Alaska Itinerary/Suggestions

Old Dec 28th, 2013, 07:25 PM
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Alaska Itinerary/Suggestions

My husband and I are going to Alaska in June 2014. This will be our first time. We have 10 days. We fly in/out of Anchorage. Roughly (day 1) arrive in Anchorage around 5pm, spend night in Anchorage, (day 2-4) head north to Denali, three nights in Denali, (day 5) depart very early to spend road time on Denali Highway and whatever we come upon, (day 6) maybe in Wasilla/Palmer area, (day 7, 8, 9) up for grabs- Whittier/Seward/Homer? We know we can't do it all in 10 days and we know there are lots of choices to do. We like to hike, but not the whole time, husband likes photography which we know will be easy to please on this trip. We love doing local stuff and not the usual touristy stuff, but we enjoy the touristy stuff also. Thinking about a glacier trip, but from where? Maybe a boat trip? We do not mind spending money on something that is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But at the same time we do not need fancy.

Thanks for any suggestions or thoughts!
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Old Dec 28th, 2013, 07:37 PM
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Glacier trip from Kenai Fjords(Seward). Be sure and take a trip that goes all the way to the glacier(not just the bay). You will see a ton of marine wildlife and are likely to encounter whales. You could do a hike to Exit Glacier near Seward too. I would have bear spray in Alaska. You are likely to encounter bears.
You might consider a fly out fishing trip. We did a trip with and it was great. Caught a lot of salmon and saw bears within feet of our boat. I mean so many bears, we stopped counting. Saw many bald eagles. This was on a trip to Wolverine Creek area

In Girdwood, we did a trip with with a glacier landing/dog sledding.

Both of these are expensive, but would do them again. My parents did a glacier landing on Denali and it was the highlight of their trip. Seeing Alaska from the air is really the only way to experience it, IMOP. Seeing it from a bush plane/landing in water or on a glacier is truly amazing.

I think you should do a few days in Denali, and then a few days with some sea(Homer, Seward, Prince William Sound would all be good).

The train from Anchorage to Seward is very good and should be considered too.
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Old Dec 28th, 2013, 07:53 PM
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Here is another company we used in Girdwood. Good hiking or ice climbing guides
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Old Dec 28th, 2013, 09:29 PM
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Hi, I did trip to Alaska last year, cruised the inside passage after spending time on the Rocky off ship at Anchorage. Not a great deal to do at Anchorage and 2 nights was plenty. You can take lots of tours for whale watching and glaciers from Anchorage. We had taken optional tours on the ship...The Alaskan Railway from Anchorage to Denali is SPECTACULAR, and a bargain price compared to the Rocky Mountaineer!!! DONT miss it. We just walked down to the station and got on from our hotel. We visited the museum in Anchorage which filled in a bit of time and I hired a bike and rode the path along the lake. Denali was absolutely fabulous with a great vibe. Our travel agent only booked us ONE night and I will NEVER forgive her!!! This was the one trip I hadn't researched myself and will not make the same mistake again. Unlikely to be back in Alaska again when I have travelled from Australia!! Because of the short time, never had opportunity to get right into the park on a wilderness tour. You need to book your tickets direct ahead of time if you want to do the tours into the park proper. We used what little time we had white water rafting which was an amazing and unforgetable experience...thought Id be terrified, but this catergory 3 rapids were easily navigated by the fantastic team of guides. Don't miss that either...people of all ages were rafting, many much older than me!! (53) On to Fairbanks by train from Denali and a major disappointment, I called it 'Forgettable Fairbanks', an ugly sprawling town of concrete slab...really scrounged to fill in our time here, not a walkable place. The 'River discovery tour' filled in an afternoon along with all the busloads of cruise populations....paid an extra surcharge and a hefty airfare to leave the place and return to Vancouver. Love, love, love Vancouver. Biggest regret is not visiting at bear/salmon eating time at Kenai - that would be the experience I would pay dearly for had i have realised...
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Old Dec 29th, 2013, 05:27 AM
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Most consider the train to Seward more spectacular and it isn't nearly as long. But it is a rewarding trip to Denali, as well, but it is a longer ride.
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Old Dec 29th, 2013, 08:02 AM
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My suggestions...

Girdwood is around 45 min. to an hour from Anchorage airport, and what an hour it is! Why not immerse yourself in Alaska right from the get-go? Pick up a car at the airport and drive down to the Alyeska Resort right off the bat. In June the sun will be up until 11:30, and it really won't get dark at all, so no problem in getting to the hotel easily. Have a meal, walk around and breathe the clean air, then turn in.

Next day, drive around 30 - 40 min. to the Whittier tunnel entrance (through Portage Valley, south of Girdwood) and take a "26 Glacier" cruise from Whittier. Like the drive down Turnagain Arm from Anchorage the day before (but oh so different) this will be a stunning introduction to the mountains/sea/glacier landscapes around Prince William Sound. Return to Girdwood for the night; maybe take the aerial tram up to the viewing deck.

I'd then head down to Seward for a Kenai Fjords cruise before spending the fourth night in Anchorage, before heading north to Denali for a couple of nights. Either in Anchorage itself or in Talkeetna, try to get up in a light plane for some flightseeing - maybe Denali, maybe just over the Chugach Mountains around Anchorage. IMO it's very important to get off the ground at least once in an Alaska tour; you can't conceive of the size of the place until you do.

Spend the last couple of nights in Anchorage. See the museum, the Native Heritage center, shop for (the best by far) crafts at the Native Hospital gift shop, ride the bike trail, have a Kodiak Islander burger at the Arctic Roadrunner while sitting next to the creek (probably some salmon present). If you still want to spend time outdoors, hike up to Flat Top, or head back down the Seward Highway a short distance to McHugh Creek (look for sheep) or look at the birds at Potter Marsh. There are many short trips (20 min.) from Anchorage that will prove the old saying that "the best thing about Anchorage is that it's 20 minutes from Alaska."
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Old Jan 4th, 2014, 01:04 AM
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we went last year, also in June. We went to Denali, did the Denali high way, went to Valdez (Glacier tour), Seward, Homer,...

You can read the full report and pics on

What a great trip!

Enjoy, and let me know in case you have questions.

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Old Jan 4th, 2014, 07:34 AM
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Girdwood, yes.

Fairbanks, no. The one interesting thing about Fairbanks is a paddle boat cruise down the Cena River. It's a bit touristy but still fun. Stops at Susan Butcher's camp and a replica of a native Alaskan village.

The 26 Glacier Cruise, yes.

Just outside of Anchorage, I recommend the Native American Heritage Center.

How much time you spend at Denali sort of depends on your interests. A couple of days of wildlife tours would be enough for me. And if you're not interested in whitewater rafting, that obviously cuts that out.

I'd skip Wasilla, unless you're paying homage to Taco Bell or Sara Palin.
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Old Feb 21st, 2014, 03:57 AM
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Make sure you do a couple of days in Seward as the Kenai Fjords National Park tour is fantastic and goes to glaciers. Seeing puffins and so much marine wildlife was amazing, and the drive to Seward and back is beautiful.

I never got a chance to do Knik Glacier somewhat near the Palmer area, but I think it looks awesome and hope I get the chance to do it in the future:

Your 3 nights in Denali will work well. We spent 3 nights in Seward too and found it perfect. You can do all sorts of boat trips on the water there.

Not many people seem to stop at Coopers Landing, but I found it extremely worthwhile - the color of the Kenai River is utterly spectacular. The Kenai Princess Lodge has a deck with incredible views of the river and you can do full day or part day rafting tours.

Good luck with finalising your itinerary. It is a challenge as there are so many beautiful places to see in Alaska.

We never did flight-seeing, but on the plane from Anchorage, we went over some spectacular landscapes, and from the plane window I saw massive blue pools that were incredibly deep and so clear you could see huge icebergs deep within them.

We went in May/June and found it a good time to go to Alaska. Check with Denali National Park when the Park Road will be open to Eielson, so you can make sure you book your Denali leg at the right time. Pics of my Alaska trip are on my site if you are interested.

Feel free to contact me if you have any queries. I spent a long time planning the trip we did and managed to gather a lot of information. Can't wait to go back and do it all again!
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 11:02 AM
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Thank you so much for all the information. As we narrow down the trip, here is where we are now:

Day 1- Fly into Anchorage and spend the night

Day 2, 3, 4- Denali
*shuttle bus to Eidelson Visitor station (Wonderlake not open yet)
*ATV tour
*Jeep tour on the Denali Hwy since rental car not allowed
*reservation at Denali Park Hotel

Day 5- Wasilla/Palmer area
*Knik glacier
*helicopter/glacier tour? Love the idea of the dog sled on glacier, but is it worth the $
*reservation at Tundra Rose

Day 6- this is where we can't decide
More Wasilla/Palmer or head to Girdwood area

Day 7- Alyeska Area
*reservation at Alyeska Resort

Day 8, 9- Seward Area
*wildlife/glacier tour- looking at the 6 hour tour. Should we pay the extra for the meal or just bring our own?
*need suggestion on where to stay

Day 10- leave Seward area, head back to Anchorage

Day 11- early flight home

-Is there a place to stay that is convenient to Alyeski/Girdwood area and Seward area? We have a car. It would be nice to have one location for three/four nights instead of keep moving.
-Do you have any other thoughts on this itinerary?

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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 12:52 PM
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I did the Seward glacier tour but honestly can't remember much about the food. But on a similar note: If you're doing a wildlife tour at Denali, pack your own food. The bears probably would refuse the box lunch provided.
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 01:30 PM
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Stay in Seward. So beautiful. I really don't think there is anywhere convenient for both locations.
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Old Apr 16th, 2014, 10:52 PM
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I agree with Michelle that Seward is beautiful, and I can't think of anywhere convenient between the two locations either.

I think staying one night at Girdwood is well worth it if you want to try the superb Seven Glaciers Restaurant, have some rest and relaxation in the wonderful indoor pool and spa and fit in a short hike.

In this case, I think 1 night at Alyeska and 2 at Seward would be fine. Because the views driving this route to Seward are so magnificent and there are so many places to stop briefly along the way, the driving part is wonderful.

We did one night at Girdwood and it was enough, because due to extra snow (late winter) we were unable to hike. But had we been able to do more hiking, two nights would have been better.

We paid extra for the meal on the boat tour in Seward and it was nice. The meal wasn't anything extra special though, the main benefit being convenience.

Finally, I do have one recommendation for the Wasilla/Palmer area and that is visiting the Independence Mine State Historical Park. It is a very interesting area and really worth it to visit - but check it out on google and make up your own mind.

I think your itinerary is shaping up well.
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