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Denali NP

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California
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Denali NP

So I've been reading that it is not very reasonable to make a car trip from Talkeetna to Denali NP in (1) day (stay in Healy instead?). However, this is where I find myself. Looking to travel the end of May: so I know you can only get as far as Tolklat River (53 mile marker)...yes? Is this doable in a day, granted a very long day? Just know, I'm used to driving a 3 hour round trip.

fti
MN
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1. Re: Denali NP

My guestion is "why"? Is it just to check off Denali NP as a 'been there, done that' item, then move onto the next item on the checkoff list? Almost anything is "doable" so that really is not the question in my mind. My question is whether one wants to drive tons of miles on an Alaskan trip or if they really want to experience Alaska.

You don't give us much information - are you traveling along? What else are you doing? How long will you be in Alaska?

You sai that you are "used to driving a 3 hour round trip." But it is a 6 hour round trip from Talkeetna, plus stops for construction, photos, etc. Also, are you used to driving 6 hour round trips on unfamiliar and scenic 2-lane roads? How about driving on such 2-land roads that have a view of the tallest mountain in N. America? I kind of doubt you are used to driving on such roads.

But let's just say you do it as a day trip. You leave at 6am, arriving at the earliest at 9am, but since you could be stopped by construction you really can't assume it will take 3 hours. Then if Mt. McKinley is visible, it would be a shame to ignore it and keep driving "because I have to make the shuttle bus." So you really need to assume you can't take a bus until 11am. The bus ride is 6 hours, arriving back to the entrance at 5pm or at least within 30-45 minutes of that (one of my buses to Toklat ended up being over 7 hours long for various reasons). So you grab a bite to eat near the entrance and are on your way by 7pm, back in Talkeetna before midnight with construction and other delays. Sure you have "been there, done that" but you had no chance to get off the bus, had no chance to see the dogsled demo, had no chance to see the excellent visitor center, had no chance to maybe drive the first 15 miles of the park road the next morning before you left, had no chance to do a ranger-led walk or hike near the entrance.

As I said, anything is possible, but I truly feel you are missing out on SO much by making Denali a day trip from Talkeetna.

USA
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2. Re: Denali NP

I would recommend changing your lodging to Carlo Creek or Healy outside of Denali to have the chance to explore Toklat, take another shuttle back, go to the dog sled demo the next day & the visitors center.

http://www.a1cms.com/_dcc/accommodations/

Talkeetna is too far. Plus, there can be wildlife running across the road so tired drivers could potentially endanger them.

Have fun!

Edited: 10 May 2014, 12:10
fti
MN
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3. Re: Denali NP

One of my biggest concerns on my drive the past week has been wildlife. Not only endangering wildlife but also can endanger yourselves in the car and the car itself.

California
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4. Re: Denali NP

Thanks for all the feedback. You all make some good points. Basically we will be on a cruise and have a few days after before having to head back to the daily grind of work. We dock in Seward. So now I'm thinking I should just skip making the effort to travel so far and just stay in Seward or Talkeetna. I agree, I don't want to go to Denali NP just to check it off my list.

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5. Re: Denali NP

How many are a few days:) ?

fti
MN
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6. Re: Denali NP

It would help if you would tell us the date you arrive into Seward and the date/time of your flight from Anchorage.

Who is "we"? There is lots to do in Seward and along Turnagain Arm in the Portage Valley area. Taking a Kenai Fjords boat tour of 6 hours or longer will be a highlight. You will get much closer to both marine wildlife and glaciers than you will on your cruise ship. You can do that the day you disembark from your cruise ship.

Then you could rent a car and drive from Seward to Anchorage (Hertz is the only option in Seward). Or maybe take a bus or train from Seward to Anchorage and rent a car there to drive back along the route you just came from (but only backtrack about 60 miles).

California
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7. Re: Denali NP

We (my husband and I) get in on a Friday morning in Seward (May 30th) and have to fly out in the evening of June 1st from Anchorage. Unfortunately, we already booked a bus to Anchorage and will be renting a car to drive somewhere (Denali NP sounds like we chose something that was a little too much to pull off in that amount of time). We can still back out of Talkeetna if I knew what other options are out there. Having never been to Alaska, there is a lot to choose from and I'm not sure what the best direction is for us (particularly after coming off a cruise and the type of excursions people participate in on a cruise). We are in our 40s, do like to hike, love nature, a little adventure and my husband dabbles in photography. Any suggestions would help me to narrow down our last 3 days.

fti
MN
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8. Re: Denali NP

Being that you depart on June 1st, I would definitely recommend that you don't try to get to Denali. You can only get to mile 53 through May 31.

You can probably cancel the bus if you wanted to spend time in Seward - or even just postpone it to the next day. But say you take the bus on Friday to Anchorage anyway and rent the car. What do you think about hiking on a glacier? On Saturday you could drive 2 hours east to Matanuska Glacier and take a 2 or 3 hour glacier hike. That will end up taking 8-10 hours with stops, etc. It is a beautiful drive and great ops for scenic photos. Then spend Saturday night back in Anchorage. Sunday morning take the drive south along Turnagain Arm to Girdwood and a bit beyond. Look in the Girdwood forum for the Top Questions. There is a link to all the activities you could do in this area. Have lunch in Girdwood (several good options). You could do a hike on land in this area if you want - the easy hike to Byron Glacier is an option or other hikes near Girdwood. You could drive the Crow Creek Mine road to the Winner Creek trailhead then hike less than a mile to the hand tram, which is quite unique. Be sure to get to the airport on Sunday about 2 hours before your departure. You can eat at the airport - there are a couple of local Alaskan restaurants there and a couple of national chains too.

California
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9. Re: Denali NP

That is awesome fti. I really do appreciate it. I had read about the Matanuska Glacier and had thought that might be an option. I will look into Girdwood too. Quick question: You mentioned spending Sat. night back in Anchorage. However Friday night ( I haven't looked at a map yet as to the location of the Glacier), is Talkeetna still the option for this?

California
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10. Re: Denali NP

Oops. Nevermind. I didn't read your post as closely as I should have. Thanks again though.