Juneau vs Kenai Peninsula

Old Dec 18th, 2016, 07:26 PM
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Juneau vs Kenai Peninsula

My husband and I will be visiting Alaska for 12 days at the beginning of July next summer for a wedding. We will be in Juneau for the wedding for the first 4/5 days and then will have the rest of the time to travel on our own. This will be our first trip to Alaska, and since we don't know when we will be back, we are trying to incorporate a wide range of experiences. We already know we want to fly to Anchorage and rent a car. We can't decide if we should head up to Denali or do a longer road trip around the Kenai Peninsula. Will the peninsula be too similar to what we have already done in Juneau i.e. glacier and wildlife cruises, etc? We are both active and definitely want to do a lot of hiking, kayaking, etc. Is a trip to Denali key to the "ideal Alaskan experience"? (We are aware of the long drive and shuttling into the park).
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Old Dec 18th, 2016, 07:33 PM
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Is a trip to Denali key to the "ideal Alaskan experience"?

If I had to choose between Denali and the Kenai Peninsula, I would go for the latter and Hatcher Pass. Everybody who went halibut fishing out of Homer had a good time.

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Old Dec 18th, 2016, 09:44 PM
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Whittier, Girdwood, Seward, Homer.. not to be missed.

Denali is special, but no guarantees of weather or animal sightings.
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Old Dec 19th, 2016, 06:50 AM
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It's all about time management. Denali is a 2 1/2 to 3+ day commitment when you count the time to get there and get settled, then get back to Anchorage, with a full day in the park.

With 12 days total and 4 or 5 of them around Juneau, that leaves a week or less for everything else. Allocating a third to a half of that to Denali is fine, but comes at the price that you can't be doing other things, or seeing other places, in that same time.

Alaska is a classic case of the traveler's conundrum - go wide or go deep? You can skim places with long drives or flights between them, or you can shorten your list, "go deep," and focus on the activities you undertake in those places rather than spreading yourself out.

I recommend you mentally "deconstruct" your visits to a couple of places. Look at the Denali shuttle schedules and add up the hours you'd actually have on the ground for activities. Do the same with Seward - Kenai Fjords cruises, kayak outings, glacier hikes... or activities around Homer including excursions to Seldovia or Halibut Cove, halibut fishing, flightseeing for bears...

Or look at a 2- or 3-day driving loop from Anchorage - north to the Matanuska Glacier, east to Glennallen, then south through Thompson Pass to Valdez, then back across Prince William Sound on the state ferry to Whittier.

Look at a 2- or 3-day excursion by air to the bush - fly to Nome or Kotzebue (or Barrow) for midnight sun, Eskimo culture or gold rush history...

The point being, you have to pick and choose how you spend your time as it is, and Alaska is so full of unique and spectacular sights and experiences that you can tailor a trip that hits your priorities rather than somebody else's. Do your homework.
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Old Dec 19th, 2016, 07:14 AM
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Another way to consider would be to fly from Juneau to Fairbanks to rent your car and then see Denali if the weather is good. Return the car and take the Alaska Railroad to Anchorage to rent to go to Kenai.
In our 10 day trip to Alaska last June, we did see Denali, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Palmer and Homer with brief visits to Hope and Seward.
The hike up to the toe of the Exit glacier was interesting.
The closest views of moose that we got were at the B&B near Homer and one that crossed the highway outside Kasilof.
I think I'll visit Hawaii to complete my 50 states before returning to Alaska.
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