April/May Alaska suggestions

Old Sep 11th, 2005, 03:49 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
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April/May Alaska suggestions

We (my 80 year old mother) and I will be traveling to Alaska in late April or early May of 2006. We will only be able to travel for 7-8 days so I'm really interested in hitting some high points without feeling like we're running the entire time. We are outdoorsy people who enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing. We would love to kayak, but I suspect that April/May will be a little early in the season for that.
We are both interested in ferrying through at least a portion of the Inside Passage. Since the entire ferry trip from Seattle to Juneau would take up a lot of our travel time, which sections of the passage are the most scenic with the best possibilities of marine wildlife? Which of the cities on the Inside Passage would you say should not be missed, both for the city itself and for easy, worthwhile hiking possibilities?
From wherever we stop on the Inside Passage, we will probably fly to Seward for some hiking and other activities (Mom is most intrigued with hiking with Llamatreks.) What other activities would you say are must do's on the Kenai Peninsula?
The other area of interest (at least in this initial planning phase) is heading up to Denali. The idea of the train, either Seward to Anchorage, or Anchorage to Denali is appealing. I recognize that many of the options at Denali will not be available at that time of year- any idea what we would be able to do?
We are not afraid of cold weather (we live in it 6 months of the year), welcome flights on bush planes, and wish to avoid crowds.
Thanks for any help or suggestions!
njayneb is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2005, 04:36 AM
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You are going too early or too late. Not much if anything will be open until May in the way of touring. Humpbacks don't migrate until April with May a must for whale watching, not earlier. Denali Park is out until mid May and even then is too early, June 1 or after will have the shuttle buses running to Fish Creek - my min. distance in.

Alaska RR is not running either until May. I would replan your time and look at mid- late May. Will have far more options for you. As for the ferry, it is transportation based FIRST. If you want superior scenery and wildlife viewing consider instead the small boat cruises that go between Ketchikan and Juneau. Just superior sailing.

On the ferry- scheduling can be a problem if you only have a week and also want interior Alaska, just not enough time. The ferry runs 24/7 and usually 2 nights in a location is needed. Also no flights to Seward and very infrequent long transit ferry scheduled. You would have to fly from Juneau or Ketchikan to Anchorage.

So with your short time, I would suggest you either travel interior Alaska OR the inside passage. A cruise is an excellent option packing plenty into 7 days. Superior are the round trip Vancouver sailings, but NCL may have a Vancouver/Seattle sailing for the first trip? Also goes to Glacier Bay? So with your timeframe, I would suggest a 7 day cruise to make the most of your time. If you want to consider adding several more days, then the ferry would work.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2005, 08:24 AM
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Can you move your trip to the end of May? You would have much better weather and so much more would be opened. I would strongly suggest going to Homer and Seward and taking a boat trip out of Seward. I would also recommend visiting Exit Glacier.
tcapp is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2005, 05:37 AM
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Thanks for your suggestions. I also have to apologize for asking too many questions at once! We are strongly considering a mid-May departure given your responses. However, a cruise just is not what we are interested in at this time. If we take the ferry from say Ketchikan to Sitka, would we be catching the best of the scenery/wildlife on the Inside Passage?

njayneb is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2005, 06:01 AM
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No the Ketchikan /Sitka ferry route, is not the most scenic.

You are better off flying between the two and taking boat tours for scenery. Don't expect much wildlife from the ferry, it's priority is transportation. If you want wildlife, tours are necessary.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2006, 06:54 PM
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I have been up the inside passage in April and while it is beautiful, tourist oriented services are not always available in April. May is much better. If you only have 7-8 days, I would skip the inside passage.

If you like ferries and plan to head into South central Alaska (Anchorage) I would do a loop from Anchorage to McCarthy (Wrangell St. Elias NP) The hiking is great in McCarthy and the area is very historic. The flight seeing is beautiful and less expensive than denali.

Then go to Valdez (go kayaking at Columbia Glacier or take a wildlife cruise to the glacier) Call Stan Stephens Cruises and Pangaea Adventures. Take the ferry across to Whittier and back to Anchorage. Better yet, take the ferry to Seward and then drive or take the train north. This would offer a casual 7-8 day route.

alaska_adv is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2006, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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April and May are could month for polar bear viewing in the north of Alaska.

The companies offer day trips from Anchorage or Fairbanks at that time of the year.
tom22 is offline  
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