Kenai Peninsula or Denali?

Jan 2nd, 2010, 11:09 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 210
Kenai Peninsula or Denali?

IF you had to pick spending time at only one place--which would you pick and why?

We will have 2 kids in car seats and 5 adults. So was thinking of taking train ride out of of Anchorage or if we cruise in to Seward then take evening train to Anchorage for views.

Renting a vehicle would be pricey. I know the train ride would be a big hit with 5 yr old and would upgrade to Dome cars on the Alaska RR. It would be nice to not drive or haul car seats with us! (3 and 5 yr old)

Not sure if going with Princess or RCI yet. I know the cruisetours go to Denali but can't decide if we go that route or just spend a few days on our own before departing. We would have Hilton points for free lodging in Anchorage.
alise007 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2010, 01:22 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Train is more scenic(according to everything I have read) and shorter to Seward. You don't have to upgrade on that train for the dome. You simply go up in the Dome whenever you please. Dinner on the train was great. 4 hour trip flew by for us. At least that is the way it was when we did it in 07.

If you cruise, I would lean more toward Denali. Kenai tours are in the water, and may be smilar to what you have seen.

I haven't been to Denali, but hope to go within the next couple of years.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2010, 05:59 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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We did an Alaska trip 10 years ago with a 1 1/2 year old. (land only - no cruise). We stayed in Denali and Seward. Loved them both! Haven't cruised there yet - hoping to this summer. I'm thinking that after being on a cruise for a week I would lean toward Denali as that should be different. We did the train Fairbanks to Denali and it is great. We were supposed to take it from Denali back to Anchorage but there was a rock slide blocking the tracks so we ended up on a van with a few kids. The train was WAY better than the van stuffed with kids and no food, etc.

Either choice Denali or Kenai you'll love!
henny16 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 12:36 AM
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I think Denali might be boring for kids of that age. To see Denali one boards a school bus and rides either forever or halfway to forever along a winding unpaved road - with varying number of animals at varying distances visible, depending on season and your luck. We drove Anchorage-Denali and there were some great views, but also long stretches of vast empty Alaska - while the train would offer more freedom for kids and adults, it still is a rather long ride. And then when you get there, less kid-friendly than Seward.

We also went to Seward - also drove. We did not find it duplication of cruise (Princess - Whittier-Vancouver) since we did the wildlife center, took a day cruise (where you see many animals and glaciers very close-up). Easily filled 2 1/2 days.

Considering your age grouping, I would strongly lean towards Seward. Another note regarding Denali - if anyone in your group is height-phobic, skip it. For much of the ride the bus clings to the side of a cliff with no guard rails - and then you have to pass another bus going in the opposite direction.
gail is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 04:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,070
There is more to see and do between Anchorage and Seward than north of Anchorage. As Gail pointed out, the drive to Denali is long and the scenery is repetitive. South of Anchorage, however, the scenery is spectacular for most of the way to Seward. Friends with young children who live in Alaska thought the wildlife center was great. I would also recommend the tram up Mt Alyeska. There will probably be snow at the top even in August. The Sea Life Center in Seward is wonderful, although small, a good chance to see critters up close. Depending on the time of year you might also have to opportunity to see salmon fishing. The best view we had was Bird Creek which runs under the Seward Hwy. There are so many fish they readily visible and we could watch the fishermen without being in their way. That run was early August.
About an hour north of Anchorage you can take a short sled dog ride at the Iditarod Headquarters Musuem in Wasilla. You might call ahead to see if they have puppies. When we were there visitors were encouraged to hold the puppies (early August). Your children would probably love that.
dfrostnh is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 07:47 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 4,469
In my opinion, Denali Park is totally inappropriate for toddlers. It requires long bus rides, close quarters with other, and unless you are willing to get off that bus when that toddler becomes disruptive or bored, not a good option.

I will also say, cruisetours are inappropriate as well. You are on a fixed point to point schedule, group travel. And your highest cost option. With kids the main key is flexability and the ability to plan as you go, not being tied down with no way out. Plus the fact very few kids go on cruisetours anyway, with the age group older.

Train travel by far has the most scenic portion Seward/Anchorage. Would be my limit with toddlers.

There is plenty you can see and do in Anchorage. Walking tours are available, the zoo may be of interest.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 09:48 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Having been to Alaska with kids, I think the children will have more fun on the Kenai peninsula than Denali. Your only options at Denali are to take a few short hiking trails near the entrance or ride the bus through the Park. You can get off the bus and hike, but the kids are too little to go far. The wildlife at Denali is usually off in the distance and binoculars are needed. The sightings aren't often or close enough to keep a 3 year old occupied.

On the Kenai peninsula, you have many more child friendly options: SeaLife Center, Seavey's Iditaride, riding the tram at Mt. Alyeska, the gold panning near Alyeska, the wildlife center between Whittier and Anchorage, Exit Glacier, Portage Glacier, salmon runs, etc.

As for Anchorage, it's just a city. I wouldn't spend more than a day or two there. The rest of Alaska is too beautiful and has too much to offer.
padams421 is offline  

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