Valdez to Healy (Denali)

Old Jan 22nd, 2002, 12:55 PM
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Valdez to Healy (Denali)

We're thinking of 3 nights in Homer, 3 in Valdez area and 3 in Denali (Healy area) Especially want to hike and are wondering of the possibilities, especially in Homer. (won't go directly from Homer to Valdez, but will also spend some time in Seward doing cruise, etc.) However, wonder if the trip from Valdez to Healy should be broken up with a stay along the way. Has anyone stayed at Sheep Meadow Lodge?

Are there better places to stay on the Kenai with more hiking opportunities than Homer? We do like beach walking, so don't always have to be on "top of a mountain."

Old Jan 22nd, 2002, 07:01 PM
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I remember seeing quite a few hiking trails in Cooper Landing between Kenai (the town) and Seward. There are also some in Seward. In Homer you can take a boat over to a state park where there are miles and miles of hiking in the wilderness.
Old Jan 25th, 2002, 01:19 AM
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I think 3 nights in Valdez would be too much. Did I miss something?
If you are driving from Anchorage to Homer, I would recommend hiking the Turnagain Arm Trail. While staying in Homer we hiked the Russian Lake Trail - don't miss the falls which salmon fight to continue upstream. You might want to stay around Soldotna - we hiked the Bear Mountain Trail in the National Wildlife Refuge and saw a cub in a tree. We enjoyed the Gull Rock Trail in Hope. I would recommend Mariah Tours out of Seward. They use a smaller boat than the Kenai Fjords line (same ownership) allowing for close up views of tidewater glaciers and wildlife. We hiked around Exit Glacier while in Seward and saw 3 black bears. I highly recommend taking the ferry from Whitaker to Valdez if possible - much wildlife and good views of glaciers. In Denali we a nature walk and the Savage River trail. Check at the visitors center for ranger led hikes.
Old Jan 25th, 2002, 07:30 AM
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I agree that 3 nights in Valdez is a little much.

The drive from Valdez to Healy via the Denali Hwy. is pretty long (and very scenic) so breaking it up might be a good idea, especially if you want to wander off onto the tundra or take pictures.

When is your trip? The Denali Hwy. (much in gravel) can be pretty rough and potholey early in the season. On the other hand, in June and July it gets dark really late, so you can make the drive easily in a day, even with stops.

Have you picked Healy for some particular reason? If not, there are places closer to the park visitor center which might offer higher amenity. Healy's main function is as a coal mining town.
Old Jan 25th, 2002, 12:45 PM
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Hi Clousie.
Do not worry that 3 nights in Valdez is too long. For hikers 3 nights in Valdez area is not enough. We spent 4 nights in Thpmpson Pass Chalet. I think you will make it in one day from Valdez to Healy but it will be a long drive. Did you think about staying south of Denali? We stayed in Healy but I remember having a great dinner in the Perch (I think)which is located south of the park entrance. May I ask you why you want to go to Denali? If you want to see brown (grizzly) bears you will see them much closer on a day trip from Homer. We will be visiting Homer in the begining of August. Do you already have a place in mind to stay in Homer? We will be staying again in Three Moose chalet. I understand that the Perch near Denali also has some cabins.
There are many places to hike in Homer area. I will get back to you about hiking in Homer.
Old Jan 25th, 2002, 04:35 PM
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Do you mean Sheep Mountain Lodge, sort of near Palmer? If so, yes, we stayed there. Very nice cabins and a delightful staff in the restaurant, with just OK food. We did some hiking there, but it was nothing special. We used it as a place to stay between destinations.
Old Jan 25th, 2002, 06:03 PM
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Thanks for everyone's comments and suggestions.

To answer your questions, which may help with your answers...we plan to go early July, but still aren't too keen on a long ride over a dirt road. I've found it doesn't help "our" dispositions in the past. So will probably go across Glenn Highway even though it looks much longer. Yes, it is Sheep Mountain Lodge I was asking about.

It sounds as though Healy isn't the most scenic area. Chose it just because we saw some cabins that looked nice. If anyone has different, not super expensive suggestions, I'm certainly open.

Why are we going to Denali??? Because it's there? I think I'd feel as though I missed something if we didn't go. We're NOT going because of the wild life, but hopefully for the scenery, views, hiking. I'm really more interested in seeing the marine mammals and eagles, which I know we will on the Kenai, than bears and moose.

No, we haven't decided on a place in Homer yet, but would like a neat, clean cabin. Is going across the bay to the state park a "must do" from Homer, or will there be enough to do along the south coast?

As I said, I'd love to hear any suggestions and/or experiences good or bad anyone has had in this area. We certainly can all learn from each other.

Old Jan 25th, 2002, 06:18 PM
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My favorite experiences in our one month in Alaska this past summer were the two three night stays we did -- one at Denali Backcountry Lodge and one at Kenai Backcountry Lodge. Although they sort of blew the budget, both were great in every way. We stayed in Homer for two nights, then did a "package" we saw in the Milepost. This included taking a "nature" cruise on a small boat from Homer Spit over to Seldovia for a night at the Boardwalk Hotel. We had time to do some hiking there, have a great dinner at the Mad Fish(?) restaurant, and the next day they flew us back (just the two of us with a pilot in a small plane) for a flightseeing trip over the icefields, bear sightings on the mountains, and general bay views to arrive back in Homer. This also happened to be one of the least expensive things we did on the whole trip, but certainly very interesting and enjoyable.

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