help-any suggestions

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Aug 25th, 2006, 07:05 PM
  #1
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help-any suggestions

hi everyone, i am new to the forum. Planning to visit alaska in september.Will be going with wife & 20 month old son.This is our first trip to alaska.
Our itinerary is as planned
flight into anchorage. spend the day in anchorage
Drive the next day to seward & spent 1 day there.plan to do the glacier cruise & seward sealife centre.
Then drive from seward to denali & spend 2 days in denali.will do the shuttle bus on one day.Any suggestions how do spend the other day.
drive back to anchorage & fly home.
We are going for a total of 6 days.
We are renting a car. How are the roads to denali & seward.How long will it take us to drive from anchorage to seward & Seward to denali.
Any suggestions/change in itinerary are welcome.
Thank you very much.
anmuss is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2006, 07:29 PM
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What days will you be there in September? Have you checked closing dates for all the places you want to visit? It looks like Denali closes Sept 18, but you probably already know that if you have shuttle bus tickets.
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Aug 25th, 2006, 08:24 PM
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Road are fine but it will be a grind distance-wise, especially the Seward to Denali leg. There's nothing that dicey, although there are plenty of distractions en route.

Anchorage to Seward is about 130 miles.

Seward to Denali is 370. Consider driving to Talkeetna on the way up to the park.

Actual time varies greatly depending on your driving style.



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Aug 26th, 2006, 03:59 PM
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In July we took the Denali NP Shuttle to Wonder Lake. On board with us was a young couple with a five year old and an 18 month old. All of the parents around them tried to help keep the young ones entertained. I can tell you that this couple did an amazing job--they had tons of toys and snacks for their children, but they were totally exhausted by the time we arrived at Wonder Lake and they still had the return trip. We saw beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife, but not nearly enough and not close enough for young children. Just a heads up. The children loved chasing the ground squirrels and the birds at one of the rest stops.
We found the roads were good although two lanes in most places once you were out of Anchorage or Fairbanks. On the way to Seward you may want to stop all along the Turnagin Arm and at the wildlife park near the Portage Glacier turnoff to see some up-close wildlife. Your child will also love the SeaLife Center. There's also a sled dog center near Seward and another near Denali. I do not know if the sled dog exhibit will be open in Denali, but you need to check. The trip from Anchorage to Seward took us about five to six hours, but we stopped all along the way. I would guess it would take three hours depending on the traffic.
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Aug 26th, 2006, 04:43 PM
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Portions of the Parks Highway were down to one lane last week due to flooding. That would further delay your very long drive from Seward to Denali. Be sure to check the 511 website.

I added up your days, and it looks like you have planned for 8 days, not 6. But maybe I am not understanding what you have. With 6 days maybe you'd be better off just doing the Kenai Peninsula.

Is this your itinerary?

Day 1 - Arrive in Anchorage, spend day there.
Day 2 - Drive to Seward
Day 3 - Boat tour and SeaLife
Day 4 - Drive to Denali
Day 5 & 6 - Denali
Day 7 - Drive back to Anchorage
Day 8 - Fly home
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Aug 27th, 2006, 11:42 AM
  #6
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Thanks to all of you for taking the time to reply to my post. That was a lot of very good information.

Speedbuggy, you are mostly right. On Day 7 we are driving back to Anchorage and taking the redeye back home.

I have a few more questions

1. Printed out the directions from Anch. to Seward and there is a 114 mile stretch on Seward Highway that takes 4.5 hours. Why so long? What's the speed limit on that highway?

2. Also did the couple with the 18mth old bring on board a car seat? If so then that precludes us from doing any sightseeing off the bus.

3. Reaching Anch. on the penultimate day of the Alaska state fair, any recommendations?

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Aug 27th, 2006, 03:16 PM
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Some of those mapping sites are notoriously off. You can do it much faster -- although if there ever was a road to linger on, this is it ...
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Aug 27th, 2006, 03:28 PM
  #8
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anmuss
If you change your itinerary and have another day in Seward Take a dog sled run with Mitch Seavey. Your son will love the dogs and you would get to visit with and hold the puppies.
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Aug 27th, 2006, 11:03 PM
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Welcome to Fodors, "anmuss".

I cannot help with suggestions to your question, but please allow me to make this suggestion:

Use a thread title that is short yet descriptive of what it is you seek. You probably clicked "Alaska" when you created this thread, but that only helps the indexing "robots" create search criteria for your thread. All the US threads end up in one large area, and the non-descript title of "help-any suggestions" may see some who might have some GREAT suggestions pass right over, while others may be curious end only end up wasting their time.

Once again, welcome. If the replies are insufficient to your needs, repost with a better title.
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Aug 28th, 2006, 03:25 PM
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The couple with the 18 month old did bring a car seat although as I remember it was a small one. They got off the bus for just the usual stops and did not do any hiking. It will be easier with just the one child.

Good luck. We went to Hawaii when my son was about two and really enjoyed that trip. As you know by now, you just have to make allowances for nap and bed times.
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Aug 29th, 2006, 12:09 PM
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jq
 
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The trip is doable as laid out. For Seward, I would recommend Seavey Ididarod tour and visit with the puppies. This is right next to Exit Glacier which you should try to include as you can walk up to base of glacier and back in less than an hour.

The drive to Seward is not that far but is a two lane curving road with lots of things to see along the way like Portage Glacier visitor center, Potter Marsh, railroad museum, overlooks, and places to see sheep along the road cliffs. You can drive it in 3 hrs or so and still see most, depending on traffic and construction. The drive to Denali will be long. We allow at least 5 hrs from Anc to denali, plus 2.5-3hrs from Seward to Anc. Assuming you see all the sights to Seward on way down, you wouldn't be stopping as much on way back.
Talkeetna is worth a stop on way to or back from Denali. Assuming you are going in first week or 10 days of Sept, the shuttles will be running and you should have good wildlife viewing. For the second day, if you want to stay, you could go to the dog sled demos held at the park at 10,2 and 4 each day. Not sure when they stop those. I would leave early and leave time for stop at Talkeetna on way back and maybe even a flt there over the mtn.
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Aug 30th, 2006, 07:10 AM
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This trip is physically doeable, but is very straining. Especially with a liitle kid. Do you realize that your trip from Seward to Denali may take the entire day just driving?
Spend your time in one area (Kenai or Denali) and save the other for your you next Alaska trip. I can assure you that will want another trip!
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Aug 30th, 2006, 07:49 AM
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I'll vote with Oleg. Friends who are Alaska residents with small children recommend the wildlife center near Portage. They said the whole family enjoyed it. They live in Eagle River so it's not unusual to have moose in their yard and other wildlife. They frequently do some overnight family camping well off paved roads. Your son will probably be fascinated with things at the Sealife Center but even a doting grandfather doesn't enjoy long road miles with our granddaughter who is almost two. I bet your son would go crazy over puppies, too. Stock up on diapers etc in Anchorage. Although there is a grocery store in Seward, there's not much in between. The drive north from Anchorage is not anywhere near as pretty as the drive south to Seward. There is a lot to do on this drive, as another poster listed, but not as much on the drive north.
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Aug 30th, 2006, 07:58 AM
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And should you decide to stay in Kenai Peninsula, your trip would include Homer. Ideal split is 4 days Homer and its surroundings + 2-3 days Seward & Anchorage areas. To save time, consider flying to Homer from Anchorage on Era commuter flight. Just an option that may or may not fit into your schedule.
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 10:35 AM
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Just my take, frankly your 18 month old, is really not appropriate for tours with "no way out" meaning Denali Park. They are very unpredictable at that age and not much "reasoning". There can be areas of wildlife that require silence, you can not guarantee that with this age range. I suggest you enjoy the visitor center, drive yourself to Savage River perhaps. But think very very carefully about any long shuttle bus trips. I doubt you realize that even if you think you can just get off the bus if your child does become disruptive- you are basically left along side the road.

Same with a Kenai Fjords boat trip. There is little room or tolerance for active kids. And probably way too much "down" time to keep even older kids long interested. Plenty of sightings require binoculars.

The Anchorage zoo, and Portage wildlife center are excellent suggestions. Also the musk ox and raindeer out of Palmer. Anchorage has plenty of interested stuff to consider that is toddler friendly.

Please do not take this as anything but suggestive. I've just seen way too many disasters with small children on the tours of over an hour.
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 11:05 PM
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Hi, anmuss. Have a wonderful time on your trip to Alaska. I live here in central Alaska, and have visited Denali four times already this year. My office mate just took his visiting relatives, including 5 young children (all under the age of 7) through Denali last weekend. According to him, they took the shuttle to Polychrome (5 hours round trip), and he said that their 18-month old just tired out and started crying when they had about 15 minutes left on the return trip. He said that he wouldn't have wanted to go any further than that with the little ones. Regarding the trip from Denali to Seward, I just drove that route about 2 weeks ago. I drove along at a pretty good rate (we stopped once for gas, and four times for brief scenery/bathroom breaks), and it took us about 6 hours - it's definitely doable in a day, even with slow RV and camper traffic. By the time we got to Seward, we were pretty tired, though. We did have time to take a quick hike up to the bottom of Exit Glacier from the parking lot, and then we promptly crashed at our hotel. Having just done that trip, I would recommend not planning a whole lot for the day that you arrive from driving that route. To my understanding, the Parks highway between Denali and Anchorage has opened up again after the recent flooding, but it's a good idea to check the road report before you leave. By the way, where do you plan to stay in Denali? Having stayed in a couple of places there now, I can tell you a couple of places NOT to stay.
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Sep 4th, 2006, 07:03 AM
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daph24ne, please tell me where not to stay in Denali. We are gong back next year. Thanks

I agree with BudgetQueen about bringing a small child on a long ride to Denali. Just returned from there and we had one 2 year old who was so bored couldn't stop screaming to the point that most people left a shuttle bus and waited for the next one.

Children under 4 years old and/or 40 pounds must be in a car seat to ride on buses. You have to bring your own car seat.

You can leave Anchorage for Seward early in the morning and do glacier cruise that day. Next morning visit Sealife Center and drive to Talkeetna or Palmer/Wasilla. It is much longer than 6 hours from Seward to Denali and you we'll miss too many interesting things on the way. There is lots of construction on Parks Highway. We were stopped at one of them for 45 minutes last Friday. Many delays, it took us 6 and 1/2 hours from Anchorage with only a brief stop in Talkeetna.
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Sep 4th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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Mama - don't stay at the Crow's Nest or Denali Cabins. We recently stayed at the Denali Crow's Nest up on a steep hill (in July 2006) overlooking the Park. I've posted a review on Tripadvisor.com. We were pretty dissatisfied. It wasn't the worst place ever - it just wasn't worth the high price we paid (even in Alaska). We just had really shoddy service, the hot water was "iffy" at best, and the floors sloped at fun house angles. Last time, we actually tried staying at the Denali Mountain Morning Hostel (it was our first time at a hostel). We rented one of the private cabins. You still don't have a private bathroom in those cabins, but it honestly wasn't bad. I thought the accommodations were nicer than the Crow's Nest, and was only 1/3 the price. One of my office mates recently stayed at the Denali Cabins. She said she felt that they were way too expensive for the little you got.
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Sep 4th, 2006, 06:06 PM
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daph24ne, thank you so much. Wow! We were thinking about staying at the Crow's Nest. Not any more
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Sep 5th, 2006, 07:56 AM
  #20
 
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A very nice budget motel in Healy is the Denali Park motel. Large rooms, fridge, and microwave. Very clean. http://www.denaliparkhotel.com/
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