Alaska trip -Labor Day weekend


Jul 23rd, 2014, 03:48 PM
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Alaska trip -Labor Day weekend

Hello Experts,
My wife and me are planning a trip to Alaska from Aug 29th to Sep1st . I know its a really short duration to cover Alaska but that's the only option I have, unless I want to wait till next summer. I have read in this forum that Denali and Anchorage are the must see places, but that's about all that I know.
Could you please suggest the must see places, activities, tours that I should be doing in these 4 days. Both of us are in our late 20s and don't mind cramming it to see as much Alaska as possible

traveller_wannabe is offline  
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Jul 24th, 2014, 02:49 AM
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I would not go to Denali with such limited time. It's a long drive from Anchorage and not very scenic. I would suggest heading south instead down the Seward Highway which is spectacular. There is more to see and do between Anchorage and Seward. A boat trip out of Seward to see glaciers and sea life would be terrific unless seas are choppy. Go the full day and stay overnight in Seward the night before plus next night. Tram/hike around Alyeska. Take your time heading back to Anchorage. It could easily take you all day.
dfrostnh is offline  
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Jul 24th, 2014, 03:18 AM
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I have not seen Anchorage on anyones "must see" list - other than that is where the airport is. Head to Kenai Peninsula as dfrost suggests. If the trip is really 4 days (that means arriving on the 28th and leaving on the 2nd) you could go to Denali, but if you are arriving on the 29th, it is too far and dark too early to drive to Denali that day. So you then only have 2 days in Denali - which is enough, but you also spend 2 days driving, the better part of 2 days in air and related transportation. Not worth it. Plenty to occupy yourself on Kenai

Take full day wildlife boat tour ( was company we used, but it was 5 years ago). Go see the glacier. Drive thru little seaport towns.
gail is offline  
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Jul 24th, 2014, 04:59 AM
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definitely agree with above...skip Denali and Anchorage and just spend your time on the Kenai. More impact for your limited time. there is tons to see and do around Seward or Whittier and its very scenic.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 07:26 AM
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When on the 29th are you arriving and when on the 1st departing? It sounds like you might only have 2 full days. And where are you coming from? Don't forget time change.

I really think the "next summer" plan makes much more sense, or else think outside the box and plan a late winter visit, around the end of February, to include Fur Rondy in Anchorage, the start of the Iditarod, maybe some northern lights viewing.

The Seward idea is fine; however accommodations are going to be hard to come by as that is one of the big weekends for cruise passengers departing (or arriving) in Seward.

As an alternative, you could stay in Anchorage and do two day trips in that time. First, you could drive to Whittier (down the most scenic parts of the Seward Highway) and take a glacier cruise (either Philips' "26 Glacier" cruise or one run by Major Marine). That would give you stunning mountain and glacier viewing without having to relocate to Seward.

The second trip might be up to Palmer (45 min. north of Anchorage) for a day at the Alaska State Fair, which ends on Sept. 1. The fair is a hoot - typical fair stuff, but also giant vegetables, crafts, and great people viewing, in a beautiful setting.

Or if the weather's decent, pop for a flightseeing trip from Anchorage to Denali. Use Rust's from Lake Hood (next to ANC airport) - - for a never-to-be-forgotten experience. You won't regret the money.
Gardyloo is online now  
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Jul 24th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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<< I have read in this forum that Denali and Anchorage are the must see places>>

Really? Who said Anchorage is a must see? It's the lone real city and the home of 40% of Alaskans and has the only sizable airport. But the attractions are primarily outside the city.

Alaska's not really a weekend getaway - it's nearly a four-hour flight from the closest major US airport (SeaTac).

To see Denali, you'd have to drive to a place just outside the park on your arrival date then join a park tour the next day. Then you'd have to drive to ____ the day after that. It's pretty much a two-nighter.
BigRuss is offline  
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Jul 24th, 2014, 12:44 PM
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I agree with the others. Don't try to "do" Alaska in a long weekend - the distances are too far and the scenery too spectacular. Spend the money on the fights next year when you have at a minimum a week.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 01:11 AM
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Thank you so much folks for your insightful thoughts. Its definitely valuable advice.

We were going to fly from Phoenix,AZ.. so its not too bad in terms of distance.

But here's what I think based on your replies..Its too short of a duration and does not make sense monetarily. Plus I was not sure about the weather forecast for that period as well.. On, it shows showers on all four days. Not sure how 'accurate' it is, but we didn't want to spend that much and be stuck inside a bus or a hotel. So,we have decided to skip Alaska for this year and plan for next summer for a week minimum.. Also, the winter plan sounds really adventurous as well, but how bearable are the winters, I don't know.
anywho, we are planning to visit the Yellowstone National Park in those four days.
Thanks again guys !
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Jul 25th, 2014, 02:15 AM
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Yellowstone from Phoenix with 4 days sounds like a perfect plan. Check accuweather again - from Phoenix, especially after this hot summer, you may be shocked to see how cold it can be in Montana/Wyoming.
gail is offline  
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Jul 25th, 2014, 03:24 AM
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We were in Denali at that time of year and it was spectacular, the tundra had changed to an amazing pinkypurple and the aspens were yellow, moose were in rut. If Denali is your focus, consider flying into Fairbanks, if you want to do the Kenai then fly into Anchorage.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 07:18 AM
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Also, the winter plan sounds really adventurous as well, but how bearable are the winters, I don't know.

My suggestion was to come around Fur Rondy - - when temperatures in Anchorage are typically around freezing, sometimes a bit below, sometimes a bit above. Dress accordingly (as you would if visiting Chicago, New York, Boston.. but more casually) and it's no big deal. Alaskans tend to overheat their homes during the winter anyway, so once inside you just peel layers off.

Rondy is a fun time - much more a "locals" thing than for people from "outside", but, for example, flightseeing trips - to Denali, over Prince William Sound or over the Chugach Mountains - are unbelievably gorgeous. Prices are more affordable as are flights, and there are so many unique activities, culminating in the dogsled races in downtown Anchorage and the Iditarod start, that your days (and nights) are packed. It's a terrific end-of-winter getaway.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 08:22 AM
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If you are planning to visit Alaska next summer, choose your dates now and book your car rental. You can always cancel with no penalty. You can even book a couple cars for a couple dates. You won't believe the difference in rental rates if you book a year ahead. Rental cars in Alaska are expensive.
LindainOhio is offline  
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Jul 25th, 2014, 08:36 AM
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Before planning a winter trip to Alaska check the number of daylight hours The advantage to summer travel is the long days for sightseeing. The winters disadvantage is the opposite.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 11:10 AM
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Alaska (& Anchorage) are well worth it, any time of year. Anchorage is my favorite city in North America (my next favorites are Halifax, Boston, and Montreal); it's also my home. It has virtually every thing Alaskan (bear, moose, salmon, hiking, great parks, mountains, native culture, etc.) in it and it also the amenities of a city. Now I will say Anchorage is great, but the rest of AK is even better.

If you were to come for a short stay, I'd try and keep driving to a minimum. Here's a list of things I'd try to get in (based on your tastes and available time):

Girdwood/Portage/Whittier area
- See: a post on TripAdvisor with a lot more details at
- You can easily spend several days hiking/exploring this area that's about an hour south of ANC.
- some things: Byron Glacier (beautiful easy hike), Winner Creek trail (easy hike to a really cool hand tram over a gorge), short boat cruise to Portage Glacier, AK Wildlife Conservation Ctr, day-trip glacier cruises out of Whittier, kayaking out of Whittier, good/funky dining in Girdwood

- here's a google map link ( ) that lists a bunch of places/stops on it. Among them; the AK Native Medical Ctr has the most amazing display of AK NAtive arts & crafts (free), get up to the Glen Alps trailhead for amazing views of Anchorage, the arms and surrounding mountains (also a couple nice hikes up there), rent some bicycles & head out on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, get some "suds" and pizza at the Moose's Tooth

- If weather's good and you've time head out 120 miles east on the Glen Hwy to the MAtanuska glacier and take a trek on it. I recommend MICA Guides (see:; but there are other good providers there too.
- Seward has many things to do too; kayaking, day cruises, a tough but great hike up to the Harding Icefield (amazing/beautiful, see:

Don't let anyone discourage you about coming because of length of time. You will have a great time no mater what you choose to do.

Do book a car now (the cheapest car that will fit travelers and luggage) and check frequently (several times a day) to see if you can a cheaper car.

Good luck & enjoy AK,
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