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August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

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August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

My Husband and I are newly retired and ready to take the trip we have planned for many years.

We will be driving to Alaska from NY. We plan on arriving in Alaska the first week of August via Dawson City route. We will be tent camping on the trip up but plan on staying in cabins in Alaska. Current plans are to spend three days in Fairbanks - trip to the Arctic Circle and Riverboat Ride. Plan to stay at Pikes, couldn't find cabins around here. Looks like a nice place and has a coupon in the Toursaver.

Next to Denali for three days. Probably stay in Healy, but am open to places south of the park also. Will do the Kantishna park tour and maybe a float trip.

On to Anchorage for the night, then a week in the Kenai. Would like to stay in Cooper Landing or Soldotna area. Looking at several housekeeping cabins in the area hopefully find one with fishing on site. Have looked at Moose River Resort, Alaska Rivers Co. and Sunset Cabins. Plan on taking day trips to Homer and Seward for glacier tours and sightseeing. Have to find time to fish.

We will then drive on to Haines. Thought about taking the Catamaran to Juneau from there. From Haines its home via Jasper, Glacier NP and Yellowstone and a quick stop at Mt Rushmore.

My questions are:

Any suggestions for cabins on Denali or Kenai trying to keep the rate under $125/night?

Are there not-to-miss sights in Kenai?

Should we visit Skagway also?

How far in advance do I need to make reservations for the tours or lodging?

Are any of the tours difficult for a person with slightly limited mobility i.e. a very bad knee?

I appreciate any help anyone can give me on this. The more I research this trip, the more it seems we should just move to Alaska for a while so we don't miss anything.

Fairbanks, Alaska
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1. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

I would recommend you take the park shuttle bus in Denali rather then the Kantishna tour. You can ride the bus all the way to Kantishna, bring your own food, for cheaper. The tour provides lunch but I hear it is not very good and that the drivers are not as well informed.

Carcross, Yukon
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2. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

At Denali, McKinley Creekside offers nice cabins at a reasonable price (well, reasonable by Denali standards). The NPS shuttles offer great value - I was on the Kantishna tour this past summer, and though the lunch and botany tours at Kantishna were both excellent, the driver didn't know squat. on the shuttle bus, though, just go to Wonder Lake, as there's little to see in Kantishna except the private lodges.

Skagway is worth seeing - either by driving down from Whitehorse ( explorenorth.com/library/roads/sklondike.html ) or by taking the shuttle ferry from Haines.

There's no set time to book ahead, it depends on which specific thing you're looking at. Acommodations near Denali book up very early, so now would be a good time to book, while most things can be booked a few days ahead.

You're right about there being a lot to see - I came up in 1985 for a holiday, moved to the Yukon in 1990, and am still exploring.

Murray

Fort Lauderdale...
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3. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

make sure your hotel reservations with the toursaver are done well in advance. Those rooms are limited and sell out quickly.

All of the hotels in the toursaver are excellent. They do offer one in Cooper Landing. Pike's Waterfront is very nice and near the Riverboat.

The float trip should be okay as long as it is smooth water (for the person with limited mobility). Sounds like a wonderful trip in the works.

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4. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

Thank you for your suggestions. After looking over the raft trips, I think we will keep our cruising to more substantial vessels. I had planned on making reservations in January, as our plans aren't finalized yet. I hope this will be early enough for my lodging choices.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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5. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

Hi there! Thought I would add a bit - sounds like a wonderful trip that you have planned - what a great way to begin your retirement years! You could camp in Alaska, too. Very cost effective! :) Here is a good list for accommodations in the Healy/Denali Park area: http://www.denalichamber.com/ There are several places that have just cabins . . . Rock Creek, Ridgetop, and Earthsong to name a few in Healy. If you want more specifics, please write again and I would be happy to share what I know.

Yes, I echo the shuttle bus trip into the Park (you could camp at Wonder Lake) and you may want to check out Denali Outdoor center for raft trips - they offer several and have the best reputation on the river. http://www.denalioutdoorcenter.com/

Oh, Pikes is very nice and Pike's Landing has excellent food.

Oh, and don't forget Banff, Lake Louise and Waterton before you drop into Glacier Park - that is a great area there. I use to work/live near Glacier - some incredible hikes there.

Good luck on the rest of your planning. Oh, and don't be too worried about booking things yet, I think you have plenty of time. Give yourself time to check things out - if I were coming early July, I would book in the next few months, but August gives you plenty of time. :)

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6. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

Thanks to you too, Coalminer. I am looking at Healy Heights Cabins for our Denali stay. Are you familiar with them? Will definitely take all of your suggestions on the Park shuttle. Do you have an ideas on Kenai tours? We planned to be there for a week, but looking over the Haines/Skagway area might put an extra day on the stay there. There Any recommendations on tours or lodging?

Thanks again and if you ever need any info on Niagara Falls let me know.

Pittsburgh, PA
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7. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

Re: Lodging near Denali - my husband and I spent a couple days in Sept. at Denali Lakeview Inn in Healy - there were many rooms with individual decks and the accomodations were great - nice view of Otto Lake, mountains, great breakfast fixings - but you felt if you were only guests at the inn. We were even treated to Northern Lights there!

This was about 15 min. to park entrance. Also recommend Black Diamond Grille - very close to inn.

Re: Kantishna Park Tour - contrary to another post, the driver on our bus was doing the trip for 30 years and was VERY informative, interesting and stopped a zillion times to view wildlife; unlike previous tour we took through Park Service with a relatively new driver - although there is no guarantee what type of driver you would have with either tour. I will agree the lunch at lodge was not 4-star, but it was nice to kick around the lodge for two hours - either gold panning or learning about dog sledding.

Are you doing the rustic cabin route? There are great places to stay on Chena River near

Chena Hot Springs where you can fish on Chena River

or Byers Lake about an hour South of Denali NP

Check out Alaska State Parks website for information on reservations and availability.

Healy, Alaska
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8. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

Hello again! I haven't been in the Healy Heights cabins, but knew the previous owners. They are located right in town on a ridge, so they have a nice view of the valleys and such. I forgot about them - tend to think of the ones more on the outskirts of town. You will be handy to several restaurants right in Healy - Black Diamond is great and my favorite lunch place is the Lunch Box, though you'll probably be out adventuring. Hope this helps you a bit more. Oh, and the other poster is correct about the Kantishna buses - it really depends on the driver, but I just like to tell people to avoid the little Tundra tour . . . they only go part of the way into the Park, cost more, etc. So I think either the shuttle or Kantishna would be great - Kantishna is an interesting area . . . lots of old history. :)

Fort Lauderdale...
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9. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

I mentioned early reservations only with respect to using the Toursaver. I booked in January/Feb for a June trip and was not able to use the coupons for the hotels. But...I had no problem whatsoever finding great cabins, hotels and B&B to stay at. We were very fortunate to find a variety of places. I was actually very satisfied that I did not bother with the resorts.

The Katishna tour was one of our highlights. It was spectacular and saw lots of wildlife and I have hours of video with the bears and moose. As part of this tour we went goldpanning and had just enough time after finding the motherload....to check out the dog mushers.

Ljubljana, Slovenia
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10. Re: August 2006 Trip - Need Suggestions on Itinerary

I will only focus on Skagway/Haines and the boat trip to Juneau, as the rest of the questions have already been thoroughly covered.

I visited both Haines and Skagway this July and also took the day boat trip with Fjordlands to Juneau. Haines and Skagway, although similar in scenery and not far apart, are quite different from each other. Skagway is far bussier, with several cruise ships arriving daily and the town being packed with one-day visitors. Haines is much more quiet, they do get cruise ships visitors as well, but far less than Skagway.

The boat trip to Juneau is very worth taking. If I were you I would plan to spend 3 days in the area. One day for Skagway, one for Haines and one for the trip to Juneau. I booked accommodation far in advance (10 months) to get good rates, I booked the boat trip only 2 weeks in advance. Enjoy your trip!