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Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

Arlington, Texas
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Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

I’m debating on driving from Anchorage to Seward or taking the train. I would like the freedom of stopping where I want to take pictures and such, as I’m a pretty avid photographer, but the convenience of the train seems tempting. Any opinions? About how long does it take by car?

Once in Seward I’m thinking of doing one of the glacier cruise tours, 6 hour 8 hour, whatever….. then maybe checking out some of the day hikes in the area the next day, exit glacier or….etc….. How close are they to the town center, would it be better to have a car for this? I do see some shuttle services to the trail entrances, anyone use those?

Any recommendations on hotels or lodges there? Are any of them a little more isolated, quiet, scenic?.. I’d like to stay somewhere a little away from things if possible, without too much road noise and such….

(this is for july 2012)

Edited: 26 October 2011, 23:30
Las Vegas, Nevada
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1. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

It's 125 miles from Anchorage to Seward. Minimum 2 1/2 hrs. It's a very scenic drive so if you have a clear sunny day it could also take 10 hrs ! You can stop at Portage Glacier, the Conservation Center, hike the Winner Creek Trail, ride the tram at Alyeska, etc. Some suggested stops are in this link.

alaska.org/driving/portage-valley-whittier-s…

But if you would rather take the train, no, you don't need a car in Seward. It's a small place so you can walk or take a cab. There's a shuttle to Exit Glacier. Info in the Park's web site:

nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/exit-glacier.htm

Plenty of info on the Seward web site for accomodations. Or check the trip reports from this past summer for good first hand recommendations.

http://seward.com/

Anchorage, Alaska
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2. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

Get on Google Maps and you can see how small Seward is and the relation of any places you might stay versus where the road is.

As YesC mentioned, the drive could be as short as 2.5 hours (no other trafic/interruptions and speeding along the way) or it can take all day with the normal stops for sightseeing, photos, etc.

I'm not sure what you mean by "convenient" so I cannot (without more objective information about yourself) recommend the train over driving. I could try to explain it this way; if this is your only trip to AK, then rent a car and drive, I think you'd experience way more of AK when you are in control of when/where you get to put your feet.

Good luck,

Scott

Arlington, Texas
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3. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

Thanks! I meant convenient concerning the train simply in that you get on and relax, no driving...but I'm thinking stopping where I want will be more important.

I was planning out my itenerary and was thinking about leaving Healy and driving straight to Seward,.....instead of stopping in Anchorage.

How does that sound, looks like about 8 hours? drive time, plus a little stopping....is that pretty doable? I'll have to drive back to Anchorage anyway to catch the flight home so will have a little more time to explore then too.

Anyone have recomendations on lodges\hotels in Seward?

Anchorage, Alaska
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4. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

No one on TA would advise you to drive from Healy to Seward in one day.

Yes it'd be at best 8 hours; but you'd iss so much even if you allowed 10 or 11 hours.

If it was only about "Point A" and "Point B", the drive is doable; but I'm sure that;s not the trip. I'd say to stop either north of ANC (e.g. Talkeetna) or in Girdwood (1 hr. south of ANC) . There's at least a whole day of activities in/near Girdwood and some very good restaurants there too.

Manitoba, Canada
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5. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

There are no glacier cruises out of Seward. The longer cruises include a bit of time near one calving glacier. The glacier cruises are out of Whittier.

I agree with Scott...no way we ever suggest people drive straight through from Denali to Seward. And yes, you'll want the freedom of a car to make scenic stops. There is some incredible scenery along the way, and with a car you can stop to admire, or even double back if you pass something interesting. The train just keeps on going.

Exit Glacier is about a 20 minute drive from Seward. Yes, there is a shuttle for about $10, or you can go by taxi. If you're a hiker, you might be interested in doing Exit Glacier Guides' hike right onto the glacier. Highly recommended if you have time to fit it in.

Alaska
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6. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

TO be a contararian to the auto crowd here, i will say the train trip is FAR more beautiful than the road trip, but then that is from an Alaskan who has time to do both when i wish. The train will take you through wilderness and close to glaciers and through avalanche zones (you have to keep your eye open for the stripped off branches and vegetation as the train moves from woods to clearing) .

That is not to say the auto trip is not beautiful in its own right. Both are spectacular, and the car does give you the freedom to poke along and really soak in the beauty and locations, but then, please allow time to stop many places! If you plan on just driving by it is only so much scenery.

There are cabs you can take in Seward. It is too bad the RR and auto rental companies do not have a train-one way, drive the other way option.

71

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7. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

Maple - you say there are no glacier tours out of Seward? What about the ones to Holgate Glacier? I think I remember that one from a 1994 trip.

If you want stress then Healy to Seward in one day is for you. After the long drive down you will have to deal with Anchorage rush hour.

If photo stops are in order suggest diverting to Hope on the way. There is not much there but some interesting photo opportunities in the historical sense, such as Alaskan lawn ornaments

Arlington, Texas
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8. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

I guess I meant the fjord cruise tours out of Seward.....does that sound right?

The drive from Healy to Seward is to prevent one more overnight stay somewhere. The total trip is about 11 days and I'll be driving back to Anchorage for the return trip home, but that flight is late in the afternoon so I'll have some time to sight see then as well. And will be driving to Healy from Anchorage earlier in the week at a lesiurely pace.......so going from Healy to Seward and not stopping that much won't be a "one time thing"

Any other reasons aside from just not having quite as much time to sight see to not drive straight from Healy to Seward?

here is my general plan if that helps.

1st 3 day 2 night bear viewing trip, Lake Clark NP

one night stay in Anchorage, next day to Denali

2nd 3 nights at Denali (Healy)

3rd 3 nights in Seward

That's the tentative plan anyway, the way the rental car prices look, something may need to change....

Edited: 27 October 2011, 22:36
Anchorage, Alaska
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9. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

The sight seeing from Anchorage to Seward is best done on the southbound drive (if driving & if sight-seeing). A lot of this is for safety & ease of exiting and reentering the highway (stops and pullouts are mostly to the right).

Crossing traffic on this small and busy highway should not be taken lightly. People do some pretty crazy things on this road.

I don't think it's a matter of "not as much sightseeing time" as one "not having any sightseeing time". For the most part this is a two lane highway and very seldom does the speed limit get to 55mph. There will be traffic and there will be construction as this is the norm in AK's summer.

Just some more things to consider. If you want to get from Pt. A to Pt. B, then I might agree with 71 and take the train and at least get the beauty that way without worrying about all the other stuff.

Lake Tahoe...
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10. Re: Seward questions, train vs car, and more.....

Visitors from outside don't get lt. This is Alaska. Our highways, although good, are not the interstate system as of the rest of the country. We do have a turnout law, where if five or more vehicles are following you, you must pull off and let them pass (as in California). However, if you are going the speed limit it wouldn't apply. Some of us push the limit and when you come up behind a line of cars must likely you will not be able to pass safely. And, when there is an accident, plan on a long delay, as there will be no alternate route.

So, it is my opinion, to drive from Healy to Seward in a day is not a smart idea. And, why three nights in Seward.

John