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First time Alaskan Trip May 2016 questions

First time Alaskan Trip May 2016 questions

Old Feb 9, 16, 9:23 am
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First time Alaskan Trip May 2016 questions

Hello,

I am teaching a class in Anchorage from May 11-15th in Anchorage. My husband is coming with me and we'll stay until May 23rd for our first Alaskan trip. A few questions:

1. Airfare (usually my company books/pays but they will reimburse me for my portion and I will buy). Better to buy now or wait? I know 46-48 days is supposed to be the magic number however I'm a bit nervous to wait as I know what flights I want. (Also;we're going to Seattle first for a day as I have my NEXUS interview there on the 10th)

2. Car Rental: Do I need a all wheel or 4 wheel drive for May? We plan to go to Seward and as far as Denali. Best to book now or later?

3. Seward hotel recommendations?

4. Healy hotel recommendations?

5. Denali: worth it to go for 2 full days rather than 1? We can be there by the 19th and maybe drive into the park for a bit. The Shuttles will start on the 20th and we plan to be on the 7am shuttle on the 20th. We can head back towards Anchorage on the 21st or we can stay and do the shuttle again on the 21st and then head to Anchorage on the 22nd before we fly home on the 23rd.

Thank you in advance for your replies!
Melinda
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Old Feb 9, 16, 4:12 pm
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Originally Posted by Melinda Naye View Post
Hello,

I am teaching a class in Anchorage from May 11-15th in Anchorage. My husband is coming with me and we'll stay until May 23rd for our first Alaskan trip. A few questions:

1. Airfare (usually my company books/pays but they will reimburse me for my portion and I will buy). Better to buy now or wait? I know 46-48 days is supposed to be the magic number however I'm a bit nervous to wait as I know what flights I want. (Also;we're going to Seattle first for a day as I have my NEXUS interview there on the 10th)

2. Car Rental: Do I need a all wheel or 4 wheel drive for May? We plan to go to Seward and as far as Denali. Best to book now or later?

3. Seward hotel recommendations?

4. Healy hotel recommendations?

5. Denali: worth it to go for 2 full days rather than 1? We can be there by the 19th and maybe drive into the park for a bit. The Shuttles will start on the 20th and we plan to be on the 7am shuttle on the 20th. We can head back towards Anchorage on the 21st or we can stay and do the shuttle again on the 21st and then head to Anchorage on the 22nd before we fly home on the 23rd.

Thank you in advance for your replies!
Melinda
May will still be shoulder season which can be good and bad. May is one of the sunniest months, especially around Denali, that would be a great time to do a flightseeing trip and land on a glacier if that's your cup of tea. To answer your questions:

1. Flights right now from Seattle are pretty cheap, PDX is even cheaper. If you find flights to/from either of those for less than $140-150 each way that's probably as good as they'll get. Since May isn't peak season you might luck out by waiting, but there's always the risk they'll go up as well.

2. As long as you plan on just sticking to the main roads you should be fine in a car, if you plan on staying in any cabins or something that are up in the mountains or driving out to some trailheads you may want to consider a 4x drive just because that can be a muddy time of year.

3. Seward depends on your price range and what you like. There's quite a few b&bs, a Best Western, and a lot of independent places. I'd check tripadvisor and find somewhere you like, they have vacation rentals as well as hotels.

4. No idea.

5. Denali will still have a lot of snow that time of year and you definitely won't be able to get all the way back in to Wonder Lake. How much time to spend depends on how comfortable you are and how much you enjoy the outdoors. I'd suggest getting a place close to the entrance so you can head back in for an extra day if you want before flying out, or head back to anchorage if its just too snowed in to do much.
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Old Feb 10, 16, 7:58 am
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Thank you!
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Old Apr 4, 16, 5:38 pm
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Nord Haven hotel in Healy is a good affordable hotel. This is 10 miles or so from the park entrance. If all you plan to do is ride the bus through the park and not go hiking, then one day is probably enough. It can be a long day. If you like beer. 49th state brewery in Healy is a great place
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Old Apr 5, 16, 2:24 am
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From May 20 to May 31 as you already know from the research you have done, you can only go as far as Toklat on the shuttle bus in Denali National Park. I would definitely Drive to Mile 29 on May 19th then take the shuttle bus on both May 20th and May 21st. Each day can be different from Wildlife to weather. If the weather is nice one of those days I strongly suggest you get off the bus and do some walking along the road or hiking off-trail. Also spend some time near the park entrance maybe on May 19th to spend time at the visitor center and to see the sled dog demonstration.

If you already know the flights you want, I suggest you book the flights soon. As was said prices are very attractive right now. Another option or two for housing near Denali National Park could be Aspen Haus or Denali Lakeview Inn.

It would be extremely rare to encounter snow near Denali that time of year near the park entrance. There might be some snow at higher elevations earlier in the morning deeper inside the park but it would be cleared by mid-morning.

In Seward be sure to book a 6 hour or longer Kenai fjords National Park boat tour. They are excellent for wildlife viewing and getting close to a glacier.
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Old Apr 7, 16, 8:46 am
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
In Seward be sure to book a 6 hour or longer Kenai fjords National Park boat tour. They are excellent for wildlife viewing and getting close to a glacier.
Is it necessary to these book trips (and indeed any other excursions) well in advance - and, if so, how far in advance? I would prefer to avoid committing before I have some inkling of what the weather is going to do on a particular day.
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Old Apr 8, 16, 6:37 am
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Originally Posted by Cheetah_SA View Post
Is it necessary to these book trips (and indeed any other excursions) well in advance - and, if so, how far in advance? I would prefer to avoid committing before I have some inkling of what the weather is going to do on a particular day.
It depends on a lot of factors. One is whether a cruise ship is in town that day. But waiting for the weather in Alaska is not a good idea since it changes so quickly. Plus the weather in Seward could be very different than the weather where the tour goes. I always book these tours in advance because I want to guarantee a seat on them. Plus I dress for any weather in Alaska meaning I dress in layers and my outermost layer is waterproof.
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Old Apr 10, 16, 3:54 pm
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Anchorage visit

Bella Fleck will be playing at the Anchorage Concert Assoc on May 15.
While in Anchorage catch:
Humpy's Ale House
Mooses Tooth Pizza
The Bear Tooth
There are several decks for a sunny afternoon and beer.
The Snow Goose (just changed hands)
Williwa
Alaska is great; I have lived here since 1995.
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Old Apr 10, 16, 11:23 pm
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
It depends on a lot of factors. One is whether a cruise ship is in town that day. But waiting for the weather in Alaska is not a good idea since it changes so quickly. Plus the weather in Seward could be very different than the weather where the tour goes. I always book these tours in advance because I want to guarantee a seat on them. Plus I dress for any weather in Alaska meaning I dress in layers and my outermost layer is waterproof.
Thanks!
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Old Apr 12, 16, 11:48 pm
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As far as Seward hotels go, I have stayed at three different ones. The best one that I would recommend the Harbor 360 hotel - this is a former Holiday Inn Express. Very basic but descent lodging. The Best Western is a close second.

Hotel Seward is the other one, it's not a terrible place but I don't particularly recommend it. I have been stuck at this hotel many nights and speak from experience. It's "historic" (old) and run down.

I don't have experience with the lodges/b&b's, since work always puts me in a traditional hotel.
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