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I'm looking for suggestions on my Alaska itinerary (June 30th-July 21st)

I'm looking for suggestions on my Alaska itinerary (June 30th-July 21st)

Apr 16th, 2010, 11:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 18
I'm looking for suggestions on my Alaska itinerary (June 30th-July 21st)

Hi fellow travellers,

I'm going to Alaska June 30th-July 21st with my husband and I'm planning the itinerary.
We decided to do the first part of the trip guided with St. Elias Alpine Guides (www.steliasguides.com). The second part of the trip is still undecided.

I've heard the following names as possible options:
-Glacier Bay
-Brooks Range
-Angling for bron bears at Brooks Falls
-McNeil River Falls
-Mount Katmai
-Bear Glacier
-Mendenhall Glacier
-Portage Glacier
-Alexander Archipelago
-Mount McKinley
-Bering Strait

I've also heard the Juneau and Sitka are nice. Not sure how easy it is to travel between all these places, and what is the best mode of transportation (car? ferry? flying? train?). Everything seems so $$$$$!

I would love to see as much as I can, but I also don't want to be overscheduled.

Both my husband and I are fit, like nature, and love to explore. We usually travel on our own as opposed to going with a tour company (wilderness trips excluded).

I would appreciate any suggestions about what to include in the remaining 11 days of our itnierary.

Part 1: Guided (11 days)
June 30 Wed 7pm flight Seattle-Anchorage
July 1 Th Spend time in Anchorage (not sure what to do, probably just explore and hang out)
July 2 Fri Leave for McCarthy
July 3 Sat Start the Alaska Backpacking - Alpine Ascambling Expedition
July 4 Sun Hiking
July 5 Mon Hiking
July 6 Tue Hiking
July 7 Wed Hiking
July 8 Th Hiking
July 9 Fri Hiking
July 10 Sat Last day of wilderness hiking; back in McCarthy; relax in a hotel
Part 2: TBD (11 days)
July 11 Sun ??? back to Anchorage ???
July 12 Mon ???
July 13 Tue ???
July 14 Wed ???
July 15 Th ???
July 16 Fri ???
July 17 Sat ???
July 18 Sun ???
July 19 Mon ???
July 20 Tue ???
July 21 Wed 6:30pm flight Anchorage-Seattle; 10:50pm arrive in Seattle
travelgirl2009 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 12:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,854
If it were me, I would not try to include both south east (Sitka, Juneau) and south central (Anchorage, Kenai Peninsula, etc). Assuming this is your first trip, my suggestion would be to take 1/3 of the time you have on the 2nd part of the trip and go to Denali, Talkeetna, and that area. Take the other 2/3 and do the Kenai Peninsula (Homer, Seward, Valdez, etc).

If you like trains, the Alaska Railroad is a good way to get from Anchorage to Talkeetna or Denali. It also has a southern route from Anchorage to Seward, however, I think rental cars in Seward will be more expensive than those in Anchorage.

If you are going to do the Alaska Peninsula (Brooks Falls, McNeil River, etc), you need to find a flight service and make reservations as soon as you can since they fill up quickly. I know you can fly out of Homer and I think flights from Lake Hood (Anchorage) are also available.

Depending on your wallet, I highly recommend a flight-seeing trip out of Talkeetna to see Mt Denali and the Ruth Glacier.

If you do due south east, there are also wonderful flight seeing trips put of Juneau to Misty Fjords National Monument.

I have a couple of photo essays on-line at http://www.worldisround.com/articles/355248/index.html and http://www.worldisround.com/articles/347975/index.html if you are interested.

Have a wonderful trip. I hope you love visiting Alaska as much as I do.
dwooddon is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 05:17 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,881
Are you camping/backpacking the first part of the trip?

If 'yes' and you have camping gear with you then I'd suggest flying into Brooks Camp in Katmai and spending 4-7 nights at the campground. Earlier the better since the bears are thickest early July. This takes care of these on your list (except it's 'angling WITH brown bears, not FOR them ):
-Angling for brown bears at Brooks Falls
-McNeil River Falls
-Mount Katmai (add day trip to Valley of 10,000 Smokes)

Most tourists who do a bear viewing trip seem to feel it's the highlight of their Alaska adventure.

Fly in and out of Anchorage for Brooks. We always used Katmailand (Katmai Air). Then, again assuming backpackers, go to Denali and hit the backcountry for 4-5 nights. Hopefully in a high area with few mosquitos.

If not backpacking, then then the normal tourist route is to visit Denali and Kenai (Seward, Homer).

-Bering Strait

A cool place that few tourists except birders and naturalists go to is the Pribilof Islands, located in the Bering Sea (though well south of the strait). I spent a week on St. Paul Island in July one year photographing seals, puffins and many other species of birds. Interesting native people too. Definitely off the grid. July is the perfect time to go. No bugs!

The places in SE Alaska (Sitka, Juneau) are fine but far away and maybe better done on a separate trip, or in place of Denali/Katmai/Kenai/Pribs.
Bill_H is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Flyout Fishing, Dogsledding, Alyeska, Kenai/Seward, Denali, Train, You would probably have time for all of this in 11 days
spirobulldog is offline  
Apr 17th, 2010, 02:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,246
Everything IS $$$$. That is Alaska - while some ways to economize the tourist industry must make all its money in a few short months without even an off-season.

Many of these places are only reachable by water or air. Even the capital Juneau has no roads that lead out of the city - only way to get there is by water or air. This ads to cost. Another example - you can drive to Mendenhall Visitors Center but if you want to walk on it you have to take a helicopter - also expensive.
gail is offline  
Apr 20th, 2010, 10:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 18
Thank you all for your suggestions. I'll digest the information and will put together an itinerary for the second part of the trip.

For the first part of the trip, I'm doing this adventure:

So it will be hiking/backpacking/mountaineering. Carrying that 50 pounds pack is not my favorite thing, but I think that it will be worth it.

Question: in the description of my trip it says "Bush planes allow you and your guide to gain access to the area", so we will be doing some Alaska viewing from air. Do you folks think that booking some additional air excursions is worth it?
travelgirl2009 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2010, 01:18 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,881
Do you folks think that booking some additional air excursions is worth it?

Flight-seeing around Mt. McKinley is pretty awesome (so is the hike you are already doing!). Talkeetna is the favored take-off spot but often it's tough to find a clear day.
Bill_H is offline  
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