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Last minute Anchorage trip + Denali or Kenai Peninsula. 7/29-8/3

Last minute Anchorage trip + Denali or Kenai Peninsula. 7/29-8/3

Old Jul 5, 14, 12:24 pm
  #1  
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Last minute Anchorage trip + Denali or Kenai Peninsula. 7/29-8/3

My AS companion fare is set to expire in a month and I figured I'd take my dad to Alaska with the few days I can get off of work before then. I'm 27, he's 62 - We'd be coming up to see some of the nature /scenery / wildlife that the state is known for.

From reading Tripadvisor and this forum I've gathered that with our limited time we should either choose to visit Denali OR the Kenai Peninsula, but not both. A friend from fairbanks has recommended the KP over Denali, but I'd still like to hear anyone else's opinion.

We arrive in Anchorage at 3:10 PM on Tues 7/29
Depart at 1:50AM on Sunday8/3
I've booked our first night in Anchorage, (we are also big into microbrews and apparently Anchorage has its fair share-though I am open to cancelling this booking and leaving ANC on day 1), but I'm a little unsure of how to allot our time after while on the Kenai Peninsula. It looks like places to visit are:

Whittier/ Prince william sound
Girdwood
Seward
Homer

Questions:
Do we have time to visit all these places? What town should we create our home base in? I know hotel/b&b space will be limited.
Must do / see things?
Should we rent a car from anchorage, or take the train and rent a car once on the KP?
Any other suggestions/advice? Is the KP preferred to Denali in your opinion?


Thanks in advance.
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Old Jul 5, 14, 4:17 pm
  #2  
fti
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You would have plenty of time to include Girdwood, Seward and Homer. I would not "base" yourself in one place though.

Book a rental car for Anchorage NOW and also look at off-airport locations.

I would arrive July 29, spend the night. Then July 30 spend time along Turnagain Arm (Girdwood and other places - Potter Marsh, the turnouts for views, Wildlife Conservation Center, etc) then drive to Homer. Spend night of July 30 in Homer. Take some boat tour on July 31 and maybe after that drive 4 hours to Seward.

Aug 1 take 6 hour or longer Kenai Fjords boat tour, then maybe August 2 do hiking near Exit Glacier or a kayak tour or fishing, etc. Drive in the evening to Anchorage, arriving at the airport before midnight for your 1.50am departure.

You could also go to Denali NP instead. Also, the 49th State Brewery in Healy has a microbrewery. Their sister restaurant, Prospectors Pizza, has 49 beers on tap (49th State may also have the same 49). If you went here, July 30 drive to Denali (about 5 hours), July 31 take a shuttle bus (not a tour bus) to Eielson. August 1 maybe go rafting, ATV tour, etc. Maybe also drive the first 15 miles of the park road. Head to the brewery in Healy, etc. Aug 2 you can drive the first 15 miles of the park road, go to the visitor center, watch the sleddog demo, etc. then head back to Anchorage in the afternoon.

More a matter of personal preference than anything. But with your priorities of nature, scenery, wildlife and microbrews, I would choose Denali over the KP.
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Old Jul 23, 14, 10:25 am
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sorry for the delay fti, thank you for the tips!

We are going to save Denali for our next trip and do the following Kenai Peninsula trip:

7/29 - 3:10PM arrive in ANC, stay the night.
7/30 - Drive to seward, with stops in Girdwood, Whittier, wildlife conservation center, Sea life center. Hike Exit Glacier. Sleep in Seward
7/31 - 6 or 9 our Kenai Fjords boat tour, then explore seward areas further.
8/1 - Drive to Homer, explore / relax in homer.
8/2 - Make our way back to Anchorage with stops along the way.

How does this look, are we missing any must-sees?


This morning, I just discovered BEAR viewing via seaplane from Homer to the Katmai which looks really, really awesome, but I'm not sure I can squeeze it in.. I'm looking at http://www.emeraldairservice.com/
It's not cheap, but looks to be a great experience. Has anyone done this?


thanks for advice!

Last edited by thegingninj; Jul 23, 14 at 10:57 am
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Old Jul 27, 14, 10:59 am
  #4  
fti
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I don't do bear viewing trips as day trips. They are just way too expensive for me, not to mention for a nominal additional cost you can usually spend the night and get 3-4x the bear viewing as one does on a day trip. The problem with bear viewing out of Homer is that the flights are often delayed/canceled. You don't even have time for a day trip with your plan since it takes a full day and you have to plan on delays on either end going or returning.

I would save the bear viewing for another trip when you have more time. You can combine that with a trip to Denali, which offers great bear viewing if you take multiple trips into the park.
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Old Jul 28, 14, 1:03 pm
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I just returned last night from my 5th trip to the Kenai Peninsula. I would choose it over Denali (and I love Denali!)

I haven't done bear viewing flights because of the cost. However, I've seen bears in the Russian River / Cooper Landing area which you'll be driving through on your way from Seward to Homer. (If you see a bunch of cars pulled over to the side of the highway and people taking pictures, it's a good bet someone has spotted wildlife.)

I would take the 9 hour Kenai Fjords trip. It is absolutely spectacular!
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Old Jul 29, 14, 1:30 pm
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Noted - We will be saving the bear trip for a future visit, and doing the 9 hour tour. We'll keep our eyes peeled for bears along the drive. Thanks for the advice guys!
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