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Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

Toronto, Canada
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Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

Hello everyone

I am continuing to plan out my Alaskan trip for Aug 2013 with my husband, my 2 teenage kids and my mom. We have now decided to rent a car from Anchorage and drive to Talkeetna to stay 2 nights at a local B&B. Here's my plan and I would like some feedback on my plans for my Denali NP day.

Day 1 - drive from Anchorage in the morning to Talkeetna - spend the rest of the Talkeetna (jetboat tour).

Day 2 - leave Talkeetna 8:00 am and drive to Denali NP to catch a shuttle bus to Eielson and back; have a dinner in Denali area before driving back to Talkeetna B&B.

Day 3 - leave Talkeetna in the morning for Anchorage to fly home

As well, I know that there are rest stops along the way in the park. How does it work? Does the bus stops and wait, reload the continue? Or the bus stops and you have to wait for the next one if you need to go to the washroom?

Last question...I promise :) Where can I pick up a lunch before I board the shuttle bus?

I would love to hear your feedback and tips.

Thanks a million

fti
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1. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

Honestly it is just not practical to visit Denali NP for a day from Talkeetna. I say that even moreso with teens and elderly. Figure 3 hours each way from Talkeetna to the park entrance, then figure 8 hours to Eielson. Also figure not getting to the entrance right when your bus departs - at least 1/2 hour or probably even earlier (park, pick up tickets, etc). So at a minimum you are looking at a 15 hour day. That also means you see nothing of the entrance-area options like the visitor center, the sleddog demo, etc. Add dinner and make it a 16-17 hour day!

With all that travel time I would highly suggest you just skip Denali NP and concentrate on Denali State Park, Talkeetna, maybe flightseeing, jet boat tour, etc.

Where else will you be before Talkeetna? Obviously it is not a 3-day trip to Alaska.

If you stay on the same bus during rest stops (i.e. don't miss the bus by lingering at the rest stops) you have a guaranteed seat on the same bus all day. With your ill-fated plan, I would buy something the night before in Talkeetna for lunch before driving to Denali the next day.

What time is your flight on Day 3? Why not drive Day 1 after the jet boat tour to Denali? Then Day 2 take the shuttle bus, Day 3 morning drive to Anchorage to fly home. At the very least, drive on Day 1 after the jet boat to Denali and after the Eielson shuttle drive to Talkeetna.

FYI even if you have a firm reservation at a Talkeetna B&B already, it is worth any cancellation fee to rearrange your itinerary to make it more realistic.

New England
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2. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

Clownfish, you have already received some info in a previous thread, including the usual wonderful advice from fti. It seems as if after that thread you made the decision to rent the car because your kids really want to see Denali. John's (fti) advice in this thread will help you maximize that time. Denali for a day from Talkeetna just is not a good idea.

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3. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

To get into Denali National Park, one needs a B&B in Healy or lodging outside the park since Talkeetna is just too far to access the park.

The rest stops at Teklanika, Tolklat, Eielson on the shuttle buses are for rest room breaks. Tolkat also allows time for the gift/book shop there. Eielson is a longer stop with exhibits, movie, tables for lunch break, walking trails.

Some lodges will prepare lunches. Subway right outside the park in glitter gulch for sandwiches & drinks.

Edited: 16 November 2012, 13:41
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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4. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

>>>Day 2 - leave Talkeetna 8:00 am and drive to Denali NP to catch a shuttle bus to Eielson and back; have a dinner in Denali area before driving back to Talkeetna B&B.<<<

At the risk of appearing to "pile on" I will also add that I think this plan is not at all reasonable. As FTI indicates, you're easily looking at a 15-16 hour day. If I were feeling crazy enough to try it, I would be leaving Talkeetna no later than 6am, knowing it could be as late as 10p or midnight before I get back to my B&B.

I don't know what the earlier part of your trip plan looks like, but if you are really interested in a good Denali experience, I would shorten something else up and spend two nights in Healy giving at least a day and a half for Denali NP. You'll want/need one full day for the shuttle and either the afternoon before or the morning after that for other activities in and around the entrance area as FTI mentions.

A side comment, the very first time we did Denali NP, we stayed in Healy and drove to Anchorage for our evening flight. It wasn't a terribly long day, so we drove leisurely before leaving AK for home. I'm not sure what time your flight home is, but as long as it is 4pm or later, you could also do your trip in this manner.

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5. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

Just in case you are doubting us on the distance between Talkeetna & the entrance to the park: http://goo.gl/maps/8EPjj

And I think they are being generous with the 3 hours timeframe... If you hit construction, I'd figure more like 3 1/2. Plus there's the great stops at Mile 136 & Mile 147.

For a lunch... There's a grocery store at the junction of the Talkeetna Spur Road & the Parks Highway. http://cubbysmarketplace.iga.com/

Healy, Alaska
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6. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

I have to agree with the others - maybe stay one night in Talkeenta - and then come to Denali. Denali/Healy area also has some great B&B's. :)

Wake Forest, North...
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7. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

Our family was completely exhusted after spending a day on the shuttle in Denali and that was with us staying in Healy. I can't imagine trying to do it all in one day. I would just drive straight to Denali/Healy on Day 1 and do the entrance area activities that day. If the jet boat tour is a priority, you can stop in Talkeenta on the way. I would spend the night of Day 1 and Day 2 in Denali. We drove from Denali to Anchorage the day we left (8 pm flight) without a problem.

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

Thanks for everyone's quick response. Maybe I need to change my plans to see DNP....so what do you think about this plan? BTW...I am actually on a 7 day northboard cruise docking in Seward...so here is my entire plan.

Day 0 - leave the ship at Seward; spend the day at Alaska SeaLife Center and haven't decide on Resurrection Bay cruise or Exit Glacier on my own. Take the 6 pm train to Anchorage. Stay overnight in Anchorage.

Day 1 - pickup my rental car and drive from Anchorage; Talkeetna for jetboat tour and stay in Denali overnight

Day 2 - catch a shuttle bus to Eielson and back; have a dinner in Denali area before driving back to Talkeetna B&B

Day 3 - leave Talkeetna in the morning; visit Mt Alyeska before heading back to Anchorage to fly home

Your feedback and suggestions have been and would be great.

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9. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

What time is your flight home on Day 3, clownfish?

fti
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10. Re: Denali National Park visit from Talkeetna

It is definitely a better plan than the first one, but I don't think the visit to Alyeska is worth the time to leave Denali early and spend 2 hours (one hour each way to/from Anchorage. As much as I like Turnagain Arm, you will have seen it on the train. But it all depends on your priorities.

Also the Sealife Center won't take that much time (unless you also do a behind the scenes tour). So it is wise to plan something else. The Resurrection Bay cruise is OK, but nowhere near as good as a 6 hour or longer Kenai Fjords tour.

As I have said so often on the forum, in Alaska "less is more." Each of the places you are visiting really requires more time than you are allotting. You can use your time in Seward wisely, which it looks like you are doing. But you are cutting yourself short otherwise. With the stop in Talkeetna for the jet boat tour (2-4 hours plus waiting time, plus 1/2 hour round trip from the Parks Highway to Talkeetna and back) you are looking at a pretty long day to begin with.

If you want a water experience, perhaps you could skip Talkeetna and head directly from Anchorage to Denali. Then either the first evening or the morning before you drive back to Anchorage you can do a rafting trip near Denali. You cut down on your driving a bit, you have two nights in one location and you get to experience that location a bit more in depth. This would give you time to see other things of interest near the park entrance - the visitor center exhibits and film, the sleddog demo, maybe driving the first 15 miles of the park road and doing the easy but enjoyable Savage River look hike, etc.

Also, did you consider renting a car in Seward one-way to Anchorage? With five of you, my guess is that a one-day, one-way car rental will be cheaper than the train for five. If you do that, you can stop at Aleyska on the way from Seward to Anchorage. The drive is almost as scenic as the train, but the huge benefit is that it gives you a chance to stop along the way, which I greatly prefer.

You can check into keeping the same car to get you to Denali but my guess is that two separate car rentals will be cheaper.

Just some more things to think about.