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mo13 Jan 19th, 2012 03:51 PM

cruise north and then land tour
After many hours of searching and reading information, My husband and I have made tentative plans for our trip. I would appreciate any further information or comments that you have.
We will be cruising north the first week of June, stopping in ports - Ketchiken, Juneau and Skagway until we disembark at Seward for our second week. First of all we are first time cruisers. I am looking at doing a whale watching cruise in Juneau and Mendahall glacier. We might take the railroad in skagway also. Have considered going on our own for touring Ketchiken and Skagway also.
Our week on land is a little more dicey.
We will get into Seward early on Sunday and have a care rented.
See Exit glacier and then drive to Homer with a few stops along the way.
We will be staying in the Hostel in HOmer and taking a Halibut fishing trip in the Bay on Monday, then driving to Ninilchek to stay over night.
On Tuesday we will be going to Soldotna and taking the trip to Wolverine Creek to fish for Salmon and Bear viewing. Do you think we will see bear this early? ( second week of June.)
At this point we will be ready for a rest so I thought we would stay over there and Drive to Talkeetna on Wed. with many stops to hike and maybe the Tram. I think there is a hostel in Talkeetna also. Is this drive do able in one day without pushing it too much?
Thursday we will drive up to Denali - maybe take a hike somewhere? and visit the sled dogs and check out the visitors center at the park. We will be staying at the Hostel there also.
Friday morning we will be taking the early shuttle bus into the park for the day. Is there time to do some hiking in the park on this trip?
Sat is our last day and we will be taking a night flight home. If we get back to anchorage in time I have considered the Alaska Native Heritage Museum, Biking the Tony Knowles Trail, hike cook inlet trail and the Sat. Markets. Exerise will be key because of the driving time and then sitting on a plane for 10 hours.
If any one has stayed in the hostels I would appreciate any feed back also.
I wish we had more time to spend in Seward and/ or Homer .

spirobulldog Jan 19th, 2012 04:11 PM

We went to Wolverine Creek the last week of June a couple of years ago. We did the Bearviewing/Salmon Fishing. We saw probably 20-30 bears. At least one or two there the entire time we were there. These were all Black Bears, just saw Grizzlies from a distance. The guide told us that typically there are just Grizzlies or just black bears there. They don't usually go there at the same time. We saw several bald eagles there too.
Even though you are doing the cruise, I would still suggest the Kenai Fjords Cruise(all day-not the half day). We saw whales there and a lot of wildlife. For a real adventure, do a Kayak Day tour to a glacier there.

I wouldn't hike alon at Exit Glacier and I would have bear spray. Very good chance of runnning into a bear there. We nearly hit one in the car. We were cruising along about 50mph and it darted right out in front of us.

We did a helicopter/glacier landing/dog sledding at Alyeska and really enjoyed it. Expensive though(like the fishing)

spirobulldog Jan 19th, 2012 04:13 PM

I should have mentioned to have your fish processed and shipped back to you. I have never seen so many fish in a single place. Unreal. And the bears don't have any problems catching them. It is a feast for all.

spirobulldog Jan 19th, 2012 04:17 PM

A link to our photos
The fishing starts with the plane on photo#45
Look at photo #63 of how close this idiot was

emalloy Jan 19th, 2012 04:26 PM

We did the cruise/tour with the ship and I wish we had done it on our own. I'm sure it would have been less costly and we could have spent more time in Denali and perhaps gone to some other places too.

In Juneau you can just hop on a bus and go out to Mendenhall glacier. We saw bears fishing very close to the glacier there.

Which tour do you have booked in Denali. There are three different ones, one that goes a short way, an 8 hr one and an 11 hr one. We did the 8 hr one and it was great, I would have loved to do the longer one but had to get back for the tour. You also can take the park service bus and get off and hike then get back on and travel farther if you wish.

Hope you have a great trip.

mo13 Jan 19th, 2012 04:52 PM

Thanks for all the information..Spirobulldog- your photos are great! I really want to see Grizzly or Brown Bear. Maybe I should consider going to Hallo Bay? I had considered purchasing bear spray right away when we got there. We have considered the 8 hrs. tour in Seward that goes into Kenai Fjords. Since we are doing a whale watching in Juneau, I thought it would save us some land time. Does anyone know if these two tours are similar in anyway?
emolloy- we are taking the trip in Denali all the way to Wonderlake on the green shuttle bus. We want to hop on and off. Thanks for the info on the bus to Menenhall. Is it a city bus or tour bus?


mo13 Jan 19th, 2012 05:04 PM

Oh I forgot to ask! Spirobulldog- Where did you do your Kayak trip from and Who did you do the Wolvering Creek trip with? Thanks again

spirobulldog Jan 19th, 2012 07:54 PM just outside of Soldotna
They will tell you whether you will see bear and how the fishing will be for the specific week you need. They told me that they don't guarantee bear sightings or catching a fish, but it would be rare to not see them based on where and when they take you fishing at. We all easily caught our limit. in Seward
we just went around Resurection Bay. I would do far far more next time. I would take a water taxi out to a glacier and kayak from there or better yet and overnight trip there.

I can't help you with reguards to seeing Grizzlies. I am sure other here could help though.

spirobulldog Jan 19th, 2012 07:56 PM

Those kayak pictures of us were taken between 10:00PM and 11:00PM at night to give you an idea of how light it still was at that late of an hour

spirobulldog Jan 19th, 2012 08:06 PM

Our Kayak Guide carried bear spray.
The Guide on the fishing carried spray and got out a shotgun when my wife peed behing a bush. The bears would get a fish and then kinda carry them away to eat them. Similar to the way that when you give a dog a bone-how they go off to themselves to chew on it. A couple bears would eat the fish there, but almost all of them carried them away.

dfrostnh Jan 20th, 2012 01:52 AM

It's approx 147 miles from Soldotna to Anchorage plus 113 miles Anchorage to Talkeetna. I think on one trip we drove Talkeetna to Soldotna in one day probably stopping in Anchorage for lunch (Moose's Tooth pizza on Seward Hwy). It's a do-able drive but don't be surprised if it takes you most of the day to get just to Anchorage. There's a lot to see and do along the way.

On your return to Anchorage you could stop at Independence Mine State Park for some hiking. The restored buildings and mining relics are fascinating.

bigtyke Jan 20th, 2012 05:51 AM

Homer and Ninilchik are so close together that I am wondering why you stay at each.

Near Palmer, I really lied the Musk Ox Farm - something you can't see anywhere else.

bigtyke Jan 20th, 2012 05:53 AM

Liked, not lied

I wish there was a way for the poster to edit after submitting!

china_cat Jan 20th, 2012 06:53 AM

We went to Homer and did a halibut/salmon combo charter and it was great. Let me suggest though, you might want to stay in Homer afterwards. The fishing trip was thoroughly exhausting. Pulling up halibut is like dragging up the bottom of the ocean. And we threw a ton of fish back, in an attempt to catch big ones. I probably caught 15-20 halibut, and kept my 2. DH and I had 4. We had Homer Fish Processing do the packaging and flash freezing. Then we took the halibut cheeks, and a little bit of the salmon that we also caught to a restaurant on the spit to have them cooked for us that evening. I was so tired, I couldn't lift my arms...I wouldn't have wanted to drive anywhere.

Maybe you want to do a bear trip from Homer, if the budget allows? then you could stay another night in Homer rather than going to Ninilchuk. Look at Emerald Air or KBay air.

Connie Jan 20th, 2012 10:56 AM

We kayaked in Ketchikan with a tour group--really enjoyed that.

In Juneau where it is foggy/rainy many days, a plan B for Mendenhall Glacier is their museum downtown--very good. The museum in downtown Anchorage is really good too.

We've been to Alaska twice and to 49 states and one of the best things we have ever done was a flightseeing tour out of Talkeetna--just awesome. The Alaska Toursaver books had a buy one/get one free coupon which helped on the expense.

In Seward be sure to go far enough on the cruise to get to the glacier. Some of the shorter ones do not. You also need to get out of Resurrection Bay to see the most wildlife.

We had no problem at Exit Glacier. You walk a fairly short walk down a paved path to the edge of the glacier. There are lots of people around as well as rangers.

If you have trouble sleeping with light, take good, dark eye covers. It's impossible to keep the light out of windows with near 24/7 day light.

On the Denali bus, it can be very dusty. Take a wet washcloth and put your things in a trash bag or duffel you don't care about getting dirty. You should take drinks and snacks as well. You will have several bathroom stops but not many snack stops and it's a long day. Binoculars are a must.

spirobulldog Jan 20th, 2012 03:17 PM

We go to Exit Glacier early(like 7:00AM) We were the first ones in the parking lot and no rangers anywhere that we saw. Lots of signs saying that bears had been seen with cubs on the previous day.

mo13 Jan 20th, 2012 03:43 PM

Connie thanks for the info on the Denali bus. I hadn't thought of that.
Bigtyke- we were going to Ninichik only because it is closer to Soldotna for our Wolverine Creek trip the next morning.
I am considering a bearviewing out of Homer to Katmai instead so that we can stay over in Homer. Has anyone done that trip?
spirobulldog- thanks for the info on the bear viewing safety. I was concerned about those things.
Does anyone know if the kayaking and sea animals (whales) are a better choice in Seward or Homer? We might do the whale watching in Juneau to save time on land. undecided which would be best, Can anyone advise which would be better for whales the first week of June?
You have all been so helpful! thanks

china_cat Jan 21st, 2012 05:08 AM

I can't s speak to kayaking, but we saw a lot of whales on the whale watch out of Juneau in early June. We also saw quite a few on the Kenai fjords cruise out of Seward. So I think both are good.

When we were in Juneau we did both a whale watch, and a helicopter glacier landing and it was fantastic. Have you considered the helicopter trips?

If you'd like to see pictures and reviews from our trip, check out my blog

mo13 Jan 22nd, 2012 06:48 PM

thanks for sharing your pictures.
We haven't considered the helicopter trips. We are going to do a flight seeing trip but not sure which one?

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