Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > America - USA > Alaska
Reload this Page >

Flying into ANC, 3 Days, What to Do?

Flying into ANC, 3 Days, What to Do?

Old Aug 25, 12, 4:05 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: Former SPG Plat and AA EXP; Current SPG LT Gold and AA LT GLD
Posts: 884
Flying into ANC, 3 Days, What to Do?

I'm getting into ANC next Saturday night, leaving Tuesday night. (Waiting till the last minute to plan the details, of course.) Never been to Alaska before.

Right now I'm thinking we'll spend the night in Anchorage and drive down to Seward in the morning for the full-day Kenai Fjord tour. The next day I think we'll do ice hiking or climbing with Exit Glacier Guides. Not yet sure what we'd do that night or the next day. Anything to do in Anchorage, or should we stay down south? Any other recommendations of things to do/see/eat in the Seward area? Where can you get good/fresh seafood?

I was originally thinking of driving up to Denali for hiking and to try to see the northern lights, but it seemed like, given the time constraint, it would be rushed. Anyone think that would be a better option that going down south?

Thanks for your advice.
barelyelite is offline  
Old Aug 25, 12, 5:18 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Adelphi, MD
Programs: Korean Air Skypass, ANA Skyweb, Amex Premier Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred
Posts: 605
Going to Denali will guarantee you see a Grizzly bear, maybe do some hiking. Things to do in Seward besides wildlife cruises, are some hikes, kayaking, doing some fishing. Rick's seafoods is a good place to eat. Things to do in Anchorage are some hikes around the south part of town, bicycling, and more fishing.
smith80678 is offline  
Old Aug 26, 12, 11:30 am
  #3  
fti
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: MN
Programs: Lots of programs, dirt on all of them!
Posts: 11,891
That is a good amount of time to do one of two things - Seward as you said or Denali.

If you did Seward I like your itinerary.

Sat 01 Sep arrive ANC

Sun 02 Sep drive to Seward but I would not suggest the Kenai Fjords tour today. The drive along Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage is really pretty. Take the time on the way to Seward to pull off, take photos, etc. The pullouts are on the south side of the road so it is much easier to turn off when going south than when going north. Maybe stop in Girdwood (Winner Creek Trail and the unique hand tram are great), Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage Glacier area, Byron Glacier hike, etc.

Mon 03 Sep Kenai Fjords tour

Tue 04 Sep Exit Glacier Guides hike (never taken it, but great reviews). Afterward drive to ANC for your return flight (arrive 90-120 minutes before the flight).

If your flight back from ANC is too early then you could do the KF tour on Sunday (depart Anchorage that morning well before 8am to allow plenty of time for delays). Then use Tuesday to do the activities I mentioned above for Sunday.

Denali is really attractive that time of year with the fantastic fall colors. You could do this:

Sat arrive ANC

Sun drive to Denali (5 hours) with stops along the way, entrance-area activities at Denali

Mon shuttle bus to Wonder Lake. Book this in advance and book to Wonder Lake. If you want to get off earlier, great but book to Wonder Lake since fewer shuttles go there and trying to upgrade on the day of travel is harder. Great chance to see wildlife including bears, fall colors will be at or near peak, and hiking is great too

Tue entrance-area activities you missed or another shuttle bus trip into the park (maybe book 8 hours to Eielson or 6 hours to Toklat) then drive back to Anchorage (allow 5-6 hours minimum) then fly out.

Northern Lights sightings are sporadic at best, but you can definitely see them from Denali. I saw them in mid August two summers ago at Denali and in early to mid September last year at Denali.
fti is offline  
Old Aug 26, 12, 5:01 pm
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: Former SPG Plat and AA EXP; Current SPG LT Gold and AA LT GLD
Posts: 884
Thanks to both of you for the great tips. Think we're gonna head south... seems to be a lot to do down there (and the news of the Denali grizzly attack confirms this choice).

Couple other questions...

Any must-do hikes? Best for us would be something moderately difficult with a big payoff. Seems like the Flattop Trail is popular, so that's something.

Any recommendations for camping in the vicinity? Either cabins or somewhere we could rent a tent. (Though I bet many if not most places are booked by now.)

Any recommendations on a fishing excursion suitable for near-novices?
barelyelite is offline  
Old Aug 26, 12, 7:36 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Adelphi, MD
Programs: Korean Air Skypass, ANA Skyweb, Amex Premier Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred
Posts: 605
Lost lake hike near seward is very nice, especially if all the blueberries are ready for pickin. Winner creek trail near Girdwood is magical, as the other poster said. Flat-top is not really a notable hike. It does go very high very fast, but Bird creek or mchugh creek are more scenic. Camping near Seward: Miller's landing does have some nice cabins and tent spots. They also rent out kayaks.
smith80678 is offline  
Old Aug 26, 12, 7:56 pm
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Pittsburgh
Programs: MR/SPG LT PLT, AA LT PLT, HH GLD, UA SLV, Avis PreferredPlus
Posts: 25,050
I just returned from 9 days. In the ANC areas:

A few hours at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, if you're into understanding the history, culture, etc.

Matanuska Glacier - we toured with MICA guides - a fabulous time for everyone. (Tell Richard we said hi)

Glacier Cruise - Whittier or Seward. We did the 26 Glacier Tour and it was great, but everyone on the boat said the number of days with weather as nice as we ran into could be counted on one hand for the entire summer. Most of the glaciers are only in the distance, with one up-close viewing. THere may be better options.

Kayak in Resurrection Bay - We did a full day, got caught by the afternoon winds and had to be rescued. And we still had a great time. Literally dozens of bald eagles, seals, etc., etc. We went with Kayak Adventures Worldwide (tell Wendy and Adam we said hi)

If you want to get outdoors and are out by Whittier - do the Portage Pass hike for a moderate workout, or the easier Byron Glacier trail (or both, as we did).

The boat out to Portage glacier is also a worthwhile 90 minute investment if you're going south.

Seavy Ididaride. You get to see the dogs being raised, and we were guided by the 2012 Jr. Iditarod winner, son of a former overall winner and brother to the 2012 winner. But for the $$, this probably wouldn't be on my list unless you love dogs or have kids.

Exit Glacier was disappointing. In 2000 we would walk up and touch it, now it's just a 30 minute walk for a 100 yard view.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center - a great way to spend an hour or two close up to most of the native big animals.

We went to Denali, but that's a major time commitment for such a short trip.

Flat Top Mtn - a challenging hike, but not much in the way of scenery, compared to the rest of the area. Good for a morning workout, but that's about it.
CPRich is offline  
Old Aug 27, 12, 7:53 pm
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: Former SPG Plat and AA EXP; Current SPG LT Gold and AA LT GLD
Posts: 884
Thanks again, all. This is good stuff.

Is Matanuska Glacier worth the drive from Seward? As mentioned, I was thinking of going with Exit Glacier Guides at Exit Glacier, but I'd consider doing Matanuska with Mica Guides if it's considerable more impressive.
barelyelite is offline  
Old Aug 27, 12, 7:55 pm
  #8  
fti
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: MN
Programs: Lots of programs, dirt on all of them!
Posts: 11,891
Originally Posted by barelyelite View Post
Thanks again, all. This is good stuff.

Is Matanuska Glacier worth the drive from Seward? As mentioned, I was thinking of going with Exit Glacier Guides at Exit Glacier, but I'd consider doing Matanuska with Mica Guides if it's considerable more impressive.
Matanuska Glacier is in the opposite direction from Anchorage than Seward is. I would definitely stick with Exit Glacier Guides. I have not done either one (yet - planning on Matanuska Glacier next June). The Exit Glacier Guides hike is longer, more strenuous and I think will be a better experience than the Matanuska Glacier hike.
fti is offline  
Old Aug 27, 12, 7:58 pm
  #9  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: CHA, MAN;
Programs: Delta DM 1 MM; HH Diam,Hz PC,
Posts: 11,061
Well I like flying so I got a Rusts seaplane flight out of Anchorage Lake Hood Seaplane base. Did the glaciers etc from the air. Wonderful
GRALISTAIR is offline  
Old Aug 27, 12, 8:37 pm
  #10  
fti
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: MN
Programs: Lots of programs, dirt on all of them!
Posts: 11,891
Originally Posted by GRALISTAIR View Post
Well I like flying so I got a Rusts seaplane flight out of Anchorage Lake Hood Seaplane base. Did the glaciers etc from the air. Wonderful
With just 3 days in Alaska, one has to make tough choices. If flying is a priority for the OP, they can consider a flightseeing tour out of Seward. I did one a couple of years ago and it was great. We flew from Seward toward Aialik Glacier, over the Harding Icefield then kind of parallel to Exit Glacier and the Harding Icefield Trail. I used Scenic Mountain Air. At the time they were running a special but I think their prices are reasonable anyway.
fti is offline  
Old Aug 27, 12, 9:22 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Adelphi, MD
Programs: Korean Air Skypass, ANA Skyweb, Amex Premier Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred
Posts: 605
Floatplane? I think i would rather take my chances with the grizzly up in Denali
smith80678 is offline  
Old Aug 27, 12, 9:44 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Pittsburgh
Programs: MR/SPG LT PLT, AA LT PLT, HH GLD, UA SLV, Avis PreferredPlus
Posts: 25,050
Matanuska would be 5 hours from Seward - not worth it on a 3 day trip, I suppose.

I second the flying tour, though it's pricey. We flew around McKinley from Talkeetna, landing on Ruth Glacier for a 20 minute visit. Fabulous. But again, 5 hours from Seward. A flight around the ranges surrounding Seward should be similar, if you luck out and have good weather.
CPRich is offline  
Old Aug 28, 12, 9:42 am
  #13  
fti
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: MN
Programs: Lots of programs, dirt on all of them!
Posts: 11,891
Originally Posted by smith80678 View Post
Floatplane? I think i would rather take my chances with the grizzly up in Denali
I have taken my chances with both . Flying in Alaska is an excellent way to see the state. I have taken floatplanes and wheeled planes. From Ketchikan, Talkeetna, Seward, King Salmon, Anchorage and probably elsewhere that I don't recall offhand.

My last plane trip was from Talkeetna in May. Flew to the Kahiltna Glacier basecamp, spent a good 1/2 hour there and returned. Sheldon Air Service did an excellent job and gave us a longer flight including glacier landing for the price of our Groupon, which didn't include a glacier landing. Kudos to them.
fti is offline  
Old Aug 29, 12, 1:49 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,915
Expect to want to come again because 3 days is nothing for this spectacular part of the world. Heck I am doing 3 weeks again next year and I still don't think I am going to see it all......
moeve is offline  
Old Aug 29, 12, 7:10 pm
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Pittsburgh
Programs: MR/SPG LT PLT, AA LT PLT, HH GLD, UA SLV, Avis PreferredPlus
Posts: 25,050
I think you could spend 3 months, or 3 years, and not see it all. It's a big place

Even spending the 10 days I just spent, we couldn't get to Fairbanks, couldn't get to Valdez, couldn't get to Homer - all of which were on our "want to visit list". And those are all still just the "tourist" spots - we didn't even get close to visiting Unalakleet and checking in with Ariel Tweto

I suspect that some year, post retirement, I'll be spending a summer up there. There just something special about it to me.
CPRich is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread