Kenai or Denali?

Jun 22nd, 2009, 05:04 PM
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Kenai or Denali?

My husband and I have about 2.5 days before we board a cruise from Whittier - Vancouver and are torn about whether to spend the time in Denali (would stay in Talkeetna) or Kenai (would stay in Seward). We've rented a car and will be there Sept. 2-5. We enjoy most outdoor activities, but don't have our hearts set on doing anything in particular. Any advice would be much appreciated!
kroth is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 05:38 PM
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I'm biased because my company runs some of the Denali lodges. Talkeetna isn't really at Denali. It's a very nice lodge (I've stayed there too) but you can't really go into the park from there. I think Kenai is where you're more likely to see grizzlies scooping salmon out of the river, but don't think that happens in Sept. Denali's truly awesome!
colomonica is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 07:02 PM
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Talkeetna is roughly 100 miles from Denali. You would be better off staying in Healy...and much cheaper than right outside the park.

So, given the choice, I would vote for Denali.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 08:37 AM
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Did you find any reaonable transportation from Anchorage Airport to Seward. My friends say Seward is fantastic.
middlesboro is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 03:33 PM
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Having been to all 3 places in very late Aug, early Sept, I'd vote for Denali/Talkeetna, assuming you want to do the Mt McKinley flightseeing and the school bus/wildlife ride in Denali. If not, I'd pass. There's not a lot to do up there after that. Yes, there are some hikes near the visitor center, but none that scores high on the "wow" factor compared with the other 2 activities. The canoe ride is dicey that time of year due to the cooler temps and besides, they wanted 100% of the money up front and there were no refunds unless it was lightening which is rare. We were very glad we passed on that cuz the weather was cool and windy.

As others have said, staying in Talkeetna doesn't make a lot of sense if you think you're going to day trip to Denali. It's a bit far for that. But staying in Talkeenta would be a good decision if you take the flightseeing from there and then head to Denali the next day and do the bus trip either that day or the next. The earlier the better for the bus trip is the common wisdom as the wildlife is supposedly more active early. We took the 7:30am bus to Wonder Lake and saw a lot of animals. I, too, recommend staying in nearby Healy.

Seward is great if you want to spend a day on the water doing a fjord tour, but in early Sept, I don't believe all the tour companies are running and those that are will be even more weather dependent than usual because the weather is starting to turn. So you might not be able to get on a boat and have smooth water. Exit Glacier is worth a stop on the outskirts of Seward and there's some hiking in the immediate area there. Those are the highlights of Seward IMHO. Of course the drive to Seward is fantastic, assuming good weather whereas the drive to Denali is nothing special for the most part.
dcd is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 03:49 PM
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Also, I don't know if you're familiar with Denali NP. It's not like the NPs in the lower 48 where there are multiple entrances, lots of roads, and lots of well marked trails. Even though Denali is ginormous, visitors are allowed to see but the tiniest fraction of it. Despite its size, there's only one entrance and only one road. That road is accessible by private car for the first 15 miles and that's it. And those 15 miles aren't especially remarkable. The only way to see more of the park and its prettier areas is to take a bus tour.

Technically there are 2 bus options, but most here strongly recommend the school bus tour. Its price depends on how far you want to go into the park. The farthest the bus goes is to Wonder Lake which takes about 4 hours one way. The bus then turns around and comes back on the same road. It's obviously a full day to go that far. The bus makes stops for bathrooms, stretching and sightseeing. But there's no food or drink so bring your own! Our driver provided running commentary on the park and its wildlife.

Please use the search box here and you'll come up with lots of additional info (and opinions!).
dcd is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 04:52 PM
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Thanks so much, dcd! That was very helpful.
kroth is offline  
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