first trip to Alaska

Old Jan 12th, 2005, 08:40 AM
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first trip to Alaska


We are planning to land in Anchorage in early June.We have 2 kids, 10 & 7. Can you please tell me the things to do in and around Anchorage ? We will be renting a car. We would like to see the northern lights, glaciers, snowmobiling, whales.We plan to stay there for 7-10 days.
Thanks for the help.
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Northern Lights are more of a fall occurrence. I don't think there will be any snowmobiling within driving range of Anchorage.

I suggest a dinner cruise on Prince William Sound to see some wildlife. Ours was out of Seward and we saw puffins, two different kids of whales breaching near the boat, sea lions, and sea otters. We had a nice salmon dinner (Fox Island?) before returning to Seward. On the drive to Seward you will likely see Dall sheep, beluga whales, eagles' nests, and an occassional moose.

I would go to Earthquake Park in Anchorage. You might also take a heli ride from Anchorage to Denali if you aren't going to make it to McKinley by car.
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Will you only be in Anchorage or are you planning to see some other areas as well? It might be worth a drive up to Denali National Park or down to Seward.

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is a very nice bike trail that runs around Anchorage, with frequent moose sightings along the way. There several places in town that rent bikes. The trail runs through Earthquake Park, which was mentioned by a previous poster.

I've heard the Alaska Experience Theater is a neat option for bad weather days and something your kids might enjoy. In addition to IMAX, they have an "earthquake auditorium" that simulates Alaska's 1964 earthquake.

Portage glacier is not far outside Anchorage and on the way to Seward if you decide to make that trip.

There will be no northern lights in June--it doesn't get dark enough at that time of year.
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 11:10 AM
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Be prepared for light rain on a regular basis. While July is known more for rain than June, we had rain 11 of the 12 days we were in South Central Alaska. We also enjoyed a visit to Eklutna Lake about 50 miles north of Anchorage for a taste of the outdoors but still close to the city.
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Old Jan 13th, 2005, 04:46 AM
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You won't see any northern lights in June- try 6 months later. Portage Glacier is about an hour away with a nice visitor center and cheap boat ride to the glacier. Only snowmobiling will be a glacier fly in out of Girdwood. For whales- likely to see them on the long boat rides out of Seward- but strongly consider if this is a good idea with the 7 year old?? It is rough sailing part of the trip- I have seen sick passengers every sailing I have been on and you need the trips of at least 6 hours on the water. Also - no guarantee for whales- possible only, this is a route trip, for varied wildlife (and a good glacier view). My sucess has been running about 50% for whale sightings. But this is the only place for you unless you are headed to Juneau, Sitka, Glacier Bay??? You need to get a copy of THE MILEPOST purchase after 3-05 and don't plan on basing yourself out of Anchorage. You need to move around and not be so limited. 2 days there is plenty for the excellent activities there- request their visitor guide As for Denali Park- again strongly consider the 7 year old??? You need at least the 8 hour bus to get the wildlife opportunities and scenic vistas. Way too long for some 7 and 10 year olds?? No way out either if they become disruptive etc?? Most wildlife requires binoculars and kids rarely are interested in scenery. Just my experience. If you do decide to go- have plenty of games, perhaps a portable DVD player, plenty of batteries etc etc etc. For clairfication- the only "likely" sightings of wildlife on the Turnagain Arm are the mt goats. Belugas are rare and clearly by chance for most people. They can be anywhere on the Cook Inlet and do not stay in the Arm. There is a wildlife park at the turnoff for Portage that would give a close up look at wildlife.
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Old Jan 13th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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You have a lot of research to do or you and your family might come north without realistic expectations . . . or the wrong wardrobe.

I'm not trying to a smart aleck, but if you're asking about snowmobiling (called snowmachining in AK) in June, I was afraid the next question was going to be about an igloo B&B. Perhaps there's some outfit that offers snowmaching on a glacier somewhere, but I don't know of one.

Northern lights are unlikely. In the first half of June, beluga sightings are actually fairly common along Turnagain Arm (south of Anchorage) because they follow the hooligan runs, although general numbers are down in Cook Inlet.

Don't trust all the info posted here no matter how many trips the poster has taken ... because those aren't goats BQ's talking about but Dall sheep. There are mountain goat sightings, but that's extremely rare and you usually have to be up in the mountains.

Also, a dinner cruise in Prince William Sound would sail out of Valdez, Whittier or Cordova. One out of Seward is on Resurrection Bay, which connects to the Gulf of Alaska.

Whales (Kenai Fjords long tour), glaciers (Exit) and moose (evenings off the busy roads near ponds, swamps) are easy to find and I've never taken a Denali shuttle without excellent bear and caribou signings. Perhaps I've just been lucky.

Great trips for kids in the Anchorage area are the Eagle River Nature Center and its trails, Potter Marsh boardwalk,the Coastal Trail, and maybe Earthquake Park.

A great trip for kids 7 and 10 would be the the Anchorage-Valdez drive with a ferry ride to Whittier. The drive is long but scenic. Thompson Pass will likely still hold good pockets of snow. The ferry will give the kids a good look at a glacier and sealife.
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 05:02 AM
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Forgive my mistake of mixing up the sheep and goats. Certainly a difference.
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 08:17 PM
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The coastal trail was mentioned. You can rent bikes in Anchorage for a couple of hours or the day and ride the coastal trail. It is a good energy outlet for kids. You can stop along the trail and do a little walking or have a picnic. I've seen numerous moose during the rides, quite a thrill.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 03:51 AM
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Mt Alyeska/Girdwood is about an hour south of Anchorage. The kids would like the tram ride and then you could continue on for a visit to Portage Glacier visitors center. There will probably be snow on top of Alyeska that you can walk to (there was snow when we did the trip in August). In late June this year there was an iceberg floating near the Portage Visitors Center. There will still be some leftover snow along the Seward Highway. Friends with small children liked the wildlife park near Portage. It was or is called Big Game Alaska. You should spend at least a night in Seward. The kids ought to like the Sea Life Center. Independence Mine north of Anchorage could be a day trip from Anchorage. We saw children panning for gold. You can take a short dog "sled" ride at Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla. (It's a wheeled cart rather than a sled.) There were also sled dog puppies to hold when we visited.
Anchorage itself is a big city with sprawling suburbs. There are wonderful places like Earthquake Park. The trolley tour was short but enough time to see Lake Hood where all the float planes docked. The Title Wave bookstore in Anchorage has a great selection of books for all ages. You might have your children select some books about Alaska at the beginning of your trip. I would also check the schedule at Anchorage area libraries, zoo and visitor centers for children's programs. We missed by one day an event at the Kenai Visitors Center that the staff was still raving about.
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