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Realistic itin with base in Anchorage?

Realistic itin with base in Anchorage?

Old Apr 2, 13, 4:27 pm
  #1  
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Realistic itin with base in Anchorage?

I have a large family with seniors (78, 75) and young kids (6, 4). So I'm trying to make it as comfortable as possible.

The plan is to stay in Anchorage.

Day 1: drive to Talkeetna, take the air tour of Denali, back to Anchorage.
Day 2: relax
Day 3: drive to Whittier. Do some tour there. Back to Anchorage
Day 4: relax
Day 5: drive to Seward. Do some tour there. Back to Anchorage
Day 6: leave.

I'll be driving so hopefully the rest of the family can have some rest when on the roads.

Haven't seen many people do the same. Is it a doable plan? Any suggestion or advice is welcome.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 6:51 pm
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Do you have to stay in Anchorage all the time? If you didn't mind a couple of nights in Seward, you could go there after the Whittier tour (you've already driven 40% of the distance) then have your "down" day in Seward.

I'd also suggest that you could save several hours of (frankly not very inspiring) driving by simply taking a Denali flightseeing trip from Anchorage instead of Talkeetna. It will be a little more expensive than the Talkeetna flights, but you could conceivably save a day's car rental. Look at Rust's out of Lake Hood - a veteran operator with a good selection of options. In addition to the mountain, you'll see a lot of wilderness country from the air - it's very impressive.
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Old Apr 2, 13, 11:54 pm
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Good advice from Gardyloo.

the only part of your itinerary I think is unrealistic or uncomfortable is the drive down to Seward with an activity and drive all the way back to ANC, all fit into one day. I have done that, not with old folks but with kids ages 5 and 6, and it worked out but was just so much driving. I would say spend a night in Seward or somewhere along the way rather than getting all the way back to Anchorage.

all that comes to my mind as "along the way" is that there is a Princess resort, bt I haven;t stayed there, or there is Girdwood (Alyeska Resort) which is lovely but nearly all the way back to Anchorage. But if you do stay there, you can get amazing breakfast in town and you're right by that wildlife rescue center which is great for a short visit and all ages.


I haven't done the talkeneetna air tour stuff, but I have twice done the day trip to a whittier cruise and that is pretty much the only way to do it. So, good.
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Old Apr 3, 13, 8:41 am
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Thanks for all the advice. The reasons I want to go back to ANC is 1) I'm cheap but have a lot of points from the chains (hilton, marriott, etc). The only place where I can stay for free with the points seems to be ANC. Outside of it, all the resorts are so expensive; and 2) I want to have a home base for the family so that they don't have to pack and unpack constantly.

Sounds like Whittier is doable. Then there are two options when it comes to Seward:

1. don't go
2. go and stay there for a night - if we do that, we might as well continue onto Whitter after that.

Correct?

Any other suggestion in terms of meaningful, doable day trips from Anchorage?
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Old Apr 3, 13, 12:22 pm
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Originally Posted by lancexfang View Post
Thanks for all the advice. The reasons I want to go back to ANC is 1) I'm cheap but have a lot of points from the chains (hilton, marriott, etc). The only place where I can stay for free with the points seems to be ANC. Outside of it, all the resorts are so expensive; and 2) I want to have a home base for the family so that they don't have to pack and unpack constantly.

Sounds like Whittier is doable. Then there are two options when it comes to Seward:

1. don't go
2. go and stay there for a night - if we do that, we might as well continue onto Whitter after that.

Correct?

Any other suggestion in terms of meaningful, doable day trips from Anchorage?
Well, the deal with Seward and Whittier is that you travel on the same highway to get to both. The turnoff (from the Seward Highway) to Whittier is around an hour from Anchorage, then you travel 10 miles up Portage Valley to a one-way train/car tunnel that's only open a few times daily in each direction, which will take you into Whittier.

To get to Seward from Anchorage, you take the same highway, but don't turn off at Portage. That drive is around 2 to 2 1/2 hours, i.e. roughly twice as far as the Portage turnoff, or, put another way, an hour and a bit farther down the road. If you do separate day trips to Whittier and Seward, you're basically driving the Turnagain Arm part of the Seward Highway four times. Now it's very scenic and all that, but, assuming you're visiting in the summer, it's also very prone to slow-moving traffic, and following an RV or a camper for hours up the Seward Highway is a really irritating common occurrence.

I get the point about hotel points, and, again, assuming you're coming in the summer, you won't have any daylight issues to prevent your basic plan. However, if you spent a night in Seward, you could take one of the Kenai Fjords National Park cruises that operate from there (very different from the glacier cruises out of Whittier). These would be difficult to do with a day trip, unless you left Anchorage at oh twilight thirty.
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Old Apr 3, 13, 12:55 pm
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wow - thank you for all the information and explanation. and really appreciate your taking the time to write it all down.

okay - I guess we can save one room in Anchorage just to dump all the things without having to pack it up, stay in Seward overnight, then go to Whittier on the next day, and drive back to Anchorage. Definitely less of driving and following the slow traffic, but is it as grueling, or should we really plan one night in Seward and another night in Whittier in an ideal setup?

Any recommendation for lodging options in Seward and Whittier? I found a HIX in Seward but doubt that's anything authentic Alaska. It's just we'll need 3 rooms, and with the Alaska kind of price, things add up pretty quickly.

Or, separately, is there any point of going to both Seward and Whittier? It sounds like the main attraction at both places is the glacier. I'm sure they are different and all that. But would we be better off by going to Seward, skipping Whittier, and maybe go to some other places that may offer a more different experience?

Last edited by lancexfang; Apr 3, 13 at 1:06 pm
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Old Apr 3, 13, 1:32 pm
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Originally Posted by lancexfang View Post
wow - thank you for all the information and explanation. and really appreciate your taking the time to write it all down.

okay - I guess we can save one room in Anchorage just to dump all the things without having to pack it up, stay in Seward overnight, then go to Whittier on the next day, and drive back to Anchorage. Definitely less of driving and following the slow traffic, but is it as grueling, or should we really plan one night in Seward and another night in Whittier in an ideal setup?

Any recommendation for lodging options in Seward and Whittier? I found a HIX in Seward but doubt that's anything authentic Alaska. It's just we'll need 3 rooms, and with the Alaska kind of price, things add up pretty quickly.

Or, separately, is there any point of going to both Seward and Whittier? It sounds like the main attraction at both places is the glacier. I'm sure they are different and all that. But would we be better off by going to Seward, skipping Whittier, and maybe go to some other places that may offer a more different experience?
Whittier is not a place to spend the night. (Do a little googling - it's a bizarre little burg built by the military solely for its ice-free harbor.) My suggestion would be to drive from Anchorage to Whittier in the morning, take one of the glacier cruises (Philips "26 Glacier" cruise is the most popular) then when it's over, travel through the tunnel back to the Seward Highway, then turn left and drive an hour or so down to Seward for the evening. The next day, take a Kenai Fjords tour and either spend that night in Seward, or drive back to Anchorage once the tour is done. Again, if this is in the summer, you'll have daylight until well after 10 PM, so driving back isn't going to be in the dark.

The tours from Whittier are mainly glacier viewing, up College Inlet, where there are numerous tidewater glaciers calving and doing glacier things. It's a very beautiful ride, on calm water. You'll see some seals and birds, but other wildlife is more elusive. The Kenai Fjords cruises are much more about the wildlife - birds, whales, seals, otters, etc. - as well as the scenery, and less about glaciers. However water conditions out of Seward can be significantly rougher than out of Whittier, so if seasickness is a risk with any of your party, precautions should be taken.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Apr 3, 13 at 1:38 pm
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Old Apr 3, 13, 2:33 pm
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sounds like the plan. will do. probably will just stay at the HIX in Seward and won't cost me a penny. greatly appreciate the detailed suggestions. we might very well follow it to the teeth.

Last edited by lancexfang; Apr 3, 13 at 2:49 pm
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Old Apr 7, 13, 9:33 pm
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You can't spend the night in Whittier even if you wanted to. No hotels! It is a really strange little place.

Just drive in that morning, take your day cruise, and drive onward to Seward or back to ANC.

I have been to Seward but not taken a cruise from there. I do think it is worth the trip even without the cruise just to see the town and the marine life center and because the drive has some amazing stops along the way. Next time I'm up there, I want to do a cruise, partly because I expect it to be different enough from the two I've done from Whittier.
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Old Apr 8, 13, 11:19 pm
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Originally Posted by cchrissyy View Post
You can't spend the night in Whittier even if you wanted to. No hotels! It is a really strange little place.
You're right that it is a strange place, but wrong on the lack of hotels. Inn at Whittier has been there for a while, although I'm not sure how they stay in business.

[URL=http://www.innatwhittier.com[/URL]
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Old Apr 10, 13, 11:27 pm
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In Seward be sure the Kenai Fjords cruise is SIX hours or longer. Anything less doesnt get out of the bay.

Also I dont like all the "relax" days but that should change with a night or two in Seward. I would consider one of the "relax" days be spent along Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage. Yes you will have traveled this road to Whittier and Seward but unless you spend two nights in Seward you really wont have the time to explore this area:

Potter Marsh for possible moose sighting
Girdwood for lots of options. The Winner Creek Trail and hand tram will be a hit with the kids. Go from the western trailhead off Crow Creek Mine riad.
Gold panning at Crow Creek or Indian mine.
Wildlife Conservation Center
Portage Glacier visitor center
Walk to Byron Glacier and playing at the base of the glacier.
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