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Help planning a trip to Alaska

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Help planning a trip to Alaska

My 13 year old son, 25 year old daughter and her friend, and myself (just turned 50!) are trying to plan a trip to Alaska. We have a tendency to get seasick so we decided not to go on a cruise. Plus we kind of hate the feel of being cattle herded around! We all love the outdoors, but I am less physically fit then the young ones so for me rigorous hikes are out, however I am not opposed to staying back to let them go either. We've been on 3 whale watching boats in various places and have never seen more than very far off water blowing so I would love to see whales - its tops on my bucket list! We definitely want to fish. And we are thinking of renting a RV although I am a little nervous about driving something so big. What do you do when you want to explore a town and you just have a big RV? I'd love some help and suggestions - I am trying to balance what a 13 year old boy is going to enjoy with the rest of us. We are wide open as to starting point and ending point. We will have about 2 weeks to play in Alaska.

Manitoba, Canada
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1. Re: Help planning a trip to Alaska

"We've been on 3 whale watching boats in various places and have never seen more than very far off water blowing"

That's common for a whale-watching tour. The boats aren't allowed to approach closer than 100 yards, so it's up to the whales if they want to come closer. And most people don't get to see breaching, etc. Blows as the whales breathe, and tails as they dive, are what is normally seen.

The only place you will see humpbacks on 100% of the tours is Juneau. You *might* see them on Kenai Fjords day cruises out of Seward, especially the all-day ones. More time on the water gives you more chance to come across whales, but no guarantees. However, if you get seasick easily, that might not be a good idea...the boats are in open ocean for a brief time as they round Aialik Cape.

What are your interests? What kind of fish are you after? What does the 13 year old enjoy doing? When are you going?

Edited: 05 June 2011, 16:15
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2. Re: Help planning a trip to Alaska

Hi. At this point, we are still wide open in where we should go. I've been reading and researching all day today as well as for a few weeks now. We'd like to go salmon and/or halibut fishing, but really we aren't that particular..we just like to fish. We'd love to see bears. We do like to get away from the crowds. Taking a plane out to the glacier and going dog sledding sounds exciting. I'm trying to figure out how difficult a RV would be for us or what we should do as far as travelling around as well.

Anchorage, Alaska
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for Anchorage
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3. Re: Help planning a trip to Alaska

You really won't see crowds; AK is freakin' big. You might encounter traffic (mostly two lane highways); but really nothing like you'd get on the interstates in your area.

If you are decent, competent, non-texting, non-call phone yapping (oops - sorry about the soap box, I'll get off now!) motor vehicle driver; you won't have any problem driving a motorhome. For the most part you need to be aware of UP when going into gas stations (& underground parking), the length when maneuvering turns within towns and increased stopping distances. On the highway take your time and use the many pullouts to let faster traffic go by - it's the law (& to look at the amazing scenery).

If/when you have to back up, have a passneger get out and stand to the back of the vehicle on each side so you can see them in the mirrors with both windows rolled down so you easily communicate. Have them carefully watch UP (branches) & SIDES (other immovable objects) and let them carefully guide you back. Even better are "pull-through" camp sites.

Most of the towns (perhaps not Anchorage and Fairbanks) are small enough to explore from a nice parking space in a grocery store parking lot (if you do this, please buy some pop/sodas or groceries from the retailer). Or, perhaps in Seward, you might be camping right in the middle of town and most of the town is walking distance from the campground. Near Seward is Exit Glacier and that park has parking designed for RVs (win, win!)

Here are some great hikes which may be within your fitness level and enjoyable by all:

(1) Russian RIver Falls (see salmon jumping up the falls - amazing)

- easy grades, more of a graded path than a trail (2 miles each way)

- see: alaska101.com/exploreAlaska/cooperl/alaska_t…

(2) Byron Glacier (near Portage Lake/Glacier)

- easy grades (1 mile each way)

- great scenery and play on the snow banks of a glacier

- see: www.trailheadfinder.com/trail_editor/show/757

For an absolutely amazing (on the hard/brutal side) is the hike at Exit Glacier up to the Harding Icefield. It's 6 to 8 hours round trip. It's about a 3,000 to 4,000 ft elevation gain over 3 to 4 miles oneway. The kids could take a taxi from Seward to Exit Glacier (so you wouldn't have to drive the RV alone) and you could relax around Seward (good shops, food and sight-seeing).

Good luck & enjoy AK,


ps - on the fishing end of things, if you (&/or someone else) is prone to seasickness, the small fishing boats are worse than cruise ships to be in. Small boats does not mean small water! Search TA for remedies/prevention, there are a ton of options.

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for Seward
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4. Re: Help planning a trip to Alaska

You don't state when.. but Seward has some great silver salmon fishing the middle of August till towards the end of Sept. They can be caught from shore and you can rent poles locally. You can also go on a boat and stay inside the bay so no rough open water. Buy a ticket and you could be a winner.


Halibut requires a boat and most travel 2 hours to get to prime schools.

My favorite is combining wildlife and fishing.. alaskasaltwaterlodge.com/seward_fishing.htm

Lots of other things to do here and it's very easy to get around so you can park the rv and wander. No reservations,1st come, waterfront camping... http://www.cityofseward.us/index.aspx?nid=864

I also recommend getting the Milepost book which has detailed road info on what's ahead. Retail for $29, available at Anc Walmarts $20, most gas stations, grocery stores, Amazon and some rv rentals include them so ask 1st if you decide to rent one.. which I say go for it!! It's a great way to visit our state.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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5. Re: Help planning a trip to Alaska

I can appreciate your worries about operating an RV. What helped me was to visit an RV rental shop and sit behind the wheel of different sized RV's to get a feel for what it was like. I quickly realized a 25' was my limit. Since we were 3 women we were able to get a 22' which was even better! It didn't have a separate bedroom, which you will probably need since you have at least 1 male traveling with you. The bedroom provides additional privacy for changing, etc.

Anchorage and Fairbanks are the only big towns so it wasn't a problem to park and then walk around most towns. ie in Seward we camped at the City's waterfront site and it was easy to walk to the harbor. You can always find a church or library or grocery store to park if you get nervous. I was fine driving on the hwys but never got comfortable backing into campsites or pulling into gas stations. As Scott pointed out, the navigator is very important so practice your hand signals and where to stand before you leave the rental lot. And take out the additional insurance! My navigator failed me; need I say more.

Also helpful, read trip reports from people who have RV'd. You'll find that most have never RVd before so you're in good company. The RV was surprisingly easy to operate as far as emptying and filling tanks; there are dials that indicate how full the tanks are so there are no surprises. We drove 2200 miles in 2 weeks; Anc-denali-fairbanks-valdez-palmer-seward.

I assume this is for next yr?? Have fun planning. carol

6. Re: Help planning a trip to Alaska

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