Alaska Itinerary

Old Nov 25, 19, 8:42 pm
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Alaska Itinerary

Hey, is anyone willing to share their itinerary with me? My dad and I are thinking about doing a trip next summer. He's getting up there but still in good health and able to move around just fine.

So, we are roughly planning on 10-14 days. We are sort of undecided as to whether to book a tour or just book everything ourselves and go it alone. National Parks are important to us and seeing as much wildlife as humanly possible. Denali and Kenai are mandatory.

Any suggestions? Thanks.
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Old Nov 26, 19, 7:36 am
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Originally Posted by Sandeep1 View Post
Hey, is anyone willing to share their itinerary with me? My dad and I are thinking about doing a trip next summer. He's getting up there but still in good health and able to move around just fine.

So, we are roughly planning on 10-14 days. We are sort of undecided as to whether to book a tour or just book everything ourselves and go it alone. National Parks are important to us and seeing as much wildlife as humanly possible. Denali and Kenai are mandatory.

Any suggestions? Thanks.
When in the summer? Itineraries in May vs July vs September could look very different.

2 weeks is a good amount of time. Renting a car is great and doing it on your own is great too.
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Old Nov 26, 19, 7:01 pm
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
When in the summer? Itineraries in May vs July vs September could look very different.

2 weeks is a good amount of time. Renting a car is great and doing it on your own is great too.
It will be June most likely, or possibly even July.
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Old Nov 27, 19, 10:00 am
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There are many options; here's a list of overnight locations for a 10-day trip.

1 Anchorage
2 Homer
3 Homer - Kachemak Bay day trip (Seldovia, Halibut Cove)
4 Seward
5 Seward - Kenai Fjords day cruise
6 Anchorage - Stop in Hope, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
7 Denali area
8 Denali - Day into park interior
9 Mat-Su - Palmer, Knik - Hatcher Pass/Independence Mine, Matanuska Glacier
10 Anchorage/depart

Longer stays (days 11 - 14) could (and IMO should) include some time off the road system. I would suggest a side trip either to Kotzebue or Nome, both reached by Alaska Airlines from Anchorage for around $300 round trip (or 10,000 Alaska miles, a good deal.) Kotzebue is an Inupiat Eskimo community on an arm of the Arctic Ocean. It's above the arctic circle, so in much of June and into early July you'll have 24 hour (not just midnight) sun. Stick a toe in the Arctic Ocean, learn about this remarkable culture and environment.

Nome is an historic gold rush town located on the Seward Peninsula facing the Bering Sea. In addition to lots of history and plenty of colorful characters, there's a decent road system radiating from Nome out into the bush, where there are LOTS of animals - muskoxen, moose, reindeer and caribou, bears... you can rent a vehicle locally and do a day trip, or probably arrange a short tour with somebody local. Long, long daylight hours here too.

Another option would be to arrange a stop on the way north or back in Southeast Alaska, in order to get a glimpse of this beautiful region. My recommendation would be Sitka, as it's bypassed by most of the big cruise ships, is the prettiest of the Southeast communities, has a rich Russian America and Native Alaskan history, and some good wildlife resources including the Fortress of the Bear and the Raptor Center, both dedicated to saving and rehabilitating their various species. A stop in Sitka can be arranged easily with Alaska Airlines.
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Old Nov 27, 19, 8:29 pm
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We did a several day road trip to hit most of the high spots in Alaska about 2 years ago. We went the end of May/first of June - still plenty of snow on the mountains yet nice weather. We flew into Anchorage and rented a car at the airport. I would highly suggest doing things on your own - my feeling is you'll get cut short on a tour because you won't have the freedom to stop where you want if something catches your eye. In Alaska your eyes will be continuously caught.

1) Anchorage (early evening)
2) Anchorage (general touring around the area - Eagle River Nature Center, Flattop Mountain and Potter's Marsh)
3) Glennallen
4) Fairbanks (via Paxson & Delta Junction)
5) Fairbanks (drove to Coldfoot & back)
6) Healy
7) Healy (Denali Wilderness Tour)
8) Anchorage (side trip stop at Talkeetna for lunch)
9) Seward (side trip to Whittier)
10) Soldotna (day cruise at Seward then to Soldotna)
11) Soldotna (day trip to Homer)
12) Anchorage then home

We wish we had added a couple more days to the trip though we had plenty of time to do what we wanted. One thing I would have done with more nights would have been stay at least one in Homer - cool town.

Originally we were going to do the circle to Fairbanks in reverse of what we did but needed to get to Denali after June 1st when the road is open the entire distance into the park - something to keep in mind while planning a trip during that time period.

I *HIGHLY* recommend driving up the Dalton Highway to at least Coldfoot. It is a very interesting experience. We had to pick up a 2nd rental car as the regulars won't allow you to drive that highway in their cars. We rented a 4x4 Ford Escape equipped specifically for the Dalton from Arctic Outfitters - it had a CB radio, two spare tires, and tool box and first aid kit, both fully equipped. There was no radio or cellphone service, little other traffic but there was others if we'd needed help - our favorite day of them all. The scenery can be stark in places; mountains, creeks and ponds in other sections. There are a number of places to stop for picnics, photos and outhouses. There's fuel available at the Yukon River crossing store and again at Coldfoot - we filled up both places just to be on the safe side. A few miles past the Yukon River is a little eating joint called "The Hot Spot" that was excellent and the ladies who run the place were just a lot of fun - and pretty much in the middle of nowhere. At Coldfoot we ate something at the truckstop cafe before heading back - there is also a sort of museum/information center across the Dalton from the truckstop that was very nice. We left Fairbanks around 8:00 AM and were back about midnight - though it never got dark enough to need headlights. The next time we intend on driving all the way to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay.

Allow more time between destinations than you might normally allow. Time is weird in Alaska. It seems to move much slower - what sort of seems like a LONG time can really be a short time. Not in a boring way. The drive to Glennallen from Anchorage is only about 165 miles - it took ALL DAY LONG! There's so much to see that you may want to stop often, which is what we did. I tended to allow about twice the time between destinations - though we weren't really on a schedule at all. Most of the highways outside the larger cities are two lane and a wreck, road construction or simply slow moving traffic can also delay you if you haven't allowed extra time. Getting lost on the Alaska road system is probably not much of an issue as there are only a few main highways. I use my Garmin GPS mostly as a way of keeping track of how much further it is to a destination or the ETA.

I also suggest making your hotel/motel reservations well in advance. There aren't that many places to stay (like at Glennallen...) so they often sell out during tourist season. The same for rental cars - the earlier you book the cheaper it generally is. I have a benefit at work that I can use our company contract rate with one of the rental car companies that is very good - our contracted rate is anywhere from 1/3rd to half the regular rack rate plus it includes the extra damage insurance, roadside assistance (which could be very helpful in Alaska...I locked my keys in the car at Fairbanks this past February...) and extra drivers. One should check if they might have something similar through their company.

Another site I highly recommend is the Independence Mine at Hatcher Pass. Very, very cool and well worth the deviation from the main highway.

Good luck!
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Last edited by SupercrewBear; Nov 27, 19 at 8:44 pm
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Old Nov 30, 19, 3:56 pm
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Some great advice above. My only suggestion for Denali would be to avoid the tour buses. SuperCrewBear mentioned the Wilderness Tour (Tundra Wilderness Tour - TWT - I assume). This is a tour geared 99% toward cruisetour passengers. The buses pick up and drop off at the hotels, the tour buses usually fill every seat. But the transit shuttle buses depart from the Denali Bus Depot (no problem getting there with a car). The transit shuttle buses travel along the same road, make the same rest stops and the Eielson shuttle actually goes 4 miles further than the Tundra Wilderness Tour to a really nice Eielson Visitor Center. Plus, the transit shuttle bus costs about 1/3 the price of the TWT. Transit shuttle buses always depart with a few empty seats so they can pick up people along the way. That is another reason to take the shuttle buses - you can get off to walk along the road, hike or just spend more time at the Eielson Visitor Center if desired.
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