Not to mention a beautiful drive on the Seward highway.

www.alaskawildlife.org
Excellent! Will definitely take that into consideration; thanks a lot!
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Old Mar 12, 12, 6:46 pm
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Personally i feel you have severely underestimated times for everything.

>>Day 1: Drive from Anchorage to Seward in the morning and spend the day in Seward kayaking, canoing, glacier hiking (Exit Glacier + Harding Ice Field) + Portage Lake + open to any other suggestions.
Drive back to Anchorage at night.

So you drive to Seward, takes 2-3 hours minimum. Depart 6am arrive by 9am. Harding Icefield Trail takes 6 hours or more. How can you even have much time to go kayaking and get to Portage Lake (for the glacier tour?). You probably miss one of the best things in Seward, which is the Kenai Fjords NP boat tour of 6 hours or more.

>>Day 2: Drive from Anchorage early morning to Denali National Park and get there around 9-10am. Spend the day at the park and drive off at night to Fairbanks. (or should we spend a night at Denali?)

In order to arrive at Denali at 9am you need to leave by 4am if not earlier. Then you get a 10am shuttle bus to Eielson and don't get back to the entrance until 6pm - and that is if you never get off your original bus to do any hiking. If you have dinner near Denali you won't get out of Denali until at least 8pm if not later.

>>Day 3: Drive from Fairbanks to Tok - spending the day at various state parks (Tanana). Spend the night at Tok.

>>Day 4: Drive from Tok to Anchorage - via. Matanuska Glacier

You are trying to keep your cost to a minimum but you are spending all this money on gas just to see the road system in Alaska. You are not doing anything between Denali and Matanuska Glacier (and even then I assume you are just going to "see" the glacier from the road). That is a pity.

I would suggest you skip Fairbanks, Tok, etc. Return from Denali to Matanuska Glacier, take a glacier hike (that is the real highlight of Matanuska Glacier). On the way you can see the Veteran's Memorial at mile 147 of the Parks Highway, go to the Iditarod HQ in Wasilla to see the film and even take a short dogsled ride, go to Independence Mine area, the muskox farm and/or reindeer farm. All are very inexpensive or free. And spend an extra night in Seward so you can really see it.

Do you fly out of ANC the evening of Day 4? What time?
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Old Mar 13, 12, 5:55 pm
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I'd like to +1 fti's comments about underestimating the time to do all your listed activities. Four days is not enough to do the area justice, but a few thoughts.

1. You're right to get out of ANC proper - the Seward Hwy is a gorgeous drive & it is worth it to get to Seward & Kenai. It's about 130 miles away and close to a 3 hour drive. Trying to make it a day trip from ANC is aggressive and you'll be pretty darned tired looking at the drive back.

2. An option for "Seward light" would be to set up home base in Girdwood (The Alyeska Resort is very nice and can be moderately priced outside skiing season.) From there you could go to Whittier for one of the many glacier tours as well as going through the longest tunnel in North America. This certainly isn't as good as Kenai, but might be a better use of time looking at stuff rather than driving to stuff. Hate to disagree with skitch23, but the last time I was at the wildlife center it was a bit depressing - you drive in a loop stopping by pens to view the animals. It's difficult to take a good picture without it being a zoo-like shot...chain link fence or straw & mud underfoot in the composition. Last March most of the animals just appeared unhappy & the bears were exhibiting neurotic behavior imho.

3. If you go to Denali make the most of it - stop in Wasilla, take a picture of yourself pretending to look for Russia. Take the turn into Talkeetna for the kitch value & hopefully it'll be clear enough to see McKinley. Use your time to enjoy Denali.

I think if you just do those two things you'll have made the most of your time and am sure it'll whet your appetite to make another trip soon -- Fairbanks for the aurora?
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Old Mar 13, 12, 6:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Zarf4 View Post
I think if you just do those two things you'll have made the most of your time and am sure it'll whet your appetite to make another trip soon -- Fairbanks for the aurora?
Why Fairbanks? I saw the most incredible aurora last Thursday night/Friday morning from Eagle River, 15 miles north of Anchorage. Absolutely phenomenal.
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Old Mar 13, 12, 6:42 pm
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
Why Fairbanks? I saw the most incredible aurora last Thursday night/Friday morning from Eagle River, 15 miles north of Anchorage. Absolutely phenomenal.
Wow if it was that good in Anchorage wonder how incredible it must have been in Fairbanks
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Old Mar 31, 12, 5:01 pm
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I would recommend scaling back to just one direction or the other. There are plenty of things to do on the Kenai Peninsula for a trip of this length. Seward is at least a full day, just to take a half day cruise (either from Seward or Whittier) and hike to Exit Glacier. The highway is beautiful. A very good friend of mine, with excellent taste and a way with words described the trip as "Scenic Overload". Hotels can be reasonable and there are some nice B&B's in town. Two days for Seward is not a lot.

Drive from Seward to the Sterling Highway and visit Kenai, Soldotna and Homer. Lots of wildlife if you watch for it to be seen and several day hikes if you are interested in that. Homer is an artist's community with lots of character and things to see.

Or, go north, spend a full day in the park, overnight in the area and then drive to Fairbanks. I do not spend any more time in Fairbanks than absolutely necessary. That's just me. I don't find much to do there, but the people are very nice. Research the area for things to do.

Then drive down to Glenallen and head toward the Matanuska Glacier. The Glenn Highway is a National Scenic Highway and the views can be spectacular.

Bring mosquito repellent (DEET) as they will be hungry and have been known to haul off small dogs.
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Old Apr 4, 12, 10:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Zarf4 View Post
Wow if it was that good in Anchorage wonder how incredible it must have been in Fairbanks
No kidding. I've lived in Anchorage seven years now and still have never seen the aurora's here anywhere near as good as they are in Fairbanks.
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Old Apr 4, 12, 10:02 pm
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Oh, and OP, I agree with the others, your proposed itinerary is technically doable but realistically not feasible. Pick one area and focus on it...i.e. the Kenai Peninsula, or Denali, or the Interior, etc.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 2:01 pm
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I spent just about 48 hours in Alaska in August, and can attest that at least for your Anchorage to Seward journey, it is a bit of a stretch.


I set off of my drive probably by 9am, and got to Seward (with only quick photo stops alomg the way) by 12:30. I had lunch at the Smoke Shack (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran...rd_Alaska.html), which is a restaurant in a converted rail car. -- I also stopped in the Safeway, just to see what prices were like, and then started back to Anchorage.

I did stop for about an hour at the Chugach National Forest Visitor's Center in Girdwood, and got back down into the Anchorage area in the 5pm range.

As great as the sites were, they did get repetitive, and the return drive did soon become long feeling. Anyone who has driven the Road to Hana in Hawaii, I think can attest there are only so many waterfalls one can see.

This was a long day, and I didn't do any of the activities you plan on doing. I failed to note where you are from, but you will also be tired from the previous day's travel, unless of course you are from SEA.

I would seriously consider overnighting in, Seward and adjusting accordingly.
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