JUNEAU & KETCHIKAN

Old Jan 20th, 2005, 11:50 AM
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JUNEAU & KETCHIKAN

We want to go to Alaska the middle of June mainly to see the Glaciers and wildlife from the Inside Passage. We have a week or 10 days, depending on how interesting we feel it would be. Don't want the big cruise ships or to pay the huge prices of the little ships. We have done the park scene in Canada so I'm not interested in Denali or the rest of the parks in Alaska. We were thinking of flying into Juneau and taking the day trips which would allow us to see more than the bigger ships. Which trips would you recommend and either go to Ketchikan or Anchorage (how do we get there as interestingly as possible) and fly home from there. Which city would be more interesting and which day trips would you recommend in which city. We are in our 60's so hiking, etc. would not be for us but we are not considered elderly either. Don't want to be hurded with the "elderly people". Thanks for your input.
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Old Jan 21st, 2005, 04:07 AM
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Frankly- cruise ships do a VERY nice job of seeing the Inside Passage- packing a lot into 7 days that is totally for the visitor. Scenic sailing, 3 ports, glacier viewing. You will be hard pressed to do this in the same timeframe on your own. The Alaska ferry may be an option, but the priority is transportation, the docks are outside the city's and the schedule is around the clock. Flying will miss the scenic sailing. For clairfication- for wildlife you will need tours- whale watching out of Juneau has 100 % humpback sightings, only every 5-10 days for orcas. Bear watching is out of season in Ketchikan in June, you will need a costly tour out of Juneau to Admirality Island - With permits. If you want to get to Anchorage- and take the Alaska ferry- you will need more time in my opinion since the routing is time consuming Juneau- Seward.
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Old Jan 21st, 2005, 04:31 AM
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"We are in our 60's so hiking, etc. would not be for us"

Maxine, you made my day. I'll be laughing all day long at your statement. My grandfather who is 92 year old moved to Colorado 10 years ago so he could have more hiking options. he is still hiking 4-5 times a week. Four years ago he switched from downhill skiing to x-country. Maxine, LOL!
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Old Jan 21st, 2005, 04:58 AM
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We are doing the same thing in August. We'll be flying from Seattle to Ketchikan on Alaskan Airlines, spending two nights at the Cape Fox Lodge, taking the Alaska Marine Highway ferry (cabin with berths) to Juneau on an overnight, and then spending three nights in Juneau at the Capital Inn. I put a lot of planning into this trip and am very excited and confident that we'll have a good time. We are wanting to go on the Taku Lodge flightseeing trip with Wings of Alaska (out of Juneau), but other than that, will enjoy what we can see by foot and bus. Get the "Walking Tours of the Inside Passage" book by Julianne Chase. Creek Street and the totem poles look cool in Ketchikan and the Mendenhal Glacier and the Mt. Roberts tramway are things to see in Juneau. I believe you can have a great trip without taking a cruise...
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 07:57 AM
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Thank you so much for this advice. That's exactly what I needed to hear. I'll take your advice and go from there. Will let you know how it works out.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 03:39 PM
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Please do, Maxine! We'll not be going until August, so be sure to post a trip report when you get home!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 07:48 PM
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I traveled using the Alaska Marine Highway. It is a fun and inexpensive way to see the Inside Passage. Check their website for more information.
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Old Mar 14th, 2005, 08:23 PM
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The Ferry is a very relaxing and fun way to see the inside passage. Do be sure to reserve as soon as possible, especially if you are planning on getting a cabin as they become very hard to get the longer you wait. If you go to ferryalaska.com you can look up the schedules/prices/individual ships etc. Though one of the older ships, our favorite is the Matanuska because it has a very "straightforward" floor plan. The Kenicott is newer, but is a designated rescue ship with all kinds of specialized equipment which causes the ship to be "compartmented" and harder to figure out. The positive for it is that it has more small cabins available--these don't have private bathroom facilities, but all these larger ships have good restrooms/showers available to the public. Summer months, the U.S Forest Service has a Ranger on board that gives talks on topics of interest. Food is "okay" with breakfasts being the best value. The staff is usually very helpful and the captain will frequently announce dolphin/whale sightings as they occur. (don't forget your binoculars!)

I live in Petersburg and have taken local day trips/charters so haven't used Juneau's companies personally. However, my sister took the whale watching tour out of Juneau and was very pleased with the tour and its prices. People have very good things to say about the helicopter and plane tours over the Glacier but at around $200/person( last time we checked) we opted for the Mount Roberts Tramway which departs from the cruiseline dock and ascends Mt. Roberts. Fantastic view of the Gastineau Channel and Juneau and a very informative presentation by the Klingit Tribe at the summit. You can take a little hike on one of the trails if you desire or eat a meal at the restaurant before taking the tram back down.

If you're into food, I'd be glad to make some recommendations. Have fun whatever you decide!
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Old Mar 15th, 2005, 05:09 AM
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Thanks for all your helpful replies, Klondike! I'd be very interested in food recommendations. What do you think about a day cruise to/through Tracy Arm? We would be taking it from Juneau. The idea of being on that relatively small boat ALL DAY sounds a little tiring, but what an opportunity to see things I might never see again - like glaciers calving...
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Old Mar 15th, 2005, 05:26 AM
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I have gone with Auk Nu to Tracy Arm, the trip was far from "tiring".
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Old Mar 15th, 2005, 09:22 PM
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crazy4hawaii: You would have to prioritize what is most important to you and what you are willing to give up to fit this in.

While Tracy Arm is exceptionally beautiful, remember the hour or two actually spent there does NOT guarantee a calving of the glacier. You might see whale, dolphin etc during the trip to and from, but again no guarantee. And a whole day spent on the water will take away from other activities.

A different option would be to rent a car at the airport , stop at the Breeze Inn (across from the McDonalds) and pick up something for a picnic, not forgetting the yummy pastries, and drive the few short miles to the Mendenhall Glacier. (if you're sitting on the left side, usually, of the plane you can see it right out your window during landing!) The Ranger station there is fantastic and presents a wonderful short movie as well as having dioramas, wildlife exhibits, and a huge viewing area to see the glacier. There are picnic tables at a viewing area down by the water to watch the icebergs as they float out to sea. We have seen canoe/kayak tours out on the water near the glacier wall, but I don't know what company it was. On the return, you could take the cirucular route around Auk Bay. The scenery is stunning.

That would take up half a day and you could spend the other half a day in the downtown historic area for variety. Have a nice dinner at the Hangar on the Wharf (very good qualitiy for your $$$), from where you can watch the float planes takeoff/land or have an elegant dinner at Di Sopra (Italian) located above the Fiddlehead Restaurant (also very good with homebaked breads/baked goods). Out by the Ferry terminal, there is a highly recommended Thai restaurant, but I can't remember the name.

Another day you could do one of the flight/helo tours one half-day and the other half go out the Highway. One of our favorite, low impact, easy places to visit is out the highway at about mile 23. The Shrine of St. Therese is located on a little island reached only by taking a footbridge-like piece of land. The chapel is quaint and the outside stations of the cross, thought provoking. There are flowers everywhere and depending on the time of year, you can watch whales in the distance or see schools of salmon literally jumping out of the water at your feet. We love its serenity and natural beauty without having to do miles of hiking.

Lastly, all muddled together: Favorite hotels are the Aspen for an airport hotel and Grandma's Featherbed Inn-the smallest Best Western there is-for any stay, anytime of year. All rooms there have a jacuzzi and are beautifully appointed, and the made to order- all you can eat breakfast is included in the price (they also serve dinner if you don't feel like going out). The downtown confiserie, Alaska Fudge company is so Sweetly delicous, there are two of them on the same street. I can't pass up their caramel corn and my hubby gets sucked in by the dark chocolate fudge. Also dowtown and personally vouched for: The Silver Bow (bagels), El Sombrero (Mexican) and down by the cruiseline dock is the Twisted Fish (excellent seafood chowder and buttery rolls but sometimes a little noisy) If you do happen to find yourself across the bridge in Douglas, the Douglas Cafe serves a mean breakfast and a gourmet equivalent dinner (lunch is fine too but can't compare to dinner). You read the specials board, grab a menu, and seat yourself.... A funky unpretentous place filled with locals.

Wow! Now I've got to go to the kitchen for a snack! Hope this helps.
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Old Mar 16th, 2005, 04:13 AM
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Thank you so much. I'll print this out and take it with me. We are going in August and will have two half days and two full days in Juneau after our arrival by ferry from Ketchikan. We have reservations at the Capital Inn B&B... Will definitely not miss Mendenhall Glacier and the drive you mentioned sounds just like what I'm interested in.
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Old Mar 16th, 2005, 06:06 AM
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If your schedule is flexible, I recommend going in August rather than June. Your goal is to see wildlife and August is when the salmon swim upstream bringing the bears to the rivers. You might see bears in June, but you will definitely miss the salmon.
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