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kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

Massachusetts
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kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

We want to do our own land tour prior to a Saturday cruise out of Whittier in July. We arrive in Anchorage the Sunday evening before, will rent a car and need to be back in Anchorage the Saturday of the cruise for bus transport to Whittier.

We are thinking that we don't have time to do both kenai and denali? Do you agree? We will spend Sunday night in Anchorage and maybe spend Monday doing something there. If we just visit the Kenai peninsula, we want to do the Kenai Fjords tour in Seward for sure, possibly spending 2 nights there and 2 nights in Homer. We like hiking, wildlife. This will be our first visit to Alaska and would welcome any suggestions. We are really looking forward to it.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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1. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

I am not gifted with itineraries, but I think you could do 2 days in Seward and 2/3 in Denali - I would skip Homer to make things a bit smoother. :)

Manitoba, Canada
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2. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

If you want to see wildlife, Denali is your best chance for that. Also is a hiker's dream. Up to you of course, but here is a sample itinerary:

Sunday – arrive Anch., overnight.

Monday – pick up rental car (book that NOW, prices are already going up), get snacks & supplies, and drive to Denali (5 hrs). Entrance activities: drive the 14 miles into the park that private vehicles are allowed to look for wildlife and maybe hike at the turnaround point, entrance hike, visitor center displays & film, free Ranger sled dog demo at 10, 2 or 4, whitewater rafting, etc. Overnight nearby Healy.

Tuesday – shuttle to Eielson (8 hrs ), book in advance at www.reservedenali.com . Plan to get off somewhere on the way back to hike, also maybe hike at the Eielson stop, especially if Mt. McKinley is “out”, since there is a spectacular view of the Mountain there. Bring binoculars for everyone, and food & beverages since none are for sale in the park. For ideas on hikes, look at Top Questions, top right of the Denali forum. Overnight Healy.

Wednesday – Drive to Girdwood (6 hrs). Maybe stop in Anchorage for an activity. The hour south of Anchorage is very scenic, so plan to spend extra time, including stops at Potter Marsh and Beluga Point. Wildlife Conservation Center if time, or do that first thing tomorrow. At Girdwood, do Winner Creek Trail hike. Overnight Girdwood area.

Thursday – drive to Seward (under 2 hrs). Exit Glacier and all or part of Harding Icefield hike (full hike 6 to 8 hrs., though you might not be able to get all the way to the top due to snow), or else 11 a.m. glacier trek with Exit Glacier Guides. Other possible activities: evening kayaking with Sunny Cove, SeaLife Center, Ididaride or Godwin Glacier sled dog tour.

Friday – at least a 6 hr. cruise of Kenai Fjords NP. The more time you spend on the water, the more chances you have to come across whales and other wildlife. Will spend a bit of time near a calving glacier as well, closer than your cruiseship can get. After, drive to Anchorage (2.5 to 3 hrs) to overnight.

Saturday – rather than a bus, I’d suggest the morning train to Whittier. It arrives in time for either 26 Glaciers or Majormarine cruise of Prince William Sound. After, board cruiseship for dinner.

If you don't mind, please self-report your other identical posts by clicking the link at the bottom of each. The same people will be responding, and it helps us to keep track of you if all your itinerary discussion is on the same thread. Thanks!

Massachusetts
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3. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

Thanks for your replies! My husband says that he would love to do a day of fishing somewhere. Would that make a difference as to whether we should go to Denali or stay on the Kenai peninsula? Someone suggested that there is good fishing out of Homer. This could be a battle as I would like to go to Denali and DH wants to fish! I wish we could spend another week but don't have the vacation time.

I would love to take the train to Whittier but we are meeting friends who are flying in too late to make the train.

It is so helpful to get your advice. Thanks again.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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4. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

You can fish in Seward! :)

Manitoba, Canada
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5. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

"This could be a battle"

Not at all. Both you and Mr. Frog will get exactly what you want with the combo tour about half way down the page: alaskasaltwaterlodge.com/alaska_whale_watchi… . Very highly recommended outfitter.

EDIT: Of course, if he insists, he can do the fishing-only trip, and you could then go on the tour at the top of the page (or another tour if you prefer a larger boat).

Edited: 22 November 2011, 02:22
Massachusetts
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6. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

That tour looks like it would be fun. I might send Mr. Frog by himself as I am prone to motion sickness and fear I would spend the majority of the day hanging over the side of a small boat. Very aggravating. I'm even concerned that I'll feel sick on a bigger boat even if I take meds. I'll probably chance it as I really want to see Kenai Fjords NP. You've given some excellent suggestions and provide a great service to those of us coming to visit for the first time!

Chugiak, Alaska
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7. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

If you are going to send him by himself, then I suggest him going on a salmon/halibut combo charter. He'll get to see neat stuff and get to put in more time fishing. The combo also gives him an opportunity to fish for a few different kinds of fish (80% of the time you get rockfish with fishing for halibut).

Lake Tahoe...
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8. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

Since we live on the Kenai Peninsula (Homer) we are partial to the area. However, Denali is a must for visitors (and residents alike). Several years ago we took the train between Denali and Anchorage and spent two nights there. We also took the Tundra Wilderness Tour. Driving to and from Anchorage you will not be restricted to a set train schedule.

If it were me I would forget Girdwood. Also, Potter Marsh. We checked it out after comments here on TA and really were not impressed with it.

The drive from Seward to Homer is 175 miles and most likely you can do it, particularly if you don't mind earlier hours of driving. Since, you are cruising also you will be getting up early for shore excursions anyway.

At Homer you might consider the Danny J to Halibut Cove, and charter fishing out of here.

The Princess shuttle(s) start leaving the downtown convention center about noon. Unfortunately, if driving back from the Kenai you will repeat a portion of your trip, that being Anchorage and the junction for the road to Whittier.

As for meeting your friends, I would suggest they arrive a day earlier due to unexpected flight delays. We are experienced Princess cruises and can tell several horror stories of those who missed their cruise due to flight delays.

Anchorage, Alaska
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9. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

If hiking (which you stated you like) fits in then a couple of stops in the Girdwood area are quite fun (if not spectacular). There's a couple of hikes; Byron Glacier (easy, more like a walk) and Winner Creek (easy with some very manageable wooded switchbacks) that are really interesting.

Byron Glacier (about 10 miles south of Girdwood (at Portage Lake) is a beautiful walk (hour round trip) with creeks, mountains, glacier, etc. There's a good chance of some snow to play on and some amazing scenery.

Winner Creek (park outside Crow Creek MIne in Girdwood) takes an hour or two round-trip and has a beautiful gorge (hand-tram over the gorge!!!!) with a beautiful creek about one hundred yards after you go over the gorge. It's well worth the effort.

Girdwood is also really good for a meal with several really good/fun/eclectic places to eat. If time is available the visitor center at Portage Lake/Glacier is well worth the stop and so is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Here's an excellent site for looking for hikes:

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

If you are in Anchorage (maybe waiting for a flight/friends?) don't think you can't fill an hour or two with some fun activity. Two of my favorite hour or two long things to do are:

(1) head to the AK Native Medical Center (see: http://imdjobs.anmc.org/about_art.htm ). It has an absolutely amazing native art display (free to the public) in the hospital. The easy/lazy way to see it is to take the elevator to the top floor and peruse the lobby; walk down to the next floor and repeat the perusing/walking down until you've reached the bottom (30 to 60 minutes)

(2) drive up to the Glen Alps trailhead (also commonly referred to as Flat Top parking lot - pay parking) and head out to the observation deck (300 yard walk) for some great views of Anchorage, the Arms, Cook Inlet and the surrounding mountain ranges. (60 minutes minimum round-trip from downtown).

Good luck & enjoy AK,

Scott

Massachusetts
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10. Re: kenai peninsula or denali pre-cruise - 5 days/6nights

Thank you all for such wonderful information. Sounds like there is so much to do in AK. We may have to plan a second trip to really do the state justice. My brother once worked for the forestry service in AK but we never made it up to visit him. Wish we had.

Scott, thanks for the hour or two info. Seems whenever we vacation there is always an hour or two to be filled with something.