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DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

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San Pedro Garza...
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DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

I know is a lot of info here , but really would love to get fast answer.

I want to make sure what dates are the best to go for us between

AUGUST 15 - september 15. FOR 10 days trip to Alaska. MOST important for me Autumn colors. DENALI is number ONE for me to visit , dont have specific plans yet. DOes september 4 is a good date to be arround there ( holiday and may be crowded). And also if in 10 days we will see a lot, or just maybe better plan at least 2 days more? Please help.

Manitoba, Canada
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1. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

Around September 4 would be perfect. Should be the height of colors in Denali (no guarantees though, it depends on the weather...but the guy who does the photo tours into Denali always chooses the first week of Sept.)

If you want to see a handful of the hundreds of photos I took during Sept. 3 to 5 of 2009, click on my name, then on 'photos' on the left side of the page.

I would suggest you plan at least 2 days of shuttles to Wonder Lake (11 hr trips), to give you a better chance of clear weather at least one day. Photos will be so much nicer if you get some sun.

EDIT: It would help if you would tell us your other interests (hiking, flightseeing, museums, wildlife, glaciers, kayaking, etc.)

Edited: 12 January 2012, 16:55
Healy, Alaska
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2. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

I would also say the first week in September :)

San Pedro Garza...
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3. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

hiking and wildlife is a Must , also maybe glaciers would be nice. We are both age 35

Manitoba, Canada
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4. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

Then I'd suggest you spend even more time at Denali, which is a hiker's dream. A couple more questions:

Any chance you'd be renting an RV? You could stay right inside Denali at one of the campgrounds. Plus, some RV's are permitted on Denali Hwy (not related to the park) which is mostly gravel, and incredibly scenic. Most rental cars aren't permitted to drive the gravel, though I did go in on the east portion which is paved for 20 miles. I had only a couple of hours and didn't make it past about 5 miles--kept stopping to gape and take pictures.

Second, do you have the funds for a bear-viewing tour ($600+ pp)? That is the ultimate close-up bear experience. The one I did just a week prior to the Denali photos had numerous bears about 100 to 150 feet away. On a couple of occasions they came within 10 feet of us. We felt totally safe on the tour, but sure wouldn't want to be that close to a bear in Denali!

If you can't afford a tour, then Denali is your best bet to see bears. If you spend 2 or 3 days inside the park, you should have several opportunities to see them. The shuttle bus will stop for a while when wildlife is spotted, and if you want to watch for longer, ask the driver to let you off. He will drive a safe distance away and you can get off and walk back a *little* ways (keep in mind these are wild bears who deserve a huge amount of respect) and watch as long as you like through your binoculars. When you're done, flag down another shuttle to resume your trip.

Third, any interest in a guided hike right on a glacier? Not expensive (about $100 pp), and that gets you a 3 to 4 hour easy hike out onto Matanuska Glacier to Ice Fall (great photo op), and you also get to look down a crevasse (with the guide hanging onto you for safety). The outfitter provides all the gear you need (boots, helmet, crampons). Just bring a water bottle and sunblock (and of course your camera).

San Pedro Garza...
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5. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

We are gonna just rent small car for full trip ( 10 days - $ 960 ), 600 pp ( a little too much ).

You say ( " If you spend 2 or 3 days inside the park" ) . I would love be there at least 3 days. But i am thinking sleep somewhere out of the park and come back every morning. Is a good idea?

Edited: 12 January 2012, 19:22
fti
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6. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

Staying outside the park is fine. Just that if you are inside the park you avoid some of the "transit" time and the bus tickets are cheaper. But if you spend three days on shuttle buses, you can call (not online!) and get the third day's shuttle bus ticket free.

I would book your shuttle bus every day to Wonder Lake. You can always get off earlier than that if the weather is not great (Wonder Lake's claim to fame is the incredible view of Mt. McKinley on a clear day). So play it by ear according to the weather. When the Mountain is not visible, use that more as a hiking day (can still be excellent weather, just that the Mountain is not in view).

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7. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

"We are gonna just rent small car for full trip ( 10 days - $ 960 )"

You should be able to get a LOT better deal than that. I just did a check of random dates for the end of Aug, and Budget on Spenard has an economy car for under $600 for 10 days. That is *still* way too high, but I suggest you grab that for now (so that would be the MOST you'd have to pay) and then keep your eyes peeled. If you are vigilant, you ought to be able to knock off another couple of hundred. Prices bounce all over the place. A good comparison site is www.carrentals.com .

And yes, sleeping in a hotel/B&B/hostel/cabin outside the park will be just fine.

Here is a sample itinerary to get you started:

Day 1 (end of August) – arrive Anchorage. Overnight.

Day 2 – pick up snacks/supplies, drive to Seward (2.5 hrs plus stops: http://alaska.org/driving/seward-drive.htm ) Lots of scenic stops, maybe also stop at Girdwood to hike Winner Creek trail to the hand-tram over the gorge. Wildlife Conservation Center. If time, do slight detour to Cooper Landing for 2 hr. round trip easy hike to Russian River Falls to watch salmon jumping up (possibility of seeing bears). Overnight Seward.

Day 3 – at least 6 hr. Kenai Fjords NP cruise, preferably longer, to look for marine wildlife and spend a bit of time near a tidewater (calving) glacier. Shorter tours don’t get out of the bay, have very little chance of seeing whales and no chance of seeing a calving glacier. Overnight Seward.

Day 4 – SeaLife Center if interested. Hike Harding Icefield trail (6 to 8 hours) for spectacular views, might see wildlife including bears. More info: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60873-i1361-k1317… . Drive to Girdwood (under 2 hrs) to overnight.

Day 5 – drive to scenic Matanuska Glacier area (3 hrs). You should be seeing a few fall colors starting north of Anchorage. 2 pm Ice Fall trek with MICA. After, drive to Palmer/Hatcher Pass area (1+ hr) to overnight. If time, light hiking at Hatcher Pass or attend the Alaska State Fair for a couple of hours: http://www.alaskastatefair.org/site/ .

Day 6 – drive to Denali (4 hrs), stopping in Wasilla to pick up supplies/snacks. The fall colors *should* be spectacular north of Talkeetna, so allow lots of extra time for scenic stops. Possible activities: pick up your pre-reserved shuttle tickets at the Wilderness Access Center (also ask for a shuttle schedule so you’ll know when to expect shuttles along the road), drive the 14 miles into the park that private vehicles are allowed to look for wildlife (great chance of seeing moose along that drive, so do it more than once during your stay) and hike at the turnaround point, hike an entrance trail, free Ranger sled dog demo, whitewater rafting, visitor center displays & film. Overnight nearby.

Day 7 – shuttle to Wonder Lake (must reserve in advance at www.reservedenali.com ). Bring food & beverages since none are for sale in the park, and binoculars for both of you since most wildlife is seen at a distance. Can get off the shuttle almost anywhere to hike, then catch a later shuttle to resume your trip. As fti said, you might not want to go all the way to WL to have more time for hiking. Play it by ear. Just make sure you don’t miss the last shuttle out of the park.

Day 8 – 2nd shuttle to Wonder Lake & hiking.

Day 9 – 3rd shuttle to Wonder Lake & hiking. As fti said, if you phone, you can get 3 days of shuttle for the price of two.

Day 10 – Morning in Denali if still things to do? Drive back to Anchorage (5 hrs). If time, hike/bike Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, watch floatplanes on Lake Hood, etc.

BTW, to give you an idea of daylight you’ll have, the stats for Sept. 4 are: twilight starts 5:57 a.m., sunrise 6:48 a.m., sunset 9:02 pm, twilight ends 9:53 pm.

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8. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

In considering car rental vs. RV rental, include your preferred life style, cost of hotels, food and gas. RV will also allow you to stop where you wish and enjoy instead of pushing on to a hotel, which can be pretty far from where you wish to be. With an RV you can also book into Teklanika Campground in Denali and save an hour on the bus every morning and every evening, 2 hours there, plus the commute time to the park entrance from wherever your hotel is.

If nothing else, consider a small cooler so you can pack food along and eat a small meal in between the large servings in our restaurants.

For fall colors the timing seems good, as the others have said. Start in Denali, relatively north and at higher elevation in the mountains, so the colors will come there first. Then consider the lower elevations in the Interior around Fairbanks, perhaps circling up there and down the Richardson Highway through Isabel Pass for some great scenery. Search this forum for the topics / areas that may interest you for details.

Then head south to follow the fall colors as they develop later than they do in the north. Hatcher Pass should be a great place for easy access alpine tundra colors and vistas, and a drive out Eagle River Road is almost as beautiful as the Chena Hot Springs Road in Fairbanks. Then of course, there is the Seward Highway south and the Kenai, of which I would recommend Portage Valley, Byron Glacier walk, and heading down to Seward.

That should give you a few more ideas to consider in addition to what else has been mentioned.

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San Pedro Garza...
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9. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

Thats great Answers. I will book tickets and than start plan rest

San Pedro Garza...
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10. Re: DENALI and arround best DAYS for us between aug 15 - sep 15

AUG 26 - Sep 6 or Aug 29 - Sep 9 . For Autumn colors. Big difference ?

Ready to book our tickets