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Denali alternatives?

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New York
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Denali alternatives?

Hi there,

I arrive in Anchorage at 10.15pm on Tuesday, and don't have to leave until Sunday at 5pm. I am interested in going to Denali, but is there anything else you would suggest/recommend I do instead?

Thanks!

S

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Manitoba, Canada
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1. Re: Denali alternatives?

Hi again. There are so many things to do in that part of Alaska. Only you can decide which one(s) sound most interesting to you.

It might help if you sat down and made a list of the things you'd most like to see. You have 4.5 days to work with, so you should be able to get in a couple of things.

Which of these sound interesting to you: hiking, fishing, goldpanning, whitewater rafting, Denali Park, a several-hour cruise to see glaciers, a several-hour cruise to see one glacier plus mostly wildlife (hopefully whales, orcas, etc. though no guarantees); up-close guaranteed sightings of bears, moose, etc. (at the Anchorage Zoo and an hour south at the Conservation Center). There are also a couple of good museums in Anchorage.

Or, you could fly up to Fairbanks for a day there, do the riverboat Discover III tour, visit the fabulous U. of A. Museum, do either El Dorado Goldmine or Gold Dredge No. 8 tours (both of which you get to do a little goldpanning of your own) and see the Pipeline, then head to Denali the next day for a couple of days?

What types of things do you think you'd enjoy?

Alaska
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for Alaska
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2. Re: Denali alternatives?

You present us with a wide open puzzle, not telling us a thing about your interests, curiosity, budget or health.

On that basis i would suggest reading a bit through each of the threads on different locations in Alaska and what has already beens aid about them. We would be happy to expand or clarify based on your specific questions.

Otherwise I say jump on a plane to Fairbanks, Kotzebue or Barrow to see the real Alaska. For a real alternate experience, fly out to a village and spend a few nights.

71

kansas city, mo
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3. Re: Denali alternatives?

Since 71, maybe you could give me some advice - I'll be in AK in a few weeks, spending most time on Kenai, but will have a few days in Girdwood/Anch. that could be re-directed. The only Alaskan experience I haven't been able to plan or even find out much about, is visiting a village to experience some of the native Eskimo lifestyle. I will have a car, but have pretty much maxed out the budget. From what I've been able to read and figure out, most villages would require air or boat transportaion - probably not feasible this trip. Any suggestions? I will be spending a day at the Heritage Center in Anch. but would like to experience the culture as much as possible. Thanks in advance for your help!

Alaska
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for Alaska
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4. Re: Denali alternatives?

Since 71, maybe you could give me some advice - I'll be in AK in a few weeks, spending most time on Kenai, but will have a few days in Girdwood/Anch. that could be re-directed. The only Alaskan experience I haven't been able to plan or even find out much about, is visiting a village to experience some of the native Eskimo lifestyle. I will have a car, but have pretty much maxed out the budget. From what I've been able to read and figure out, most villages would require air or boat transportaion - probably not feasible this trip. Any suggestions? I will be spending a day at the Heritage Center in Anch. but would like to experience the culture as much as possible. Thanks in advance for your help!

Native things in the Kenai / Anchorage area ... for a taste of a non-native, off the road village, perhaps ferry trip over to Seldovia from Homer. Ask around the Kenai where the Native things are, or look at the tourist brochures once you arrive here, though them may not have much ... the Russian Orthodox Churches are native structures and a heritage from the Russian-American time. Visit them on the Kenai and hope to strike up a chat with a native. Take the initiative to break the ice and be friendly and they most often respond quite nicely. In Anchorage, walk through the public parts of the Native Hospital. Take your time at the Native Heritage Center, that is as close as you can get to a village without actually going to one. It is great. Also visit Eklutna, an Athabaskan village on the main highway about 20 miles north of Anchorage. It is not a tourist place except for the graveyard and the Russian Orthodox Church and the colorful cemetery (with spirit houses painted in clan colors).

One tourist was unhappy about the 'amatureness' of the dances and songs at the Native Heritage Center. From my perspective, that simply reflects their culture of including all ages, encouraging elders to participate and teaching children by example and participation - as I have seen in the villages as well. So it is not Las Vegas, it is better - it is genuine.

Take the initiative to be friendly and not 'Ugly American' aggressive, and you should be richly rewarded.

71

kansas city, mo
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5. Re: Denali alternatives?

Thanks, 71 - a trip to Eklutna will fit in perfectly with the trip to the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer. I agree with your comment on the dancing - I visited the Heritage Center last year and was impressed with the young people their and the appreciation they have of their own culture and their desire to share with the visitors. I'll have to check out the Native Hospital. I'm a school teacher in the Midwest and have been working on some character education projects for my students, with Alaska and the Iditarod being a focus. I bet I'll get some great ideas for projects we can take on at the hospital! Just 2 weeks till I leave - can't wait!!!

New York
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6. Re: Denali alternatives?

Thanks, Manitoba and Since 71.

I like hiking, and getting out into nature. So, anything you can suggest around Anchorage, that would be great. I am going to rent a car, so I'll have the freedom to move about.

I've heard about staying in Talkeetna on this site. I was thinking of staying there on the way up to Denali. Does this sound like a good idea?

Some other people have recommended Homer and Seward. What are your thoughts about these places, and do you have any recommendations of places to stay?

Thanks!

Sheri

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Manitoba, Canada
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7. Re: Denali alternatives?

Hi Sheri. Homer and Seward both have lots to offer, but with such only 4.5 days available, you just don’t have time do both. You might be able to fit one of them in.

A wonderful place to hike is right in Denali itself. If you reserve a shuttle (as opposed to a tour bus) you can get off just about whenever you want to do some hiking, then catch a later shuttle to resume your trip. For more info on that, just type “hiking Denali Park” into the search box at the top of the forum, and you should find lots of interesting threads to read about it.

There are also lots of hiking trails around Anchorage. Here are a couple of sites that should help you out with that:

http://www.akhs.atfreeweb.com/

http://www.exploreanchorage.net/651.cfm

As for staying at Talkeetna, if that’s something you’d like to do, go for it. It sounds like you’ve decided for sure on Denali? One day or two? Please give us some ideas about what else you’d like to do in Alaska: rafting, a short glacier cruise, or wildlife cruise? And what about Anchorage: the zoo, Earthquake Park, a museum, sled dog show, a walking tour of downtown? Or just hiking nearby? Let’s get you started with a rough itinerary so we can see what kind of time frames you might have. Feel free to change things around as you want.

Tuesday – arrive Anchorage 10:15 pm, overnight Anchorage.

Wednesday – rent car, drive to Denali (5 to 6 hours drive). Scenic stops along the way. Do some hiking around park entrance or along the first 14 miles of Park road that you’re allowed to drive (only buses can go in further). Overnight Denali.

Thursday – shuttle (at least 6 hours long) into Denali Park (pre-reserve to make sure you get the time you want: http://www.reservedenali.com/home.php). Get off somewhere and do some hiking, then catch another shuttle when you’re finished. Be sure to take your own food and drink, plus bug spray and maybe a headnet in case the mosquitoes are bad. Late afternoon or evening, drive to Talkeetna (about 2.5 hours drive), overnight Talkeetna.

Friday – Morning in Talkeetna, maybe hike or just enjoy the view? Drive to Anchorage.

Saturday - open

Sunday – open, be at airport by 4 pm for 5 pm flight.

Here are a few ideas:

- a second day in Denali

- drive 1 hr south of Anchorage and see the Portage glacier visitor center, take pictures of the lake, maybe go on the 1 hour boat tour to the face of the glacier ($30) and/or hike a mile to the face of Byron Glacier. Take in the Wildlife Conservation Center ($7.50) on the way there or back. Stop for hiking along the way back.

- drive 2.5 to 3 hours south of Anchorage to Seward. Do a 6 hour wildlife/glacier cruise, see the SeaLife Center, walk to the face of Exit Glacier or do a day-long hike of the Harding Icefield trail (www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.asp…).

As for lodging, what kind are you looking for: budget, Bed and Breakfast, hotel? When is your trip? Accommodations fill up fast, so as soon as you have your itinerary figured out, be sure to book lodging. Another idea is to rent an RV instead of a car and take your lodging with you--then you don't have to worry if places are full. Lots of campgrounds, or just pull over somewhere for the night.

New York
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8. Re: Denali alternatives?

Wow, Manitoba Maple, that itinerary is FANTASTIC. Thank you so much for your suggestions. I love the idea of renting an RV. I'll look into that immediately.

I am leaving really soon - I had sorted out all the festival stuff, but have left my free time to the last minute. I leave on the 19th of June.

If I can't rent an RV, I'll be looking for budget, and/or friendly b&bs. Nothing fancy. Comfortable.

Thanks!

Sheri

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9. Re: Denali alternatives?

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