Is Denali Worth it?

Old Oct 14th, 2006, 11:52 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Is Denali Worth it?

In July 2007 I will take my 2 and 5 year old on a Northbound cruise and spend a few days after in Alaska. I'm reading conflicting information from a variety of sites about where to stay in Denali, or if Denali is even worth it with so much to see in Alaska. I'd love some advice on what to do after disembarking in Seward and having 3-5 days to putter. Also, is it better to bus/train/drive to/from Denali to fly out of Fairbanks or Anchorage? Thanks in advance for your advice.
yosemiterocks is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 12:52 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,652
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, based on tips from people we met on our cruise and from some locals in Seward, we chose not to go up to Denali, but to explore the kenai Peninsula instead. We had a wonderful time, and do not feel that we missed out by skipping Denali that time.

The main reasons were:
-Crowds around Denali in July
-No guarantee of seeing Denali,
-The long drive there, and
-Our kids were young and hours sitting on the school bus in Denali was not appealing.

Kenai area (Seward to Homer)had grorgeous scenery, lots of wildlife, beautiful river, interesting museums, Exit Glacier, good clamming on lovely beaches, interesting shopping, and very friendly people.

I'm sure Denali is a worthwhile destination, but we found the KP easy and a lot of fun.
lcuy is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 12:55 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 26,731
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
OK, we haven't made it to Denali yet so maybe I shouldn't vote. With only 3-5 days I think you have to concentrate on the most fun per mile. There's a lot to do between Anchorage and Seward. The drive alone could take a full day if you stop for the tram ride up Mt Alyeska, visit the animal park, and just stop to stretch legs. It's a 3 hour trip if non-stop. The kids can make snowballs at the top of Alyeska. A trolley ride around Anchorage would give you a break from driving. But when you head north of Anchorage, there isn't much except scenery after you get past Wasilla. It's a long ride to Talkeetna and even farther to Denali. With your schedule I would be tempted to take the train to Anchorage, get a rental car and return to the Kenai Peninsula. Take a look at activities offered in Homer at the Pratt Museum and other places that might be suitable for children for the dates you will be there. You are guaranteed lots of eagles in Homer. You can spend time at the Sea Life center in Seward. Nice touch tank, etc. Watch for seals in the harbor.
dfrostnh is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 01:15 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 39
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I was on the Wonderlake bus tour in Denali in July of this year with a family with two children almost the same ages as your two. All I can say is that it was a beautiful day, we saw lots of wildlife, and we saw the mountain, but that was not enough to keep the children entertained. The parents were exhausted at the end of the trip. That being said the children loved the dog kennel at Denali, but I don't think that was worth the trip from Anchorage to Denali. I agree with the others who have responded: stay on the Kenai or at most travel into Anchorage. There's lots to do in Seward, Homer, Girdwood, and Anchorage. The Animal Park and the Portgage Glacier tour are nearby. Exit Glacier is just outside of Seward and one of the Kenai Fjords tours would be fun. There's also a kennel outside of Seward, but I forget the name. We drove everywhere and felt that left us the most flexibility.
wannabe3 is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 01:17 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 312
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Denali is fabulous. We found scenery in the interior to be quite different than in coastal areas--yet equally beautiful in its own way. We definitely saw more land-based wildlife in Denali than anywhere else in Alaska, and it's the only place we saw bears. It's very true that you may not see the mountain depending on weather the day of your visit, but Denali has so mush else going for it, I wouldn't make that the deciding factor. We visited in July and did not find it to be crowded at all. If you go, I would rent a car and drive to give yourself maximum flexibility.

Now--with all that said, I'm not sure how well a 2 and 5 year old would tolerate the Denali shuttle bus, and frankly, I don't think it's worth it to go to Denali and not take the shuttle into the park. You should take the earliest shuttle of the day to see the most wildlife (i.e. the 5:30 or 6:00am trip). It would be, at minimum, a 3-day trip, with one day to drive up, one day to explore, and one day to drive back to Anchorage. If you decide to go, a bed and breakfast would probably be your best value. There are a number of them in Healy, which is 20 minutes or so north of the park (if I remember correctly). I'd also be sure to take time to see the Denali sled dogs if you go, which I'm sure your kids would love.

The Kenai peninsula is beautiful as well, with lots to do, so I'm sure you'll have a terrific time either way. Have a great trip!
Julie304 is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 06:47 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The answer to the initial question in my opinion is YES! But not for a 5 year old and definitely not a 2 year old. With kids, I would drive so that you are in control of when you stop and get out of the car to let off steam.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2006, 05:42 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 26,731
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
BTW if you visit Anchorage Daily News website www.adn.com, you can click on the visitors guide. Then click on the pages for "Child's Eyes". There are some great suggestions for what to do in Anchorage with kids including a story time and a playground with a view. I bet the kids would get a big treat just from spending time at a playground with other kids around.
dfrostnh is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2006, 07:34 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,854
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you stay five days, I'd say Denali would be worth it, especially if this is likely your only trip to AK for a while.

Yes, you can have plenty of fun on the Kenai Peninsula, but Denali is a pretty special place. Unless you are taking specific tours (i.e., bear-viewing flights from Homer), your odds of seeing a lot of land mammals are far better there that just about anywhere else in the state.

Is there a chance a 2-year-old will have a bad day on the tour? Sure. But a 2-year-old can have a bad day anywhere. Just don't take the longest bus trips.

Bring a backpack full of surprises that the kids haven't seen yet and you'll get through the bad times. My son was always a great wildlife spotter at a young age (and now I can't get him to wear his glasses .... )

As for getting there, I'd drive to and from Anchorage.
repete is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2006, 06:58 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 4,469
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My 2 cents. Denali Park is NOT for kids that age. They have no interest in scenery and the wildlife is usually way off. You are trapped on a bus, and only option for escape is to be let off on the side of the road, and walking. Close up wildlife requires SILENCE, you can not guarantee nondisruptive toddlers. Sorry for being so blunt, but am factual. You will be better off with shorter activies and spending some time in Seward. I would also think twice about Kenai Fjords boat trips as, you are in the same "boat" with no way out, if your kids can't tolerate it.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2006, 07:21 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 8,296
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We loved Denali, would go back in a heartbeat, but I wouldn't do it with small children.

We booked 2 shuttle trips (only to Fish Creek) just in case the first one was a bust (good advice from Fodorites). The first day - it rained all day, muddy roads and condensation made it impossible to see out of the windows. Second day was awesome - better weather, animal sightings, etc. But that was 2 long days on a dirt road riding in a packed school bus.

I vote you stay on the Kenai Peninsula (unless as Repete said, you know you'll never go back for whatever reason). LOTS to do and see on the Kenai, and with the incredible beauty you won't feel slighted in the least. And when the kids are older, you can take them to Denali and enjoy some hiking together.
BayouGal is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2006, 09:28 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 408
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
agree with BayouGal about your kids being too small for the shuttle in Denali. You need to take under consideration not only age of your children but also other visitors who rather focus on scenery and wildlife in quiet th
Mama is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2006, 02:30 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Many thanks for so many honest comments. What a great site this is! While I know I wouldn't mind the bus ride in Denali, you all hit on the point that a two year old has the attention span the size of a gnat! The point of the trip is to enjoy the scenery and each other, so logic should play a role rather than what I see with my rose colored glasses! Thanks again for your help. I still have time to plan, so if anyone has other ideas on great things to do with young kids in Alaska, please reply!
yosemiterocks is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2006, 08:01 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 523
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The kids would love the Raindeer farm, outside of Anchorage, where they can feed the raindeer. Also try the Ititirod Museum in Wasilla, where they can go on a dog sled ride. Agree that Denali is great but would be boring to young children. Sea Life is very lame but something to to with children. I would take the train to Seward, beautiful breathtaking scenery that you will miss by car and kids love trains.
clueless is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Titimejias
United States
4
Mar 3rd, 2009 07:42 AM
anmuss
United States
20
Sep 5th, 2006 09:36 AM
LuvToGo
United States
5
Feb 7th, 2005 05:30 AM
CathyLu
United States
5
Nov 6th, 2004 06:50 AM
RandyK
United States
4
May 27th, 2003 04:54 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:45 PM.