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Early Sept. itinerary help

New York
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Early Sept. itinerary help

Taking a delayed honeymoon. The plan is to bring/buy a tent and other camping equip to save $$, and to increase enjoyment. Have already reserved rental car. I have about 6 possible itineraries in my head, but so far this one is the most fleshed out.

Fly in to ANC 8/28, arr. 3:45

Day 2: Kenai leg of trip (no specific ideas yet)

Day 3: Kenai leg of trip

Day 4: Kenai leg of trip

Day 5: Kenai leg of trip

Day 6: Dep. Whittier on ferry at 12:45, arr. Valdez 16:30

Day 7: Wrangell-St. Elias?

Day 8: Glennallen?

Day 9: Palmer for state fair (I love state fairs about as much as I love my husband)

Day 10: Denali - camp at Wonder Lake

Day 11: Denali - Wonder Lake

Day 12: Dep. Denali , head towards ANC (Independence Mine is possibility)

Day 13: Return rental car at ANC at noon; visit Anchorage

Day 14: Anchorage (full day)

9/11/10: Dep. ANC 17:00

We want to have a fairly relaxed trip, but don't mind driving (obviously). Interested in hiking; we are fit and somewhat adventurous. Would like to visit museums (cultural/history), nature centers (would consider cutting short Kenai for trip to Eagle River/Chugach SP in the beginning). Any ideas/suggestions/commentary is most welcome! Thanks bunches.

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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37,544 posts
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1. Re: Early Sept. itinerary help

I would recommend coming to Denali first - fall colors should be good and you don't want to push too far into Sept or you will be camping in snow (might have that anyhow). :)

Groveland, FL
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113 posts
50 reviews
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2. Re: Early Sept. itinerary help

Jellybean;

First of all, Congratulations on your upcoming (or recent) nuptials. I firmly believe that happiness is being married to your best friend!

My best friend (and spouse for 40 years) and I took our first trip to Alaska in early September of 2009. Did we enjoy it? Well, we have already booked a repeat visit for early September of 2010. That should say something about how much we loved Alaska.

We rented a small RV and toured most of the state. I would highly recommend that you at least research that mode of transportation/lodging as an alternative. You might find that the cost to rent a RV is comparable to the cost of renting a car and buying camping equipment. Needless to say, the comfort/safety of a RV far exceeds that of a tent. Besides, it's your honeymoon - go for it!

Have fun,

G'Mom and G'Dad

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
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15,105 posts
27 reviews
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3. Re: Early Sept. itinerary help

What are you planning on doing in Valdez? It looks like nothing - just take the ferry to there and leave? I would consider possibly a Meares/Columbia Glacier cruise on Day 6 or 7 (depending on whether you depart Kenai Peninsula a day early).

Also, it is not easy to get to Wrangell/St. Elias NP. What do you want to do there? I would recommend at least an overnight there but you have to fly in or have a rental car that allows travel on the McCarthy Road (many don't). A Root Glacier hike is popular and I really enjoyed it.

If you are not going to see anything in Valdez and if you are not going to spend the time to get into Wrangell/St. Elias NP, I might consider skipping the ferry and just driving from the Kenai Peninsula to Palmer through Anchorage.

It is unrealistic in my opinion to drive from Palmer to Denali and take the camper bus the same day to Wonder Lake. The last camper bus departs the entrance at 4pm but you have a VERY limited choice of camping sites by that point. There are about 5-6 sites that have no view of Mt. McKinley right from the campsite. I never take a camper bus later than 11am to Wonder Lake. This summer I am planning on driving from Byers Lake to Denali and taking the 11am camper bus. My campsite selection at Wonder Lake, especially for 3 nights, is way too important to me. Going to Denali first, as suggested above, could solve this problem.

Not sure why you are returning the rental car on Day 13 at noon. I assume you are saving a day of rental costs but usually 11-14 days of car rental are the same price or very close. A car within Anchorage might save you time vs. the shuttle to the Native Heritage Center, etc.

John

USA
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44 reviews
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4. Re: Early Sept. itinerary help

The problem with going to Denali first is that Wonder Lake CG is getting pretty booked solid that week of August 29-Sept 4. If you want that time period, don't delay!

I miss the old reservedenali website where you could see the availability for a campsite for the whole month. Now it seems you have to enter each individual date, unless I am missing something on the new website.

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
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15,105 posts
27 reviews
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5. Re: Early Sept. itinerary help

You are correct with regard to the reservedenali website. I liked the monthly overview and the red/yellow/green colors indicating how full the campground is.

New York
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6. Re: Early Sept. itinerary help

Thanks so much for the input! Have completely restructured now, taking nearly everything (I think) you said into account; the car is already reserved for those dates, and it seems that changing the reservation ends up costing more. I will keep an eye out and see if I can't get a deal. That said, how does this look:

8/28: arr. Anchorage, overnight

8/29: Palmer for State Fair

8/30: Drive to Talkeetna or Byers Lake CG for overnight

8/31: Drive to Denali early; Tek overnight (Wonder Lake CG is booked :a tear: )

9/1 - 9/2: Tek

9/3: Leave Denali, drive to Talkeetna and do something in general area

9/4: Drive to Matanuska area, overnight somewhere

9/5: Drive to Girdwood; Portage Glacier a possibility. Overnight around here

9/6: Drive to Seward (Exit Glacier); overnight in Seward area

9/7: Seward - Kenai Fjords 6 hr cruise

9/8: Drive to Cooper Landing, overnight in general area

9/9: Return car in Anchorage at noon

9/10-11: hang out in Anchorage, leave for home on 9/11

I've cut the Valdez portion entirely out, with more of a focus on the Kenai peninsula. Does the driving seem reasonable? I think I worked it out so we're never really spending a full day on the road.

Many, many thanks for the help!

7. Re: Early Sept. itinerary help

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