After years of procrastination, we have finally bitten the bullet and booked flights to Anchorage (Aug 7-29) and now find ourselves in the slightly uncomfortable position of planning an adventure through a region entirely unknown to us. Advice, suggestions and other input from those with knowledge and experience would therefore be very much appreciated!
My vague outline plan for the trip is to spend a few (3-4 days exploring Anchorage and environs (incl. Matanuska Glacier Hike, Independence Mine) before heading north on the George Parks Highway (i.e. via Talkeetna) to Denali NP. From here we are considering two options:
- Head north to Fairbanks / Cheena Hot Springs, then south on the Alaska / Richardson Highways to Chitina / Wrangel/St Elias NP / Kennicott mine, then take the ferry to Seward to start exploring the Kenai Peninsula.
- Head east across the Denali Highway, north to Fairbanks then back to Anchorage via Talkeetna. We would then head east to Chitina etc via Glenallen.
We are aware that some of these routes (Denali Highway / McCarthy Road to Kennicott) probably require 4x4 vehicles approved for non-paved roads so are prepared to factor in the extra cost if these drives are recommended.
A major objective of the trip is to get close to brown bears (Mark / Megan: yes, this is that Carole). As I understand it, mid/late August is not peak bear viewing season at Brooks Falls so we plan to take a day trip flight out of Homer to either Lake Clark or Katmai. If early August is better than later in the month, we could obviously switch things around. Again, we’re aware that this doesn’t make it a budget trip.
In round figures, it currently looks like we’d be allowing a week for the area north and east of Anchorage, then a week on the Kenai Peninsula. If this results in us having a spare day or two at the end of the trip, that’s all well and good as it would allow us to take in the Alaska State Fair.
We obviously want to do and see all the highlights (e.g. Denali, Kenai Fjords, bear viewing) but are also keen for advice on possible lodges / cabins (whether these be rustic / self catering or 'you're only here once' treats). Key interests are photography, wildlife, and breweries. It would also be great to take in a train journey but I don't see how this could be built in at the moment. Suggestions for 'experiences' would also be appreciated, but without necessarily including the 'white water' aspect of 'rafting'.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions!