Alaska 2016 - Please critique

Old May 18th, 2015, 04:51 PM
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Alaska 2016 - Please critique

I'm also posting this in the Lounge, since it gets a lot of traffic.

Planning a trip to Alaska in 2016 and I need suggestions/criticism of my tentative plan. I absolutely cannot do this in July, and I don't have more than 12 or 13 weeks to spend (I know that's a short time). My two alternatives right now are mid June, or last week August/first week September. Does anyone have suggestions/preferences/critique between the two options:

(1) Mid June

Arrive Anchorage; pick up car; head straight to Denali. Spend 2-3 days there.
Drive to Seward. Spend 2-3 days there (glacier cruise, fishing, etc.)
Drive to Homer. Spend 2-3 days. Specifically, husband want flight seeing tour to see Bears around Katmai area.
Drive back to Anchorage, maybe spend night in Whittier or other stop along the way. Spend around 3 days total for this leg.

or

(2) Last week of August

Arrive Anchorage; pick up car; drive to Seward (or spend day in Anchorage and drive to Seward the next morning).
Seward - 3 days (glacier cruise, fishing)
Drive to Whittier or other stop for day or two.
Drive to Denali. 3 days.
Drive to Anchorage. 1-2 nights.
Fly to Katmai (Brooks Lodge). 2 nights.
Return to Anchorage and fly home.

Our priorities are (1) glacier tours and general scenery; (2) bear viewing if possible; (3) Denali at least for 2 nights.

Does anyone think June or Aug/Sept has an edge, with respect to weather, opportunity to see bears, less crowded, etc.? I think (could be wrong) there is better change of good weather in Aug/Sept since mid-June might not be "summer" yet? When I researched Katmai, it said the best time to view bears at Brooks river was July, which we cannot do. They said August isn't a good time, but it picks up again in September (which may be too late for Denali, as part of it closes in mid-September). Would I have a better chance going with a flight-seeing tour instead of Brooks Lodge? That's why we included Homer in the June option.

Also, how far in advance would you recommend making certain reservations (Denali lodging; Brooks Lodge (if we go with that option); etc.).

Thank you in advance for any suggestions or critiques. Be as brutal as you want, I welcome all comments.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 04:52 PM
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Sorry, that should be 12-13 DAYS, not weeks!
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Old May 19th, 2015, 07:24 AM
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If bear viewing is a priority then you need to check websites for that out of Homer. You can go out of Anchorage but prices will be higher. Different times-June, July, August, September-mean going to different places. Example-Brooks Falls is best July 10-July 25. Maybe BF in September. Then there's Lake Clark area, other areas of Katmai, Hallo Bay, etc. That may determine when you start your trip. Here's some to get you started.

www.alaskabearviewing.com
www.emeraldairservice.com
www.smokeybayair.com
www.homerair.com
www.silversalmoncreek.com
www.bearviewingalaska.com
www.stellerair.com
www.katmailand.com

Car rental-make a reservation as soon as you can. Can always make changes or cancel. Generally the closer to tourist season you wait to make a reservation the higher the price. Best to make reservation around 8 months out. Remember you are only making a reservation-you pay when you pick up the car.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 10:13 AM
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Late August/Early September would possibly give you fall colors at Denali. Statistically June is a dryer month, but with Alaskan weather, anything can happen. I've seen late August/early September dry and sunny and I've seen it wet and cold. The key to Alaska weather: hope for the best, be prepared for the worse and have fun no matter what.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 10:17 AM
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I like your 'option 1'; especially for the possible bear viewing.

You've a nice time line and are leaving adequate time at each destination for activities.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 11:41 AM
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An advantage for June is much longer hours of daylight.

An advantage of late August/early September is much less active mosquitoes.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 11:58 AM
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Thank you all for the great advice.
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Old May 20th, 2015, 03:33 AM
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We did an Alaska road trip last year.....I would try to fit in Valdez, the scenery is amazing on the way there, the town is charming but we had the craziest glacier viewing cruise aboard the Lu-Lu Belle. It took you so close to the glacier, the noise it made when it calved was tremendous and negotiating the changing ice-field was memorable. You can take the ferry from Valdez to Whittier and continue to Seward/Homer. We also took an overnight bear watching trip to Lake Clarke and got very close to the bears, we went in August and saw the bears catching salmon...the highlight of a fantastic trip...Lucky you
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Old May 20th, 2015, 03:35 AM
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BTY...we were there for two weeks, I have posted full itinerary on previous Alaska posts if you are interested.
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Old May 20th, 2015, 05:01 PM
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Thanks again to everyone for input. I will look for mamabear's previous posts too.
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