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Planning an Alaska Trip (Questions/Advice Sought)

Planning an Alaska Trip (Questions/Advice Sought)

Old Mar 21, 15, 8:43 am
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Planning an Alaska Trip (Questions/Advice Sought)

All,

I need help planning an Alaska Trip for late July. The group will be with older senior citizens, so we won't be doing any hiking or any extraneous movement.

Here's somethings we absolutely want to see:
Wildlife - Hopefully see some wildlife via the bus tour of Denali?
The Philips Cruise via the Alaska Railroad described by Seat 2A (http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/24026860-post13.html)
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Here's a proposed itinerary
Day 1 - Fly Boston to Anchorage
Day 2 - See Alaska Native Heritage Center and relax/adjust to time change, pick up snacks/food for Day 3
Day 3 - Day Trip! Take Alaska Railroad to Whittier and a Philips Cruise. Return to Anchorage via Alaska Railroad
Day 4 - Drive to Denali, stay at hotel near park entrance.
Day 5 - Bus tour of Denali, return to hotel near park entrance
Day 6 - Drive back to Anchorage, see the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and potentially fly back to the lower-48 on the redeye.

Thoughts? My girlfriend's parents are coming to the states for a visit (from Thailand) and they wish to visit Alaska and see some "ice and animals."
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Old Mar 21, 15, 9:37 am
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Originally Posted by warreng24 View Post
All,

I need help planning an Alaska Trip for late July. The group will be with older senior citizens, so we won't be doing any hiking or any extraneous movement.

Here's somethings we absolutely want to see:
Wildlife - Hopefully see some wildlife via the bus tour of Denali?
The Philips Cruise via the Alaska Railroad described by Seat 2A (http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/24026860-post13.html)
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Here's a proposed itinerary
Day 1 - Fly Boston to Anchorage
Day 2 - See Alaska Native Heritage Center and relax/adjust to time change, pick up snacks/food for Day 3
Day 3 - Day Trip! Take Alaska Railroad to Whittier and a Philips Cruise. Return to Anchorage via Alaska Railroad
Day 4 - Drive to Denali, stay at hotel near park entrance.
Day 5 - Bus tour of Denali, return to hotel near park entrance
Day 6 - Drive back to Anchorage, see the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and potentially fly back to the lower-48 on the redeye.

Thoughts? My girlfriend's parents are coming to the states for a visit (from Thailand) and they wish to visit Alaska and see some "ice and animals."
The Wildlife Conservation Center is right at the junction of the Seward Hwy and the Portage Valley road; the Whittier Tunnel used by both the train and cars, is at the head of Portage Valley. Thus I would use the car rather than the train for this outing; visit the wildlife center after the glacier cruise at Whittier. This will save money (one car day vs. all the train tickets) and the car will give you the opportunity to stop along the way. The road between Anchorage and Portage, along Turnagain Arm, is one of the most scenic highways in North America, worthy of several stops. The train ride is also scenic, but the train doesn't stop and it will probably be full of cruise passengers on their way to cruise sailings from Whittier.

Since you'll still be on east coast time, leave Anchorage early in the morning on Day 3 (7 AM will still feel like 11 AM) and stop in Girdwood at the Alyeska Bake Shop - http://www.thebakeshop.com/ - for breakfast before continuing to Portage and the tunnel to Whittier. Do the cruise, then stop at the wildlife center when it's over, then back to town. Long day, but very satisfying.
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Old Mar 22, 15, 10:38 am
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I agree with gardyloo. Use day six to maybe stop in Talkeetna.

For Denali book a SHUTTLE bus to Eielson or Wonder Lake not a tour bus. Its cheaper and goes further.
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Old Apr 3, 15, 6:26 pm
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
The Wildlife Conservation Center is right at the junction of the Seward Hwy and the Portage Valley road; the Whittier Tunnel used by both the train and cars, is at the head of Portage Valley.
I've driven by but never been to the Wildlife Conservation Center, but on Portage Glacier Road, (on the way to Whittier) just before the first tunnel is the Begich Boggs Visitor Center. The Begich Boggs VC is a nice place to stop and learn about ice and animals and history. They have a movie there too, free to those with a National Park Visitor Pass. Plus they have clean restrooms. Years ago, you could see the Portage Glacier from there, but it has since retreated around a bend and isn't visible anymore.
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Old Apr 3, 15, 9:43 pm
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Originally Posted by stevechin View Post
Years ago, you could see the Portage Glacier from there, but it has since retreated around a bend and isn't visible anymore.
Photo taken at the visitors center site in the late '70s -



With my car for scale -

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Old Apr 5, 15, 4:33 pm
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Awesome photos!
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Old Apr 6, 15, 4:42 pm
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Originally Posted by warreng24 View Post
All,

I need help planning an Alaska Trip for late July. The group will be with older senior citizens, so we won't be doing any hiking or any extraneous movement.

Here's somethings we absolutely want to see:
Wildlife - Hopefully see some wildlife via the bus tour of Denali?
The Philips Cruise via the Alaska Railroad described by Seat 2A (http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/24026860-post13.html)
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Here's a proposed itinerary
Day 1 - Fly Boston to Anchorage
Day 2 - See Alaska Native Heritage Center and relax/adjust to time change, pick up snacks/food for Day 3
Day 3 - Day Trip! Take Alaska Railroad to Whittier and a Philips Cruise. Return to Anchorage via Alaska Railroad
Day 4 - Drive to Denali, stay at hotel near park entrance.
Day 5 - Bus tour of Denali, return to hotel near park entrance
Day 6 - Drive back to Anchorage, see the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and potentially fly back to the lower-48 on the redeye.

Thoughts? My girlfriend's parents are coming to the states for a visit (from Thailand) and they wish to visit Alaska and see some "ice and animals."
This sounds like a decent itinerary. My only caution would be that the AWCC is about an hour drive south of Anchorage. After being on a bus all day on the prior day, are you going to want to spend that much time in a vehicle again? I would move your activities from day 2 to day 6. You can do Girdwood/Alyeska Resort/AWCC and Portage Glacier on day 2.

That's my recommendation. Let me know if you have any other questions.
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