Alaska July 2004

Oct 24th, 2003, 11:41 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Alaska July 2004

Hi, unfortunately I had to cancel my trip for this past summer. But I've already bought my tickets to Anchorage for next July and I'm in the process of booking the rooms and making the tour reservations. No matter what I'm going this time.
I'm planning the following itinerary:

Day 1 (Mon). Fly into Anchorage in the afternoon, visit the downtown area and spend the night there.
Are there any other shopping areas besides downtown? I'd like to buy souvenirs for my family and myself. Specially shot glasses saying Anchorage.

Day 2 (Tue). Drive to Kenai Fjords N.P., visit Exit Glacier and stay overnight in Seward.

Day 3 (Wed). Take either the Alaska Saltwater Lodge Full Day Kenai Fjords Tour or the Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise offered by the Kenai Fjords Tours (Alaska Heritage Tours Company), and spend the night in Seward again.
I'm still undecided which boat tour to take. Which one would you recommend?

Day 4 (Thu). Drive to Denali N.P. area and stay overnight in one of the nearby hotels.

Day 5 (Fri). Take the shuttle bus inside the park to Eielson Visitor Center (mile 66) or Wonder Lake (mile 85) and stay overnight outside the park.
Do you know which stop offers a better view of Mt. McKinley? Is it safe to get off the bus at either stop? I don't want to be attacked by a bear or any other aggressive animal.

Day 6 (Sat). Drive back to Anchorage, take the afternoon flight to Barrow and stay at the Top of the World Hotel.

Day 7 (Sun). Dip our toes at the Arctic Ocean, walk around the town and fly back to Anchorage in the afternoon.

Day 8 (Mon). Take the 1:45 AM flight back home.

What do you think of the itinerary?
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?
I'd appreciate your help.

Thanks.
GenXer is offline  
Oct 24th, 2003, 11:56 AM
  #2  
 
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To be perfectly honest, I would sure cut out the trip to Barrow and dipping my toes in the Arctic ocean. You have a short stay in huge Alaska and are missing much of the great beauty of the south portions. Losing two days for doing what I would call nothing but being able to say "we've been there and done that" -- namely Barrow, just seems like a total waste to me.

I'd spend more time on the Kenai peninsula, going to Homer, or enjoying some of the wilderness there instead.

Also don't get your hopes up on a great view of Mount McKinley. You may be lucky, but on average it is only even able to be seen maybe three or four days in July.

I assure you a shuttle bus is not going to stop and let you off if you are in danger of being attacked by a bear.
Patrick is offline  
Oct 25th, 2003, 03:36 AM
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My son, the bargain hunter, said the cheapest sourveniers are at WalMart. (I don't know where I went wrong.) We enjoyed the Public Market held on Saturdays in downtown Anchorage. It's a mixture of crafts, fresh produce, food vendors, and music. My favorite souvenier is an uloo, great knife for cooks and can be purchased in a variety of price points. Get the chopping bowl too. Be sure to bring binoculars and to plan a leisurely drive between Anchorage and Seward/Kenai. It is spectacular and you will want to make stops. In early August we watched people fishing for salmon in Bird Creek. Stopped to look at mountain sheep. Took the tram ride up Mt Alyeska. Next time I'll bring a picnic lunch to eat along the way. In Anchorage, make sure to drive by Lake Hood near the airport where hundreds of sea planes are tied up. Visit Earthquake Park. There are links to a visitors guide on the Anchorage Daily News website www.adn.com. I enjoyed a garden tour that was being held in one neighborhood and it gave me a chance to chat with Anchorage gardeners. Check the events listing when it gets nearer your trip.
dfrostnh is offline  
Oct 25th, 2003, 10:06 AM
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I agree with Patrick. I'd concentrate more on the Kenai Peninsula and, at a minimum, cut out the Barrow portion and save it for another trip.

I'd even go further. I don't think you can do justice to both the Kenai area and the Denali/Talkeetna area in 7-8 days. You can certainly cover both in that time but only on the surface. I'd conentrate on one or the other for the entire trip and come back for the one you miss on the next trip. I've done it both ways and enjoyed both but I'd recommend the contrated tour which gives you time to explore and savor.

My personal preference would be to do Kenai first but I know others will prefer Denali/Talkeetna.

Whatever you do, almost everyone has a great time in Alaska. You have never seen a photograph or a film that can do the rugged grandeur justice.
dwooddon is offline  
Oct 25th, 2003, 10:53 AM
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My husband and I are the types who love to see as much as we can on the first trip and then plan that if we get the chance to return, we'll do areas in more depth. We don't go to rest, so our itineraries are sometimes too busy for others.

Our first trip to Alaska was for about 8-10 days in early June 10 years ago. We did pretty much what you are proposing. We drove down to Seward for a full day trip (Fantastic!) and overnight. Up to Denali for a couple of nights--rafting and bus into park, short hike (we were lucky and could see the mountain from Anchorage as well as the park, saw many animals with our binoculars, enjoyed the wilderness feel of our trek). We went on to Fairbanks (OK, but not worth the drive) from where we flew to Barrow for overnight. Barrow was my husband's favorite part of the trip. We booked a "tour" through what was then MarkAir for the same price as the airfare on other airline. A guide picked us up in a van and drove us one block or so to a community center where the locals put on a show for the four or five tourists that day--music, dance, etc. with locals selling their crafts afterwards--half the price of shops in Anchorage. Then she took us to see the military outpost, the town, etc. A fellow was training his sled dogs and we stopped to watch and talk with him. That evening we walked around town and talked with the locals--one fellow showed us his underground storage, seal and bear skins were stretched out drying--it was just so different from the cities. My husband has to drag me into the hotel as I experienced the midnight sun on the Arctic shore.

We have since gone back once for a shorter trip and headed down to Seward and over to Valdez where we went sea kayaking and up to the Denali Highway.
Kay2 is offline  
Oct 25th, 2003, 02:37 PM
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I would not cut out Barrow. 90% of visitors to Alaska (95%? Maybe...) spend the whole time there with minimal (read, zero) contact with Native Alaskans. Granted, Barrow is not a "typical" native village, but it is a key center of Inupiat culture and economy, and even if your tour concentrates on visiting the Arctic Ocean and seeing a blanket toss or some such, it's better than returning Outside and thinking that Alaska is all wildlife and Holland America buses. As you toodle around Barrow all "night" (hah- that's another reason to go to the Arctic in July) you'll see how folks live, hear their language, see their houses and schools, and come back realizing that Alaska is a lot more diverse and complicated and thought-provoking than the image the tour companies and travel agents would otherwise give you.
Gardyloo is offline  
Oct 25th, 2003, 03:39 PM
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Unfortunately my Alaska trips (all two of them) have been for work but on one trip we did get a day to goof off & we drove to Portage & took the train to Whittier then took the all day glacier cruise by Phillip's Klondike Express, big fast catamaran so you cover some ground. Also saw Orca, Sea Otters, Eagles etc. It was early September so weather not ideal (sleeting) but still a memorable day out. Also saw lots of shot glasses etc for sale in Anchorage. Cafe Paris (Club Paris ?) is good for a steak. Simon & Seafort's has an awesome view across the inlet to accompany the good seafood. Don't know if they are still in operation or not, this was all in 1996 or 1997.
pspercy is offline  
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