Anchorage 3-4 days

Old Mar 26th, 2016, 10:51 AM
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Anchorage 3-4 days

My husband and I are looking to fly from Seattle to Anchorage for a few days in late July. We will probably have 4 days at the most and were wondering what we should focus on. We were hoping to do Denali but it seems that it may be too much for our limited timeframe and perhaps we should focus on the Anchorage area instead. We would love to kayak, see glaciers and wildlife, hike, bike, and take in any of the other sights Alaska has to offe. This is our first trip and we know it won't be our last-we just want to get a taste of Alaska. Any recommendations? Thanks!
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 11:05 AM
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I'd probably pass on Denali and head to Seward instead. Go on a Kenai Fjord cruise out of Seward for glaciers and plenty of wildlife; there are also kayaking opportunities there too.

Spend one night coming or going in Girdwood; take the gondola up to the restaurant at the top of the Alyeska ski area for a good dinner with one of the best restaurant views in the US.

Rent bikes in Anchorage and do the coastal trail; you might encounter a moose or two.

If the budget can handle it, take a Denali flightseeing trip on a floatplane out of Lake Hood in Anchorage. Life-changing.
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 11:31 AM
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Schedules and fares for the Alaska Railroad trains.
My wife and I will be on a 10 day trip to Alaska about 7 weeks ahead of you.
We will be taking the shuttle bus out to the Eilson Visitor Center in Denali. I'm hoping I get good pictures. Mt. McKinley is often cloud covered at the top.
We did get a good deal on a rental car from the Anchorage airport (Enterprise).
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Old Mar 27th, 2016, 01:34 AM
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Even if you have only 3 days, it will be enough to give you a taste of Alaska.

The drive from Anchorage to Denali takes 4 hours and in Denali you need a full day for the shuttle bus to Eielson and back, so you need 2 nights near Denali. The total trip to Denali will eat up 1 full day and 2 half days, so it is doable even if you have only 3 days.

In Denali, we did not see the summit of Mount McKinley, but we enjoyed the spectacular scenery at Polychrome pass and we saw moose, caribou, a fox, birds and 11 grizzly bears, some of them very close to the bus and one just from the terrace of Eielson Center.

Along the way between Anchorage and Denali you find the picturesque Native cemetary in Eklutna, the historic town Talkeetna (however very touristy). A detour will bring you to the toe of Matanuska Glacier which you can climb - a most memorable experience.

So, even with only 3 days, you can go to Denali. (BTW, like Tom Fuller, we rented from Enterprise at ANC).

The alternative would be, as said, Seward, with a Kenai Fjord Tour (full day), a quick trip to Exit Glacier (not overly impressing) or a helicopter flight with dogsledding on Godwin Glacier (expensive, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience). Between Anchorage and Seward, you find the Wildlife Center with animals in zoo-like surroundings (but you can take a close-up photo of a bear and, back at home, boast that you have met him after a 20-mile-march through the bush).

In Anchorage, the Native Heritage Center is a must-see and also the Alaska Museum in downtown, so half a day would be enough for the town.

We have done all this (and more). Read my trip report (the second half is about the land portion of our trip):
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Old Mar 29th, 2016, 07:25 AM
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Rent a car now. It will likely be expensive, but it will make your trip much more productive. Check frequently (daily) to see if you can get a better price.

To minimize time on the road spend your time in the Girdwood/Portage/Whittier area and/or Seward. If you end up with a few hours of free time waiting for a flight, use that time in Anchorage.

- hiking, kayaking, day cruises, fishing, wildlife & more
- fantastic food/restaurants
- too many things to do, see:

- hiking, kayaking, day cruises, fishing, Exit Glacier, Harding Icefield, & more
- dining = Thorns's &/or Chinook
- my favorite Seward activity is a tough all day hike up to the Harding Icefield. It's not technically difficult, but it is steep (4,000 ft gain over 4 miles)

Day cruises
- Seward's cruises are better for wildlife, Whittier's cruises are better for glaciers

Anchorage (if you've time left over)
- Glen Alps trailhead ($5 parking if over 30 minutes) - scenery, hiking, walking, wildlife, great views of the city, arms, and surrounding mountains
- AK Native Medical Center (free during normal visiting hours) - fantastic displays of AK Native arts/crafts (take main elevator to 5th floor & walk down stairs to each floor's lobby)
- Moose's Tooth for great pizza and local brew

Google Map link:
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Old Mar 29th, 2016, 11:01 AM
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Gardyloo's suggestions are all good.

You're best off renting a car. The Alaskan trains are slow and expensive. And driving down the Seward Highway there are a LOT of good points to stop off and view the excellent coastline, watch local avians, or pop off for a hike. In addition, you can't go to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center ( from the train.
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Old Mar 29th, 2016, 03:55 PM
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"you can't go to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center ( from the train."

You can go to the AK Wildlife Conservation Ctr from the train:
- it's about a 1.5 mile walk from the train station (see google map link below) or
- it can be part of a day rail package sold by AK Railroad (see: )

google map link:
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Old Apr 9th, 2016, 01:58 PM
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One of the highlights of my trip to Alaska was ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier, just 90 minutes north of Anchorage! I've posted some photos on my blog - glacier climbing was one of the most exciting experiences! (You don't need to have any experience at all - I didn't and still had a blast!).
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