Alaska Itenerary--too aggresive? Please help

Old Jan 16th, 2006, 01:22 PM
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Alaska Itenerary--too aggresive? Please help

We are going to Alaska for the first time in August 2006. I have drafted an itenerary, but before I make any reservations I'm wondering if it's too much. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Also, suggestions on lodgings, preferably cabins at any of the destinations would be great...thanks a bunch!
Thurs 8/24 - arrive Anchorage @ 8:30 pm; drive 37 miles and overnight in Girdwood

Fri 8/25 - leave ~6:00 am; drive to Seward...take Kenai Fjords Boat Tour from 10:00 am - 6:30pm; overnight Seward

Sat 8/26 - Check out Exit Glacier; hike to Harding icefields (couple hours); drive to Homer. Take boat over to Halibut Cove for dinner w/Danny J's; overnight Homer

Sun 8/27 - hang out in homer; do a hike or two; etc.; overnight Homer

Mon 8/28 - early drive to Anchorage; check out all the sights in-between..tram to Alyeska Mountain in Girdwood?; overnight Anchorage.

Tues 8/29 - take train to Whittier and do the Prince Wm Sound boat tour; overnight Anchorage

Wed 8/30 - early drive to Talkeetna; explore along the way; 7:30 pm Mt. McKinnley flighseeing; overnight Talkeetna

Thurs 8/31 - early drive to Denali take shuttle part way into the park to one of the lakes for hiking or raft trip; overnight Denali

Fri 9/1 - take 6:30 am shuttle into Denali - all the way...overnight Denali

Sat 9/2 - another hike around Denali? Or drive on to Anchorage and check out the sights; hang out around Anchorage until flight leaves at 12:30 am 9/3
cactexas is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2006, 01:34 PM
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That seems like a good plan but here are my suggestions:
I notice the first day (8/26) you have leave at 6am. Most hotels have breakfast starting between 6 and 6:30 so if you leave before then you might miss a meal and on a trip like this it's a good idea to start out with a full stomach. You do have a lot on this itinerary to do and I know that sometimes when I plan like this I will drive near something and want to see it but because of my plans I can't see something. That's my only problem with planning this much right away.
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Old Jan 16th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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Your itinerary sounds good, but be warned about so called "cabins". We had recieved brochures on what we thought were very pretty cabins, and were warned by others who had been to Alaska that some of the cabins were downright terrible. We passed on booking a cabin, opting for lodges and hotels instead. Boy, were we glad we did! We would bypass cabin after cabin that we had thought was very nice in the pictures, only to discover they were total dumps. We kept saying over and over again we were glad we didn't take a cabin. Have a wonderful time! You'll love Alaska.
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 04:47 AM
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I think it is too agressive. Depending on where you are coming from, usually it is a very long day and if you have any time change, even longer. Girdwood isn't that much of a priority?? I would overnight in Anchorage and take a later boat tour of Kenai Fjords. It is 4 hours Seward to Homer, I would suggest your boat tour for the second night there so to give you more time in Seward. The Harding ice field hike is all day.

What is the reason for taking the train to Whittier??? This eats up valuable time frankly that could be better used with more time elsewhere. For clairfication this portion of the RR is EXACTLY the same as the Seward Highway. IF You want scenery then you need the train to Seward.

From Talkeetna to Denali Park entrance is 3 hours, there is good hiking in the Alaska STATE parks which you will pass, this may be a better option than the national park? Little Coal Creek trail is especially popular.

For clairfication, it is not recommended to go "all the way" into Denali Park if you mean Kantishna. It is all private land and you are essentially limited to the surrounding area and return. I'll assume you are referring to Wonder Lake??? Plenty of hiking available, but 5 miles short of the end. I never recommend any of the Kantishna day trips, just not enough time there, overnights are needed.
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 05:11 AM
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Thanks to all for the responses so far! BudgetQueen...we're coming from Austin, TX, leaving @ 3:30 pm...so I know it will be a long day. I was thinking driving to Girdwood would just save us a little time the next morning driving to Seward.. The reason for taking train to Whittier was because I've read where you can get hung up at the tunnel driving, and actually I thought it would be quicker to take the train and fun...I'll rethink that.. Thanks for the recommendation on Denali...I'm still trying to figure out exactly what to do there..We'll go as far as Wonder Lake. I like the idea of checking out the State parks also...maybe one full day in Denali?

Tcap...thanks for the warning on the cabins...I'll rethink that also!

I really appreciate those who take time to help me out with our itenerary...it's hard to plan when you've never been to Alaska...there's so much you want to see, but only so much time! Any other suggestions are welcome!

cactexas is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2006, 05:50 AM
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The drive from Anchorage to Girdwood is GORGEOUS! Leave yourself time to stop at a few of the turn-offs and take pictures.
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 07:28 AM
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It's pretty aggresive... one thing... why drive all the way to Anchorage from Homer and then take the train back to Whittier? You'll pass right by it (OK, it's about a 15 minute drive) along the way?
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 10:12 AM
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Hi, I wouldn't plan on a 6am departure on your first morning. I doubt if you'll be in bed by 10pm. I'm normally an early rise but we found ourselves eating later in the evening and staying up later. We had no problem driving thru the tunnel to Whittier. Think of it as a drawbridge. There are scheduled times for the one-way traffic. Just pay attention to the clock. Homer to Anchorage is a 5 hour drive without stopping. When we were in Alaska one early August the silver salmon were running up Bird Creek. (The highway passes over the creek.) This was quite a site to see. We stopped to watch the fishing. I would include a visit to Independence Mine on your way back from Denali. Don't forget to get a copy of the Milepost, in some areas food and gas is few and far between. Sorry, no recommendations for lodging. We didn't like our B&B in Seward (got a last minute referral from someone who was full) and another time we just wanted a convenient room and weren't fussy. The cabin we stayed in near Talkeetna (Gate Creek cabins) was beautiful and had a view of Denali. Hope you have a great trip!
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 10:53 AM
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Definately drive thru the tunnel to Wittier. It will save you lots of time. As long as you pay attention to the schedule tunnel crossings you will be fine.

I might get flamed for this but I was really disappointed with the Halibut Cove trip. The boat ride was nice and the scenery was specatular. But there is not much to see and explore at Halibut Cove. The "art" is limited to a few small galleries. The restuarant is the only thing there beside some private houses. The restuarant is small. Only fits half the boatload at a time and there's nothing really to do while you wait for the other people to finish dinner. You can't even get a drink while your waiting for dinner.

I would recommend taking the second sitting if you go on this trip. By the time we started eating dinner, all the other people on the boat were lining up outside the restuarant and looking in the windows.

Maybe taking a trip to Seldovia is a better option. Just MHO.

Have a great time.
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 12:20 PM
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Ok, I'm convinced...I'll change our plans and drive to Whittier rather than take the train...thanks yall. We'll also get a Milepost...lots of you have suggested that. KarenL, thanks for the heads up on Halibut Cove...I heard it was beautiful, so thought we would check it out. Maybe I will check out Seldovia instead...I know nothing about it so if anyone has suggestions on it, let me know.. Thanks all!
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 12:43 PM
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Great cabins in Homer-Alaskan Suites. Breathtaking view and great amenities, but not hidden in the woods like one may think of a cabin. Have you considered halibut fishing? We went in Homer, and had a fabulous day--fishing and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Teen DD even had a blast! Plus you can grill some of what you catch when you get back to your cabin!
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 12:45 PM
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When you get to DNP, go see the video presentation in the visitor center. It really prepared us for our shuttle bus trip--we understood a little better what we were looking for (in terms of wildlife) and where to look.
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