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Request Help with Itinerary

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Request Help with Itinerary

Hello! I have been lurking on this forum and have asked some questions too. I have some of my trip in mind. I was wondering if I could throw it out there for suggestions.

My husband and I enjoy the outdoors and beautiful views...hiking, fishing...

We arrive in ANC at 3:15pm on Friday, May 23, 2008. I was thinking of grabbing the rental car and heading to the Bird Ridge or Summit Lake Lodge (both recommended on this forum). Getting a room for the nite then go up the tram in Gridwood, maybe Portage Glacier on our way to Seward. (or should we go to Homer first?).

May 24 - 25 - Seward - Kenai Fjord Tour (6hrs), Exit Glacier, Maybe the Alaska sealife Center, ididaride (any suggestions on other things to do?

May 26 - 27 - 28- Homer - definately 1/5 day halibut fishing charter (Rainbow Tours, as suggested on this forum) Any further suggestions on activities?

May 29, 30, 31, 1 - Denali (Is this too much time up there, this time of year?) I added the 1st to go into the park on a shuttle as the park is open this day to go further into the park (as advised here). Hope the weather is good that day!

I have not planned out time here yet except for the 1st. Again, is this too much time here? Should we venture further north? Or stay longer on the Kenai Peninsula? I also want to stop in Hope, Alaska, as I have a house in Hope, ME, I thought it would be nice yet cheezy to get a Hope, AK sweatshirt or something..if they have them.

I plan to stop here and there alot during our drivies to Seward/Homer/Denali. So, we don't have to stay IN those places on tthe above listed nites. We could stay anywhere while travelling...

I know reading this is probably like trying to catch a ping pong ball in a hurricane, sorry!

If you can decipher any of this, any suggestions would be awsome!

On the 2nd we must get up early to catch a 4pm flight.

Thanks!

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Merrimack, NH
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1. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

Hi Alaska ’08,

Am not an Alaskan resident (hope to change that someday), but did spend 10.5 months there on assignment in 2005 and tried to get out of Anchorage to explore on weekends.

“My husband and I enjoy the outdoors and beautiful views...hiking, fishing...” …… “Should we venture further north? Or stay longer on the Kenai Peninsula?”

Because of your stated preferences – beautiful views, hiking, fishing - my suggestion is that you make Denali/Healy your northern limit. Heading further north offers several cultural attractions – Nenana, Fairbanks, North Pole, the Pipeline swinging back down along the Richardson Hwy – but the scenery is considerably less spectacular until you get back south to the area near Delta Junction. As early in the season as you’re going am not sure if AK8 (Denali Hwy) would be open between Cantwell and Paxson, and some rental car companies do not permit travel on AK8. So your only option is to head back down the Parks Hwy.

“We arrive in ANC at 3:15pm on Friday, May 23, 2008. I was thinking of grabbing the rental car and heading to the Bird Ridge or Summit Lake Lodge (both recommended on this forum).”

This first afternoon provides an opportunity to make a brief stop at Potter Marsh on the southern outskirts of Anchorage to possibly see a variety of waterfowl, a beaver or two, etc.

“I plan to stop here and there alot during our drivies to Seward/Homer/Denali. So, we don't have to stay IN those places on tthe above listed nites. We could stay anywhere while travelling...”

Absolutely right – there is so much to see along the way. Plan on a full day taking in the sights along the Seward Highway between Anchorage and Seward – your drive between those two municipalities probably presents your best opportunity to take your 18 mile (each way) side trip to Hope – if you’re interested in what Hope looks like, some photos I took are at

…smugmug.com/gallery/476679#19375224

Along the way look for Dall Sheep as you drive along Turnagain Arm. A great guide to driving in Alaska that you should definitely pick up now to assist in planning, and then bring with you, is called The Milepost. It is invaluable – trust me – spend the $25 or $30 now and get it, you wont regret it. A perfect example is that as you’re driving along Turnagain Arm on Seward Highway it will tell you specifically the best places to stop and look for Dall Sheep. No other single resource was as useful in planning weekend excursions around the state at The Milepost.

Anyway on that first full day heading to Seward, with spectacular scenery the entire distance along Turnagain Arm, a mandatory sidetrip to Portage, many extraordinary vistas once you hit the Peninsula, many photo ops, and Hope, give yourself an entire day to travel the 125 miles between Anchorage and Seward.

“May 24 - 25 - Seward - Kenai Fjord Tour (6hrs), Exit Glacier, Maybe the Alaska sealife Center, ididaride (any suggestions on other things to do?”

Have you given any thought to perhaps doing a 9 hour cruise instead of 6 – I strongly recommend that you consider 9-hour Captain's Choice Cruise

http://www.kenaifjords.com/551.cfm

This nine hour trip when my daughter came to visit for a week was a highlight of the year in AK – the small boats associated w/ Captain’s Choice allows you to get much closer to wildlife. I’ve posted a slideshow set to music of that day (Day 2 - last ¾ of Days 1 and 2 show) at the following link if you’re interested:

www.photodex.com/sharing/viewshow.html…

Will try to write more in a couple days recommending more time (and why) between Cooper Landing and Sterling by cutting back on time in Homer, but right now its time to turn in.

Alaskan in Exile

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2. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

Don't forget to stop at Beluga Point to watch for the beluga whales, if they are there at that time? We stayed at Bird Ridge. Veronica, the owner, seemed very pleasant. I thought the room was was so, so. My friend did not like the room at all. And she likes cheaper, non fancy motels. As another poster mentioned it is an older cinder blocked building. There was some noise from the highway. Took a little bit of time to be able to fall asleep. The cafe on-site is closed and no type of breakfast was included in stay. If I had seen the info for Summit Lake, I would probably rather have stayed there. I went to their web-site and it says the rooms were recently remodeled. I did notice while on their site that the lodge is for sale.

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3. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

Thank you very very much for your responses!

Alaskan-in-Exile,

Would you recommend going to Hope? I only have 10 days in Alaska so, although I want to see every inch...10 days isn't enough time. Would you recommend skipping Hope for some "Must see"?

Also, if we do end up going to hope, do you recall anyplace there that had "Hope, AK" sweatshirts? At a gift shop or what not?

And I look forward to reading more of your suggestions!

And I'll get the Milepost!

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Alaska
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4. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

At that time of year, we are already going to have a lot of light. I see you are coming from the east coast, so you may want to unwind in Anchorage and then start out the next day. However, don't think you have to do that. You would have plenty of time to make your way down toward the Seward area.

If you stay in Anchorage, you could get a bike, or walk the Coastal Trail to stretch your legs, get any shopping out of the way, etc. By the time you get your car, it will be rush hour. I don't suggest driving the Seward Hwy at that time. The people who are trying to get home are going to ruin your experience on the Turnagain Arm. If you go, I'd let some of the traffic die down and then head to Girdwood.

In Girdwood, there will still be snow on Alyeska at that time, so I don't know about that Tram ride. However, that won't stop you exploring that area. You will be compelled to make a number of stops along the Turnagain Arm. If the timing is right, you might get a chance to see the Hooligan run. If so, you may also see many bald eagle also fishing. That will in the area of Girdwood to Portage.

I would suggest you go to Portage and the visitor's center. I think this area is greatly overlooked because it is a few miles off the Seward Hwy. What a mistake. You can take a boat ride out to the glacier for about $30 or less. There will probably be some icebergs floating on the lake at that time. The visitor's center is fantastic. Take the hike out to Byron Glacier. It's not that far.

In the same vicinity of the Seward Hwy is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Check out their website for info. I always send people there because this may be the only time you see wildlife in Alaska. Sometimes the wildlife don't cooperate at DNP for the visitors! Most people do get lucky and see the wildlife at the park, but just in case. Anyway the AWCC is a great place. Please get out of your car and walk the park. So many people are impatient and drive through quickly and miss the animals. If the weather isn't cooperative on the way down to Seward/Homer, try to catch it on the way back.

Hope is a nice, but very tiny town. I don't know that you are going to find any shirts there. I need to go back and explore that area more thoroughly so I can offer better advice.

I like both Homer and Seward. Seward will have the Kenai Fjords Tours. I prefer "Kenai Fjords Tours" myself, but they all pretty much have the same goal to get you to the marine wildlife and glaciers. Yes, the Sealife Center is a must. That will take 2-4 hours depending on how much you want to experience. The Seavey's Iditaride is fun and highly recommended. Also, you must get out to Exit Glacier.

In terms of fishing, we will be right at the start of the King Salmon runs into some of the Kenai Peninsula rivers. If you are interested also in King Salmon, you'll probably have to get into the inlet rather than the rivers to have your best luck. Halibut fishing will be good.

If you are going over to Homer for Halibut fishing then I would suggest also going to the Pratt Museum and exploring the spit. On the way to Homer, there will be a few turnouts where you can get some good pictures of the mountains across the inlet. If the tides are good, you might consider clam digging. The tides have to be low for this activity. Even if you don't want to go clam digging, you can enjoy the activity just the same. You can walk miles of the beautiful beach and check out the bounty. I think this is also another missed opportunity. As long as I am mentioning that, old town Kenai is worth a stop for a few hours.

I have to stop for now, but I'll get back to you with more suggestions later.

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5. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

If we had our trip to do over again, the one place I would skip would be Hope. The previous posters have given you some great ideas. I agree that you'll need LOTS of stops in the Turnagain arm. I thought the visitors center at Portage Glacier was Extremely interesting, and the wildlife conservation center was truly fun. Have fun with your planning!

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6. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

Geez, thank you all sooooo much for the suggestions! It's always a good thing to have suggestions from people with experience and the "know-how"!

I'll look forward to reading more!

Your suugestions and recommendations really do help!

Wasilla, Alaska
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7. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

Hello again. There are a few quick stops along the Sterling Hwy on the way to Homer. In Anchor Point, you can get a picture of "North America's Most Westerly Highway Point". Kind of hokey, but you can add that to your firsts! Ninilchik village is another hoping off point for Halibut fishing. I would make this village a stop on the way to Homer. There is an old historic Russian Orthodox Church and cemetary perched over the town. You can see it from the Sterling Hwy. Mount Redoubt and Iliamna are in background view across the inlet. Beautiful on a clear day. If you are there when the charters are coming in for the day, you can check out their catches.

In Homer, there are a number of shops that are nice. The Spit is a great place to walk and just see what everyone else is doing. This is another place for Halibut fishing. You can fly out for bear viewing as well. If you have time, I would take the ferry to Halibut Cove and Seldovia. This is another one of those missed opportunities because it is off of our road system. Seldovia is a quaint town. You can rent a bike or an ATV there and explore the area. I always suggest the Otterbahn Trail hike out to the beach to explore the tide pools. The tide has to be low. Try not to just stick to Main St if you go. I have not driven out to East End Road so I don't know what is out there. Perhaps HOMERGIRL can comment.

It is normal for most visitors to go to Seward missing out on Homer. I would say that if you are going to Homer, I would see all that you can. If you only stick to the Spit, which is a highlight, you are missing alot. I think Homer is worth the drive if you do these things, but not if you are just sticking to the Spit.

In the Kenai Peninsula there are other activities. That is early for King Salmon, but you might see some anglers on the Kasilof or Kenai Rivers. You could do a float trip on the Kenai, Horseback riding in Cooper Landing or hiking on any one of the many trails.

If you are making DNP a priority, you will have a day of driving from Homer to get there. Unfortunately, many of the trails in the Chugach Mountains might be iffy due to snow. You'll just have to wait and see on that. You might want to post right before leaving on your trip to get an update.

That's all for now.

BTW: Did you know that Alaska is the most western, northern and eastern state? That usually stumps the very young, but is probably obvious for you :)

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8. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

Homer is a must see place. There is lots to do and see. If you like to see wildlife consider taking a water taxi on a bay tour or to take you to some great and easy hiking trails. I reccommend Smoke Wagon Water Taxi. Check out their website for more information and they have some links that may give you some additonal ideas for things to do (www.homerwatertaxi.com). There is so many wonders to see and if you get a chance to get out on the water you will increase your experience so much.

Enjoy!

Merrimack, NH
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9. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

Hi again Alaska '08,

Re: "Would you recommend going to Hope? I only have 10 days in Alaska so, although I want to see every inch...10 days isn't enough time. Would you recommend skipping Hope for some "Must see"?

Also, if we do end up going to hope, do you recall anyplace there that had "Hope, AK" sweatshirts? At a gift shop or what not?"

Unlike Talkeetna, Seward, and Homer that during summer become tourist meccas and in the process lose some of the Alaskan identity that makes them fantastic the other nine months of the year, Hope is not a tourist destination and probably does not have a tourist shop per se, so your quest for a Hope, AK t-shirt may be fruitless. You could contact the

Hope Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 89 Hope, AK 99605

and see if they have any suggestions. Whether to visit Hope or not depends on how much you'd like to see a namesake town to your Hope, ME home. If you've checked out the photo link I posted, it will give you an idea of what Hope is like - you may want to go just to just to get a photo of yourselves in front of the Welcome to Hope sign. If you want a 'touristy' place, Hope is not going to meet your needs - on the other hand there a very few places in AK that you can go to that will give you more of a feel of 'turn of the century' (1900) Alaska without the associated 21st century commercialism. If you decide to check out Hope, it will be about 1/2 hour each way to get there, and about an hour to briefly explore.

You mention that you both like hiking. You're going early in the season, so the trail may still be snowy/icy/or muddy, but if not, one trail that's definitely worth doing in the Central Kenai for spectacular views is the eastern portion (first 1-1/2 miles or so) of the Upper Kenai River Trail. For an example of some of the vistas this short hike will offer take a look at the last 2/3 of the following album:

sox-pats-fan.smugmug.com/gallery/876469

Also, if in perusing

http://sox-pats-fan.smugmug.com/

there are specific vistas/locations that you’re interested in finding out more about, let me know, as most of the albums are associated with areas you’ll be at or passing close to.

No matter what you end up doing in Alaska, its majesty will leave you changed forever.

Alaskan in Exile

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Alaska
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Manitoba, Canada
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10. Re: Request Help with Itinerary

"you may want to go just to just to get a photo of yourselves in front of the Welcome to Hope sign."

Here's an idea--take a quick detour to Hope as Alaskan-in-Exile suggested, to get a couple of photos of yourselves and the sign (or in front of one of the businesses, etc.), then when you get home make up your OWN T-shirts or sweatshirts!