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Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

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Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

I, my boyfriend and I will be flying to Anchorage on August 27th. Would appreciate any comments or suggestions to our itinerary. We are in our late 20s, and want to combine outdoor activities and wildlife viewing...

Day 1 (Saturday 8/27): arrive in Anchorage at 1pm. Pick up rental, drive to Seward (scenic stops Potter Marsh, Beluga Pt., Windy Pt)

Day 2: Seward - Fox Island kayak trip (day long)

Day 3: Seward - Fjord cruise / drive to Homer (is there time to also do a short hike on the glacier?)

Day 4: Homer - bear-viewing tour (with Bald Mt. Air?) Overnight Homer

Day 5: drive all the way up to Denali

Day 6: Denali bus tour (Kantishna)

Day 7: should we do another bus tour in the Park (Wonder Lake)? or day hike in the park (4-5 hours - any suggestion?)

Day 8: rafting trip (any suggestion? we would rather stay in the area and not drive too much / is it worth going to Matanuska?)

Day 9: anything else we should to in the area? another hike?

Day 10: Chena Hot Springs (is it worth one day?)

Day 11: drive back to Anchorage - overnight in Anchorage

Day 12 (Wed 9/7): flight back home

We haven't booked anything yet, so for now, this is totally flexible. Thanks for your help!

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Biking Trails, Historic Walking Areas
Park Road
Scenic Drives, Biking Trails
Exit Glacier
Geologic Formations, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Hiking Trails
Anchorage, Alaska
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1. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

I'd spend another day in Seward and perhaps hike up to the Harding Ice Field (tough 6 to 8 hours round trip).

and

Don't go all the way from Homer to Denali in one day and spend a day in the Portage/Girdwood area (hike to Byron Glacier &/or Winner Creek, visit the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center at Portage Lake, visit the AK Wildlife Conservation Center, etc,)

I loved the trek to Ice Falls we took on the Matanuska Glacier. I love Chena Hot Springs; but that was in the dea of winter. I don't find it nearly as charming in the summer.

Here's a great searchable hiking site:

http://www.alaskahikesearch.com/index.htm

Good luck & enjoy AK,

Scott

ps I hope you have your car rental booked. If not get that done ASAP and check back frequently in the hope of finding a lesser rate.

fti
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2. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

Welcome to the forum.

>>Day 3: Seward - Fjord cruise / drive to Homer (is there time to also do a short hike on the glacier?)

A short hike TO Exit Glacier, yes. A short hike ON the glacier, no.

>>Day 5: drive all the way up to Denali

This really is unrealistic. Driving from Seward to Denali is taxing in one day for tourists (locals who have no interests in sights, the Mountain, etc can do it). For example two years ago I left Seward at 9am, stopped in Anchorage for lunch and shopping, and arrived in Talkeetna at 5.30pm. Add 3 hours form Talkeetna to Denali and 2 hours from Homer and you are looking at a VERY long day. There is construction on the Parks Highway now (and usually on the Seward Highway too). That can be a 30 minute wait each time. Any accident or slow RV could add lots more time.

And since you have "extra" days, I don't understand the rush at all. Why not take this day to drive to Talkeetna or Trapper Creek.

Then Day 6 to Denali, entrance-area activities, hiking near the entrance, drive the first 15 miles of the park road that evening.

>>Day 7: Denali bus tour (Kantishna)

I assume you mean the Kantishna Experience. With your stated desire for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing, skip this tour at all costs. Book a SHUTTLE to Wonder Lake. Get off the bus on the way back to do some hiking. If the Mountain is not out, perhaps turn around at Eielson. Much more flexibility with shuttle buses than tour buses. For example, I saw a bear and two cubs in Denali last month. We hopped off and on three different shuttle buses to get better viewing and photos. That would not have been possible on a tour bus.

Day 8: should we do another bus tour in the Park (Wonder Lake)? or day hike in the park (4-5 hours - any suggestion?)

I would book a shuttle bus to Wonder Lake. Do hiking on the better of the two days (day 7 or day 8)

Day 9: rafting trip (any suggestion? we would rather stay in the area and not drive too much / is it worth going to Matanuska?)

Absolutely not worth it to backtrack to Matanuska then to Fairbanks later. You get a third day of shuttle bus tickets if you book two, so you might book a shuttle bus since it won't cost anything more. But plan the rafting trip in late afternoon or evening. I did a paddle raft trip with Denali Outdoor Center last month that was excellent. I liked the evening one - gave us the entire day in the park.

Day 10 to Fairbanks.

Actually, depending on what you want to do in Fairbanks, I might flip flop Denali and Fairbanks - Talkeetna or Trapper Creek to Fairbanks on Day 6, day 7 in Fairbanks, Day 8 to Denali, Day 9/10 in Denali, Day 11 to Anchorage, Day 12 fly out (what time is your flight?).

The main reason to suggest Denali last is that the driving days are better spaced out. Fairbanks to Anchorage is long enough and has enough potential for construction and accidents that it could be a very long day.

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3. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

A great place for rafting would be Six Mile near Hope. It would also be a perfect way to break up your long day on Day 5.

novalaska.com/rafting/…six_mile_creek

They also have a trip on the Matanuska River but the last day is 8/31, your Day 5.

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4. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

Thank you so much for your posts. We have updated the itinerary, and hopefully came up with something doable... Let me know if you think we are missing things out! Thanks

For the car rental, I used autoeurope.eu (not .com). The prices are in euros and you don't know the name of the rental agency before paying but I think they have very good deals. I ended up paying 300 euros for 11 days (which is not even $450 and includes taxes, additional driver and gaz tank / appears to be Hertz car).

Day 1 (Friday 8/26): arrive in Anchorage at 1pm. Pick up rental, drive to Seward (scenic stops Potter Marsh, Beluga Pt., Windy Pt)

Day 2: Seward - Fox Island kayak trip (day long)

Day 3: Seward - Fjord cruise / short walk to exit glacier /drive to Homer

Day 4: Homer - bear-viewing tour (with Bald Mt. Air) Overnight Homer

Day 5: Homer-Byers Lake + stay at the State Park cabins

Day 6: hike to Kesugi Ridge (Cascade Trail) [how long do you think this would take us?]

Drive to Denali (entrance-area activities, hiking near the entrance, drive the first 15 miles of the park road that evening)

Stay at Denali Outdoor Center cabins (Otto Lake) for 4 nights

Do you we have a chance to see a dog sledding demonstration at Denali? I've heard they do it 3 times a day. Is that true even late in August?

Day 7: Denali Shuttle to Wonder Lake (get off bus on way back to do some hiking)

Day 8: day hike in the park + biking ?

Day 9: shuttle bus + rafting trip (Denali Outdoor Center – evening trip)

Day 10: Drive south, Flight over McKinley drive to Matanuska River

Day 11: Ice Falls trek Matanuska [do we need a guide, who would you recommend?] / drive back to Anchorage

Day 12 (Tue 9/6): flight back home (1am :o(((()

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5. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

You know I drove from Fairbanks to Homer once and only once in my short 18 years living here. It is a very long drive there lots of curves, single lane traffic, hills, and RVs. It is not like jumping on a 4 lane interstate to get there. From Fairbanks to Denali is only 2 hours (3-4 for tourist).

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6. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

Thanks yes, we have decided to only drive from Homer to Byers Lake. Would that be reasonable? How long do you think it will take us?

Fairbanks, Alaska
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7. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

Truthfully if I got to Byers Lake I would drive the extra hour to Denali. How about a nice over night in Talkeetna instead?

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8. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

“we have decided to only drive from Homer to Byers Lake. Would that be reasonable?”

Sorry, no. That is over 8 hours *without* stops, probably 10 to 11 hrs. with stops and slow-ups of 2-way traffic. Problem #2 is that you’ve timed your Matanuska ice trek for after they close for the season.

“Day 6: hike to Kesugi Ridge (Cascade Trail) [how long do you think this would take us?]”

3 to 4 days: http://aktrailhead.com/kesugi/kesugi.shtml

Edit: Oops, missed this: "Do you we have a chance to see a dog sledding demonstration at Denali? I've heard they do it 3 times a day. Is that true even late in August?"

Yes. 10 a.m., 2 & 4 pm. Free bus leaves the visitor center area about 40 min. prior to each demo.

Edited: 12 July 2011, 00:40
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9. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

Google maps tells me Byers Lake is only 15mn more than going to Talkeetna, and I thought it would be nicer to camp next to the lake rather than stay in a city. But ultimately, I really defer to the experts on this...

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10. Re: Need help - 10 days itinerary end of August

I think if you're looking to stay in a public use cabin, I'd look at one closer to Willow- like one of the Nancy Lake cabins or the Bald Lake cabin. I've stayed at that one- it's super peaceful- just you and the loons. Wouldn't be quite so bad of a drive then, though still ambitious.