Denali or Kenai/Seward?

Old Feb 6th, 2005, 02:52 AM
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Denali or Kenai/Seward?

We have got a few days before we leave on a cruise and would like to do either Denali or Kenai & Seward (we port out of Seward). We feel like trying to get both in would cheat us out of really enjoying either one because of all the travel time. If you could only do one, which would you do and what would you make sure to see while there? Thanks for any suggestions - we're traveling the end of May 2005.
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Old Feb 6th, 2005, 03:38 AM
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1. In the end of May, Denali might be still closed.
2. How many days are you going to have for a land portion?
3. Are you planning on renting a car or RV?
4. How many of you and ages?
5. What are your interests, what activities would you want to focus on?
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Old Feb 6th, 2005, 03:55 AM
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We haven't gotten to Denali, only as far north as the Talkeetna area. The drive to Seward is much prettier than the one to Denali with more places you will want to stop. I think you will get more benefit per mile on the drive to Seward. Although Anchorage is a big city it has much to offer as well. Seward is on the Kenai Peninsula but there is also a town named Kenai, next to Soldotna. I liked these towns but they are not as dramatically beautiful as Seward. The topography is flatter and marshier coastal area. We took our first flight seeing trip last summer from Seldovia to Homer over a glacier. It was just a short flight but terrific. We have only cruised on the ferry and, although we saw some marine life, the longest cruise out of Seward with Kenai Fjords saw a lot more plus a close look at glaciers. I see Portage is still on the visitors guide map but the town was abandoned after the big earthquake and tsunami. There's a visitors center for Portage Glacier which we enjoyed. Take time to listen to the personal stories about the earthquake. You can easily spend a full day just getting to Seward. Even if you double back to return the rental car, I don't think you will mind seeing that scenery again. Take the tram ride up Mt Alyeska. We skipped Big Game Alaska but friends thought it was great and I read a good article about it.
I would also start skimming the Anchorage Daily website for stories. For example, there were interesting stories about the Sealife Center in Seward before our trip which cued us to pay particular attention to one exhibit. Have a wonderful trip.
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Old Feb 6th, 2005, 08:07 AM
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Z makes a good point--it really depends on your interests, etc. We have been to both locations. Assuming it's fully open in May, I would probably choose Denali. The interior of Alaska has a very different look and feel than the coastal areas. While the Kenai peninsula is also different than the Southeast--which you'll see on your cruise--the Denali area is a bigger contrast IMO, and will give you a better feel for the state's incredible diversity.

Dfrostnh is correct that the drive to Seward is more beautiful but, assuming the weather cooperates, the drive to Denali passes one of the best places in the state to view Mt. McKinley, and the vast mountain scenery in the park is nothing less than awe-inspiring.

With your cruise and the right excursions, I presume you'll see quite a bit of Alaska's marine wildlife (whales, otters, harbor seals, etc.). Denali will give you an added chance to see land animals such as grizzlies, moose, caribou and dall sheep. I'd say it's unlikely (with the possible exception of moose) that you'll see any of these in Southeast Alaska or the Seward area. If you enjoy hiking, Denali is also a great place to do that. In addition, there is an opportunity to view a sled dog demonstration inside the park.

With that said, be assured that you really can't go wrong either way. Seward and the Kenai is beautiful and a great experience as well.

Good luck!
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Old Feb 6th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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It's just me and my husband - early 50s. We were going to take the train from Anchorage to Seward and rent a car there if we decide to do Seward/Kenai. If we do Denali we'll get a rental car in Anchorage and then the train to Seward when we're done. Inquired about a one way rental with Hertz because we really wanted to drive down, but the extra fee for a one way rental was outrageous and we heard the train ride was beautiful. Thanks for all the suggestions. We're leaning towards Seward at this point - any suggestions on places to stay there?
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Old Feb 7th, 2005, 04:30 AM
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You can do both with 4-5 extra days. I would rent a round trip Anchorage car and drive to Denali park- BUT you will only get to Toklat- via shuttle, further not open. A very valid point is made for the wildlife viewing opportunities not available anywhere else at a cheap option. Consider a night in Talkeetna, funky great town, superb flightseeing and most likely your only way to see McKinley. Return to Anchorage, turn in car, next am- train to Seward- can be the day of your cruise. Consider the 11:30am Kenai fjords boat tour, store your bags there then cab to the ship. This sailing- is WAY superior to any ship viewing of glacier, close up and extended, wonderful opportunity for varied wildlife, again, not seen from your ship. For any wildlife- tours are necessary. Have a pair of wide angle binoculars for everyone. My preference are 10x50's
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