Top 10 Alaskan to-do's

Old Jan 6th, 2006, 02:18 PM
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I see on weather.com that April and June are the driest months, yet most travelers prefer August. Is this because of the animal viewing?
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Old Jan 6th, 2006, 02:36 PM
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Well April is not a great time, it's ``breakup'' time in many parts of the state. June's unpredictable and not nearly as pretty as August.

Plus some years, the road deep into Denali isn't open until the second week of June.
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Old Jan 29th, 2006, 07:24 AM
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Thank you all SO MUCH!You all are THE BEST!
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 09:32 AM
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The highlight of our Alaskan Road trip (there were many) was when we took a fourseater plan into Wrangell St. elias National Park to McCarthy-kennecott and hired a guide to take us out on the glacier for a day. We had our two young children with us at the time ages 11 and 9 and it was the experience of a lifetime.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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Wow! What great lists!

Repete, you have a way of stirring a longing to see Alaska! Everytime I read one of your posts, and especially your lists, I am ready to go back!

Budget Queen, your succinct information always gets to the heart of what we're all truly asking without even knowing the right questions!

You two, and so many others, are such a blessing for anyone interested in seeing Alaska! No matter what kind of trip I am planning, I always stop at the Alaska board and anxiously read through your postings. Thank you so much for the time you take to help all of us!
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 03:14 PM
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At the suggestion of a frequent visitor to Alaska, we flew to Anchorage and rented a car toward the end of May. That's just before the high prices, families and hoards of cruise ship people start pouring in. We stayed at a Princess hotel (not just for cruise people) in McKinley Village, toured the park on the bus (only way you can get past the first 13 or so miles, other than on foot.) Also drove our car in as far as we could and hiked, saw lots of wildlife. Toured the husky kennels at the NP (wonderful dogs!) Also visited iditarod champion Jeff King's kennel. I love the dogs!

Drove to Talkeetna, a charming small town, where the Denali climbers usually start out. Flew to Denali base camp and over the Alaska range in a flightseeing plane. Stayed at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (spectacular place!). Stopped for pictures at "Wal-Bobs," which is part of the charm of Alaska--lots of real individuals.

Drove back through Anchorage, checked out the earthquake park area, had several awesome dinners at Marx Brothers Cafe (wine lovers take note, this is a great place for you!) Did some shopping, headed to Kenai Peninsula around Turnagan (?) Arm, stopped at a bird sanctuary and walked the boardwalk, ate fresh strawberry pie at a nice log cabin style inn, visited the tourist center at Portage glacier, took the boat ride, had a picnic.

Headed to Seward, took a day cruise to Kenai Fjords, toured the Sealife Center, took a picture of the start of the Iditarod Trail, visited and climbed on Exit glacier, ate some wonderful fresh seafood, read the news that an experienced bush pilot and passengers heading to Denali base camp were killed just hours after we were there! Makes you think how fragile life is.

Couldn't get to Seward on the train, they had the tunnel closed for some reason, so that didn't work for us. However, this whole trip was done in a week, plenty of time to see and do all this. I am so glad my friend recommended seeing part of Alaska this way. We weren't herded around with a thousand cruise ship passengers, and got to see and do a little more that was close to the land and soft adventure. We don't like to rough it unless we are camping, so we stayed at some nice hotels and ate great meals.

For boat excursions on Gulf of Alaska, recommend using meclazine before boarding your boat--my husband got very seasick and the water can be rough. I loved that boat tour and would not have missed it for anything--we saw lots of sea life, whales, dolphins, birds, and calving Bear glacier.

Traveling to Alaska this way is not inexpensive however, and we stayed at some fairly inexpensive hotels in Anchorage. We aimed for $ 100 a night average over the trip (not possible in summer, when rates climb astronomically.) Weather in May was variable, sunny at times but can also be cold, windy and damp. Pack accordingly with softshell jacket or windbreaker and fleece layers, gloves, earcoverings and sturdy shoes or short boots that can take the walking and short climbs.

We are going back again in September to the inside passage area. Alaska is one of the last real wildernesses in the world, and I rate it's ability to take your breath away as equal to the Grand Canyon--two of the really spectacular places on earth.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 08:04 PM
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The best time of year for comfort, warmth and beauty is May 15 to September 15. Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords, Kachemak Bay (especially Halibut Cove, Seldovia and Tutka Bay are exceptional), and the many facets of the Inside Passsage are all some of the most beautiful places anyone could want to see.
I also found the the Great Alaskan TourSaver to be one of the best resources for saving money while traveling to Alaska's top 10 or 15 places. All of the tours and attractions in this 2-for-1 coupon book are listed at www.toursaver.com. You hear it mentioned many times in Alaska travel forums for good reason.
 
Old Feb 21st, 2006, 05:22 PM
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ttt for sanddogmd
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 11:35 AM
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Wow, these are some great lists I will print out for future trips.
I would also attest for Katmai coast bear viewing, but would consider staying one night there in wilderness camp. I would also like to do Brooks Falls just once for the shear number of bears at one time. We didn't see nearly that many although we had quality time with one or two for 4-5hrs.

Denali will always be on our list, summit flt is fantastic from Talkeetna, Seward glacier cruises will always be a must on every trip. Misty Fjords np and Juneau and Hoonah whalewatching are hard to beat.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 06:19 PM
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Bayougal...help??? what is your "ttt"???
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 06:50 PM
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ttt means "to the top." Fodorites use this in order to bring the thread to the top of the menu on the left where those seeking such information might easily find it.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 07:01 PM
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BTW, visormom, enjoy your upcoming trip to Kauai. Please post a trip report when you get back home! Have fun!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 07:22 PM
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thanks for all the help, you all have given me some great ideas!!
what is the best place to stay in denali national park? or would you recommend staying just outside the park?
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:10 PM
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This is OT but Repete's list and others got me to thinking about my top 10, based on years of living in Alaska and working all over the place. They're more "top ten experiences - only in Alaska" rather than recommendations for visitors. So personal and self-indulgent, forgive me. But maybe visitors can get a little sense of what makes it such a special place.

1. Flying from Anchorage to Cantwell (native village just south of Mt McKinley) in a Bonanza in the dead of winter (it was around -20 at Cantwell when we landed.) The mountain just got bigger and bigger until it filled the windshield of the plane. The whole sky was mountain.

2. (a) Getting nudged by a Bowhead whale while we were fishing in a 14 foot Smokercraft with a 20hp JohnRude outboard a mile off the rocks at St George Island in the Pribilofs. Like having a submarine come up to say howdy. (b) Getting nudged through the tent wall by a brown bear while we were camping on Upper Russian Lake on a fly-in fishing trip. In the morning we looked around and found paw prints the size of dinner plates. I believe my digestive system returned to normal about a week later.

3. Having dinner with a bunch of native folk in Noorvik up the Kobuk - Caribou jerky, lots of talk, and just enough beer.

4. Taking the Matanuska (state ferry) up the Inside Passage in January. State of grace sliding past the silent mountains and snowy cedars.

5. Watching the Aurora from a friend's house overlooking Turnagain Arm near Indian. Did you know that the Gaelic words for the Northern Lights translate as "the dancing men?"

6. Sitting on the "beach" of the Arctic Ocean in Kotzebue, watching the sun not set. At all.

7. Boating a 12-pound Rainbow (really) on the Kenai somewhere below Skilak. Turned him (her?) loose to go make more mutant Rainbows.

8. Miners and Trappers Ball at Fur Rondy, Anchorage.

9. Discovering a hidden cache of 120-year old dual language (Aleut-Slavonic) prayer book/hymnals in a locked closet in the beautiful Orthodox church in Unalaska in the Aleutians. The books contained a dedication by Bishop Veniaminoff, who was later Sainted by the church. Stopped our hearts.

10. Panning gold at an acquaintance's claim on the El Dorado Creek just up the Klondike from Dawson. About an ounce per pan. OMG, now I know what "gold fever" is.

By all means see the natural wonders, the wildlife, the scenery. But don't forget the people part of the picture - the history, the cultures, the remarkable stories of survival and adaptation that are also on offer.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 03:22 AM
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Great post Gardylou! While visiting the Pratt Museum in Homer I overheard another visitor telling a museum volunteer that he had planned to move to Alaska in the 60s but didn't and has always wondered what his life would have been like. Sounds like he might have missed a whole lot.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 07:34 AM
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Oh, wow, Gardyloo! You could write a great book based on your experiences. Thank you for sharing!
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Old Jun 12th, 2006, 06:44 AM
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ttt for ljv
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 05:11 AM
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ttt for Nutty
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Old Dec 29th, 2006, 12:14 PM
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topping for those planning 07 & 08 trips
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Old Dec 29th, 2006, 05:13 PM
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I don't understand why anyone would ttt a year-old post. If someone wants to find this info they can do a fodors search.
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