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Trip Report Alaska Road Trip: June 16-30, 2013

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Alaska Road Trip July 16-30, 2013

Tues. July 16th: Fly Cleveland to Anchorage, Bike the Tony Knowles Trail

My husband and I arrived in Anchorage 1:31 PM. Flying into Anchorage is breathtaking—beautiful mountains, glaciers, Cook Inlet—and sunny skies.

We took a cab into Anchorage and picked up our brand new car. (Hertz at 414 KStreet-return to airport ( $825 inc taxes for 2 weeks+ 1 day-I looked frequently for a better deal but never found one-this was the Entertainment rate $328/wk. Booked in Dec. Had a similar rate on breezenet.com for Avis, and AAA for Hertz. I receive every car rental agency special rate email—those were never available in Anchorage )

Rode bikes on Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Beautiful day and really nice bike trail. Had dinner outside on the deck of the Millenium Hotel on Lake Hood and watched the float planes take off and land. We spent the night at Coastal Trail B&B ($140/nt) near the Tony Knowles with complimentary bikes.

Wed. July 17th : Turnagain Arm, Seward Highway, Exit Glacier, Seward

We wake up to sunny skies. After breakfast at the B&B we headed to the Seward Hwy and Seward. As recommended, we used the Milepost to guide us in our drive. Beautiful drive. We stopped several times along the Turnagain Arm. Fireweed is blossoming everywhere and the sun is shining . Stopped at the McHugh Picnic area for our first Alaska hike. Not far into the trail we encountered a huge bull moose with a giant rack by the side of the trail. He didn’t seem to mind us but we were spooked—there were no other people in the area. We aborted the hike and continued our drive, leaving the Turnagain Arm and entering the Kenai Peninsula.

Before checking in to our B&B we hiked to Exit Glacier. The drive out Exit Glacier Rd. is beautiful and there were several campers along the river there—beautiful place to pull over and camp. We saw our first eagle here. The trail to Exit Glacier is paved and it is a really nice hike.

We spent 3 nights at Bear Lake Lodgings ($160/nt complimentary kayaks). We loved Bear Lake Lodgings. Pat, the owner, checked us in. Erin, her innkeeper was off for the day. She was there the next day and made breakfast everyday.

We had the cheapest room with the shared bath but that worked out ok. The other rooms were available when I booked but I tried to keep the cost of our rooms around $150/nt. The room is on the third floor and was warm—it was about 70 degrees when we were in Seward. It was great to spend time on their deck, take the kayaks out on the lake and enjoy the chocolate dipped ice cream bars every evening. Dennis took the float plane out. It was fun to see him take off and land. All the guests made it back to the B&B by 8:30 in the evening for the ice cream bars. It was nice to sit on the deck and talk with the other guests.

We had dinner at Ray’s and I had my first salmon of the trip. Great dinner but the smallest piece of salmon that I had the whole trip. A couple of the other guests at the B&B recommended Chinooks. After dinner, we walked around the lovely harbor and then drove into Seward. Walked a bit of the old Iditarod Trail(Mile 0)along Resurrection Bay. Great views here and great spot for the campers in the Seward Campground— parking sites right on the Bay.

Thurs. July 18: Seward Kenai Fjords Boat Tour 10AM 7 ½ hour tour: Toursaver 2 for 1 ($180 for 2)

It is a beautiful sunny day. We have coffee on the deck and then breakfast at the B&B. I packed lunch, our fleece and rain gear. It was warm and sunny and we were able to spend the whole time outside on the deck of boat. I was prepared with hats, gloves, extra fleece etc. but we didn’t need them. It was an absolutely perfect day to take this cruise.

We cruised with Major Marine through the beautiful Resurrection Bay—otters, a humpback whale and her calf and “take your breath away” scenery. We sailed into Aialik Bay, stopped at the Holgate Glacier –watched some calving and then on to the Aialik Glacier—more calving. On the ride back to Seward we pass by an island filled with harbor seals. We saw puffins, a pod of 7 humpback whales, birds, lots of otters, and had several porpoise escort us through the waters.

After the cruise, we had a quick dinner at Nellie’s downtown and then headed back to Bear Lake to kayak. We had a peaceful paddle—There is a coho and sockey salmon enhancement program at Bear Lake--no fishing allowed in the lake and the old bears have figured out that this is an easy place to find supper. Pat suggested we not hike around the lake. Several of the guests saw bears enjoying salmon when they were kayaking. There is a weir at Bear Lake where they can monitor the number of fish returning to the lake. They also inoculate every female for a kidney disease. We made it back to the B&B for ice cream and time on the deck. Dennis, the owner, mentioned that it is usually too cold to sit out on the deck. Fantastic day!

Fri July 19: Seward. Hiking Harding Icefields Hike

We couldn’t have had a more beautiful day to hike the Harding Icefields Trail. We started the trail at about 10AM and finished hiking at 5PM. I am a slow hiker, so this may not be typical, and we spent about 45 minutes at the top, at the Icefields, having our lunch.

This is a spectacular hike. Don’t be intimidated by the strenuous rating. Even hiking a short distance will give you some really wonderful mountain views. Shortly after starting the hike, we did have a bear on the trail. There is very lush vegetation at the beginning of the trail (good places for bears to be obscured), we crossed some small streams, made our way over boulder fields, walked across snow patches and by beautiful wildflowers—lupine, forget-me nots, daisies, saw mountain goats cooling themselves on the snow, enjoyed beautiful mountain views and views over Exit Glacier, and ended the trail with a panoramic view of the Harding Icefields. We had lunch overlooking the Icefields and then headed back down. The trail has it all. It ranks as one of our favorites.

We had dinner at the Brewery and headed back to the deck and ice cream at Bear Lake. Dennis and Pat took their boat out and headed to the Kenai River to dip net. It was the opening of the season. They returned with about 18 red salmon.

Sat., July 20: Drive to Homer. Our good weather continues.

Coffee on the deck, breakfast, a stop at the dock to watch Dennis filet his Sockeye and then we started our drive to Homer (165 miles). This is a beautiful drive and as you curve around to the Sterling Highway, you enter fishing heaven. Everyone in Alaska was going fishing today. Yesterday was the first day residents could dip net for Reds/Sockeye. There were a lot of anglers on the banks and in the rivers.

We stopped to hike the Russian River to Russian Falls and couldn’t find a parking place. We parked in the fishing lot where we were warned of a black bear at the bottom of the steps. We waited for him to move and then headed down and watched him cross the river, climb up the other bank, climb a tree and then head into the woods. We started to hike toward Russian Falls but the trail abruptly ended in the river.

We continued our drive stopping at the Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik, drove down to the small settlement and the beach and then had a picnic lunch across the street. I can’t get over the fireweed everywhere in Alaska—and cow parsnip (looks like Queen Annes Lace to me). I have fireweed framing almost every scene I photograph. This drive is really beautiful with the volcanoes across the Captain Cook Inlet—Mt. Redoubt, Mt. Iliamna, Mt. Augustine—part of the Ring of Fire. You get a beautiful view of Homer as you crest a hill right before the town.

We drove to the Homer Spit. The road actually just curves around and heads right to the Spit. We pass lots of campers (another campground with fantastic water views—and a beach)and then park the car and walk around. We have not booked a bear flightseeing. KBay does offer a discounted rate for standby so we stop in their office. There was a possibility of a flight the next day. Standby $500. We had to commit right there, give our credit card info and weigh in. We would hear the next morning.

My husband also decided he wanted to go halibut fishing. He has only fished one time since we got married 35 years ago, so I had done no research on this. We just walked into Homer Ocean Charters and booked a half day afternoon trip for Monday.

We had a great dinner at Captain Pattie’s. Great salmon and then checked into the Good Karma Inn out off of East End Rd. If you don’t stay in this area be sure to drive to the end of this road. The views are beautiful out across Kachemak Bay. Even more amazing views up East Hill Rd. This B&B is filled with native art and our room is wonderful with a big picture window and deck looking out over the Bay to the mountains. We sat on the deck and enjoyed a glass of wine. There was no cooked breakfast here. Michael, the owner has supplies to make your own breakfast and he doesn’t do any housekeeping while you are there, but we totally enjoyed staying at the Good Karma Inn. We so enjoyed talking with Michael and his guests. He has a sweet older dog named Sophie (part fox)---and the views here are amazing.

Sunday Funday, July 27th: Bear viewing at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park

I had my coffee on the deck outside our room and then we headed down to the kitchen to have breakfast. We received the call from KBay that we would be on the afternoon flight to Katmai for bear viewing and I was overjoyed.

We drove toward the end of East End Rd and walked the short trails at Eveline Park—lot of wildflowers blooming and beautiful views across Kachemak Bay to the mountains and glaciers. We drove back toward the Spit and stopped at Stormin Normans for lunch before our flight. They have great pizza. We checked in for our flight at 2PM and returned at about 9PM.

We have a beautiful day to fly—even though the winds prevented the morning group from going to Hallo Bay. We are fitted with rubber boots and 4 of us join the pilot for our flight. Another plane is also flying and the KBay owner’s daughter, Jenna, joins us on this gloriously, beautiful day. Spectacular scenery as we fly by volcanoes, coastland, mountains and water to Hallo Bay at the northern edge of Katmai National Park.

We land on the beach and as we get off the plane, a seal pops up his head and checks us out. It is pretty windy so we have no need for the bug spray I packed. We go up over a little ridge, walk through some wildflowers and there immediately in front of us is a brown bear and her cub busy easting the grasses. The area is a grassland with streams crossing the area and mountains in the distance—it is an open area and we can see several bears around and some in the distance. We kneel down and take our first photos. We are all quiet, it is so peaceful and so beautiful. I actually get a little choked up at the whole amazing experience.

We watch the mom and cub for awhile and then walk a short distance watching other bears grazing, in the river, and moving here and there. It is just the second day that the salmon are running in the area, there aren’t a lot of salmon in the stream but a few of the bears sit in the water intent on finding those fish. They wait for a salmon to splash—and then the bear pounces. The large black faced female is good at this and is rewarded with a treat. We cross a fairly deep stream to see more bears trying to catch the salmon. Lots of splashing but not quite as successful as the older female. It is like watching a tennis match as we look back and forth at 2 bears in 2 different streams trying to catch salmon.

We watch a couple bears fight over a spot in the stream. We watch another bear and her 2 cubs by the water, the 2 bears playing with each other, climbing on mom and then joining their mother as they cross the stream. We love watching those cubs. It is a real treat. We counted about 18 bears and there were additional bears pretty far in the distance. There are huge bear tracks in the mud. The mountains in the distance are beautiful. We are so lucky.

Mon. July 22: More fun in beautiful Homer: Halibut fishing and water taxi

We had originally planned to take the water taxi across Kachemak Bay and hike but Pat was scheduled for a half day halibut fishing trip. I tried to book myself on the Danny J trip to Halibut Cove but it was booked on this beautifully sunny, warm day. In fact they were sold out for the entire week—that surprised me.

After lingering over breakfast, we once again headed out to the end of East End Rd—to where the dirt road starts---beautiful views. We drove down to the Spit and Pat checked in for his fishing trip.

I walk over to Mako’s water taxi and investigate where I can go and be back by 6PM. No choice here since I am a single, so I book a “ride along”. Connor, the water taxi owner, ended up being a wonderful tour guide. He went around Gull Island for me and pointed out various places of interest. I had told him that the ride was my Plan B because the Danny J was sold out. We dropped off hikers and picked up hikers and others who had spent the night across the Bay. He also took a couple out to Halibut Cove so I was able to at least see the beautiful cove. Since the tide was so high we were able to go all through the Cove—not sure where you go if the tide isn’t high. Next visit, I would love to return to Homer, maybe spending 2 nights there and 2 nights across the bay.

After my little “ride along”, I drove over to the Islands and Oceans Visitor Center. Beautiful center with views of the bay and lots of exhibits. It’s such a beautiful day, I take the short walk down to Bishops Beach and Beluga Slough.

After picking my husband up—he got his limit 2 halibut-- we stopped at the Fresh Catch for dinner and split a Curry Seafood dish that was wonderful. We enjoyed our window seat, enjoyed the meal , and then headed back to Good Karma Inn.

Michael was starting a bonfire so we filled our wineglasses and headed out to the front of the house. The bonfire on a gorgeous summer night in Homer, chatting with the guests and Michael, and the fabulous full moon rising over the mountains and Kachemak Bay, all combined to create a really special memory from our trip.

Tuesday, July 23: Sunny drive to Girdwood

We linger on the deck and eat a leisurely breakfast. We hate to leave this beautiful place. Our room here definitely wins the “room with a view” award.

We head out of Homer by going up East Hill Rd and down Diamond Ridge—beautiful views on this drive. We have a lovely sunny day, 70 degrees. We stop in Soldotna, with all the anglers, and eat lunch at Buckets. We stop at the grocery store and pick up more lunch fixings and then drive over to the campground to watch all the people fishing.

We had planned on renting bikes in Girdwood and riding them to Bird Point to watch the large predicted Bore Tide at 5:12PM ( -4.1 Tide Height 5*probability)but we really dawdled around on our drive there and just ended up going directly to Bird Point at 4:45. We weren’t the only ones with this idea. There were no parking spots in the lot. Every pull off along the Turnagain Arm, on the drive to Bird Point was filled with cars. There were surfers and paddleboarders in the water. At about 5:30 the tide came in and at Bird Point, we thought it was a bust. We got in our car and left, driving back to the Alyeska Rd turnoff. Well, we should have originally pulled into the spots above the surfers. The tide height grew as it narrowed and we were able to pull into one of the pull offs, park behind another vehicle and watch the surfers ride the tide—not a major highlight of our trip but why miss one of the top 5 Tidal Bores in the world and 1 of only 2 in N. America—definitely worth the stop.

We arrived at Hidden Creek B&B which is absolutely beautiful. Ron and Michelle go above and beyond to make your stay a pleasure. We had booked the least expensive Wildflower Room. Lovely room, luxury bath, home baked cookies on the table in our room, blackout shades. This home was built to be used as a B&B, has a really great set up, with the guest rooms on the lower level. It is beautifully decorated with a dream kitchen. You order breakfast from a menu and the hosts are engaging and helpful. They were willing to let us leave our fish in their freezer and pick it up before our flight home. We didn’t leave our fish but we sure appreciated their offer. They even let us use their washer and dryer to do a load of clothes.

We ate at the casual Chair 5 Restaurant and then drove to the Girdwood trailhead of the Winner Creek Trail. I was anxious to do the hand tram. The hand tram however, is broken and has been broken all summer—bummer. We walked about a mile on the trail (very alertly since we had just seen a black bear cross Crow Creek Rd on the way to the trailhead) Then turned around and headed back.

Wednesday, July 24: A sunny, warm day in Whittier (yes!)for the Prince William Sound Cruise.

Whittier averages 200 inches of rain and 240 inches of snow—can you imagine? That could be one of the reasons only 250 people live there.

We had a great breakfast at Hidden Creek. Michelle and Ron work together to make breakfast—and it is great. They even pass out a menu with different breakfast entrees to choose from. Today, we are driving to Whittier to take the Major Marine Prince William Sound Cruise ($160 for the 2 of us using the Toursaver Buy 1/get 1 free. The only coupons we used in the book were the 2 Major Marine coupons but we saved $340 on the 2 cruises. Tom and Barb, another couple staying at Hidden Creek are also taking the Major Marine Cruise.

We leave the B&B at 10AM to make the 10:30 tunnel opening and our 12:15 cruise. We were amazed to see the train tracks going right through the middle of this tunnel. I have never seen a traffic tunnel like this. They do have a good system worked out—at least when we used the tunnel.

We have a gorgeous day for this cruise. This cruise normally has calmer waters than the Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. It is just beautiful. We have once again packed our lunch, opting out of the buffet. There is a ranger onboard, who was actually born about 30 minutes away from us. Her family owns area grocery stores so her name was familiar to us. She gave a good narration and worked with the children on the Jr. Ranger Badges.
This is the glacier cruise and the mountains and glaciers are everywhere. The scenery is beautiful and the ranger points out mountains that often are not visible. We have beautiful clear blue skies.

The Surprise Glacier is the star of this cruise but we were also delighted to see wildlife. There were harbor seals resting on ice floes, the darling otters floating on their backs, and for the longest time we had several Dall’s porpoises jumping and playing at the sides of the bow of the ship. We also had them with us on the Kenai Fjords Cruise but these were really enjoying the ride. The captain did a bit of a weave that the porpoises seemed to enjoy. We saw a couple eagles, numerous birds, an island rookery filled with gulls with their new chicks and an island with harbor seals out sunning themselves. It was a fantastic day!

The cruise docked at 5:30 and we were through the tunnel at the 6PM opening. We once again missed a Visitor Center. They close at 5PM. The Besich, Boggs is right there by the tunnel. The Center focuses on the history of Chugach National , the US second largest national forest. They show an award winning film “Voices from the Ice”. It was on our list of places to stop.

We did do the short Byron Glacier trail. It is a short walk, along a creek to the glacier. Lovely walk on a beautiful evening.

We head to eat dinner at the Double Musky. It is an award winning New Orleans style restaurant that uses Alaskan seafood in their cooking, has steaks, and from what we kept hearing, great food. They don’t take reservations but every time we mentioned that we would be staying in Girdwood, we were told to eat there. We get there and there is a long line. We don’t wait and we just head back to Chair 5 for dinner.

After dinner we head back to Hidden Creek B&B; there are cookies waiting for us in our room This place is wonderful. I do a load of laundry, pack things up, and head to bed.
We need another day in Girdwood—Crow Pass hike, Conservation Center, Double Musky

Thurs. July 25th: Drive to the Mat-Su Valley, Eklutna Lake, Hatcher Pass, Independence Mine

At breakfast, a couple of the guests rave about their hike to Crow Pass. They are strong hikers and told us that it took them about 4 hrs. roundtrip to get to the glacier and back. We seriously considered doing this hike before we left but it was overcast and there was a light sprinkle of rain. We hated to miss a hike that is so highly rated but we moved on…

We stopped again for some groceries and then headed up to drive the Glenn Highway. This is a beautiful drive and the skies clear. I checked the Milepost for some good places to stop. We stopped at Thunderbird Falls and hiked with a lot of locals, and several military wives, to the falls—a quick little break.

We then headed down to Eklutna Lake, which is about 10 miles off the road—not really worth the 20 mile rt detour but would be a great place to camp. We walked for a while on the trail around the lake. They also have bikes to rent and there were people riding them around the 7 mile long lake. I am not sure if this trail goes around the entire lake.

We then headed to Hatcher Pass Rd and Independence Mine and spent some time walking around the historical park but the weather was threatening and we didn’t do any hikes. We were really interested in the Reed Lakes Hike—even part of it, but the trailhead is 2.5 miles down the unpaved Archangel Rd. with a stream to cross. There is a very enticing video of this hike at www.alaskahdtv.com/reed-lakes-hike/ .

The clouds continue to gather but it is a beautiful drive out to the Matanuska Lodge at Milepost 99.5. I had a “Buy 1 nt/get 1 nt free” coupon for this lodge ($170 for both nights) What a great find! This place was fabulous and we so enjoyed Brenda, the owner, and her friends, Patty and Elliott who are helping out at the Lodge this summer. She has created her ”Queendom” here so be prepared when you walk in. She displays all her treasures and art pieces. She loves quotation plaques and they are everywhere—do make you laugh.

We were able to have dinner prepared for us at the Lodge—great dinner—and after our arrival, it had really started to rain so we were really pleased to be able to stay at the Lodge. The owner, Brenda offered us wine, beer and any mixed drinks we wanted. We were also greeted in the backyard with a moose that had spent hours there enjoying the salt lick
Brenda has 3 small dogs at the Lodge and my husband fell in love with the King Charles Spaniels.

We met some interesting people at this Lodge—and really at all the B&Bs. We really enjoyed meeting and talking with all the owners and the other travellers. It seemed like the other guest here, were just spending one night, either using the B&B as a place to stop on their drive from one place to another or they were going to the Matanuska Glacier. This lodge though is a great place to take a break from the busyness of seeing all you can during a visit to Alaska. We enjoyed our 2 night stay here.

Fri. July 25th Relaxing at the Matanuska Lodge, Glacier Trek and dinner at Sheep Mountain Lodge

We have a really nice bedroom and upscale bath at the Matanuska Lodge. Brenda offers a lot of extras-even giving us water bottles and luggage tags. Very comfortable beds, black out draperies and a sliding door that leads to the deck. This lodge has a fabulous wrap around deck with a hot tub on a separate level. It has a picnic table in the yard, a firepit

We had a great breakfast and since the skies were clearing we walked down to the lake. A couple of the guests were coming back with the canoe, so we take our turn. We really enjoyed the peaceful paddle around the lake. There were about 30 ducklings all around the lake that would scurry when we came near. She also has kayaks and a paddleboat for her guests to use. Beautiful morning.

We spent the rest of the morning lounging on the deck. What a great place to relax. We had a picnic lunch there, read a bit, enjoyed the sunshine and the view to the lake and mountains.

I had not made reservations for a Matanuska Glacier Trek but since the day was turning out to be another beauty, we made reservations for the 2PM 3 hour trek. I know this trek is highly recommended but I think I would have been just as happy doing this on my own—or maybe doing the climb. We didn’t see any amazing hidden places and there seemed to be a lot of places we could have walked on our own, where we didn’t need a guide and would not be in any danger. We do have YakTrax and trekking poles. The whole trek just ok for me but we did have a beautiful day to be on the glacier.

After the trek, we drove to Sheep Mountain Lodge for dinner. This is another beautiful drive. Sheep Mountain Lodge has some really nice looking cabins and we enjoyed our meal there. After dinner, we were back at the lodge, relaxing on the deck. We really enjoyed it there.

Sat. July 27th Off to Denali with a stop in Talkeetna

We awoke to a cloudy day, had a great breakfast with a full house again and then started out longest drive of the trip, about 250 miles. Luckily the clouds broke up and we saw Denali, with a few clouds from the viewpoint right before entering Talkeetna.

We spent a little time walking around Talkeetna and then had lunch outside at the Wildflower Café.

We left Talkeetna at about 3PM and headed to the National Park. We stopped at the Denali Viewpoint South and once again saw Denali with a few clouds. (the North Viewpoint was closed when we were there). We drove to the WAC and picked up our shuttle tickets for Sunday and Monday and inquired about the Discovery Hikes. We could book a Discovery Hike the next morning at the Visitor Center (they only take 11 hikers, we were unable to get on either hike for Monday).

We passed bus after bus of cruise passengers visiting Denali. There are a lot of visitors doing the land tour. The Princess Cruiseline busses seemed to be everywhere.

We drove out to Savage River but we could have really skipped this. We had 2 days scheduled on the shuttle. If you have time to get out and hike then I would recommend the drive.

We got to the EarthSong Lodge in Healy at about 8PM, headed over to the onsite Henry’s Café for a late dinner and watch the Denali slideshow. I thought it would be wonderful to talk to guests here at the café but after the slideshow, everyone headed out.

Sun. July 28th : Sunny Sunday for Denali

We woke up to an absolutely cloudless sky. Denali is out today in all her glory. We did not book the early shuttle to Wonder Lake. That idea was rejected by my traveling companion. Denali was out in all her glory, all day, so I guess we were lucky.

We boarded the shuttle at 9:15AM and didn’t return until 8:30PM—but it was a glorious day. There are lots of stops on this route and our driver added a few “photo stops” since the day was so clear. I really think the best way to see the National Park though is to camp at Tek. A shorter shuttle ride and then the Tek pass that gives you some flexibility.

We didn’t have as many animal sightings as I expected but it was 75 degrees and sunny. I think the animals escape that heat and are not as active. Another reason may be that, when the Mountain is out, the visitors really concentrate on seeing Denali. When it is cloudy, you are more actively scoping out the tundra. The animal sightings also improve if there are good spotters on the bus. We did have a lot of caribou on the road. The bus driver mentioned that they go up on the road to escape the flies when it is warm and the winds are calm. We also saw a fox running alongside the road. The bears we saw were all in the distance.

We drove back to Healy and decided to check out the Black Diamond Golf Course. My husband was not impressed. We did have a really great King Salmon dinner in their dining room.

Mon. July 29th: What a difference a day makes

We awoke to cloudy skies and never saw Denali today but the animal sightings definitely improved. Great wildlife sightings; bears close to the road, caribou, moose, Little specks of dall’s sheep, and eagles. We took the 9:15 shuttle and got off the shuttle at Eielson Visitor Center to hike a bit. We caught the end of the ranger walk and then walked over to the overlook.

Pat hiked to the top of Thoro Ridge. I only do hikes like that on clear days. I watched the “Climbing Denali” film and just people watched at the Visitor Center. Our shuttle driver recommended hiking around Stony Dome where he said the tundra is easier to walk on. We got another recommendation for the Savage Alpine Trail that connects the Savage River and Mountain Vista areas. This is a designated trail, which is the hiking we are used to. We also would have loved to have gotten off the shuttle at Polychrome and hiked there. We ran out of time. We really needed one more day and we also needed to talk to the rangers at the Backcountry Information Center. We were pretty intimidated to hike the area. There were a lot of backpackers though.

Our shuttle drive out of the park ended up with a bear escort. He hopped up on the road in front of our bus and walked, ran, pooped, peed and basically blocked our passage for about 20 minutes.

We ate dinner at the 49th State Brewery and then headed back to EarthSong to pack up.

Tues. July 30th Our last day in Alaska

We packed up, got our coffee and a roll at Henry’s, finished up our yogurt and joined Jon for his kennel tour. Jon’s main business is running sled dog trips in winter.

We ambled on to Anchorage, and checked in for our 8:30PM flight home. The flight never left until midnight. One of the attendants had an accident and they had to fly another attendant to Anchorage (really?). We were unable to rebook to Cleveland. The next day we received an email with our choice of compensation. We took the $100pp vouchers. The best part of the flight though was having an entire row to ourselves. My husband moved to the back of the plane and we both stretched out and slept to Chicago.

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