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Fairbanks to Valdez--trip ideas?

Massachusetts
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5 posts
15 reviews
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Fairbanks to Valdez--trip ideas?

WE are planning a 3-week trip in September. One week in Anchorage at a conference (we've been there before, albeit in winter). Several days in Kenai Penn. Two-three days Denali area, 3-4 days Fairbanks (with Arctic day drive). Then we have a few days from Fairbanks which I think would be spent driving to Wrangell, Tok, and to Valdez, then backtracking to Anchorage via Palmer.

My questions:

Is this a good balance for a pair of older, non-hiking travelers? We will rent a car and have hotel reservations in most places except for those 3 nights after Fairbanks before heading into Anchorage for the conference.

What should we see in the Wrangell area?

We don't need fancy accommodations or fancy food or night life.

A life goal is to see the Aurora Borealis while sitting in a hot tub or pool--Chena Hot Springs in late September?

Thanks so much.

MeanJunn

Adirondack, New York
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3,953 posts
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1. Re: Fairbanks to Valdez--trip ideas?

MeanJunn, I suggest you start with going to Denali as this area shuts down earlier. From your post I assume you are talking about traveling after mid-September, right? You are already too late for the shuttle into the park. Review a website of the park and check it out

www.reservedenali.com

www.nps.gov/dena

You may be lucky and win lottery for self-driving into the park but I don't think your rental car is allowed to be on that road especially when you may be stuck in snow on an unpaved road. Check this very carefully before deciding. From Denali NP continue to Fairbanks and down to Valdez.

You didn't specified when in Fairbanks you are planning to arrive but before getting on the road to the Arctic Circle check the weather forecast and expect some snow. Be prepared.

Why do you want to go to Tok? I would skip it. If you have only two weeks do not try to cover too much or you'll be driving a lot from one place to another. Review your car rental agreement before driving to Wrangell/St. Elias too. besides this area shuts down in the beginning of September, Kennicott Lodge closes a few days after labor Day, guiding services are limited or ended until the next summer and you would have a hard time getting to Kennecott if the lodge is closed. If you chose Denali, Fairbanks, Valdez, Seward you need about two weeks. You may consider adding Homer. How about taking the ferry from Valdez to Whittier and going from there to Seward and mabe even Homer before going to Anchorage for the conference?

Massachusetts
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5 posts
15 reviews
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2. Re: Fairbanks to Valdez--trip ideas?

Hmmm. I mentioned Tok because I thought we'd drive the highway from Fairbanks past the Wrangell-St. Elias NP and on to Valdez, then to Anchorage. We have visited Seward in the past. We are staying in Soldotna for the first 4 nights and have reservations on the 26 Glaciers Tour out of Whittier; I'm hoping for a wildlife refuge raft trip--that depends on whether the outfit has closed for the season or not. We have reservations for a day trip from Homer to Seldovia via AK ferry. In Denali we are staying at the Princess Lodge and have a reservation for the last tour of the season (9/18) to Jeff King's kennel. He's my Iditarod hero because of his ties to Make a Wish and childhood cancer. In Fairbanks for 3 nights--we have reservations for a river paddleboat tour and a gold mine tour. The Arctic Circle tour is not in our rental car but in a van. I want to see Chena Hot Springs and the aurora. We don't plan to leave the paved highways. Can we get to Chicken on paved roads? Sounds funky. (uh oh--I didn't mean "funky chicken...")

We will have free time in Anchorage to go back to the zoo, the Native medical center with the great art, etc. Maybe a Musk Ox farm (near Palmer?)

We are not particularly active but don't mind driving/riding in the car for hours on end, stopping to poke around.

This is really a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I want to hit the highlights but not drop from exhaustion.

Your input is appreciated.

Meanjunn

Ward, AR
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878 posts
10 reviews
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3. Re: Fairbanks to Valdez--trip ideas?

was originally going to go from Fairbanks to Tok then to Glennallen. after reading several posts here, it sounds like it would be more scenic to take 4 - Richardson Hwy from Delta Junction to Glennallen. You are surrounded on both sides by the Alaska Range. It's also shorter distance on Hwy 4. Probably going to drive the 1st 22 paved miles on Denali Hwy at Paxson. Hear it's pretty scenic as well.

4. Re: Fairbanks to Valdez--trip ideas?

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