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Can anyone help me with...

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Can anyone help me with...

My family (2 adults, 2 kids 6/8) will be going to Alaska from June 1-12. We are planning on renting an RV in hopes of saving money. As of right now our must do things include: Kayaking Columbia Glacier, ATV rides, Oar raft trip, and marine and land wildlife. We have not made a schedule yet and are flexible.

I would like help with the following;

Which RV company in Anchorage to use

Which way do we go first (Denali, Valdez)

What other off the beaten path activities do you recommend (not tourist traps)

Best RV parks or side of the road places to spend the night safely in our RV

Any other fun things my kids may enjoy

Thanks for your help!

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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1. Re: Can anyone help me with...

I can't help you on the RV rental, though you might search here in the forum to see what is most recommended.

I would head down to the Kenai Peninsula first, and come to Denali last, as it is the last area to thaw out/green up. In Seward, go to the Sealife center and do a tour of Kenai Fjords. There are lots of nice campgrounds all over the Kenai - we spend about 2 weeks here every summer - Soldotna, Ninilchik, Seward - haven't camped in Homer yet.

Things to do in our area (Denali): shuttle bus as far as it is going, Eielson or Wonder Lake. Get backpack of activities for the kids at the Murie Science and Learning center. Do the doggie demo. Do a raft trip with the Denali Outdoor center. I believe you can do ATV tours with Black Diamond in Healy: http://www.blackdiamondgolf.com/ATV.html.

That is all I can think of for now - I am sure some others will pop on for some additional help. :)

Las Vegas, Nevada
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2. Re: Can anyone help me with...

if you go to this link, item #7 takes you to an RV comparison guide. alaska.org/gettingaround/alaska-rv-rentals.h…

Then go to the RV company web sites to see the sizes/configurations and what specials they're offering.

Alaska.org also has other information that will help you with your planning. I'm renting a 22' for the last 2 weeks in Aug. The RV provides lots of flexibility, but I would suggest that you make a rough plan and have reservations at places like Denali for the campsite and shuttle, or any other place/activity that's a must do.

If you do a search in this forum for trip reports you'll get a lot of good information. From what I've read, the govt campgrounds seem to have the nicest sites and run $10-$15 but usually don't have showers and other amenities.

Have fun planning !

Alaska
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3. Re: Can anyone help me with...

Oh - good point coalminer about going S. first and then North to Denali b/c of greening up.

1968-You don't mention going down the Kenai Peninsula. I agree with the other poster who recommended this. GREAT camping, hiking, etc down the Peninsula. Very scenic.

Other kid ideas:

Stopping at the Eagle River Nature Center on your way North is a nice place to walk around and let the kids run (close by you - there are bears in Alaska). As long as you make lots of noise and stick together you will be fine - i just always preface the nature center with saying I'm always out there seeing preschoolers running ahead of parents - and then I'll see alerts of people running into bears out there. But - they have a great info center with all sorts of hands on things for the kids.

I have good restaurant/eating places ideas in different areas - once you know more your itinerary - you can always post more specific posts too. Sounds like you are going to be all over. What a fabulous trip this will be for your family!

SeaLife Center in Seward - my son loves it.

Kenai Fjords boat tour (or Major Marine -we just happen to have been on Kenai Fjords 4 or so times). I know you don't want touristy things - but it is highly enjoyable for the kids! I would recommend the 4 hour tour as opposed to a longer 8 hour with kids.

Near Girdwood: Take Tram up Alyeska Resort. Wildlife Conservation Center. Get ice cream at the ice cream store by the gas station/strip mall on the highway exit for Girdwood.

Sled-dog kennels at Denali National Park. Something we love! We were there once when no one else was there at the end of the day and they let the new pups out and run around with my 4 year old. He was running along and they were running along side him and pulling at his coat and playing tug with him. It was SO cute. Of course - I don't know that they can do this all the time - but they have set events that look very informative that we just happened to miss.

We hit the new Eilson Visitors Center last year when we got the lottery to drive into Denali. I'm not sure how long it would be to bus in with kids - but the center was amazing and hiking around is gorgeous.

WalMikes - a totally weird store in Trapper Creek, AK.

Anchorage - biking on the Coastal Trail. Hiking FlatTop.

Valdez is awesome - but I've only been there in September. What would you do in Valdez in June?

I recommend the Denali Highway on your way back down from Denali. I've done it twice and enjoyed it both times. The last time was during hunting season (not intentional on my part) so didn't see any wildlife beside swans.

This is really just a shotgun answer - there are so many possibilities!

Las Vegas, Nevada
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4. Re: Can anyone help me with...

since there are 4 of you, you should review the discounts offered in TOURSAVER and the other coupon book (sorry, can't remember the name).Northern Lights? Anyway,they both offer couppons 'buy 1, get 1 free'. You need to see which companies are in each book to determine which might work best for you. For instance we're using them for a raft trip on the Kenai at Cooper Landing and the 8 hr Kenai Fjords cruise.

Alaska
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5. Re: Can anyone help me with...

Awesome idea! It's called Northern Lights Coupon Book.

I just called their office and they still have some for sale:907-563-2616

We use it each time we go on Kenai Fjords. That savings alone pays for the $50 book. It's usually buy one get one 50% off. Major Marine has some in there as well and there are many others.

Alaska
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6. Re: Can anyone help me with...

As far as many others - I mean lots of little coffee places along your travels - restaurants - other tour discounts. We are locals and buy the book every year just for our own use.

pine hill, nj
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7. Re: Can anyone help me with...

If you do head down to Valdez, you will have a great time kayaking with Pangea. They will take good care of you--they are very informative and you feel very safe. We went in mid June last year and saw alot of wildlife.One thing you should know about Columbia is that you will not see any calving. The ice pack infront of the glacier is choke full of ice. You will however, paddle through huge sculpture like icebergs, and you will hear them cracking and maybe even see some tip. The Totem Inn has a good menu, pretty decent food, and reasonably priced. Take a trip to the otherside of the harbor--I believe it is S. Harbor Drive.We saw black bears crossing the road on 2 different occassions and a porcipine of all things.

The drive to Valdez is breathtaking and worth the trip just in itself. Make sure you stop at Worthington Glacier. It is very accessible and a it's right off the road. Pangea may even offer a glacier hike which may be nice(not sure for the 6 year old)added excursion. If you don't do it in Valdez, their are guided hikes at Exit and Matanuska

Glacier. I think everyone should do somekind of guided glacier hike---they are very informative and great picture ops. One other thing, there is some rafting in Keystone Canyon(as well as some rafting in Denali).I always like to do rafting in rainy weather--you are going to get wet anyway.

I agree about the Denali Hwy.and maybe go to Valdez first and the up and over to Denali. The views on the Denali Hwy. are astounding and we were lucky enough to see some wildlife too. Don't let people scare you about the conditions of the road. I'm not saying ignore them--they are definitely worth mentioning, but I also don't think it should scare you off. If you take your time(it took us about 6 hours in an SUV), and watch out for speeders heading towards you(that's how we cracked our windshield the first time), you will be rewarded with the beautiful vistas that you imagined Alaska would be.

Now on to some fun. We did an ATV ride out of Palmer.We did it as an excursion out of Anchorage. Its about an hour drive. We went with Backcountry Adventures and had a great time. They took us to Knik Glacier which took about 4 hours or so to get there and had a nice provided lunch and then headed back. It was a long day(I know they offer shorter),and even with all the noise we still saw wildlife everywhere. I do believe they have the 4wheelers that can hold 3 or 4 people. I don't know what they are called, but they are available.

Are you planning on just going to Anchorage,Valdez, Denali, then Anchorage again? Where you thinking about maybe Seward or at least as far as Girdwood or Whittier?Girwood has the tram, and then you also have not too far from Girdwood is the Big Game Alaska Wildlife Center and also close by to BGAW is Portage Glacier and Boggs Visitor Center. In Anchorage around 6th Ave. there is the Alaska Experience. Its one of an omnivision wraparound moview about alaska. Not sure if that's too touristy for you, but may be good for the kids, or if it happens to rain on a day you are in Anc. Good Luck hope you got a little something out of this.

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8. Re: Can anyone help me with...

Thanks for your ideas!

We now have an RV from Great Alaskan Holiday.

We have tentatively planned the following:

Anchorage, Wrangell/St. Elias National Park, Valdez to do the Columbia Glacier tour with Anadyr Adventures, Worthington Glacier, Fairbanks/North Pole, Denali (ATV tour, Raft tour, Hikes), Kenai Peninsula (claming, wildlife viewing), back to Anchorage.

What do you think? Any suggestions?

Wal Mikes does look like a fun stop!

Maite

9. Re: Can anyone help me with...

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