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Alaska/Yukon in 14 days.

Old Sep 16th, 2010, 06:38 AM
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Alaska/Yukon in 14 days.

Hi all,

Always my dream to see Alaska and the Yukon.

So the plan is this. Flights into Anchorage on the 3rd July 2011. Flights home 18th July 2011. That gives me 14 full days to explore the Alaska/Yukon territory, and Im looking for good advice on places to go, things to see, and must do's.
We like outdoor activities, hiking, glacier wall climbing, kayaking among the galciers etc, and also like good food, and decent lodging. Ive planned a rough itinerary as follows, but would appreciate tips on each town or new suggestions for places to stay, things to do etc.

1-Anchorage, how many days, recommendations for things to do?
2-Hire a car, and head to Denali National Park. Any good day-hikes here, that get you amongst the wildlife? Other activites? How many days would I need here?
3-On to Fairbanks, again what to do here? is the day trip drive to the Arctic Circle on the Dalton worth it?
4- Fairbanks to Tok, ahy suggestions for Tok?
5. Tok to Dawson City, what do I need as an EU citizen to cross over and back the US/Canadian borders?any special visa requirements?
6. Dawson city to Whitehorse-any suggestions, things to do, places to stay/eat etc.
7. Whitehorse to Skagway?
8. Skagway ferry to Haines, and on to Haines Junction.
9. Haines Junction back to Tok.
10. Tok to Wasilla?
11. Wasilla to Seward. id like to hike Exit Glacier. Any info?
12. Seward back to Anchorage for flight home.

I know there's a lot to answer there, but I'd appreciate any advice you would have on even one of the places on the list. And if you think I'm missing something there, please feel free to criticise the itinerary!!

Thanks!

Howey
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Old Sep 16th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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Hi Howey,

Bluntly put, this is way too ambitious. While it might be physically doable (which I doubt) you'd be spending 100 per cent of your time behind the wheel. What's the point of that?

There are some technical matters that will also cause problems: for example most rental car companies won't allow their vehicles on gravel roads, which rules out the Arctic circle and Dawson parts of your itinerary. (Some will allow using gravel roads but only if you agree to cover all costs of repairs - up to the value of the car - plus towing and related costs.)

It seems certain you have under-estimated the distances and time required. A proper visit to Denali needs at least two, and ideally three days, for example, and I wouldn't recommend anything less than two full days in Anchorage. Going down to Seward and missing the Kenai Fjords seems a shame, but again, there's a time penalty. Ditto Homer, Prince William Sound, etc.

Including any portion of Southeast Alaska in a driving tour of the Southcentral/Interior parts of the state is IMO a huge waste of time and money. The distances are great, the scenery okay but not great for much of the distance, in high summer there can be traffic and construction delays, and - I don't know if you've looked at car hire prices - the cost of the car is very high for the "yield" offered.

Instead, let me suggest you think about a re-working of your overall itinerary thus:

Fly into Anchorage and tour Anchorage, Denali, the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound.

Then fly to Juneau. If you want to get to the Yukon, you can take the AK ferry to Skagway, then rent a car in Skagway and drive to Whitehorse, or even to Dawson if you're able to commit to the 1 1/2 days required in each direction. Personally, though, I'd skip the Skagway/Whitehorse/Dawson part of your trip and focus on SE Alaska instead - maybe visit Glacier Bay or Sitka, etc. - all doable from Juneau as a base (but all requiring extra time and expense to access.)

Then fly out from Juneau or Ketchikan at the end.

Alternatively, skip the Southeast portion of the trip and add a side trip to some arctic/bush community in Alaska to get a sense of the 90% of the state seldom visited by tourists, i.e. the parts off the road system. Fly to Kotzebue or Barrow to experience 24 hours of daylight in an eskimo village, or fly to Nome and stick your toes in the Bering Sea and learn about that town's fabulous gold rush history. You may well find that your savings in car hire costs for those days equal the additional airfare expense; in fact if you book your air tickets all the way to, say, Kotzebue with a stopover in Anchorage (during which time you do the Southcentral part of your visit) you may find that the additional airfare cost is quite reasonable.

Anyway, you have time to plan - I'd just recommend you do a lot of research in the meantime.
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Old Sep 16th, 2010, 08:24 AM
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You are arriving on July 3 so be advised that July 4th is a big holiday and some AK towns do it up big. We enjoyed the parade in Kenai. There's a race up a mountain Seward. Expect some 4th of July events in Anchorage.
On our first trip we took the ferry from Bellingham WA up to Skagway and then drove via Tok to Wasilla. It was a 2 day trip and while we went thru some beautiful scenery (esp acres of fireweed in one area late July), I wouldn't advise the trip for someone with a 2 week time limit.

Each AK town seems to have its own personality. Don't miss the all day boat trip out of Seward to see calving glaciers and sea life. I loved Homer and would have liked to have spent more time there. You have a good chance of seeing mother and baby moose at that time of year on the Kenai peninsula. Some hang around homes. Salmon fishing is starting and that is quite a sight to see so on your way to or from Seward I would make a short detour to the Russian River ferry area.

We just did an easy tram ride up Mt Alyeska in Girdwood but other Fodorites have done some hiking in that area. You might check old posts about the handcar.

We did a short flight from Seldovia to Homer which was a lot of fun. There are many places in AK where you can do a flightseeing trip.

I agree with spending more time in fewer places and less driving.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 03:50 PM
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Ok guys, Thanks for the advice. Ive accepted that I'm being far too optimistic. Ive decided to forget about the Yukon for this trip. And I can t afford to get internal flights from Anchorage to Juneau, so I'm going to concentrate on South Central Alaska.

So Ive decided on a different shorter loop.

Fly into Anchorage, 2-3 days here, hike Falttop mountain at soem stage.

Hire a car, head north to Denali, and 2-3 days there.

Then back down south to Wasilla. From here, take Highway 1, Glenn highway to Glennallen, stopping at Chickaloon and the Matanuska Glacier.
(Could take highway 8 from Denali to Paxon, but don't think the rental car company would allow me on the gravel road that is highway 8)
At Glennallen, head south on Route 4(Richardson Highway) towards Valdez, visiting Wrangelis National Park, and do a good hike.
Then on to Valdez, explore the harbour, and museum.
Then take the ferry to across Prince William Sound to Whittier, do they allow rental cars on the ferry?
Anyway, in Whittier, id hope to do some kayaking among the fjords and glaciers here.
South to Seward, hike the Exit Glacier to Harding Icefield and enjoy Seward.
If time allows, take the Sterling highway to Kenai, Soldotna and Homer.

Than back up towards Anchorage and to complete the loop? Total 1200 miles in 2 weeks, if I include Kenai, and Homer.

What do you think?
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Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Howey, look into the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry that runs from Bellingham, WA to Skagway, AK. Right now it leaves Bellingham every Friday afternoon about 6 and arrives in Skagway Monday afternoon about 2. You can take a car, book a cabin and have a great time. Or if you want to rough it, pitch a tent on the sun deck or sleep in a recliner in the recliner lounge. It's so superior to those dumb over the top cruise ships.

Once in Skagway you can take the highway to Beaver Creek in the Yukon and on to Tok. There you can make up your mind to go either into Alaska or into the Yukon towards Dawson City. A friend and I just did the trip, driving back through the Yukon, into British Columbia, then Alberta. It was a wonderful trip. My friend is from Belgium and she had absolutely no problems crossing borders in Canada and the US.

My recommendation is to study your route itinary carefully, both in the Alaska Milepost guide and on line. There are many miles between gas stations and lodging. We drove the Robert Campbell highway going through Faro and Ross River. If you do this route be sure to check on the construction area as it is muddy, slippery and you're likely to get stuck. Try to go through it when the road crew is there.

Have a great trip. If you decide to go on the ferry the earlier you book the better.
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 11:05 AM
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Your revised route is quite doable in the time allowed. Yes, rental cars are allowed on the ferries. You should have plenty of time to include Homer and Kachemak Bay.

You might also consider skipping the Matanuska Glacier and just continue north from Denali to Fairbanks, then south to Valdez from there. Otherwise you're retracing your route for a couple hundred miles.

This itinerary will also likely be considerably cheaper than your previous one. If you can tolerate the expense I strongly suggest you take the opportunity to get up in the air someplace - flightseeing on a float plane out of Lake Hood in Anchorage, or a Denali fly-by with a flightseeing outfit out of Talkeetna, or around Kachemak Bay out of Homer. You really can't get a feel for the vastness of the place from the road or on foot - you need a high perspective.

Or, again if time and budget allow, consider adding a day or two at the beginning or end for a commercial flight out into the bush - maybe to the west or northwest (Nome, Kotzebue, Barrow, for example) to get a sense of the Arctic and/or the huge portion of the state inaccessible by road.
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