Alaska July 2017

Old Dec 16th, 2016, 01:57 PM
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Alaska July 2017

Hello Everyone! I am trying to plan a trip to Alaska next July. We will probably for 8-10 days during the week of the 4th of July. I have narrowed down what I think we want to see, just not sure how to make the logistics work. The only thing reserved is our rental car on Saturday July 4th. We will probably fly in friday night.

Here are the ideas I have so far:

Seward- Glacier Kayaking, Kenai Park Cruise, Maybe exit glacier, I also know it has been advised to avoid this are on 4th of July.

Denali NP- Worth the drive? or the time? Not sure I am keen to sit on a bus for hours, if I am being honest

Matanuska Glacier hike with Mica.

Is there another destination we could add? I really would like to do some flight seeing (plane or helicopter, and maybe a glacier landing) as well as dog sledding (does not have to be on snow necessarily), we also love outdoor activities of all kinds. We are young, dont mind driving long distances, but also dont want to see AK from the car.

Any help would be great!
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Old Dec 16th, 2016, 02:47 PM
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Saying "skip Denali" is heresy among many, however my view is that it's okay to skip it if you replace it with something equally rewarding. If the mountain is visible it's a sight you'll never forget; however seeing Denali from the ground is time consuming and expensive, when you add up the costs of accommodation and a car that sits idle for most of two days. Plus, of course, there are no guarantees that you will see the mountain due to clouds.

Some of the alternatives you could consider include traveling farther down the Kenai Peninsula, say to Homer, and sightseeing around Kachemak Bay, including a ferry trip to Seldovia or Halibut Cove. (Google these places if not familiar.)

Or, you could visit the Matanuska Glacier, then carry on out to Glennallen, then south on the Richardson Highway to Valdez, and take the state ferry back across Prince William Sound to Whittier. The Richardson Hwy between Glennallen and Valdez, through Thompson Pass, is one of the most beautiful highways in North America, and PWS is fantastic. You could do the whole trip basically as a big loop - https://goo.gl/maps/ymNZyFfiVhJ2

One thought is to combine your flightseeing, Denali and glacier trekking aims in one with a Denali glacier landing offered by Rust's at Lake Hood in Anchorage. Believe me, flying to Denali in a light plane is a life-changing experience, and landing on a glacier would be a hoot. (Rust's operates their ski services from their same location on Lake Hood, but use a gravel strip at the lake rather than floats, for obvious reasons.) http://www.flyrusts.com/

Another option is to drop the car and take a couple of days to experience the northwest part of Alaska, way out in the bush and off the main road system. You could fly round trip from Anchorage to Kotzebue, an Inupiat Eskimo village above the arctic circle, where in early July you'd have 24 hour (not just midnight) sun. Dip a toe in the Arctic Ocean (Kotzebue is on an arm of it) and learn about the remarkable culture and heritage of the local people.

Or fly to Nome, the historic gold rush town on the Bering Sea, get a vehicle and drive out into the bush on the Seward Peninsula. See lots of wildlife (muskox, moose, bears, reindeer and caribou, lots of birds) and explore a part of Alaska few visitors ever see. http://www.alaska.org/destination/nome/scenic-drives and http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...ewardpeninsula

Even with the additional airfare (around $350 round trip from Anchorage) these are surprisingly affordable destinations that really deliver the goods on the experience front.

Getting off the road system is a must in my book; you can't even begin to grasp the scale and beauty of Alaska otherwise.
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Old Dec 16th, 2016, 06:09 PM
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Click on my profile name to read my topic before our June 2016 trip to Alaska and my trip report.
The bus trip out to the Eilson Visitor center was not really comfortable but we saw lots of wildlife both going out and coming back. Plan on getting on the earliest bus you can book.
If you have the extra money and the weather is good, a helicopter trip would be a memorable experience.
I did manage to hike up to the toe of the Exit Glacier as part of an Earthcache I logged.
If you want to see muskox, the place to do it is the muskox farm north of Palmer.
I also visited the stretch of river where Pedro Felix found gold northeast of Fairbanks.
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks also has a great museum with some small dinosaur skeletons found in Alaska.
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Old Dec 18th, 2016, 10:58 AM
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After talking to some friends who recently went, they insisted we go to Denali. Here is my revised plan:

Arrive at 1130pm on June 30th. Stay near airport.

Saturday July 1st- Pick up car, shop for food and drive to Healy. Is there anything we can do this do activity wise,I feel like this is a waste of a day.

Sunday July 2nd- Bus to Wonder Lake- night in healy

Monday- Bus again into Denali or an activity maybe (please advise)- Drive to Talkeetna or ANC to overight

Tuesday- Drive to Matanuska Glacier and do ATV tour with MICA- overnight with them

Wednesday- Do glacier hike with them drive to seward

Thursday- Full day Kayak

Friday Northwestern boat tour

Saturday Drive to girdwood- activity and back in ANC for 2am flight out.

Does this make sense? Am I wasting two days of travel time to see Denali. Help!
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Old Dec 18th, 2016, 04:16 PM
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I managed to get a red eye flight out of SEA to arrive early in the morning in Anchorage. I hate arriving close to midnight and then picking up the rental car with a short rest.
It's only 4.5 to 5 hours from Anchorage to Healy. Try going to the musk ox farm north of Palmer for an hour or two then take the Palmer- Wasilla highway to get back to the road to Healy.
While on the Kenai you might want to drive the Skilak road for the chance to see some wildlife.
If you are in good enough shape for a full day of kayaking, you can handle about 8 hours on a school bus. I decided that Eilson was as far as I wanted to go.
Your one stop shop going out of Anchorage is the Fred Myer off the second Eagle River exit. It has food, department store and a gas station.
For breakfast in Anchorage, I liked the Snow City Cafe. We had to wait for a few minutes for a table.
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Old Dec 18th, 2016, 05:00 PM
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>>Does this make sense? Am I wasting two days of travel time to see Denali. Help!
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Old Dec 18th, 2016, 05:35 PM
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We started our Alaska 11 day trip just like you and stayed in Healy. The day of the bus ride in Denali was overcast and even snowed at the Elison Center (it was end of June). Even tho Denali stayed hidden the bus ride to Elison was wonderful. There were a couple of stops to take in the views and the views were very interesting with mist and clouds. We did see wildlife and I'm very glad we went. The next day we drove our rental car into Denali to Savage River (as far as cars are allowed). We hiked along the river and enjoyed it very much...easy and scenic. Then a later Ranger led hike that was sort of a wash out and lastly a visit to the sled dogs. You can pet the dogs and they give a demo of them working....Great dinner and beers at 49th State Brew Pub in Healy.
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Old Dec 19th, 2016, 02:13 AM
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I might have different goals but I hate to see you miss 4th of July in AK while you're there. Kenai puts on a big parade and there's a Forest Fair at Girdwood about the same time where you can do what lots of Alaskans do on a holiday. The fair was fun, with crafters ranging from the local Girl Scouts to fine artists, yummy food for sale, music and seeing the bushes move as people started hollering because a bear had been attracted by the food smells.

The big thing to understand is the Seward Hwy south to Seward and the KP is very beautiful with places you'll want to stop. You can easily spend a week between Anchorage and Homer. The drive north to Denali however, is not as scenic even if the mountain is visible. We enjoyed Independence Mine and Talkeetna on the way north but there were a lot of miles in between.

But a kayak trip might trump the Forest Fair in your book and that is fine. We're not big hikers, either. My husband was reluctant to take the boat trip out of Seward because of a bout of sea sickness he had had on a different trip but we lucked out with a fabulous day and calm water but that trip meant a whole day plus an overnight in Seward before going out.
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Old Dec 19th, 2016, 05:54 AM
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If you do go to Denali, you should go on into Fairbanks.
We liked Pioneer Park and the Alaska Salmon Bake.
http://www.alaska.org/detail/pioneer-park
We also enjoyed the B&B near North Pole.
On my new profile picture I am standing under the Alaska pipeline north of Fairbanks.
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Old Dec 19th, 2016, 06:30 AM
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Does this make sense? Am I wasting two days of travel time to see Denali. Help!

Of course you're not wasting two days of travel. It's a half day drive in each direction, but you really can't combine a visit deep into the interior of the park using the shuttle in the same day as you arrive from, or depart to, Anchorage.

I strongly recommend people "deconstruct" days at Denali just to see how it "feels" relative to your own energy level and interests. For example, here's a conceptual timetable (using the 24h clock) for a day in the park (from Healy) that goes as far as Wonder Lake. Note these times are approximate; the bus will stop for wildlife and toilet breaks periodically.

Lv Healy - 7:00
Arr WAC - 7:30
Dep WAC - 7:45
Arr Eielson - 12:15
Lv Eielson - 13:15
Arr Wonder Lake - 14:55
Lv Wonder Lake - 15:55
Lv Eielson - 17:15
Arr WAC - 20:45
Arr Healy - 21:15

So you're away from your lodgings for roughly 14 hours, of which approximately 12 are in the car or the park shuttle bus, with an hour on the ground at each of the Eielson visitor center and at Wonder Lake (which, in early July, will be spent seeking shelter from Satan's own mosquito army.) You'll need to arrange with somebody for food as there are no food services in the park.

Will you see wildlife during those 12 hours? Almost certainly. Will it be right next to the road? Maybe. Will you see spectacular scenery? Definitely. Will it include Denali itself? Maybe.

So like with anything else in life, hope for the best and plan for the worst. I'll ask it again: what else would you do with those hours and days elsewhere? There are no right or wrong answers, only choices.
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Old Dec 19th, 2016, 05:24 PM
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Thank you all for your feedback. I need to do some more research before making a decision
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Old Dec 20th, 2016, 09:09 AM
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I would highly recommend taking a Flightseeing Floatplane to the Misty Fjords and landing on the lake. It was amazing and I believe my wife and I enjoyed it more than anything else. Enjoy!
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