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4 days-Denali-Talkeetna-shuttle bus advice, itinerary helpl

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Montreal
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4 days-Denali-Talkeetna-shuttle bus advice, itinerary helpl

I would appreciate help in making the best use of our time in Denali-Talkeetna. This is my second trip and the first trip for my husband. In 2005 I did a river boat cruise in Talkeetna, flew over the Great One (summit trlp) and spent one full day in Denali. We went at the end of August and went as well as to Eidelson. Although the trip was awesome and my 8 year old was spell bound, boarding the bus at 5 a.m was not fun as we only saw a squirrel. Saw one or two grizzlies on the distance. We were not spoiled with wildlife-only crows and ravens!! I know mother nature rules. Prior to Denali this year we will be doing a small ship cruise from Sitka to Juneau and we will do a day trip to Pack Creek for bear viewing. I know we will be at the height of the bug season and I am a bug magnet. I will wear DEET, the appropriate clothing and a headset. This time I want to keep expenses down ie. spend most of my time in Denali Park as opposed to other expensive activities and concentrate on wildlife and Mount McKinley. I am dreaming of taking photos at Reflection Lake. I do not want to get eaten alive by bugs and do not want to walk several miles from Wonder Lake to Reflection Pond if I take the Wonder Lake Shuttle if Mountain is out. If I sign up for the Kantishna Shuttle it leaves much later in the day (so technically I could miss out on a lot of wildlife that theoretically are more visible early in the day) . Also with the later departure to Kantishna, chances are increased that Denali will be in cloud cover as I understand the liklihood of it being visible are greater earlier on in the day. Plan on possibly 2 days at Wonder Lake-Kantishna and possibly a half day on our last day driving to Talkeetna. Although hiking with a park ranger is appealing I am afraid of the mosquitoes. If I spend the whole day in the Wonder Lake bus, my bites will be minimized (somewhat).

Here is the itinerary

Sunday July 13-pick up car rental at Anchorage airport. Drive to Denali. Stay at Denali Lakeside Inn in Healy. Hoping to see moose by Otto Lake at our hotel.

Monday July 14-full day at Wonder Lake or Kantishna. Will take shuttle and not the tour. Undecided whether to take 5:15 a.m. shuttle to Wonder Lake or 8:30 a.m. shuttle to Kantishna.Overnight Denali Lakeside Inn.

Tuesday July 15-same query-Wonder Lake -at what time. Overnight Denali Lakeside Inn

Wednesday July 16-should we take the 3 day pass and plan on a half day to Tolkat or Eidelson. We will overnight in Talkeetna at the Talkeetna Chalet.

Thursday July 17-drive from Talkeetna to Anchorage stopping at Trappers Creek to get views of Mt. McKinley and perhaps Matsu and Palmer before heading to Anchorage airport. Will leave some flexibility in the unlikely event the weather is good and we are able to book a last minute flight seeing tour of McKinley at an affordable rate (don;t think this is going to happen!!)

Many many thanks to any who respond with suggestions!

fti
MN
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1. Re: 4 days-Denali-Talkeetna-shuttle bus advice, itinerary helpl

You can take the Wonder Lake shuttle, but get off at the "Y" (where the road splits - left goes to the Wonder Lake Campground, right goes to Kantishna). It is about a 3/4 mile walk from the Y to Reflection Pond. If it were me, though, I would book both days to Wonder Lake. If the Mountain is not visible, get off at Eielson and head back to the entrance.

I would for sure book a third day on the shuttle - either to Toklat or Eielson. It costs you nothing. Note that it is an 8 hour round trip to Eielson, so you might not want to go that far, depending on what you have planned in Talkeetna.

The mosquitoes are usually just bad at Wonder Lake and Kantishna area. If you only go to Eielson, chances are you won't have much if any problem with mosquitoes.

Note that the Petersville Road is a great place in Trapper Creek to see the entire mountain range that includes Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter and Mt. McKinley.

What time is your flight on July 17? You need to be at the airport 2 hours before departure, so I am not sure how much time you will have to get to Palmer. It might or might not work out.

Montreal
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2. Re: 4 days-Denali-Talkeetna-shuttle bus advice, itinerary helpl

oops-BIG mistake! We fly our of Anchorage early on Thursday July 17.

I drive to DEnali on Sunday July 13. I really only have one FULL day in Denali on Monday July 14. On Tuesday July 15, I am to overnight in Talkeetna, but can spend pretty much the whole day in Denali. I could stop at Trappers Creek on my way from Anchorage to Denali. Should I try and get out of my reservation in Talkeetna and spend another day in Denali or am I okay. Thanks so much

Montreal
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3. Re: 4 days-Denali-Talkeetna-shuttle bus advice, itinerary helpl

P.S. I pick up our car rental at the Anchorage airport at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday July 13. Do I have time to do a guided walk in Denali perhaps at Tolkat or Savage River or should we just drive up real slow .

fti
MN
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4. Re: 4 days-Denali-Talkeetna-shuttle bus advice, itinerary helpl

I would drive to Denali on July 13 and take your time - make stops along the way, even stop in Talkeetna for lunch or flightseeing. Try to get to Denali early enough to go to the visitor center to see the exhibits and film. If you get there by 4pm drive right to the Park HQ at mile 3 for the dogsled demo (plenty of parking, contrary to popular belief).

July 14/15 you can take the shuttle bus to Wonder Lake.

July 16 you can do one of several things - a shorter shuttle bus to Toklat then drive to Anchorage (which is what I would do), or maybe hang out in the entrance area, drive the first 15 miles of the park road, maybe rafting, etc. In any case, depart the Denali area by early to mid-afternoon at the latest so you are back in Anchorage by evening (5 hour drive without stops or construction, etc., so plan on 6-7 hours).

July 17 fly out (get to airport 2 hours before departure).

Is your then 8-year-old (now 17 year old?) also coming along or just the two adults?

Edited: 03 April 2014, 21:31
New York
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5. Re: 4 days-Denali-Talkeetna-shuttle bus advice, itinerary helpl

You need to set your sites on taking what you get. It is not likely you will see McKinley, and wildlife is usually offer in the distance. Even 10 trips in aren't likely to result in McKinley and close up prolific wildlife.

It sounds like you are making the most of your short time. There is no guided hike at Toklat. Savage River has the guided trail by a ranger, if you can hit the timing right. Also guided hiking activity at Eielson.

USA
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6. Re: 4 days-Denali-Talkeetna-shuttle bus advice, itinerary helpl

No ranger-led hikes at Toklat or Savage River. Here are the guided hikes:

nps.gov/dena/…walks-and-hikes.htm

The Savage River loop trail is a very easy stroll with a large parking lot at mile 14, as far as you can drive on your own. Look for marmots in the rocks by the bridge & dall sheep in the cliffs overhead. There are usually always others around.

7. Re: 4 days-Denali-Talkeetna-shuttle bus advice, itinerary helpl

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