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Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

New York
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Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

Hi, after doing a lot of research here on TA and on alaska.org and a few other websites, I have come up with the following plan. I am hoping to get some thoughts on how this trip plan looks and if I am missing something major.

Duration: 9 nights

Day 1: Reach Anchorage from New York. Rent a car at airport and leave for Denali. Overnight in Denali

Day 2: Denali Park tour full day. Overnight in Denali

Day 3: Flight-seeing Mt Mckinley, Rafting etc. Overnight in Denali

Day 4: Leave Denali for Girdwood. Stay in Hotel Alyeska. Take Tram to the top. Hiking. Overnight Hotel Alyeska

Day 5: Whittier Cruise - Prince William Sound. Leave for Seward. Overnight in Seward [Hotel Suggestion?]

Day 6: Activities in Kenai Fjords area. Night at Seward.

Day 7: Activities/ sight-seeing around Cooper Landing. Leave for Anchorage

Day 8: Knik Glacier, ATV tours etc

Day 9: Leave Anchorage

I would appreciate if you can suggest improvements. I am travelling with my wife and we both are looking for active vacation with scenic drives, hiking, rafting/kayaking etc activities.

Another major question I have is, can I plan this trip late May / early June? The reason is that in the peak season, the cost is sky rocketing. In late May/ early June, hotel/rental car/flight costs are pretty low as compared to June/July season.

One problem I know is that the Denali park road doesn't completely open until 13th June. So that will be a problem.

Any inputs are greatly welcome. Thanks.

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New England
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1. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

Flying from the east coast and immediately driving to Denali makes for a VERY long day. What time does your flight arrive in Anchorage? By the time you get a rental car and stop to pick up supplies for your time in Denali the five hour drive on a two lane road might be more than you want to do after a cross country flight and the time change.

Also, most flight seeing trips leave from Talkeetna which is several hours south of Denali. It is a good idea to schedule it on your way there and then if it is cancelled due to weather you can try again on your way back towards Anchorage.

You are correct about car rentals as many folks who are going in July book their rentals 11 months out when the prices are lower. Keep looking for car rentals but the price will most likely keep rising.

If you already know the Denali road does not open until June 13, why would you go before then? Taking a shuttle bus into the park on multiple days is the best way to have more chances to see wildlife.

New York
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2. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

Thanks @bluewaterdiva. You are making some very valid points. The only reason is I am thinking of going before June is to lower the cost of the tour.

Manitoba, Canada
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3. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

What exact times do you arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 9?

Actually, the shuttle goes all the way into Denali starting June 8; however, they go as far as Eielson June 1st, which is far enough to get you a good chance to see a variety of wildlife, plus a great view of McKinley if it's out. If you pretty much reverse your itinerary, could you get to Denali June 1st or later? It would make a huge difference to your enjoyment of DNP, plus solve the problem Bluewaterdiva mentioned regarding time and time zones.

What kinds of things were you planning for Seward and Cooper Landing? What do you mean by "Knik Glacier"--was that the ATV tour there or the boat tour? And I don't see any glacier hikes in your itinerary...is that something you'd enjoy? With a bit of re-arranging, I think you'd have a really enjoyable trip.

fti
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4. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

It makes no sense to me to go in May to Denali if you really want to see the park. The road is only open to mile 53 (Toklat) through May 31st. It is then open to Eielson (mile 66) as of June 1st and to the end as of June 8th, not June 13th. These dates rarely change, since the road is cleared of snow by early May except for a late-season snowfall and by then it is usually easy to clear.

In response to bluewaterdiva's question you didn't mention what time you arrive into Anchorage, but I too would hesitant to try and drive to Denali the same day you arrive. Also, depending on the arrival day, you should look at renting off-airport to hopefully save money on your rental car.

If you really want to go the end of May, I strongly suggest you reverse the itinerary and go to Denali last. At least that way you can get to Denali on/after June 1st.

I too would strongly suggest looking at flightseeing in Talkeetna, doing that the first time you pass through Talkeetna. That way if the flight is canceled (relatively common) you can reschedule it for your return trip.

New York
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5. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

Thanks @fti. I haven't actually booked flight to Anchorage yet. But I am guessing it will reach Anchorage around noon. And I think you both are probably right about driving to Denali. It might be too much especially after a long flight to drive 5 hours to Denali. I will shuffle the days accordingly.

@flightseeing - I was looking at K2 aviation's Glacier landing flightseeing tours. From a bunch I've seen, this looked most attractive.

fti
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6. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

>>I am guessing it will reach Anchorage around noon.

I don't like "guessing" when planning my Alaska trips. The absolute earliest arrival I can see is 1.23pm but my "guess" is that the fare would be relatively high since it mixes airlines. Most likely you arrive between 3pm and 7pm if not later.

The only time I have driven from Anchorage airport to Denali the same day as arrival is when I arrived at 2pm. But I have been there multiple times in the past and didn't need to stop at the multitude of options along the way (Veteran's Memorial, Byers Lake area, Iditarod HQ, etc, etc).

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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7. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

Flying from the midwest to Anchorage can be very taxing. I would not suggest attempting the flight from NY to ANC and then drive more than about an hour or two.

While not pleasant to talk about or plan for, there is always a chance of being severely delayed into ANC which would really make for a bad travel day if you're first night's lodging is 3-5 hrs away.

Bristol, Connecticut
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8. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

As someone who flies often between NYC and Anchorage I will first add to the discussion about how tiring it is. I am very familiar with the roads and the area after living in Alaska for quite a while and I would not make that drive after that flight. I guess if money was no option and I flew first class on the flight that arrives at 1:23pm maybe I could do it. You will probably arrive sometime after 8pm unless you get really lucky with flights or don't mind paying the money for a better schedule. I look for the best bargains and always tend to arrive between midnight and 2am. Something you just get used to when you live in AK.

I would also suggest that you reverse your itinerary so that you maximize your Denali experience and your entire trip to Alaska.

fti
MN
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9. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

>>I guess if money was no option and I flew first class

spacefry, money is an object to me but I often still fly first class. Glad that I have lots of miles from credit cards. But even then, coming from the east coast to Anchorage then driving to Denali is not something most people should consider. As Timesharevon mentioned, flight delays can be common (I missed an off-airport car rental pick up one time due to a flight delay).

New York
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10. Re: Inputs on my itinerary [Denali, Anchorage, Seward]

Thanks for your inputs. Money is obviously a consideration and I can't afford to fly first class. So I will take the advise and keep Anchorage area before Denali.