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Seeking feedback on a 16-day Alaska itinerary (draft 1)

Seeking feedback on a 16-day Alaska itinerary (draft 1)

Old Feb 8th, 2010, 04:40 PM
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Seeking feedback on a 16-day Alaska itinerary (draft 1)

After getting tons of great advice and ideas from everyone here (THANK you all for that!), I have finally put together a first draft of the 16-day "land" portion of our Alaska adventure. This first segment precedes a 7-day Inside Passage cruise from Whittier to Vancouver. I want a full - but not hectic - schedule and finally decided to omit Homer in favor of Wrangell-St. Elias NP. That was a hard decision and I based it on a desire to have more (overall) variety and also to see a more remote, less touristy part of Alaska.

The only part of the trip that is booked is the cruise. The cruise begins on a Saturday, which required that I omit a leisurely trip to Seward (with a longer stay in Girdwood) in order to get back to Whittier on a day that the ferry runs (at the time I want). As a result, I ended up with an "extra" day (15) at the end.

I would love ideas, suggestions, comments about the whole itinerary and would especially appreciate tips about the best way to use day 15 (should I move it up and spend that time elsewhere?) and/or places to stop/stay on the Richardson Highway.

1. afternoon arrival in Anchorage, pick up car and drive to Girdwood
2. early departure to Seward for 11:30 Kenai Fjords tour
3. Seward: Exit Glacier 5-hour hike
4. Seward to Whittier to Valdez via 3:15 ferry
5. Valdez to Chitina to (fly in) Wrangell-St. Elias NP
6. Wrangell-St. Elias NP
7. afternoon departure to Richardson Highway (overnight in Copper Center or thereabouts)
8. continue to Fairbanks (overnight somewhere between Paxson and Delta Junction)
9. Fairbanks
10. Fairbanks to Denali National Park
11. Denali (bus day)
12. afternoon departure to Talkeetna
13. 1/2 day fly fishing, departure for Palmer or Anchorage
14. Palmer to Anchorage
15. Anchorage or Girdwood
16. Saturday market (if in Anchorage), train/bus to Whittier, evening departure for 7 day inside passage cruise ending in Vancouver.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your adventures and experience!
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 04:57 PM
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Here is a very quick first impression regarding days 1 & 2:

Arrive at ANC in the afternoon and drive straight through to Seward and overnight there. You will be arriving during the summer and will have plenty of daylight at your disposal. IMO, Seward is a better place to spend the night and you will not have to rush to make your 11:30 AM Kenai Fjords tour. Allow 3 hours for the drive.

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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 05:20 PM
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It may be better to go ahead and just drive right to Seward and save Girdwood for the last couple of days.
We really did enjoy a lot at Girdwood/Alyeska. Did dogsled/helicopter/glacier landing there. Two really good restaurants at Alyeska. Double Musky is good at Girdwood. Tram to the top is great, even lunch there at the ski cafe was good. Tandem Paragliding is available there. We did a glacier hike there, our least favorite thing on the trip. I would for sure consider hiking Winner Creek Trail there. very unique way to cross the creek in a hand pulled car thingy(for lack of a better word). We kayaked in Seward and really liked it. Be sure and take the full day tour of Kenai Fjords, not the half day.

Alyeska was really the only place we ever truly felt like we got a good nights sleep, as they do have nice blinds/shades on the windows.

Your trip sounds totally totally awesome, I am jealous. Not sure what your budget is, but do as many bush pilot/air tour as you can. maybe dogsledding, denali landing, bear viewing/fishing. We were there last of June/first of July and highlights would have been the dogsledding/helicoper, flyout fishing/bear viewing, train from Anchorage to Seward, Kayaking. you might consider taking a full day kayak trip to ailik glacier instead of doing the kenai cruise, they go to the same area, just in a much smaller boat and it would be awesome. we did the cruise and hearing the glaciers calve is amazing, but would be even better with just a few people instead of 200.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 05:18 AM
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Yes, driving straight to Seward and saving Girdwood for the end makes sense. But I'm having trouble finding a flight (from BWI) that doesn't get us there later than 9pm. By the time we'd get our bags and car, it would be 10 (or later) and after a long flight (with stops), I'm not sure I'd be up for the drive. Still, it might still be better than rushing the next morning. I'll keep looking...thanks for the advice!
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 06:06 AM
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mberry,

The drive from Anchorage to Seward is much more than getting from point A to point B. It is extremely scenic and best done during daylight hours when you can fully appreciate everything you will see. For that reason, leaving ANC at 10 PM might deny you that experience.

One possible alternative would be to overnight in Anchorage, drive to Seward during the daylight hours of day 2 and also see Exit Glacier (which is on the outskirts of town as you arrive). Then on day 3, take your Kenai Fjords trip. What do you think?

While in Seward, try to squeeze in 2 hours to visit the Alaska SeaLife Center http://www.alaskasealife.org/ It would be a shame to visit Seward and miss that.

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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 06:30 AM
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Thanks for reminding me about the scenic drive, Orlando_Vic. There's so much info to digest that I sometimes lose track of important details like that! I want to take the 5-hour Exit Glacier hike and those start at 9:30 and 11:30, so there's still a timing problem. I thought it made sense to put the hike in between the day cruise and the ferry ride to Valdez. And, yes - the SeaLife Center is on our list!

Now I'm now looking at flights from DC - it's a bit of a hassle to get there, but even with the cost of a shuttle, it's cheaper than the flights from BWI and (more important) there are more options for departure times.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 07:44 AM
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Oh, your original post said afternoon. If I was arriving @ 9:00pm, I might even stay at Anchorage. What if the plane is a little late. It could be 12:00am before you got to where you were going.

How about doing your Exit Glacier hike in the afternoon of Day 2, Then do Kenai Fjords on Day 3. This way you could spend the night in Anchorage, take your time driving the Turnagin Arm, and then say like a 2:00 or 3:00 Exit Glacier.

Well, now I read Vic's post. I guess we were thinking alike.
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 08:08 AM
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I would skip an overnight at Paxon/Delta Junction, and use the time in Fairbanks, which you are short on, in my opinion. There is plenty to see and do here. You may want to take a closer look.

You have way too much time at the end- Talkeetna/Palmer/Anchorage- this can be done in much less time, even with plenty of side touring. You may want to consider traveling the Glenn Highway, you don't give your timeframe- but also maybe add Hatcher Pass, Sheep Mt, Matanuska Glacier??

An alternative, would be to move your Kenai Fjords boat tour a day later, and spend some time in Girdwood and the drive to Seward. With what you have planned with the early transit is less than ideal, and you have the time to change this.
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Old Feb 20th, 2010, 11:03 AM
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Thanks, BudgetQueen. I've found many of your posts extremely helpful and ended up revising this itinerary and then scrapping it in favor of a different route. Now I'll be making the smaller Anchorage/Valdez (including WSE) loop via ferry and the Glenn (instead of the larger Anchorage/Fairbanks loop) - so I will be stopping to see Ind. Mine, Sheep Mountain and Matanuska Glacier. I also dropped Talkeetna - partly because I decided to take the train from Anchorage to Denali and partly because I felt the itinerary was too packed. You advised someone to remember that less is more in Alaska and I started feeling that the success of a tight schedule depended too much on "perfect" weather. From what I've read, that seems unlikely so I built in a little more time/flexibility in places that matter most (to me) like Denali and Seward.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 07:01 AM
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When is this trip?
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 03:06 AM
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July 2010; the charts show a little less rainfall, though that's just an average.
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