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What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

Columbia, Maryland
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What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

Thanks for this forum's help in developing our itinerary for our 2 week trek through Alaska in an RV. The RV is booked as is a 3-night stay at Savage River in Denali (and the shuttle to Wonder Lake). My next question is what other activities should be booked in advance (and how far in advance), versus those we can wing when we get there. I want to have a set route for our trip but would love to keep some flexibility in the itinerary. We'll be there in late June/early July which I know is the height of tourist season. But I also know that when we've visited other national parks with short seasons that 90% of the tourists cluster at 1% of the sites. As soon as you leave those "must see" sites, you have the area almost to yourself. So which of these are so "must see" that we need to book them early, versus those that are off the beaten track and can be reserved when we get there?

Here are the activities I'm wondering about:

Kenai Fjords all day Boat Trip on a smaller boat.

Dog Kennel and Sled Ride Tour (near Kenai)

Kenai River Fishing Trip at Coopers Landing

Homer Kachemak Bay Kayak Trip

MICA Guides Glacier Walk at Matanuska Glacier

Denali area 1/2 day River Rafting Trip

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Bodies of Water
Misty Fjords National Monument
Monuments & Statues, Geologic Formations, National Parks
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Historic Sites, Visitor Centres, National Parks, State Parks
Ward, AR
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1. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

Matanuska is a bit off main path. might be ok. we went with mica as well and it was really fun. you might want to just call some of these and ask them or e-mail them. novalaska.com also does hikes at matanuska. if any of these are on the weekends, I would probably make a reservation. especially, if it's something you really, really want to do. there are several kayak companies in Homer as well. St Augustine, True North etc. I believe there are two rafting companies at Denali. We went with Denali Outdoor Center. seems to be the one most recommended. We did most of the things you are asking about. they were all 'must do's' for us. that's interesting about the percentage thing.

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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2. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

I agree. If it is something you really want to do, book in advance. With Kenai Fjords boat trip, there are 2-for-1 coupons in Toursaver and Northern Lights and if you go that route, you will need to book in advance.

Note that if you pick up the shuttle to Wonder Lake at Savage, you won't have a choice of seats and might not sit together. You might want to consider driving to the Wilderness Access Center to pick up the bus.

John

Columbia, Maryland
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3. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

I didn't think about where we should catch the Denali Shuttle bus. My two younger kids are 10 and 12, I definately want them sitting nearby on the long trip.

I read several posts that raved about taking the smaller boat tours through the Kenai Fjords. When I checked the Northern Lights and other coupon book web sites, the coupons were for the larger boats. Since there are 5 of us, taking the larger boats and using the coupons would save quite a bit. Is the tour on the small boats worth the difference?

Finally, does anyone have experience with the different Homer kayak tour companies? Our 3 kids have all kayaked on local lakes and rivers, it's us parents who will be the novices. And none of us has done ocean kayaking before. Are there certain companies that are more "family friendly" than others?

Thanks!

Michigan
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4. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

"I read several posts that raved about taking the smaller boat tours through the Kenai Fjords. When I checked the Northern Lights and other coupon book web sites, the coupons were for the larger boats. Since there are 5 of us, taking the larger boats and using the coupons would save quite a bit. Is the tour on the small boats worth the difference?"

I don't know which smaller boat company you were looking at, but I have read about Saltwater Lodge Tours. People who have been on them seem to like them. However, I did read someone who was unhappy with them because when the weather kept the trip only in the bay area, they were not given a partial refund. Also, there are those who are quite adamant on these sites and say you are more likely to get sea sick on a smaller boat. I have also read that you should make sure to take precautions for seasickness no matter what kind of boat you choose. Once you leave the bay, I understand it can get rough for awhile.

As far as coupons, I also remember someone posting that Saltwater accepted one of the other vendor's coupons. So, whoever you are thinking of going with, you could call and ask if they will honor another company's coupon. If it was me, I would ask them to email you verification of that agreement.

For more information I suggest you go to the Alaska Board on cruisecritic dot com. Do a search for whatever topic you want information on and you will likely find plenty to keep you busy reading for awhile. If you don't find your answer in the search, you can always post like you did here.

Minnesota
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5. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

"Dog Kennel and Sled Ride Tour (near Kenai)"

Do you know the name of this Tour and where I can find more information about it? What city is it located in?

Manitoba, Canada
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6. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

Dusty, are you talking about the one in Sterling? ididaride.com/tours/sterling/summerTours.htm

Ward, AR
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7. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

we went with truenorthkayak.com this last summer. we really enjoyed it. very friendly guide. we had never been before, so she had us use a double kayak. they're more steady for beginners. there is another company that was mentioned a few days ago: homerkayaking.com. we didn't really see much wildlife. an eagle and an otter. the post about St. Augustine's mentioned seeing a lot of animals.

Columbia, Maryland
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8. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

Manitoba Maple mentioned the right dogsled ride company, but we're planning on visiting the Seward location for Ididaride. It looks like they have several locations in Alaska.

ididaride.com/tours/seward/summerTours.htm

Harrisburg...
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9. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

We reserved a kayak tour this summer with St. Augustine in Homer. They agreed to call me in April for a deposit, and it is fully refundable up to 48 hours prior to the tour.

We also have a Kenai River fishing trip booked with Alaska Wildland Adventures in Cooper Landing.

Those trips are fairly limited in the number of people who can go at the same time.

My husband took the Saltwater Lodge fishing trip and told me their small boat was nice, but the water that day was so rough he couldn't stand up for much of the trip. I can't imagine taking a small boat for the fjords tours.

JMO, but I'd wait until you see what the weather/seas are like on the day you take the Kenai Fjords trip. The big boats hold over 100 people so you're less likely to need a reservation far in advance.

good luck!

North Bend, Oregon
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10. Re: What Activities Should be Reserved in Advance?

@OP-

With such a short travel season up here, I would want to have every activity or stay pre-booked before I headed out. Most seasonal businesses only have 80-100 days to operate, so reservations are a must.

There are merits to "winging it" if that's your plan, but especially up North, things can be very spread out... you'd hate to drive all day, find your planned tour booked up, then lose the rest of the day getting to a "backup plan"....

Happy Alaska Travels!

-Case