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Alaska Summer Itinerary - feedack please....

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Apr 27th, 2011, 10:36 AM
  #1
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Alaska Summer Itinerary - feedack please....

Well thanks to all the help of my fellow Fodorites and loads of research its finally coming together!!! I have all but one of the hotels booked - so that's a sigh of relief!!

How does this itinerary look? Any recs on activities would be great!!! The Bear Viewing flights are insanely expensive for a family of 4 so I have to rule that out....

Day 1 – FLY into Juneau overnight Alaskas Capital Inn (no car till post cruise)
Day 2 –Juneau – overnight Alaskas Capital Inn- Mendenhall Glacier
Day 3 – Juneau – daytime activity? – board Ship at 5:30 pm
Day 3-10 InnerSea Discovery Cruise (Juneau - Ketchikan)
Day 10 - day in Ketchikan – activity?
Then fly from Ketchikan to Anchorage in the evening, pick up rental car and stay Anchorage for 1 night – looking at SpringHill Suites Anchorage University Lake or SpringHill Suites Anchorage Midtown
Day 11 - drive up from Anchorage – Denali probably getting a late start – (need to do laundry) and taking our time up. If time stop in Talkeetna for a bit. Overnight McKinley Village
Day 12 – 7:30 am Shuttle bus to Eielson - overnight McKinley Village
Day 13 - Visit Denali visitor center - hike around these areas (ranger programs), see sled dogs, etc. overnight McKinley Village.
Day 14 - drive south...back towards Anchorage. Overnight Alyeska Resort
Day 15 – Seward or Kenai day trip? overnight Alyeska Resort
Day 16 - Outbound flight from ANC at 8:30 pm
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Apr 27th, 2011, 12:17 PM
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In Juneau check into Harv and Marv's whale watching http://www.harvandmarvs.com/alaskawhalewatching.html. It may include Mendenhall glacier on the way back to town, mine did.

In Ketchikan, you might think about visiting Misty Fjords, by water or by air. The town itself is fun to walk around

Out of Seward, If you have the wholeday, go for a Kenai Fjords catamaran trip, probably 6 hours.
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Apr 27th, 2011, 01:37 PM
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Thanks hpeabody -

We hit Misty Fjords on the cruise along with...
Chuck River Wilderness / Frederick Sound — Whale Watching,
Thomas Bay / Cascade Creek / Baird Glacier,
LeConte Bay / Ideal Cove / Wrangell Narrows,
Wrangell, and
Yes Bay

Glad its a must see!!
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May 9th, 2011, 06:31 AM
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topping
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May 10th, 2011, 09:01 AM
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If you're overnighting at Alyeska, the shorter, more scenic day trip would be Seward, not the Kenai. The Kenai River is great for fishing, but not nearly as scenic.
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Jun 8th, 2011, 10:03 AM
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Any ideas for where to stay the one night in Anchorage (see Day 10 in itinerary.) I really want somewhere to crash and do laundry before heading out in the morning for Denali.

Is there anywhere that does overnight laundry service that we can just drop it off at night and pick it up in the morning?

Or anywhere that has in room laundry machines??

I was thinking about the SpringHill Suites because they have the most coin machines of the places I called.

Laundry is a pain, but I'd rather pack for one week instead of 2!!
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Jun 11th, 2011, 12:22 PM
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Your itinerary has holes it in, which with adjustments, may offer better use of time. One issue is your time in Denali and Seward. Seward is NOT a day trip in my opinion.

I suggest you figure out, what you are going to do in Denali Park, and if it requires the extra day you have there?? You can do some activites on your day of arrival and departure, perhaps?

Alyeska is very nice, but again, IF your priority is for activities in Seward, it is a poor location to choose. Again, I would suggest you determine, why you want to go to Alyeska, and if that is your priority?

I doubt "Kenai" is in your choosing?? It is a small city on the Kenai Peninsula? Find out about the areas, and how you wish to spend your time, then put your lodging in those areas, rather than the other way around.
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Jul 4th, 2011, 06:36 PM
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We just stayed in the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott in the Anchorage midtown location and I didn't try to find the laundry, so I can't add to that. That hotel is functional and just fine for a night stay and has obviously just gotten a remodel, so it looks good. But there was dried blood on the carpet, which was gross, so we just threw a washcloth over it and chose to ignore it. The price was right, so it was fine. We did all of our laundry the next day after we drove up to Denali. I wanted to get to Denali as soon as possible, so I did our laundry that night at the Denali Princess hotel where we stayed. The coin laundry was right on the same floor and so easy to incorporate into our schedule that night. To get to know the park, we did the 8-hour Tundra Wilderness Tour and it was really worth it! I'd debated doing the Tundra or the Eielson shuttle, but opted for the naturalist/driver commentary and the introduction it gave us to the park. We also did a ranger-led half day hike (great!) and a full day ranger-led hike (even better but much more strenuous). Along with the visitor center, the dog-sled demonstration, and a ranger presentation on animal predation, we got three packed days that gave us a full taste of the park. We spent two nights in Seward and with our two full days there we kayaked/sailed for a day and spent a leisurely day at the Sea Life Center.

However, if you are choosing to do a day in Seward instead of an extra day in Denali or Anchorage, don't bother with Seward, and spread that time out over Anchorage and Denali to better enjoy all that they have to explore. We never made it over to the Native Peoples museum, but it looked so fantastic, plus Anchorage has other museums to better understand the region, the beautiful gift shops, and walks to explore the city. I hope that this helps!
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Jul 5th, 2011, 09:10 AM
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goldie - a couple of questions for you, if you don't mind.
I will be staying in Denali for 5 nights next month and have already pro-booked the all-day tour into the park.
I would like to do the 1/2 day hike and also the rafting trip.
Did you book your hiking tours before you left or did you do it while you were there?
Any other tips would be welcomed.
Thanks.
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Jul 5th, 2011, 10:24 PM
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Miami Momma & Lolo12, I hope that this helps: The Denali website was helpful to me and I've included the 'Plan Your Visit-Ranger Programs' link here for you to look at for planning your hikes: http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisi...r-programs.htm

Half-day hikes with a Park Ranger: the Park Rangers lead guided hikes each day with a morning hike and an afternoon hike, and you just show up there at the Visitors Center to join the group. The morning hike was really great. These originate at the Visitors Center.

Longer day hikes with a Park Ranger 'Discovery Hikes': when you go to the Visitors Center, there is a bulletin board on the exterior wall between the right side doors going into the V.C. and the bathrooms, which are to your far right. Look there for the Rangers' description of their 'Discovery Hike' two days beforehand. Those are filled on a first-come, first-served basis for the about 10-15 spots on the hike and you go inside to the Ranger desk to sign up. That was the all-day, moderate hike that we did. These Discovery Hikes have a listing under the Denali Park website, so check that out. The Discovery Hike description didn't seem to allow children my kids ages to go, but I asked the Ranger and she said that for the hike I wanted, it would be allowed. What a winner of an outing! When you sign up for one of these, the Park Ranger will give you a voucher to go buy the appropriate shuttle ticket on your hike day. You take that over to the Wilderness Access Center (WAC, 1/2 mile away) and buy your ticket there. Our hike was at Sanctuary River and that shuttle ticket was $31.50 per adult and the kids were free. I tried to tip my Ranger after the full-day hike, but she refused and said that they weren't allowed to accept tips.

Tips on the Tundra Wilderness Tour: I was one of the few people on the Tundra tour bus that didn't fall asleep on the ride back. Many people napped. Two of my kids were reading Harry Potter books, but I was on the front row with camera in hand having a blast! To each their own! Also, if I had one extra day in the park, I'd be torn between taking the shuttle out to Wonder Lake or doing another series of hikes from the Visitors Center. What a great quandary to have..... Also, I found that both sides of the bus have a great view and since you don't change seats, you get both sides on the tour, so don't stress that.

Tips on hiking: I will say that they suggest a minimum of 2-liters of water per person, so we paid a small fortune for water for the five of us, but then never drank it all. We each carried our own daypack/backpack with lots of water, wipes, kleenex, a ziplock bag (gallon sized) with snacks, an empty ziploc bag for trash, DEET-based OFF spray (get the little tube and you can gently spray that around your neck and face), camera, extra socks, etc... We only had jeans but wished that we'd had real hiking pants because all the brush & stream crossings on the hike soaked our jeans. Hiking pants would have fared better, but we did fine. Layers are key. The bus tour was comfortable in just pants & a long sleeved tshirt with a light jacket as back-up. The hike we did on July 2nd with a long sleeved shirt, fleece, windproof & waterproof jacket, baseball hat, jeans, hiking boots, & wool hiking socks. It was in the 50s if I recall correctly. The rafting was something I ended up deleting, but it looks great.

Tips on Ranger Theater Program: The Rangers lead a theater program every day at the Visitor Center, and the topic changes by the day. The predation talk on the relationship between lynx and wolves was very interesting, so check out what they are presenting during your time there. It takes place in the Visitors Center.

Tips on Food: Prospector's Pizza across the road from the Denali Princess & the McKinley resort is right in the 'glitter gulch' (not as tacky as I'd imagined it would be) and has delicious salads, great Alaskan/local beer, and fantastic but expensive pizza. The pizza is expensive at both places we saw in the area, so we just rolled with it. Call ahead and make a reservation to save yourself the 20-60 minute wait time!! Also, the Black Bear Coffee House there in the glitter gulch has tasty food and coffee. We went there for breakfast on our last day and wished that we'd bought our breakfasts there for the previous mornings as well. The Subway there is open really early in the morning so we stopped there on our Discovery Hike day to load up on egg muffins for breakfast and sandwiches to go for lunch while we were hiking. That worked out well. Also, the lunch on the Denali Tundra Wilderness tour was more like a snack so I was glad that we had snacks/protein bars/carrots to munch on in our backpacks.

I think that you'll have such a fantastic time! What a fantastic state and a gorgeous park.
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Jul 6th, 2011, 05:33 AM
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Wow - what great information you have provided, Goldie.
I am getting very excited. After we leave Denali we will be in Anchorage and then on a week trip on a Lindblad Discovery ship. For that we bought heavy duty rain boots and light weight rain pants. I am wondering if we should wear the pants over our jeans on the hikes. You indicated your jeans got wet. Are regular hiking boots ok or do you think we would need the rain boots? They are so clumsy!

I checked out the Ranger programs and now plan to sign up early.

Any reason you skipped the rafting? It is something I was planning on doing.
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Jul 6th, 2011, 03:24 PM
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Rain pants over jeans or wearing hiking pants would work well. We saw people do both and either works. The Lindblad looks great! The hiking boots will be perfect and will give you the support you need for that terrain. Rain boots would be dreadful.

We skipped rafting because one of our children is just 12 weeks out from a broken writs & elbow followed by surgery and she needed to have her activities limited. I know that the class 3 & 4 can be dangerous (common sense) so make sure to check the conditions and how the water is running--fast & high or slow & low. Also, a local agency (Denali Outdoor Center) also rents out bikes and that'd be a fun way to go the first few miles of the road in Denali, if you're interested.
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Jul 7th, 2011, 07:35 AM
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We received the rain boots from UPS yesterday and tried them on - totally clunky but comfortable!
It's funny - the pictures in the Lindblad brochure show passengers wearing high rubber boots and Lindblad, in their pre-trip infomation, indicate that high rain boots are ESSENTIAL. So we grudgingly bought them. I don't expect to wear them in Fairbanks, Denali or Anchorage.
The hiking boots will suffice in those places - but I will use the rain pants over jeans.
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Jul 11th, 2011, 08:19 PM
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Goldie- thanks so much for all your info! It's really helpful. How old are ur kids that did the hikes in Denali?.
Lolo-my Target boots came tonight. Hoping they fit!!
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Jul 12th, 2011, 07:30 AM
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MiamiBeach - I hope your boots fit. When do you leave?
We leave in 3 days (first to California to visit family then on to Alaska) - getting EXCITED!!!

One good thing about the rain boots - I did some pre-packing last night and stuffed sox and other items in them. Even so - they take up so much room in the suitcase!!

I checked the weather in Alaska the last few days and going forward - rain, rain and more rain!!
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Jul 14th, 2011, 10:12 AM
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I leave next week! I had so much time and now it's here!! So much more shopping to do!, my office is piled high with boxes from UPS!! We have to start trying everything on and shipping back the rejects!! I read somewhere to my gel insoles for the boots, makes them a little more comfy!!
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Jul 16th, 2011, 11:24 PM
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Just back from Alaska tonight - weather was fabulous - warm and sunny everyday but 1.

I also loved the Tundra Wilderness tour in Denali- we had a grizzly right beside the bus - busy eating grass.
Also enjoyed trip to the Husky Homestead - sled dog breeding and training - we got to play with the babies - very nice presentation

We stayed in Homer for 2 nights- took a ferry to Halibut Cove for dinner - wonderful experience- highly recommend but you would need reservations.

Whale watching in Juneau was the highlight of the trip I think - saw whales "bubble net feeding" and it was amazing
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Jul 17th, 2011, 11:10 AM
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Sunbum, glad you had such a great trip. If you saw Halibut Cove, you really did make it to one of Alaska's especially beautiful spots.

We recently spent 2 nights on the Homer Spit in our camper. It's something we enjoy annually.

You were lucky. After nearly 30 years here, most of my grizzly sightings have been at a distance--except once, a Mom and two cubs about the equivalent of a block away.
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Jul 17th, 2011, 11:43 AM
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hopingtotravel - yes Halibut Cove was one of the highlights of the trip - amazingly beautiful

We saw at least 5 grizzlies in Denali but all of them at a distance except for the one beside the bus. My cousin did a bear viewing trip from Homer and they saw at least 15 - one sow with 2 cubs within 10 feet of them - she REALLY loved that experience - but very expensive. We learned that if you call the evening before and the trip is not full, you can go standby for 1/2 the price.

Lucky you to spend time in Homer every summer - and it was the best food we had on the whole trip - wonderful halibut at the Harbor Grill
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Jul 17th, 2011, 02:51 PM
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Sunbum
What bear viewing trip offered the last minute discount?
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