Itinerary Help July 8-19

Old Jan 14th, 2020, 12:38 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 651
Itinerary Help July 8-19

Hello all, I am trying to possibly plan a high school graduation surprise trip for our 17 yo DD. We travel a lot but have yet to make it to Alaska. I was a bit sticker shocked by the price of everything but so be it. Will try and use miles to get us there and back to cut down on expenses. Will also have DD's Dutch boyfriend with us so tacking on an extra person's costs isn't helping! With that said, I have read through pages of posts and have taken this from them - for a trip in July if we want to go to Denali, we will be eaten alive by mosquitos. The bus ride does not sound appealing at all, so thinking about not doing Denali. We will rent a car. We love scenic beauty, wildlife, culture, off the beaten paths, hiking, fly fishing, and yummy eats. We prefer not to change locations every night but because Alaska is sooo big, we will. We are all die hard road trippers so windshield time won't bother us, especially if we are driving through beautiful scenery. I have a few ideas written down from previous posts - there will be no flightseeing trips for us though. We have been to the glaciers in Patagonia twice, including trekking on Perito Moreno so that is not as much a priority though a hike to Exit Glacier would be fine. I was interested in the northern area that Gardyloo has written about a few times since it is appealing without the people and the cultural aspect (I was an Anthropology major with a concentration in American Indian Studies but the rest of the family will only have a limited interest in it). So, I'm open to suggested itineraries for anywhere in Alaska - haven't bought anything yet. Thanks!
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 01:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We loved the longest boat trip out of Seward to see glaciers. It was incredible to stop and watch orcas diving in unison. Didn't see a glacier calve but they shut off the engines so we could hear the ice crunching against boat and hear the groans as glacier moves forward. I liked Homer a lot, too. Both are on the Kenai peninsula. I think all of you would like Independence Mine which is north of Anchorage so you might split your time between Anchorage area and KP. Seward Hwy between Anchorage and KP is incredibly beautiful. I think there's enough to see and do in your time frame. Off the beaten path is kind of hard in this area because of limited roads. Suggest you read the local on-line newspaper to get an idea of what's going on that tourists don't usually notice. On one trip I explored an Anchorage neighborhood on a public garden tour. Last house was an original log cabin and owner had a keg of beer in the garden. We went to hear Hobo Jim sing at a Soldotna restaurant that included a haddock dinner. I think we were the only non-locals in the place. (this trip was in 2004 so not sure if Hobo Jim is even around any more). Visited farmers markets. You might look for cabins to rent. Salmon will probably be running around that time in the Russian River and that is a site to see. We also visited with net fisherman on a beach near Kenai/Soldotna.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 08:49 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,745
Agree about the limited roads. We normally put some serious mileage on rental cars on our vacations, but not this time. Actually, none of the places we are going are accessible by roads (Kotzebue, Nome, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Juneau). Nome has the most, with 3 roads about 75 miles long each, I think - so we have rented a vehicle for doing some exploring on those days.

If you really want to explore driving options, one resource that may help is:

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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 10:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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One big consideration is that there's potentially a very big problem with Denali. A portion of the road leading into the park interior is facing closure due to sliding and erosion; there's a good chance that access to the interior of the park - Eielson visitor center, Kantishna and Wonder Lake - will be unavailable. These places comprise the real highlights of park visits.

This has two potential impacts. First, the thousands and thousands of would-be visitors to the park may be going elsewhere, increasing the demand for overnight accommodations in other places. Second, people who have allocated days to Denali might just shorten their trips.

So as you go about planning, I guess what I'd recommend is that you settle on a timetable and itinerary and book accommodation ASAP. We won't know the whole story about Denali for a couple of months at least (the National Park Service is assessing the situation this month and next, but it's mighty cold and frozen right now, so who knows how far they'll get?) so pinning down accommodation is probably smart.

As for the trip itself, if it was me for a first time visitor I'd probably split my time between southcentral and southeast Alaska, with a few days including the Kenai Peninsula including Seward and Homer. I'd also arrange stops in a couple of towns in SE Alaska, namely Juneau and/or Sitka. Or, and I don't know if you've considered this, if you have a couple of weeks overall, you might consider a one-way cruise between Vancouver and Seward or Whittier (or v.v.) The cruises can be good value for money as they're all-inclusive, and this would give you an affordable and comfortable way to experience this part of the state. On the northern end of the cruise (after it or before) a week would be plenty of time to explore the Kenai/Anchorage area. Might be worth doing some numbers.
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