Fairbanks/Denali

Old Feb 28th, 2016, 12:53 PM
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Fairbanks/Denali

Six of us adults will be arriving in Fairbanks this June. We booked a 3 day land extension to our cruise that leaves from Anchorage on July 2nd.

After arriving in Fairbanks on June 28th, we will have one full day in Fairbanks (June 29)..hotel yet to be named by the cruise. I see Fairbanks is a good 2 hr drive to Denali. If only I had known that prior to making this trip. Am I right to assume there isn't much to see in Fairbanks in June --no Aurora Borealis We are active adults ranging in age from 40-65 and don't mind walking, so any suggestions are welcome!

We are shuttled to Denali on June 30 and won't arrive there until 1pm. This just gives us the afternoon/evening to see Denali. Besides the park's shuttle, are there any other options to seeing most of the park in such a short time?

July 1st, we are shuttled to Mt McKinley Princess Lodge and won't arrive there until 4pm. Are there other options than the cruise sponsored excursions?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/input.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 01:04 PM
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Fairbanks is not my favorite place to spend time, but look into the Riverboat Discovery cruise on the Cena River. It's kind of touristy, but we liked it.

There's an afternoon wildlife-viewing tour bus into Denali in the afternoon, but I don't know if it leaves before 1:00.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 01:38 PM
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The McKinley Princess Lodge is pretty isolated... There's shuttles into Talkeetna or there is hiking trails on the property.
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Old Mar 1st, 2016, 01:58 AM
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>>Besides the park's shuttle, are there any other options to seeing most of the park in such a short time?
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Old Mar 1st, 2016, 03:24 AM
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Agree with traveller about the shuttles. One tip: Pack your own lunch. The box lunch they give you is pretty bad.
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Old Mar 1st, 2016, 06:33 AM
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I will be starting a thread soon about our 40th wedding anniversary trip to Alaska.
I will tell you that we are flying to Anchorage (booked), renting a car at the airport (booked), staying at 2 hotels and 2 B&B's (booked cancelable). I bought the shuttle bus ride starting out at 10AM to Eilson (MP 66). The adult tickets are $34 + $10 park admission. If you are 62 or over, you can get a $10 refund by showing your ID and the America the Beautiful or other pass.
We will be packing a good lunch and a couple of cameras (one with a telephoto).
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Old Mar 2nd, 2016, 12:04 AM
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You can read here how it can work:

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-land-tour.cfm

(We debarked our cruise ship in Seward, took a shuttle bus to Anchorage airport - with some sightseeing in between - and took there our rental car. The drive to Denali is not that long - and you have Eklutna and Talkeetna on your way.)

(And in Denali, we had eight grizzly bear sightings - eleven anmimals in total - and some of them very close. One bear, we could observe from the terrace of Eielson visitor center while she was eating blueberries in the shrubs in front of us.)
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Old Mar 2nd, 2016, 08:53 AM
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I agree the river boat trip in Fairbanks was better than expected.

Talkeetna is a cute little town- several interesting restaurants and bars.
We saw lots of wildlife in Denali. There was a grizzly bear right beside the bus.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2016, 05:52 PM
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Thanks for your input. We fly into Fairbanks and as much as I like traveller1959's idea to skip Fairbanks and rent a car, I don't see that as being possible. How would we return the car in Fairbanks and get back to Anchorage? One way rental?? Plus we have all the hotels arranged at this point.

Do you think it might be feasible to rent a car in Fairbanks and drive to Denali and back in one day?
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Old Mar 3rd, 2016, 02:45 AM
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>> Do you think it might be feasible to rent a car in Fairbanks and drive to Denali and back in one day?
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Old Mar 3rd, 2016, 03:45 AM
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trav: >>However, if you stayed in a hotel in the Denali region, you would probably also need an hour or so to drive from the hotel to the National Park entrance, where the shuttle buses depart.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2016, 06:12 AM
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Can you cancel the add-on? In my opinion it is a complete waste of time and splits you up with far too little time in any one place.

Also... Your cruise does not leave from Anchorage. The boat will be in either Whittier or Seward. The cruise line will put you on a train or a bus in Anchorage (another wasted period of travel).

One-way car fares...
- I find that if there are at least 3 people in a vehicle that the one-way drop off fee is just not that expensive. One needs to compare the cost of alternate forms of transportation. The car is the only one that allows you to stop between Point A and Point B. Frequently the activities/scenery at thesese stops are well worth the extra you are paying for the car (compared to what you are paying for the other form of transportation)
.
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Old Mar 4th, 2016, 04:01 PM
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I'm going to check on the flexibility of skipping staying in Fairbanks and go directly to Denali.

Any hotel recommendations?
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Old Mar 4th, 2016, 05:19 PM
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If we have no option to avoid Fairbanks, and arrive in Denali at 12:45pm, it was suggested to take the Eielson Shuttle from 2pm -11pm. I know it will be a long day and wondered if we get tired can we cut the trip to Eielson short by hopping off the shuttle and catching another shuttle that is returning to the Wilderness Access Center?

Also, we are very much into photography. Besides Polychrome Pass, any other must stops to take?
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Old Mar 5th, 2016, 08:27 AM
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I doubt you leave one bus to get on another, but check with the company that runs the buses.

Note that you have often have to get pretty far into the park to view wildlife in any substantial numbers. So the idea of staying on the bus for a few hours and then heading back would probably greatly limit your viewing opportunities and make the trip not worth it.
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Old Mar 6th, 2016, 08:25 AM
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>

Yes, you can do it, at least if the other bus has free space (otherwise you may have to wait for the next one). But as said, it is advisable to do the tour until Eielson (this is already the abbreviated version - the total tour goes to Wonder Lake).

There will be several breaks (for toilet, smoking, photographing, short walks...) during the tour, some for 15 minutes, at Eielson for 30 minutes.
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Old Mar 7th, 2016, 11:26 PM
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At this point we have to stick with our original itinerary and will be in Denali from 12:45pm until the following morning.

We have reserved the shuttle to Eielson from 2pm-11pm (thank you traveller1959!)

Is it best to resist getting off the shuttle (except for the bathroom breaks) while travelling to Eielson and making notes on where we'd want to stop on the way out of the park in order to get deeper into the park earlier? ...or perhaps the bathroom stops will be sufficient to take photographs?? Would this strategy help avoid having to wait for a bus with seats?

Also, any shorter scenic hikes you'd recommend? I read that the Horseshoe Lake trail was nice, but traveller1959, you mentioned hiking at Eielson. Perhaps that's a better option?
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Old Mar 13th, 2016, 01:52 PM
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>> hiking at Eielson
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