May 29th, 2008, 05:02 AM
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As many of you may have read on this message board, I was asking yesterday about Alaska cruises. That being resolved, we'd like to fly into Anchorage and rent a car for the drive to Denali. Is it worth spending more than a night in Anchorage? How about Takeetna as an overnight stop on the way to/from Denali (where we'll take a bus tour inside the park). We'll then drive down to Seward, our departure port, and would like to spend two nights there before the cruise. How does that sound?
francegirl is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 05:34 AM
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Is it worth spending more than a night in Anchorage?

Anchorage isn't a bad place to spend some time and you can find some interesting things to do there, but we find the rest of Alaska so spectacular that we always try to get out of Anchorage after just one night.

Talkeetna is a great "overnight stop on the way to/from Denali"

Bill_H is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 06:59 AM
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I agree. There's a saying in up there that Anchorage is only twenty minutes from Alaska and it's true.

While there are a few things to do and see in Anchorage, I also spend as little time there as possible since spectacular Alaska is so close and so big.

I also like Talkeetna a lot and enjoy staying there on almost every trip. Have a meal in the Roadhouse for an Alaskan experience.

Have a wonderful trip.
dwooddon is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 07:19 AM
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How much time do you have?? You need two overnights at Denali Park and not a TOUR, but the shuttle bus to at least Eielson. Talkeetna is a great overnight stop, forte here are the flights.

However, I strongly recommend you consider touring in Seward as well. Since you are sailing out of there, take full advantage of being there. Taking the Alaska RR, then adding an overnight on that end gives you fantastic touring options, with my top must do a Kenai Fjords boat trip.

As for Anchorage- definately worthwhile, but not at the expense of other areas, in my opinion.
BudgetQueen is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 06:29 PM
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francegirl, as I mentioned in your other post, we just returned from an Alaska trip. I will give you our itinerary, and tell you that it is not ideal, nor what BudgetQueen recommended:

We flew from Orlando to Anchorage. That's one long flight and I don't think any of us (3 couples) would recommend it. We got in around 11pm and stayed at the Airport Microtel. One thing I should mention -- it was light all night long, and hard to sleep even for the few hours we had. We were jet lagged and totally beat; wish we'd had time for a second night.

Early the next morning, we set out for Denali. The GPS said 4 hours, Fodorites said allow for 6. Both were right. If you completely disregard the beautiful scenery and value of the journey, you might make it in 4. We took 6+, and rushed it even then. Consider the trip up to be part of what you came to see, and allow a day.

We stayed only 1 night (that's all we had), at a B&B in Healy. Here was a big mistake -- stay at least 2 nights. If you don't, you have a few hours on your arrival and a few hours on your departure only to see Denali.

On the way back, we stopped at Talkeetna. Keep in mind that you have to take a detour that is about 14-15 miles each way, so that side trip will eat up about 1/2 a day. Neat little town, it deserves a day. We only gave it a couple hours or so.

When we got back to Anchorage, we were very sorry that we didn't plan on 2 nights in downtown (we stayed at the Hilton, very nice, and close to the train to Seward). There are a lot of great shops and restaurants, and the scenery is fabulous for a big city, with the mountains all around. Our initial arrival would have been the time for that 2nd night. Our return from Denali was happily spent at the Hilton, and fine if we'd had that extra night at the beginning.

We took the train to Seward, and I think that was about the highlight of our whole vacation. Don't miss it. The highway does not/cannot follow the same spectacular route.

Seward. Well.. we got in at 11am and were due to leave at 8pm on our ship. We were perfectly happy to only spend an hour or so sightseeing, due to the icy wind off the nearby glacier. You'd want to plan some type of activity/excursion other than walking the city and shopping. Take advantage of the location and go do something out of town. Oh, and -- the walk from the train station to the cruise ship is a bit more than "2 blocks" (as told to us by a fellow traveller). Not bad to walk, but if you're pulling luggage it can seem really long. Think about walking a lot for whatever you need, including a car rental (not speaking from experience here, other than to cruise ship -- just my impression of the area. That being said, Seward is in a gorgeous area and well worth some effort.

sludick is online now  
May 29th, 2008, 07:04 PM
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My mom and i did the Alaska RR trip from Anchorage to Seward. It was part of a package that did an afternoon Kenai Peninsula trip. A great day.
trippinkpj is offline  
May 31st, 2008, 12:46 PM
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The highway does not/cannot follow the same spectacular route.

Yeah, the train scenery is nice ... and I like trains, but I respectfully disagree about about the best way there.

For me, the chance to stop along the way -- with Dall sheep on the cliffs, beluga whales in the arm (though rare these days), Girdwood and Alyeska, Turnagain Pass (still the only place I've seen a wolverine in the wild), the rivers and streams -- is much more important that the only somewhat better views from a moving train.

It's not like the highway is 99 outside of Fresno.

repete is offline  
May 31st, 2008, 06:26 PM
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Yes, repete, you're right -- I've been on some grindingly boring highways around Fresno! Congratulations on the wolverine -- we were fortunate enough to see a lynx in Denali on our trip, and told ourselves that we would never have seen it if we had to take the bus (we were there the week you could drive into Denali, at least as far as it was plowed).

You're also correct that we only saw the Dall sheep from a distance (moving about 20 mph) on the train. We've seen more Dall sheep and mountain goats in Banff and Radium Hot Springs, where they tend to block the roads and (in Radium) camping sites. The train gave us some wonderful views of glaciers and snowy wilderness. In our case, the alternative would've been the bus, which wouldn't have stopped.

All in all, I think either the train or car would have been better than the bus from Anchorage to Seward.
sludick is online now  
Jun 1st, 2008, 01:12 PM
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I would do the train over driving the hwy. We did both, but enjoyed the train the most. Both are fantastic.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 08:10 AM
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Just don't try to drive all the way from Denali to Seward in one day!
hopingtotravel is offline  
Jun 5th, 2008, 06:38 AM
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Thanks, everyone. Your ideas are great. We'd like to do this before our cruise: Land in Anchorage, spend a night, rent a car. Then we'd drive to Takeetna, spend a day and night there, and then drive to Denali, where we'd like to take the 53 mile bus tour. And do a rafting trip. Then we'd drive back down to Anchorage and take the train ride to Seward. We'd spend at least two days in Seward before our cruise. This adds up to about 7 days. Do you think it's enough? As for the plane trip from Orlando to Anchorage, do we have any other choice, sludick??
francegirl is offline  
Jun 5th, 2008, 04:42 PM
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francegirl, I would recommend going out on a morning flight. Ours left at 3pm, so by that time we had already gone through the day. Plus, I had to work up until the moment we left for the airport. That meant we got in late, to our hotel around midnight, and up and out early (around 6am). If you go early, then you can get to bed at a decent hour and feel refreshed the next day.
sludick is online now  
Jun 6th, 2008, 05:21 AM
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When we'd had to travel this route (but in opposite direction), we'd often put in a night in Seattle. Fun city, nice dining (better than the cities at either end) and a decent way to break up the trip if you've got the time.

Plus, by going through SEA you have more options if you miss your connection, which is more important than routings to other cities.
repete is offline  
Jun 8th, 2008, 07:51 PM
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This sounde really nice! It is worth spending more than a night in Anchorage. It is a really big place and you ca go bear watching and berry picking! When you go to Seward for a cruise, be prepared for glacier calvings icebergs, and whales. (Don't get me if I'm wrong on this one)

websites on Seward, Anchorage, and Denali
travel_chic65 is offline  
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