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Driving Glenn, Parks, Richardson Highways

Driving Glenn, Parks, Richardson Highways

Old Mar 27, 13, 4:27 pm
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Driving Glenn, Parks, Richardson Highways

I'll be in ANC in April and have 3 days to take to the Alaskan Highways. I love taking pictures of mountains, lakes, glaciers, and wildlife.

My sister lives in ANC so I have a place to crash at night if I stick close to ANC. I am thinking about either:

A) Drive Glenn to Glennallen, go up Richardson to Fairbanks, back down Parks to Anchorage, or

B) Drive Glenn to Glennallen, turn back to ANC for the night. Next day, drive up Parks about 100 miles, turn back to ANC.

With option A, I get to see more but need to stay at motels for 2 or 3 nights (Fairbanks is not an attraction for me because I was just there last month).

With option B, I'll miss out on Richardson and part of the Parks, but I save on accomodation and will need to drive 200 miles less.

So, my question: is Richardson and the northern part of Parks worth the extra time and money, keeping in mind that I'll still see the Glenn and part of the Parks if I take option B?
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Old Mar 27, 13, 8:27 pm
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Driving conditions in April can be dicey - black ice at night/mornings, frost heaves, other breakup woes - but if it was me I'd drive to Glennallen and turn right. The Richardson into Valdez is arguably one of the most beautiful drives in Alaska and (IMO of course) a much better choice than the Glenn - Richardson - Parks loop or some other alternative. Yes, you'd have to retrace your steps coming back, but that's not much of a hardship; pretty much nonstop scenery. (Or you could, of course, put the car on the ferry in Valdez and cross PWS to Whittier - a superb but more expensive alternative.)
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Old Mar 28, 13, 6:30 am
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I would encourage you to consider something different. How about rather than just seeing the Alaskan roads you consider seeing more of Alaska itself? maybe go to Seward and take a gray whale watch tour? Or drive to Denali National Park for a night and drive as far as you can drive into the park? (not too far that time of year though) or see if there are any Prince William Sound tours operating that early from Whittier?
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Old Mar 28, 13, 7:59 am
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Driving conditions in April can be dicey - black ice at night/mornings, frost heaves, other breakup woes - but if it was me I'd drive to Glennallen and turn right. The Richardson into Valdez is arguably one of the most beautiful drives in Alaska and (IMO of course) a much better choice than the Glenn - Richardson - Parks loop or some other alternative. Yes, you'd have to retrace your steps coming back, but that's not much of a hardship; pretty much nonstop scenery. (Or you could, of course, put the car on the ferry in Valdez and cross PWS to Whittier - a superb but more expensive alternative.)
Nonstop scenery - that's music to my ears! I think that's what I'll do, but I'll need to stay the night in Valdez. Looked into taking the ferry back - $127. Not too bad, except that it only runs two days a week. Next time perhaps. Thanks for the tip.
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Old Mar 28, 13, 8:02 am
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
I would encourage you to consider something different. How about rather than just seeing the Alaskan roads you consider seeing more of Alaska itself? maybe go to Seward and take a gray whale watch tour? Or drive to Denali National Park for a night and drive as far as you can drive into the park? (not too far that time of year though) or see if there are any Prince William Sound tours operating that early from Whittier?
I was in ANC last month and went to Seward. Rainy, miserable day - everything was closed except for the gas station and a diner. I'm actually thinking about heading to Kenai again and I may still drive up the Parks Highway a bit. I thought Denali NP is still closed next month, no?
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Old Mar 28, 13, 5:55 pm
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Originally Posted by neech7 View Post
I was in ANC last month and went to Seward. Rainy, miserable day - everything was closed except for the gas station and a diner. I'm actually thinking about heading to Kenai again and I may still drive up the Parks Highway a bit. I thought Denali NP is still closed next month, no?
Well, then your experience for Seward begs another visit with better conditions

In reality, Denali NP never closes. But the shuttle buses only operate May 20th until the 2nd Thursday after Labor Day. I flew up to AK one year when the road into the park was open to mile 29 in early April (that is the furthest it is open from when the Spring Road Opening opens it until May 19th). It was the earliest in years that the road was open that far that early. I drove the road twice each day - morning and evening. Saw some wildlife including a bear and cub. I also drove the road in the fall after the buses stopped operating and brought a bicycle. I biked another 10 miles into the park. That was great - I basically had the road to myself except for a few NPS vehicles and a contractor truck or two. I would go in the spring and fall again in a heartbeat, especially when the road is open to drive to mile 29. You could combine Denali with Talkeetna and even do a flightseeing tour out of Talkeetna depending on weather and availability.
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Old Mar 29, 13, 8:36 am
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
Well, then your experience for Seward begs another visit with better conditions

In reality, Denali NP never closes. But the shuttle buses only operate May 20th until the 2nd Thursday after Labor Day. I flew up to AK one year when the road into the park was open to mile 29 in early April (that is the furthest it is open from when the Spring Road Opening opens it until May 19th). It was the earliest in years that the road was open that far that early. I drove the road twice each day - morning and evening. Saw some wildlife including a bear and cub. I also drove the road in the fall after the buses stopped operating and brought a bicycle. I biked another 10 miles into the park. That was great - I basically had the road to myself except for a few NPS vehicles and a contractor truck or two. I would go in the spring and fall again in a heartbeat, especially when the road is open to drive to mile 29. You could combine Denali with Talkeetna and even do a flightseeing tour out of Talkeetna depending on weather and availability.

Yes, will definitely go back to Seward another time. For this trip, I'll take the Glenn and Richardson to Valdez, then perhaps a drive up Parks.

BTW, ANC rental car at Hotwire is $7.50 per day, all-in total of $65 for 4 days. That's cheaper than a one-day rental in YYZ last year. Big difference.
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Old Apr 1, 13, 1:38 am
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