Denali

Old Nov 19th, 2019, 09:17 PM
  #1  
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Denali

so in reading the posts it sounds like it is a better option to reach Denali from Fairbanks than Anchorage and you can not drive into the park, also the public transportation is not available till mid June. Also, Quite often you do not see much. If we do decide to go there are there any recommendations of where to stay or options of things in the area to include in a visit there? How many days might you go for? Is it possibly best to have a few days in anchorage and then if the weather is clear to go at that time or is it too difficult to do as a last minute plan. Thanks for help with this.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 02:05 AM
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If you have limited time I think it's best to figure how much you can see and do each day. For us it was Anchorage to Seward for most scenic and most things to see and do. I also loved funky Homer and the Pratt Museum. North of Anchorage we enjoyed Independence Mine. There's a transportation museum in Wasilla that people rarely mention but my DH loves old vehicles. There was a lot of information about early bush pilots, too. You can note someone on Trip Advisor thought it was boring but others loved it. But if you want to see wild animals, Denali is probably the best place to go.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 06:49 AM
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"Is it possibly best to have a few days in anchorage and then if the weather is clear to go at that time...""

It's at least a 4 hour drive from Anchorage and 2 hours from Fairbanks. By the time you got to Denali, the weather will likely have changed.
We visited the park (used an RV as our hotel in Alaska) and saw the full mountain. We took a National Parks bus and the driver said we were lucky because it was only the second time the mountain was in full view all season-- and we were there in mid-August. About an hour later, some of the clouds returned, mainly because Denali creates its own weather pattern.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 06:18 AM
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Denali is a one of a kind. We were lucky when we went in early September and saw it three days in a row. It was even seen from the airport in Fairbanks, that is how big it is. If this is your only time to get there and you want to see it, look for lodging near the VC, or about 10 miles north in Healy.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 07:51 AM
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The drive from Fairbanks to the national park is shorter (2 1/2 hours v. 5) than from Anchorage, and often rental cars are cheaper in Fairbanks than Anchorage, but getting to Fairbanks in the first place is required.

There's no way to generalize about visiting Denali. You might see the mountain; might not. You might have animals in the middle of the road, or they might be specks against a hillside miles away. It might be clear or it might be pouring. Your visit might be bug-free, or you might find yourselves borne aloft by God's most capable mosquitoes.

Regardless, you'll spend a day - probably a LONG day - sitting on a converted school bus, with limited stops for nature breaks. You'll need to bring your own food, obtained outside the park.

But if the mountain is out, it can be life-changing.

So the inevitable questions: Are you okay with that? Do you feel lucky?

And more questions: when are you coming and how long will you be in Alaska? The month matters. Is budget a big concern? What else do you plan to do while you're there? Are you hikers, birders, photographers...?

For the time-constrained, you might want to look at some of the flightseeing services run out of Anchorage and/or Talkeetna. While the Talkeetna operators tend to be a little cheaper than those out of Anchorage, the Anchorage people have the advantage in offering alternative trips if Denali is socked in or otherwise not flyable. Flying out of Anchorage can also save a day's (or more) car rental costs. And trust me, flying toward Denali in a light plane is just as life-changing as the views from Eielson or Wonder Lake; maybe more so.

Or if wildlife is paramount, a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, at Portage along the Seward Highway, can meet that requirement cheaply. Or you can fly out across Cook Inlet to volcano and bear country.

Or if you want to experience Alaska off the road system, $300 will get you to the arctic or to Nome on the Bering Sea - midnight sun, muskoxen, gold miners... faces of Alaska missed by most visitors.

Tell us more and we can help more.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 08:26 AM
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You should visit the NPS.gov "plan your visit" website. You should purchase your bus ticket for a specific date/time. The bus trips, both narrated and public start from the visitor center at mile 2 inside Denali.
The buses start running usually on June 1 each year unless road conditions are bad.
In early June 2016, my wife and I rode the public bus out to the Eilson Visitor Center (Mile 66) and back. We went from our B&B near Fairbanks to the entrance early in the morning. Our B&B hostess packed breakfast sandwiches to eat on the way to Denali. We had picked up sub sandwiches for our lunch on the bus the day before. There is no food service provided in Denali.
You can check my profile for the trip report for more details about our trip to Alaska.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2019, 01:19 PM
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First of all, when do you plan to go? I'd definitely go in the summer if you have the option ideally July or August . Also what kind of things are you interested in Hiking, rafting, and outdoors activities or museums and indoors stuff? You can certainly drive into the park but it's not like Yellowstone or similar parks with all sorts of roads going through it, there's one road the parks highway that goes through one small piece of it.

I wouldn't recommend going further North than Denali since there's really not a whole lot to do past there. There's a little tourist town called Healy just outside the Park which pretty much shuts down in the winter when there's no tourists, that would be the best place for you to stay. They have all sorts of rafting, hiking and other outdoor services there in the summer. Also as far as detailed information on things to do there, you can ask the Denali Park service they'll undoubtedly be happy to help.

If you're into outdoor activities you can easily spend a few days or a week there. That will give you enough time to where you'll probably get a clear day when you can see the peak, and on the other days you can go hiking, rafting or whatever else you like to do. While your in the woods just beware of the bears, moose and wolves. They're very big and not to be messed with, and trust me, a nine foot grizzly or a two thousand pound moose is quite dangerous, they're truly as big as a average size car. A lot of people who go up there and underestimate the wildlife's destructive power don't live to regret it. Just keep a safe distance and you'll be fine, most animals around there aside from the wolves aren't really interested in hurting you as long as you don't annoy them, and bring you're preferred form of wildlife protection.

Last edited by Connie59; Nov 22nd, 2019 at 01:22 PM. Reason: fixing a misspelling
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Old Nov 22nd, 2019, 07:00 PM
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I don't know if this will be helpful to you but this is our plan for the Denali part of our trip in early June:

Day 1
Drive from Wasilla to Denali with scenic stops at mile posts 135, 162, 170, 173, 174, 196, 234.
Stop at Alaska Veterans Memorial on the way (Mile post 147)
Go to the free Husky Dog Demo at Denali. In 2019, the bus departed the Denali Visitor Center at 1:20.
Explore the Denali Visitor Center (closes at 6 but we don't plan to be there that late).
Drive the 15 miles we are allowed into Denali Park and hike the very easy Savage River Loop Trail.
Hike the easy Horseshoe Lake Trail near the Denali Visitor Center.

Day 2
Take the Denali Backcountry Adventure all the way in and back out of Denali. It is all day.

Day 3
Go to Husky Homestead for 8:30 tour.
Drive back toward Anchorage.
Stop at Eklutna Historical Park on the way back.
Hike Rodak Nature Trail at Eagle River Nature Center,
Hike Albert Loop Trail at Eagle River Nature Center.

Last edited by ferg42995; Nov 22nd, 2019 at 07:03 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old Nov 23rd, 2019, 06:57 AM
  #9  
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Thanks for all the help. Do I need to make the reservations on the bus into Denali in advance or can we do it the day of. We will likely be there the 2nd week of June. also, how might I find out more about the flight seeing trips out of Fairbanks
.gardyloo, you asked about time constraints, budget etc. We can be gone about 3 weeks. One week we will be on a small boat from Sitka to Juneau. The rest is what I need to plan. We will likely end our cruise in Juneau on June 1 and then fly else where from there. So, I probably will have a week or so before we visit Denali the 2nd week in June. Probably will spend 2 days in Juneau since we won’t see it when on the boat. It sounds like we should do a float trip some time.
Suggestions of places nd activities, hikes etc are greatly appreciated.
we do have flexibility other than the cruise.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2019, 07:59 AM
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The school buses that run the route out to Eilson Visitor Center often fill up and you may have to wait an hour or more for the next bus. That is the risk you take when you try to buy tickets on the day of instead of buying online for a specific time. We had hoped to get on the 10AM bus but ended up on the 11AM public bus. We got back to our car shortly after 7PM. We drove all the way back to Fairbanks before we found an open restaurant. We got back to our B&B near North Pole about 10PM but it was still daylight (early June).
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks has a nice museum with some small dinosaur skeletons that were dug up in Alaska. I drove about 20 miles north of Fairbanks to a spot where I could stand underneath the Alaska Pipeline. We also visited a stream bank where gold was discovered.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2019, 09:44 AM
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I'd definitely book ahead for the park shuttles, and I'd also probably book some accommodations pretty soon; the crush of package tours (e.g. cruise ship "land" portion add-ons) can fill up the available inventory. Generally the shuttles to Wonder Lake don't start until the second week in June, and note that the mosquitoes at Wonder Lake can be ferocious early in the season.

With two weeks on land (after the cruise) I'd probably allocate 3 days to the Denali excursion (one day to get there, one there, and one returning) or four if you want to do some other activities around Denali. I'd allocate a total of six days to the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound, including two or three for Seward and two or three for Homer, one or more of which I'd spend crossing Kachemak Bay to the little towns of Seldovia and/or Halibut Cove. (Google these places.) That would leave three or four days, which could be spent around Anchorage, perhaps doing day trips to Girdwood and Whittier (glacier cruise) or north to Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine.

Or you could do a marvelous "loop" drive out of Anchorage - past Matanuska Glacier (possible glacier hike) to Glennallen, then south on the Richardson Hwy past Worthington Glacier and over Thompson Pass into Valdez, then back to Whittier on the state ferry. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/B9c1LepWPsTfYsAo8 . This is what the road looks like approaching Thompson Pass -



Or in early June you could fly up to Kotzebue, an Inupiat Eskimo community on an arm of the Arctic Ocean, for around $300 per person round trip on Alaska Airlines from Anchorage (or 10,000 Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles round trip.) Kotzebue is above the arctic circle, so in early June you'll have 24 hours of sun. Stay at the Native-owned hotel right across from the beach, learn about this fascinating culture and part of the world, and come back with stories to last a long time. Nulla?vik Hotel :: Home

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Old Nov 24th, 2019, 11:40 AM
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Gardyloo, I love your idea about Seward, Homer etc. we have the cruise portion on hold till Tuesday. At this time we would start in Juneau, May 23 and finish in Sitka on the 30th. We will add a day or so to Sitka and then probably fly to Homer, Seward whatever.We also, would go in early to see Juneau a day or so.
so, here are a couple of questions.
How many days do you think we should have for Juneau and Sitka?
will we be okay beginning the land portion from Sitka ( we could the reverse Sitka to Juneau but I sort of like the boat for the Juneau to Sitka route but I could change if need be).
then when finished with Homer etc we would fly to anchorage for the Denali portion.
i think we would want a. Outlet of days in Anchorage as well. This trip may grow.
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Old Nov 24th, 2019, 09:10 PM
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This should say we will want a couple of days in Anchorage.
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