Two weeks before trip--some final questions

Old Aug 12th, 2007, 10:39 AM
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Two weeks before trip--some final questions

First, the background: After a week's cruise that leaves us in Seward, we plan to stay in Seward that day and night and part of the next day, then rent a car and drive to Homer (with stops in Clam Gulch and Ninilchik), where we'll stay 3 nights (2 days). I was assuming we'd spend one day in Homer and one day in Halibut Cove, but have learned that all businesses and regular boat service in HC close on Labor Day (we're there a few days later). So either our second day will be spent in Homer, or a car trip to Nikolaevsk, or we'll hire a water taxi to take us to Katchmak Bay for hiking. (We don't fish.)

Our next lodging is in Anchorage, so we plan to depart Homer early to have plenty of time for stops along the way, including the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center and Turnagain Arm.

Now the questions:

1. Should we also plan to take the spur road to Kenai, or will that be more of the same scenery we've been seeing further south?

2. Should we budget time to divert to Cooper Landing to see Kenai Lake and hike a bit?

3. Should we take the time to drive to Hope for the Turnagain Arm views from the south, if we're going to get many Turnagain views from the north along the Seward Highway on the way to Anchorage?

Thanks for helping with the fine-tuning!
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Old Aug 12th, 2007, 12:11 PM
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I would strongly recommend you try and see if there is space on a bear viewing trip with Emerald Air, Bald Mt Air, or Hallo Bay. They all fly out of Homer and although it is a bit expensive (about $500 per person for the day) you will not have better chance of seeing brown bears up close than on one of those trips. Also, I've been told that the kayaking off Homer in the bay can be good.

As for Cooper Landing, my wife and I spent 2 nights there. We drove to Seward one day and went rafting the other day. There are many hiking trails and a few Forest Service roads you can drive on to search for wildlife and just enjoy the scenery. The rivers (Kenai & Russian) provide a back-drop for some beautiful picture taking ops.

As for the spur road to Kenai, IMHO the scenery is the same and the old cannery (now a craft mall) in Kenai will be all but shutdown for the season. We were there last year at the same time you are going and it was deserted.

The sights along Turnagain Arm will be just as spectacular from the south as they are from the north.

Lastly, are you going to Denali? Its about 7 hrs by raod from Anchorage and at this time of the year the Fall colors should be blazing. I know many on this board say you shouldn't try to see both the Kenai Peninsula and Denali oon a week long trip, but I can't see how you can go to AK and not see Denali NP. The drive up is nothing but great scenery and 2 days in the park will at least give you a glimpse to it. We drove up from Anchorage, took a bus the next day into the park (saw sheep, bears, many birds), and on the next day visited the dog kennels and drove the 15 mile road into the park in the morning (saw moose and wolves) before heading south by noon.

I'd love to hear from you when you return since we are thinking about going back and doing a one-way cruise coupled with 7 - 8 days on the road before flying home.

Enjoy,
Javier
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Old Aug 12th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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Javier, look for my trip report in a few months. I promise to write, but sometimes it takes me a while to catch up with my life when I get home.

Bear viewing would be a good activity, but we're already booked on a cruise excursion in Ketchikan to do that at Traitor's Cove.

For my original message I didn't bother giving the entire itinerary, but I agree with you about Denali and we will be going there after Anchorage.

Below is the entire plan:

8/26 Board Statendam in Vancouver

8/27 At sea along British Columbia

8/28 In Ketchikan. Activity: floatplane to Tongass National Forest, land in Margarite Lake, van/hike to observatory platform (Traitor's Cove salmon run).

8/29 In Juneau. Activity: helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier for dog sledding. Afternoon: take shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier on own for hike.

8/30 In Skagway. Activity: catamaran to Glacier Point, board canoes, paddle to Davidson Glacier.

8/31 cruise around Glacier Bay.

9/1 cruise through College Fjord.

9/2 Disembark at Seward. Take luggage to hotel. Activity: catamaran boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park.

9/3 Visit Alaska Sealife Center, walk around Seward. Drive to Exit Glacier (hike). Continue 3.5 hours to Homer with stops in Clam Gulch and Ninilchik.

9/4 Homer

9/5 Homer or take water taxi to hike in Kachemak Bay State Park.

9/6 Drive north on Sterling Highway, visiting Soldotna, Begich-Boggs Visitor Center, Girdwood, Turnagain Arm area before reaching Anchorage.

9/7 Tour Anchorage, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Art/Historical Museum, bike coastal trail.

9/8 Anchorage Saturday Market, then long drive to Talkeetna and then Denali.

9/9 Denali shuttle bus to Fish Creek

9/10 Denali

9/11 Hike, then drive to Fairbanks (stop at North Pole? Ester?).

9/12 Fairbanks (riverboat? El Dorado Gold Mine? U of AK Museum of the North?)

9/13 Fly home

In case someone wonders WHY ON EARTH ARE WE GOING TO FAIRBANKS... there's a chance of seeing the Northern Lights on those dates (skies are dark enough, helped by new moon phase).
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Old Aug 13th, 2007, 07:41 PM
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Definitely see the Museum of the North at UAF in Fairbanks. We were blown away by this. We spent only 3 hours there and wished that we had much more time.
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 02:25 PM
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Thanks for the tip. Should we bother with the Riverboat?
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 02:54 AM
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Kenai has a small but nice visitors center but the scenery is flat and not as scenic as further north on the road to Anchorage. Soldotna would make a good stopping place for lunch. Hope is a long drive thru forest with no views of the water until you get to town. It's a very small town with wonderful buildings. There's a small museum but nothing on the level of the Pratt in Homer. Hope you will include a visit/hike to Independence Mine near Wasilla north of Anchorage.
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