8 Days in mid-late July

Old Feb 27th, 2021, 03:45 PM
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8 Days in mid-late July

Need some advice from you seasoned Alaska travelers!

Heading there to celebrate my 40th Birthday. Bringing my wife and two kids, ages 15 and 12. Definitely want to do a bit of hiking but the scenery and wildlife is most important. I don't think a 30% chance of seeing Denali is worth spending the time up and back to see it. Im sure its amazing and all and I wish I had more time. Im open to convincing if you think I am flat out wrong.....plus I cant see my kids being too happy being on a school bus into the park all day.

Here are my thoughts:

Arrival Day: Landing in the evening in Anchorage: Pick up rental care and stay at local hotel. (Open to suggestions for this as well)
Day 1: Breakfast somewhere in Anchorage, spend morning and early afternoon on drive to Homer, stopping along the way for lunch and photos.
Day 2: Fishing with a recommended charter out of Homer. (Recommendations needed) Stay overnight in or near Homer.
Day 3: Bear viewing tour of Katmai from Homer (Please recommend a good one) Stay overnight again in Homer or nearby
Day 4: Breakfast and head out to Seward. Overnight in Seward. (Recommendations of things to do here please)
Day 5: Kenai Fjords Boat Trip from Seward. Overnight in Seward
Day 6: ? I was thinking of staying at the Knik River Lodge and doing the Heli+Dog Sled trip that leaves from their property. Your thoughts? This would be on my sons 13th Birthday as a surprise.
Day 7: ?
Day 8: Flight leaves in the evening from Anchorage

I really wanted to stay in some of the wilderness lodges....even looked into Kodiak....but goodness gracious.....I am ok spending a bit of money but not $2400 a night for my family.

Any advice or direction you all can give me is super helpful. I have appreciated reading all of your posts on here.

-Ben
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Old Mar 3rd, 2021, 04:33 AM
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About wilderness lodges ... we visited Talkeetna on a weekday which was also the summer solstice and had not reserved a room. Nothing to be had. A kind tourist office lady directed us to a cottage colony that wasn't too far a drive but also wasn't close to any restaurants. Knowing we had a real kitchen we bought what we could to make dinner and breakfast. The log cabin was beautiful and even at midnight there was a view over the trees of Mt. McKinley/Denali. Very clear skies during that visit but it was also a very long drive. When we signed in at the cabin colony we were warned that moose and bear were around. That sort of put an end to any thoughts of wandering around. We never hiked much in AK but I remember one hike where DH clapped rocks together to make noise. A small family group caught up with us and since they walked faster, passed us. That put us in the back again. We were surprised once by an animal which might have been a river otter. Our son used to tent camp a lot with offroading friends. Some of them wouldn't sleep in a tent only inside their jeeps.

I liked the aquarium in Seward. It's small but uncrowded. Of course, I also liked wandering through shops and the chance encounter of sled dog puppies on display. If you visit the Iditarod Museum in Wasilla north of Anchorage you might find pups and musher children/grandchildren offering them to hold. Socializing sled dog pups is important to some mushers.

Anchorage to Kenai/Soldotna is about 3 hours and then another 2 to Homer if I remember correctly. Keep in mind you will be on one of the most beautiful roads and will want to stop just to gawk/take photos. We used the Milepost to figure where we might find a restaurant/cafe. You will pass thru Soldotna which is a large suburban-ish town with lots of options but you might want to stop sooner than that. You'll also have to decide what else you might like to see along the way such as the tram up Alyeska or the Visitors Center in what used to be Portage before the great earthquake. Here's a list of top stops The 18 Best Stops Along the Seward Highway From Anchorage to Seward (jasminealley.com)
Mid-to late July should see some fishing in the Russian River and that's something to see, right off the road. Another visit our timing was right to watch fishing and salmon run in Bird Creek.

I really liked Independence Mine but it's north of Anchorage. Well done replication of the old mining town. Very informative.
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Old Mar 4th, 2021, 07:34 AM
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My DW and I stayed at a nice B&B high on the hill above Homer several nights. One morning while we were eating our wonderful breakfast with our hosts, a cow moose and yearling walked by the window. We did a day trip from there over to Seward and on the way back took a hike up to the toe of the Exit Glacier. It was a long day but remember that it is daylight far into the evening.
The chance to see the top of Denali is far from the only reason to take the bus trip out into Denali National Park. On the way out to the Eilson Visitor Center, you will see several types of wildlife. The visitor center is quite interesting for a one hour visit and then you board the bus for the 3 to 4 hour trip back to the main entrance where you parked your car.
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks has a great museum which includes some small dinosaur skeletons that were found in Alaska. There are also Inuit history displays as well.
For an 8 day trip to Alaska, I would not confine myself to Anchorage and the Kenai Penninsula.
For our stay in the Fairbanks area we stayed in a nice B&B near North Pole Alaska. We got back from our trip to Denali at 10 PM and it was just twilight when we got back to our room.
North of Fairbanks I posed for a picture while standing underneath the Alaska Pipeline. You can click on my profile to see my trip reports.
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Old Mar 4th, 2021, 09:06 AM
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Well, first, I think your plan is fine as is, but here are some concerns/options I'd weigh. Throw them in the brain box and see what happens.

1. Homer fishing excursion: Homer is a terrific location for halibut fishing, but those boats have to go pretty far out in the water, and stay for several hours. Seasickness is a big issue, and if your kids would be bored on the bus at Denali (a wise consideration on your part) how would they handle hours on a rocking boat with nothing biting? Just sayin'. On the other hand, there are numerous fishing operators and charters available in Seward. In mid- to late July the silver salmon will be present in Resurrection Bay, which will have calmer water and which will also provide opportunities for halibut fishing should that be of interest. Or, with a base in Seward, you could go on a float trip on the Kenai River, where there will likely be some red (Sockeye) salmon or Silvers (Coho) present, as well as a never-ending supply of Dolly Varden char and Rainbow trout, some of them massive.

2; Bear viewing: Although it's a little more expensive than from Homer, there are a number of bear viewing services operating out of Anchorage. They would take you to see the same bears as the Homer people. In addition, there are flightseeing services on floatplanes from Lake Hood in Anchorage that will take you to Denali, so if the weather's flyable you don't have to write off Denali at all. Trust me, approaching Denali in a light plane will change your life.

So what this all might suggest is that you could think about a longer time in Seward and less, or none at all, in Homer. Now of course Homer and Kachemak Bay are drop-dead gorgeous, no question, but there's no shortage of gorgeous places in southcentral Alaska. And if you skipped Homer, you could spend a little more time doing things like a glacier cruise out of Whittier, or hike on the Matanuska Glacier, or spend a day hiking at Hatcher Pass, or take the gondola up at Alyeska in Girdwood and hike from that high starting point in the Chugach mountains. All of these would require less time on the road and more time doing stuff.

A final off-the-wall (or is it?) idea would be to throw in a trip to the bush for a couple of days. For less than the cost of the bear flight you can fly round trip from Anchorage to Nome or Kotzebue on Alaska Airlines (or use miles - see below*) and experience rural Alaska far from the rest of the tourists. Nome is an historic gold rush town on the Seward Peninsula, facing the Bering Sea. Unlike other bush communities, there's a fairly extensive road system radiating from Nome out into the boonies, where there are fascinating historic sites, amazing landscapes, and lots of wildlife - caribou, moose, muskoxen, foxes, bears and a bazillion birds. Hotels in Nome cost about the same as in Anchorage; there are vehicles available to rent... it could be a fun and very educational couple of days for you and the kids.


Kotzebue is an Inupiat Eskimo community located on an arm of the Arctic Ocean in northwest Alaska. It's above the arctic circle, and while you won't have 24 hour sun in mid-July, you will have midnight sun and 24 hour daylight. There's a good Native-owned hotel right on the waterfront, you can visit the local Heritage Center or visit a working fish camp, and learn all about this fascinating part of the world.

Just sayin', even with just 8 days you could do a lot.

* In the event you're not opposed to another credit card, you might want to look into Alaska Airlines' Visa card, which not only gives you 50,000 Alaska miles at signup, but which also conveys an annual $100 companion certificate - one person pays the going rate, the companion pays $100 (plus any taxes.) So for example if you got the card, you could go from Anchorage to Nome and back for 25,000 miles per passenger for the kids, and the $345 round trip cost for the adults would total around $450 for two (one for the base price and the other for $100,) so you'd have the whole family covered for under $500.

For that matter, the $100 companion certificate is good on any combination of Alaska-operated flights, and the award mileage requirements are the same if you were flying from anywhere in the Lower 48 to Alaska, e.g. 12,500 miles could get you from Los Angeles to Nome, or from Atlanta to Kotzebue. There's room here for some massive cost savings if interested. https://www.alaskaair.com/content/cr...visa-signature

Last edited by Gardyloo; Mar 4th, 2021 at 09:08 AM.
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Old Mar 4th, 2021, 05:20 PM
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I’ve spent a lot of vacation time on the Kenai peninsula, and these are my favorite places and things to do in no particular order:
https://www.princesslodges.com/princ...s/kenai-lodge/

https://alyeskaresort.com/

https://www.exitglacierguides.com/

https://www.phillipscruises.com/crui...ier-cruise.php

https://www.liquid-adventures.com/

https://www.alaskawildlife.org/

https://www.alaskawildland.com/day-trips/

https://www.alaskasealife.org/

https://homerkayaking.com/


















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Old Mar 18th, 2021, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
* In the event you're not opposed to another credit card, you might want to look into Alaska Airlines' Visa card, which not only gives you 50,000 Alaska miles at signup, but which also conveys an annual $100 companion certificate - one person pays the going rate, the companion pays $100 (plus any taxes.) So for example if you got the card, you could go from Anchorage to Nome and back for 25,000 miles per passenger for the kids, and the $345 round trip cost for the adults would total around $450 for two (one for the base price and the other for $100,) so you'd have the whole family covered for under $500.

For that matter, the $100 companion certificate is good on any combination of Alaska-operated flights, and the award mileage requirements are the same if you were flying from anywhere in the Lower 48 to Alaska, e.g. 12,500 miles could get you from Los Angeles to Nome, or from Atlanta to Kotzebue. There's room here for some massive cost savings if interested. https://www.alaskaair.com/content/cr...visa-signature
This is awesome advice!! Don't make the same mistake I did and get the card when you are ready to book flights. It takes 2-3 billing cycles before you can get the free flight. So if you plan in advance you are gold!
suzanneaz is offline  
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