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Any suggestions to fine tune our September 2010 AK trip?

California
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158 posts
11 reviews
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Any suggestions to fine tune our September 2010 AK trip?

Hi TA experts. We are a family of 4, ages 18-61, all fit and active.

Here's what we have so far.

Sept 4, 2010 -Fly from CA to Vancouver, overnight and take hop on/ hop off tour before our 7 day HAL cruise departs, destination Seward

Sept 5-6 Cruise

Sept 7 Ketchikan 7-3:30 Misty Fjords National Park ? Do we need reservations for that, too? Any other suggestions to see or do with the limited time besides wander around town?

Sept 8 Juneau 7 am- 10:30 pm Booked Marv & Harv's whale watching excursion ( Thanks to MM recommendations...looks great!) See Mendenhall Glacier. Any other tips?

Sept 9 Skagway...don't have any idea of what to see or do there. Maybe fishing ?

Sept 10-11 Cruising Glacier Bay & College Fjord

Sept 12 arrive in Seward. Kenai Fjord Nat'l Park 11:30-5:30 dinner and Exit Glacier( thanks again MM)...We are looking into either Northern Lights vs TourSaver coupons to help cut some costs. Overnight, for sure... at Hotel Seward?

Sept 13 rent a car (Hertz appears to be the only one and charges a bit over $200 for a daily rate, one way)and drive to Anchorage...with 4 people it looks like it is almost the same cost as 4 bus tickets , plus we can stop when we want on the way. Then we would change cars at ANC another car with the return to ANC on our flight on Sept 19. Drive to Talkeeetna and overnight.

We would like to flightsee...any recommendations on which company? If able to glacier land at that time of year would be a bonus. Maybe at 7 pm, if clear...if not wait til tomorrow? Perhaps we can get a coupon to help?

Sept 14 breakfast in Talkeetna, see the town, flightsee, if it is better that day?

Drive to Healy and stay there for 2 nights while we see Denali Nat'l Park. Check out the visitor center &/or dog sled show. Dinner at Black Diamond Grill?

Sept 15 Shuttle to Wonder Lake. Dinner at Mile 229 or ?

Sept 16 Drive to Fairbanks and overnight. See Ice Museum and Chena Hot Springsand/ or Museum of The North. Is that do able? We are not ones to stay several hours in museums.

Sept 17 Drive Richardson Hwy, with stops at North Pole & Rita's Ranchhouse on our way to Denali Hwy Cabins (thanks again MM) Evening Scenic Float and a bite to eat...somewhere?

Sept 18...drive back to Anchorage

Sept 19 A flight that departs at 12:30 am, seats on left of plane...hopefully we can see The Northern Lights???

We need some help on the above ??? and feedback from all of you people that have been there and done that, this will be our first and maybe our last trip...as far as the parents go.

With the above itinerary, it looks like maybe Northern Lights coupon book may be more cost effective...maybe we should buy one of each since there will be 4 of us?

Thanks in advance for your continued help!

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
15,479 posts
28 reviews
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1. Re: Any suggestions to fine tune our September 2010 AK trip?

It looks like you have done a lot of homework. Generally, the trip looks great.

re: Misty Fjords. Are you thinking of doing that by boat or air? There is a 2-for-1 coupon in Toursaver for the flight for that that if interested. It is saving us $230 just on that one coupon.

You might consider the Mt. Roberts Tram in Juneau if it is a nice day. Or depending on when your whale watch is, you can spend more time at the glacier for hiking if interested. I liked the East Glacier Trail. Not super views of the glacier itself, but a couple of waterfalls and a nice path.

Skagway - the NPS has some good free talks, films and walks. Arrive early to find what they have and get your (free) tickets early since they run out. Renting a car and driving into the Yukon is popular, as is the White Pass Railroad. Or hiking is really good near there too. I am planning on spending 5 nights in Skagway and vicinity the end of June. Hiking the Upper Dewey Lake trail over two days and the Laughton Glacier trail over two days. The Laughton Glacier trail can be done on your own as a day trip for about $65/person train ticket.

I like your idea of the car rental switch in Anchorage. It should save you a bundle. Be sure to stop in Anchorage or Wasilla for food supplies for your Denali trip.

Try to book the flightseeing for the evening of Sep 13th. that way, if it gets canceled, you can reschedule it for the next morning. I strongly suggest breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse. Definitely check out the coupon offers.

Check out the activities near the entrance at Denali NP when you arrive on Sep 14th. Visitor Center film and exhibits, WAC film, driving the first 14 miles of the road, Savage River Loop hiking trail, Rock Creek Trail, sleddog demo, etc.

You will be at Denali right at the tail end of their season - Sep 16th is the last day of shuttle buses, subject to the weather.

I would not plan on an early dinner on Sep 15. The bus to Wonder Lake and back takes 10+ hours and if you get off at all to hike (strongly recommended), it will take longer. I would book the shuttle to Wonder Lake but if the weather is so-so, get off at Eielson and hop another bus back to the entrance. You can then get off the bus on the return trip for any hiking you want to do.

Be sure to be at the airport by 10.30pm. Checking in, returning the car, etc. will take time. You might want to drop 3 of the 4 off on the departure level with luggage, then only the driver return the car. Helps to not have to haul the luggage any further than needed. Anchorage also offers 30 minute free parking if that helps. I often do that when I am alone - park free for 30 minutes, check in my luggage but leave the carry on in the car. Then return the car. Easier to manage fewer pieces of luggage.

You will have to look at each coupon book and work the numbers. Will buying two of Northern Lights or two of Toursaver or one of each save you the most? My first guess is that buying two of the same book will maximize savings since you are doing the same activities. So whichever one saves two the most will probably save 4 the most. But check out all the coupons you would use and go from there.

John

McCarthy, Alaska
Level Contributor
179 posts
35 reviews
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2. Re: Any suggestions to fine tune our September 2010 AK trip?

Hey there,

Looks like a fun trip. The folks at Talkeetna Air Taxi are great, friendly, experienced and professional. I've used them for backcountry flights and met several of their pilots and highly recommend them. If you make it into Kantisha, Kantishna Air is fabulous as well.

Have a great time!

Gaia

California
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158 posts
11 reviews
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3. Re: Any suggestions to fine tune our September 2010 AK trip?

Thanks for the feedback and tips...will get both Northern Lights and TourSaver...as they both have good deals. TAT has a coupon in Northern Lights for the flight seeing 25% off total cost for 4 people. TourSaver has most of the excursions has enough of the other tours to make it cost effective to buy one or 2.

Yeah, I have read hours of posts here and other web sites...but you can't beat the personal feeback...Any more suggestions/comments...fire away.

4. Re: Any suggestions to fine tune our September 2010 AK trip?

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