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  1. Default 11 Day RV Itinerary Help Starting in Anchorage, AK

    Planning or first trip to Alaska for my family of 5 (Kids 17, 14, 12) for a total of 11 days. Our flight will arrive in Anchorage from Atlanta GA at around 6:45 PM on Saturday 6/26. We cannot pick up our RV until Monday the 28th so the first 2 days we will need to either base out of Anchorage or within reasonable distance. Mom and Daughter will be returning home on the 7/4 leaving 3 extra days for the boys (thought this would be focused more on fishing). So in a nutshell:

    Day 1-2 (No RV) in or nearby Anchorage
    Day 3 -8 (RV) Open to go anywhere
    Day 9-11 (Boys only, focus fishing)

    Want to try to get at much of the Alaska experience as reasonable without spending all the time on the road. We enjoy moderate adventure stufflike rafting, hiking etc.....

    Here are my questions:

    1) What to knock off the list that first full day near Anchorage. (Glacier Cruise????)

    2) Should we tour both Denali and Kenai Penisula or is this too much to fit in. If doing both how would you fit it in given the above schedule.

    3) What are the don't miss places or things to do.

    4)If you had to spend the big bucks on a few excursions which way would you go and with who?

    Things on the consideration list are:
    Dog sledding
    Flightseeing tour
    Glacier Cruise
    Alaska Railroad

    5) Where should we stay those first two nights? (Anchorage hotel (maybe priceline) or spend the extra and go to somewhere like the Alyeska Resort?

    This forum always seems to help so thanks in advance for those experienced travelers will to share.

    Thanks Sam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Alaskan Logistics

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Trying to fit 'it all' in is a bit much when you're talking about Alaska, but I've covered a bunch of the ground and excursions you're trying to cover so here's what I'd suggest. In those first two days without an RV, don't bother to rent another vehicle. Rather take the train up to Talkeetna. It's a gorgeous run in its own right and the train has observation cars. Talkeetna is a very funky little town, the inspiration for the 'Northern Exposure' TV show of a few years back. You can walk everywhere in town. It is also home to a small airport where you can arrange rides on bush planes up over Denali and even, if the weather is right, land on a glacier on the mountain. There are also boat rides up some of the pristine rivers in the area. Spend the night and take the next day's train back to Anchorage. Once you pick up your RV, take the family down the east side of the Kenai Peninsula around Turnagain Arm to Seward. In Seward there is a great little Aquarium and several small boats that will take you out into Resurrection Bay for whale, seal and bird watching as well as taking you up to the calving toes of some glaciers. In addition there is, of course, nearby Kenai Fjords National Park. After a couple of days on the Peninsula, head north to Denali. It's just under 400 miles from Seward to the Denali National Park headquarters, so you can make it in a day on some of the most scenic roads on the continent. Enjoy Denali and the surrounding area. This would be a good place to do some family friendly white water rafting. Note that inside the park, beyond a certain point, all transport is by park service busses. Return to Anchorage to see the distaff side of the family off and then take the boys down the west side of Kenai to Homer for some serious fishing. There are of course other combinations, but that should be one that works for you.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    777

    Default Some options and thoughts....

    I took my two kids to Alaska in 2001 and hit some of the sights you're considering, plus some others (I had more than three weeks so I was able to cover more territory; outside the area you'll be concentrating on).

    Of what we did that fit into your 'possibles':

    Denali. There is a 90 mile road into the park, which is a must-do. You can't do this via your car (private vehicles prohibited past the last drive-in campsite.

    The park service runs buses, you should check the NPS website for details. You'll be looking at about 150 miles out-and-back in one long day, but the views and the wildlife viewing opportunities are spectacular.

    There is another (and expensive) option you can consider: at the end of that 90-mile road is a private inholding where 2-3 lodges exist. The area is called Kantishna, an old mining area. We stayed at Kantishna Roadhouse. The way it works is they pick you up in their bus at the railroad station just inside the park in the early afternoon, and drive you out to the lodge, stopping to look at the sights and wildlife. You get to the lodge in time for dinner (all meals included; plus full (pay) bar). You would want to stay AT LEAST two nights, maybe three, in order to do some hiking, (faux) gold panning, watching sled dog demos, etc. The reason for at least two nights is the bus out leaves around 6am in order to meet the train that day.

    We also spent 3 days in another lodge on the Kenai, where we did daily excursions down to Seward for the Kenai Fjords cruise (some glaciers and killer whales if I recall), and also out to Homer. One highlight of this part of your vacation was a flightseeing tour over the icefield in the middle of the Kenai.... in a small floatplane; something else you may want to look into

    All the above, with three nights in each place, is 7-8 days.

    Here's the caveat: the season in Alaska is short, so these places have to make their money in a very short window, and lodging and food will be on the expensive side. Check around beforehand so you're prepared.

    Here's my planning notes for this trip (ignore the St. Paul stuff, unless you'd like more info in which case let me know):

    Date Day Leave Arrive Miles Comments
    7/27 Fri Home Anchorage AlaskaAir 413: dep OAK 2:30pm, change in SEA to 115, arr ANC 8:13pm: p/u Hertz SUV
    7/28 Sat Anchorage Denali 250 Get up early; get to Denali by 1:00 pm; shuttle bus tour to Kantishna
    7/29 Sun - - Day in Denali; hike, fish, pan for gold, wagon ride, etc.
    7/30 Mon - - Day in Denali; hike, fish, pan for gold, wagon ride, etc.
    7/31 Tue Denali Anchorage 250 Get up REALLY EARLY, bus to park entrance, leisurely drive back to Anchorage
    8/1 Wed Anchorage Saint Paul Fly to St. Paul: PenAir 4281 - dep 11:45am, arr 3:45pm
    8/2 Thu - - St. Paul
    8/3 Fri Saint Paul Kenai 125 Rtn fm St. Paul: PenAir 4281 - dep 4:15pm, arr 7:15pm; drive to Kenai Magic Lodge
    8/4 Sat - - River rafting on upper Kenai
    8/5 Sun - - Flightseeing adventure
    8/6 Mon Kenai Anchorage 125 Kenai fjords cruise; drive back to Anchorage

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    In those first two days without an RV, don't bother to rent another vehicle. Rather take the train up to Talkeetna. It's a gorgeous run in its own right and the train has observation cars. Talkeetna is a very funky little town, the inspiration for the 'Northern Exposure' TV show of a few years back. You can walk everywhere in town. It is also home to a small airport where you can arrange rides on bush planes up over Denali and even, if the weather is right, land on a glacier on the mountain. There are also boat rides up some of the pristine rivers in the area. Spend the night and take the next day's train back to Anchorage.

    AZBuck
    What a great idea BUT it doesn't seem possible. The train out leaves at 8:15 am arriving in Talkeetna at 11:05 am the return leaves at 4:55 Pm and gets into Anchorage at 8PM. If we spend the night then we will be too late for the RV orientation/pickup. We could do it all in the same day but the up and back fare for all of us is $890 (Kids 12 and up dont get a fare break) so it seems a little much for a one day excursion with only about 5 hours in the town. BUT if you say its worth it I probably Ill go for it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default The Devil in the Details

    No, I don't think the train ride up to Talkeetna and back is worth a rush job and that substantial a fare for what would amount to a one day excursion. If the scheduling had worked out a bit better, and you could have spent some time in the town or on a plane or boat trip, and the pricing would have been better, and....

    Some ideas just don't pan out. I didn't spend a lot of time in Anchorage itself. It seemed like just another moderately large city with the usual shopping centers, fast food joints, etc. So I was just trying to come up with an idea for what to do with the two days before you could pick up the RV. But with taxi fares being what they are, perhaps a one day car rental would be in order to just explore the Anchorage area at your leisure that first day and a half.

    AZBuck

  6. Default

    Thanks for the help so far. Here is my revised itinerary:

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 fly to Anchorage rent car and drive to Alyeska Resort
    Sunday, June 27, 2010 Day Cruise out of Whittier (26 Glacier) or Portage Glacier Cruise
    Monday, June 28, 2010 Travel back to Anchorage and pick up RV and travel to Talkeetna over night in Talkeetna
    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 Talkeetna Camper Park over night the go Flightseeing with Talkeetna Air Taxi
    Wednesday, June 30, 2010 little denali
    Thursday, July 01, 2010 Overnight at Tek In Denali
    Friday, July 02, 2010 Overnight at Tek In Denali
    Saturday, July 03, 2010 Overnight at Tek In Denali
    Sunday, July 04, 2010 To Anchorage drop off girls then on to Homer for Fishing
    Monday, July 05, 2010 Fishing
    Tuesday, July 06, 2010 Fishing
    Wednesday, July 07, 2010 Return to Anchorage for flight out

    My big question I am working on now is a glacier cruise. I am trying to figure out what the big deal is? It is gonna costs $700 for my family of 5 to go on the 26 glacier cruise for 5 hours. My gut is that they are going to spend an hour watching the glaciers and 4 hours playing cards inside. Thats an exaggeration but my question is should we just do the one hour Portage Glacier cruise ($140 bucks for all) for the experience then go hike on top of one of those guys (Harding Ice field hike, Exit Glacier etc...) or somehere near the Alyeska resort. Maybe I just cannot appreciate the Cruise from watching youtube clips or maybe I/we are more active than a boat ride can deliver. Need some guidance on this second day of the trip. PS. I booked a Talkeetna Air Taxi tour with glacier landing over Mckinley. Even though its $1,300 bucks and only an hour and 45 minutes, I have no second thoughts on spending the money for the memory. Help me decide on the glacier cruise though. Thanks Sam

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Big Boats vs. Fun

    One of the reasons that I suggested that you take a boat tour from Seward is that there are many small boats that take 1-2 hour tours out from the small harbor. I'm not a big fan of the mini cruise ships advertised on the 26 glaciers website. When I went out into Resurrection Bay, there were maybe a dozen or so people on our vessel which was not much bigger than a Maine lobster boat. As I recall I was out for 2-3 hours and thoroughly enjoyed it. On the other hand, we had taken a much larger boat into Prince William Sound, with many more passengers, and we were bored very shortly. I think a large part of it is the feeling of being on an adventure vs being on a tourist vessel. If you can, see if you can arrange something smaller and shorter, I think it will suit you better.

    On the flight to Mount McKinnley, if your family is the entire manifest (quite likely), remember that the available seats include the right hand cockpit (co-pilot) seat. Get your dibs in now.

    AZBuck

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