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Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

Orlando, Florida
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Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

Hi, We are traveling for the first time to Alaska. We will be landing (Friday night) and taking off (next sunday night) from ANC. We will be in ANC in the second half of march and our total stay is 9 days and we are budget travellers.

We will go to Denali and Fairbanks for sure but do not know where else to go and what else to do. Need help to plan the itinerary so that we can book the hotels at different places. We do not do fishing or skiing. Please suggest activities. We want to go to glaciers but do not wan to fly as flying tours are expensive. Any other car route for glaciers?

Is it a good idea to go to Fairbanks (for northern lights) via Denali and come back to ANC via Tok/Glennallen (I have no idea, just saw on google maps)?? Any thing interesting on the other route?

What kind of car to rent. We are leaning towards economy/compact but some on suggested that you have to have 4 wheel drive cars/SUVs; is it true?

Want to make most us of these 9 days.

Awaiting reply, Thanks.

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Alaska
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Denali
Denali
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Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
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fti
MN
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1. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

Welcome to the forum.

Who is "we"?

Have you checked what there is to do in these places in the winter? Many places are closed. I would suggest you do something like this, but it depends on your interests.

Fri arrive Anchorage

Sat to Healy with stop in Talkeetna

Sun check nps.gov/dena but usually there are ranger-led snowshoe hikes on the weekends in Denali, free, limited snowshoes available for free

Mon consider a day dogsled trip with Earthsong Lodge. I did it two years ago and it was great, continue to Fairbanks

Tue check the Fairbanks website for things to do

Wed Fairbanks

Thu Fairbanks?, drive toward Anchorage, maybe overnight in Palmer or Wasilla?

Fri in Anchorage - museums? APLIC? Waterpark? Other interests?

Sat drive along Turnagain Arm to Girdwood and further (Wildlife Conservation Center) and maybe even to Turnagain Pass

Sun in Anchorage, day trip north of Anchorage? Spend an extra night in Fairbanks and start your drive back to Anchorage on Friday?

I have only used an SUV once in Alaska, and it was in March. It was nice to have with the really bad snowstorm they had the day before we arrived. We did a fair amount of driving so it was good. Second half of March could have some snow, Being from FL, maybe a larger car would be better. I am only planning on renting a smaller car when I am in Alaska in early March, but I am only going between Anchorage and Talkeetna (100 miles each way).

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Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
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Healy, Alaska
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2. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

I do hope you realize March is still winter here, not spring and that you have experience driving on winter roads. fti has provided a good itinerary for you - hope that helps you. Won't have to worry about too many tourist crowds this time of year! :)

Orlando, Florida
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3. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

Thank you fti for quick reply.

Sorry, I did not mention, by "we" I meant the family of 3 (myself, wife and child).

Any info about seeing the glaciers? and

should we drive back from Fairbanks the same route-- I checked google it was showing two other routes-- first via Delta junction and Glennallen and the other via Tok. Is it not recommended?

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Tok
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Orlando, Florida
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4. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

Thank you coalminer.

Yes, I understand that it will be winter but I read that it is not as cold as in Dec and Jan. The avg temp in march from 25 to 40. I drove in snow few time 8 years ago in NJ and that is it.

Please advise and suggest how to best use of my time during this time (march) of the year.

Thank you again for help.

fti
MN
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5. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

You don't mention how old the "child" is but the younger, the less mobile you obviously are.

I would not return from Fairbanks via a different route unless you have something specific to see along the other route. From Fairbanks you can visit "North Pole, AK" but that is an easy 15 mile drive from Fairbanks and you can return to Anchorage via the Parks Highway.

There are no "glacier tours" available in March. On your return from Fairbanks to Anchorage your best shot at seeing a glacier is to go east on the Glenn Highway past Palmer to Matanuska Glacier for a view. Another option is to see Portage Glacier from shortly before the Whittier tunnel if you go to Girdwood and the Wildlife Conservation Center.

Note also that depending on when the second half of March you are going, you might want to shorten your stay at Denali on your way to Fairbanks to see the Ice Art sculptures then do the dogsledding for example on the way back down to Anchorage (or you can do dogsledding near Fairbanks too but dogsledding is so much a part of Denali NP in the winter and in the history of the park, I thought it was neat to do it there).

Also, check out this thread, hwich is linked from a Top Questions about Alaska regarding giving us enough detailed information up front.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k42090…

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6. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

>>Please advise and suggest how to best use of my time during this time (march) of the year.

We already did that in the second post :-)

Little Rock
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7. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

I've talked to the people at Earthsong Lodge (never done it) because I am also going to Fairbanks March. They were very, very nice and have day dog sledding trips into Denali (which is one of the only ways to go in March).

The cost was a bit steep: $300+ each. It's for a day trip with an experienced musher, and a team of dogs (who have to eat too), so it's not that bad, just more than I wanted to spend. They were very helpful and seemed accommodating to my schedule, though.

Edited: 07 February 2011, 05:52
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8. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

Little Rock- I went, too, and to me, it was well worth the money. So much so, that I have plans to go back. I would actually love to save up for one of Jon's multi-day trips, probably in a couple years.

'Any info about seeing the glaciers?'

You can see them in a few places, but this time of year they just look like a snow field since they are covered in snow.

Based on how far you are driving and your experience level, I would highly suggest an SUV or at the very least, ensure with the rental company that what you will be driving has all-wheel drive. I think a heavier vehicle and 4-wheel drive would be best, but you can decide yourself. I was just discussing with AKRat on another thread that I pretty much refuse to drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks in the Winter without a really good reason. I've almost gone off the road twice in the one trip I did make and I grew up driving in winter road conditions and my SUV has studded tires. When you are driving a road you don't know, you can come around a corner too fast, hit a patch of glare ice or packed snow and end up off the road. I tend to want to do whatever I need to do to make sure that doesn't happen. Driving the road in the dark was when I nearly lost it twice (had been snowing earlier that day) so if you can stick to driving during the day, that's best, but that's also eating up two full days of your trip driving up and back.

Edited: 07 February 2011, 06:23
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fti
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9. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

>>Little Rock- I went, too, and to me, it was well worth the money. So much so, that I have plans to go back. I would actually love to save up for one of Jon's multi-day trips, probably in a couple years.

Me too, though returning for a multi-day trip will probably be a few years down the road.

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10. Re: Car rental and itinerary help needed for march

Fromflorida

Just wanted to add another road comment.......be very careful on the highways in and around Anchorage.......those folks drive like a bunch of nuts......avoid the rush hours and be especially careful in snowy icy weather.......It is not unusual to hear on the evening news that 60 to 80 cars had spun off the road in any one day......also remember to start braking way ahead of a stop sign or stop light and keep a huge distance between you and other vehicles.....and make sure your rental car has studded tires, that will give you more traction.......

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