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Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

Pfafftown, North...
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Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

First of all, I really appreciate all the advice I have gotten from trip advisor and cruise critic when planning my previous 2 trips to Alaska. My husband tand I (no kids) took a cruise with Princess in July 2010 and then did just a land trip this past July. We are already talking about what we want to do when we go back :-) Right now we have no definite plans on when but it will most likely be in the summer time. I have a list of things we have interest in doing and wondered if somebody could give me a look at what an itinerary would look like. Since this hypothetical we might could add another day if possible. Just trying to get a rough idea for now on how much time we would probably need to do these things. I will say that we visited Denali, Seward and Homer and the Mantanuska Glacier in July so that is why I have not included them on my list for now.

Here are some ideas:

Fairbanks- would like to do Barrow trip or Artic Circle tour, riverboat cruise, view pipeline, North Pole

Valdez-Thompason Pass, Worthington Glacier, kayak?

Copper River area-Wrangell St Elias Nat'l Park-tour Kennicott mine area, root glacier

Knik River-knik glacier tour?

PWS glacier cruise- Maybe with Phillips 26. Seems like in reading comments on here that the ones out of Whittier are better than Valdez ?

Girdwood-Winner Creek Trail, tram ride at Alyeska

I would really like to go on a floatplane-thinking about bear viewing, (cheaper ones are in Soldtona but not sure we could fit that in)flightseeing in Denali(from Talkeetna or Anchorage). We watched the planes take off at Lake Hood so maybe just a smaller, less expensive tour from there? I have not really seen any reviews on those smaller tours.

Sorry if I am all over the place. We just love Alaska and I would like to hit some places we didn't not get to see on the last 2 trips.

Thanks in advance

fti
MN
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1. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

Can you clarify the dates? You said 7 days/8 nights but it doesn't work that way. I assume you mean 7 nights/8 days. But if you have 8 nights in reality you have 9 days.

Pfafftown, North...
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2. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

Oh, sorry about that. I meant 9 days 8 nights. We would probably fly in on a Friday evening and depart a week later on the Saturday.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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3. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

I don't think you have enough days to do all you have in your wish list. You're going to need to prioritize and then cut something out especially with the vast distances between all of these places you've listed.

Manitoba, Canada
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4. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

Book your car rental NOW. If you have 2 or 3 sets of dates you’re looking at, reserve them all, then when you firm up your itinerary, cancel the one(s) you don’t need. And you do realize that North Pole is a town, not THE north pole, right?

If you’re kayaking out of Valdez, you don’t need the Knik Glacier Tour. You will see large icebergs on both, and not get close enough to see the glaciers calving on both.

Also, you don’t have time for a bear-viewing tour unless you add another day.

Are you okay with a very busy schedule? If not, you'd have to either cut more things out or add more days.

Here is a sample itinerary to get you started:

Day 1 – arrive Anch., overnight.

Day 2 – pick up rental car if you didn’t do that last night, and drive to the Tunnel (1 hr plus stops) to arrive no later than the 11:30 a.m. opening for 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm 26 Glaciers cruise. Overnight nearby Girdwood. Go up Alyeska Tram if weather is clear.

Day 3 – Winner Creek Trail, 2nd chance for tram if you didn’t do it yesterday. Drive to Healy (6 hrs) to overnight. If time, drive the 14 miles into Denali that private vehicles are allowed to see if you can spot any wildlife.

Day 4 – Drive to Fairbanks (2+ hrs). Drive 8 miles north of town on Steese Hwy to view the Pipeline Display (could do that after the riverboat if you prefer). 2 pm to 5:30 pm: Riverboat Discovery. Museum of the North if time. Overnight Fairbanks.

Day 5 – day tour to Barrow. Overnight Fairbanks.

Day 6 – long drive to Chitina (6+ hrs) with stops at Santa Claus House in North Pole (great place to mail postcards) and Rika’s Roadhouse in Delta Junction (great photo op for Pipeline). 5:45 pm flight to McCarthy arrives 6:20 pm. Explore & overnight.

Day 7 – Root Glacier hike, Mill tour ( www.steliasguides.com/alaskaday_1glacier.htm ). Late afternoon fly or shuttle back to Chitina. (Wrangell Mt. Air, Kennicott Shuttle). Drive to Valdez (2 hrs). Explore tiny Valdez, overnight.

Day 8 – full day kayaking amongst the icebergs of Columbia Glacier (Anadyr or Pangaea). This is a highly-recommended tour that kayakers rave about. Overnight Valdez.

Day 9 – drive to Anchorage (6+ hrs) with scenic stops, the 2 waterfalls, Worthington Glacier, etc. Be at airport 2 hrs. prior to flight home.

EDIT: forgot to add, the water taxi to Columbia Glacier doubles as a wildlife tour.

Edited: 27 October 2011, 19:41
Anchorage, Alaska
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5. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

Barrow

Barrow can be very interesting. A trip to Barrow should include a trip to "the point", a visit to the local museum, at least one meal, a walk around town and if you're up for it... a dip in the Arctic.

Most of what a person can do in Barrow can be done in one day; but I think it needs to be a full day (i.e. arrive as early as possible and leave as late as possible). If spending the money to fly to Barrow, I'd consider staying at least one night so to not "cram" everything in and to be able to walk most every street in town.

If you're not doing a typical AK summer trip and you are coming to AK during the off-season, I'd recommend going to Barrow in OCtober (you'd need to check specific dates) when whaling season is on. We happened to be lucky enough to be in Barrow for a weekend during Oct. whaling season when they harvested 3 whales in one day. This was one of the most amazing things we've ever seen in our life.

Valdez - Thompson Pass

We really enjoy the drive from Glenallen to Valdez. There's several good hikes and Worthington Glacier is an easy roadside stop that one can easily spend 30 to 60 minutes at (I don't think it's needs much longer).

Girdwood/Portage

A great area to spend a day or two. IF you haven't done them/it already theres: Portage Lake/Glacier (a little boat ride, the visitor center), nearby Byron Glacier, Whittier (& it's tunnel & a nice hike to view Portage Glacier on the Whittier side of the tunnel), AK Wildlife COnservation Center, Winner Creek (as you mention), hike to Crow Creek Pass, many very good restaurants and more.

I think you're way at looking at this trip to AK is really quite good and you'd really enjoy the activities that you hadn't previously done.

Good luck,

Scott

Edited: 27 October 2011, 19:48
fti
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6. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

Barrow was very interesting to me and a full day or one overnight is great. The Point is definitely a "must" if you are going that far, but you need to find a tour to take you there - rental cars can't get there since it basically is a beach path using an ATV or some sort of "buggy" to get you there.

Pfafftown, North...
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7. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

Thank you all for the responses! The sample itinerary gives me something to look at too. I was trying to put something together but wanted to get other opinions and ideas on it too. It does seem like we may need to stretch this out a day or two so as to not be so rushed.

I have a question about Barrow though. How does a visit to Barrow compare to say the Artic Circle Tour where you visit Prudhoe Bay, Coldfoot, Dalton Hwy,etc..?

fti
MN
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8. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

Prudhoe Bay would not be a day trip AFAIK. I considered the Coldfoot Arctic Circle fly/drive tour for my trip last month until I realized how much cheaper I could do Barrow (for me it was a matter of a credit voucher and miles from Alaska Air) and how much more interesting it would be to go to a town above the Arctic Circle vs. just saying I went above the Arctic Circle. So in my case, it was much better to visit Barrow. Not sure I would go there again without a specific purpose (for me that would be to photograph polar bears) but I would highly recommend a destination like Barrow vs. just a tour that gets you above the Arctic Circle.

Cadiz, Kentucky
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9. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

I don't want to hijack your thread, but we are planning many of the same things you are on our third trip so this thread has already been quite helpful. We will be there the end of May and on our list is Barrow, Alyeska Tram, Wrangell St Elias Nat'l Park with the tour of Kennicott mine, and a PWS tour. Is it true that the tour out of Whittier is better than the one out of Valdez?

10. Re: Suggestions for a 7 day/8 night land trip

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