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Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

Clarkston, MI
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Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

Last year we traveled from Anchorage to Palmer went to the mine the musk ox farm and hiked Matanuska Glacier. From there we went to Talkeetna for flightseeing, Denali for the bus ride and then drove to Gridwood, Whittier for glacier tour an then on to Seward to Exit Glacier and then back to Anchorage to return home. We would like to include Wrangell St. Elias this time, however we want an itinerary that does not cross too much of the same territory we have already seen but that does not require us to double back too much on driving, My sense is that we would see more new things if we flew into Fairbanks and drove down, but I am concerned that an itinerary from there would require a long return drive over the same territory. We have 9 days late June to early July. Its cost prohibitive for us to fly into Fairbanks and out of Anchorage so we are trying to arrive and leave out of the same airport. Any ideas on an itinerary from either Anchorage or Fairbanks that would include Wrangell and would not require too much backtracking or redoing of the same sights we saw last year?

New England
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1. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

We flew in and out of Anchorage on both of our trips and on our second one of our priorities was Wrangell-St Elias. You could do a circle from Anchorage to Fairbanks and then down the Richardson to get to WSE. You could then do the short "back track" to the Glenn and travel the Glenn back to Anchorage. The drive from Fairbanks on the Richardson is gorgeous as is the drive on the Glenn. You would certainly be doing some of the same roads as your last trip since you went to Matanuska but we found we did not mind "repeats" at all.

Are you planning to fly into WSE from Chitina or are you going to drive in?

Edited: 18 March 2012, 23:11
fti
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2. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

I would think the cost to fly into Fairbanks and out of Anchorage wouldn't be all that bad, but the one-way car rental would be the killer from a price standpoint.

What else do you want to do besides Wrangell/St. Elias NP? Also, what do you want to do in Wrangell/St. Elias NP? There are SO many options inside that park (the largest NP in the USA). Charter a plane and fly to a remote cabin to hike and/or fish? Just go to the more developed area of McCarthy and Kennicott?

Without going back to your posts from last year, who is "we"? Do you like to hike? How about another glacier hike? You could literally spend the entire 9 days in Wrangell/St. Elias NP depending on your interests. I was there for 2 nights a couple of years ago and felt it was too short. I would have loved to hike up to one of the mines for example. I would have also loved to have taken more time on the drive on the McCarthy Road and done more hiking from the road.

My initial feeling is that you could fly into Anchorage, spend a night in Anchorage, a night getting to McCarthy, 2-3 nights in McCarthy (depending on your interests), a couple of nights in Valdez then take the ferry from Valdez to Whittier and return to Anchorage. That would give you a big loop and sure some of the territory is where you drove last time, but I don't find that to be a huge negative. Every drive can be different - different wildlife sightings, different stops for hikes or views or photos, different things to do/see. For example, when you went to Whittier and Girdwood did you go to Byron Glacier and take the Portage Glacier cruise? When in Whittier did you hike the Portage Pass trail or take an all-day photo boat tour of Prince William Sound? When in Girdwood did you hike the Winner Creek Trail to the hand tram and visit the Crow Creek Mine? You could literally fill a week just between Whittier and Anchorage!

Clarkston, MI
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3. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

Bluewaterdiva - I would love to do your route if we had more time, but fear that its too much driving for the amount of time we have. I would love to travel the Richardson hwy too because I have heard that it is so beautiful. Not sure about flying or driving from Chitina. We were thinking of renting a car that could be driven on the McCarthy Road and we are generally not afraid of such drives (we did the back way home from the road to Hana on Maui which everyone warned us against, but there were no railroad spikes!), so not sure what to think on that. Is it worth the cost savings to drive it and spend the extra time driving with the risk of flat tires? I would appreciate all thoughts on this.

Fti- we love to hike we really enjoyed the Matanuska Glacier Hike and the hike up to the Harding Ice Field and we love to explore. Not much for camping. We like to be near the wild with the ability to sleep in comfort and enjoy a hot meal that someone else cooks! In Wrangell I think we would like to do day hikes and explore the mine and Kennecott, so I am thinking 2-3 nights there depending what time we can arrive. Is it worth it to stay at the Kennecott Lodge or will McCarthy lodgings or one of the less expensive alternatives suffice? Seems like we would not spend much time at the lodge with all there is to do there, just need a place to sleep! We have two teenagers traveling with us lodging for four in Alaska can be very pricey. We did not do either of your suggestions in the Girdwood/Whittier area we were there primarily for the Prince William Sound cruise. It sounds like you drove the Mccarthy, how was it? Also do you know about the ferry from Valdez to Whittier? Is it expensive to take your car? Your route seems practical given our time limtiations, but I hate so much to miss the Richardson!

New England
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4. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

It seems you have posted this twice and that Coalminer has also given you some good ideas in the other thread.

We drove from Fairbanks to Chitina in one day, leaving Fairbanks around 9:30am and arriving around 5pm. It was long but we were stopping lots for photos and to walk or hike a bit so it did not seem long at all.

Only you can decide if it is worth it to stay in the lodge at Kennecott. They have some package deals that can even include your flight. We are budget travelers and our stay there was our splurge. We stayed in the main building as we are OK with shared baths. It was lovely and the food was fabulous. We enjoyed sitting on the porch soaking in the views and history. We loved our guided hike on Root Glacier, our tour of the mine and our own hiking on the trails there as well as exploring tiny McCarthy.

Hope this helps.

Clarkston, MI
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5. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

bluewaterdiva-

Thanks so much for your responses. Not sure how this was posted twice, oops!

Did you then spend the night in Chitina and drive the McCarthy Road the next morning? And, how did you find the road, what time of year was it? We are trying to watch the budget as well considering that travel to Alaska is pretty much a budget buster! I was looking at renting from EZ car rental in Anchorage-do you recall from whom you rented from in Fairbanks that allowed travel on McCarthy Road?

Wasilla, Alaska
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6. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

I would go with FTI's suggestion to include the ferry trip between Whittier & Valdez. That'll keep your backtracking & repeat drives to a minimum.

Alaska
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7. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

Perhaps another alternative for you would be to fly into Fairbanks, drive south on the Richardson which really IS a spectacular road to Wrangell, do your stuff there, and then backtrack on the Rich a bit to travel on the Denali Highway across to the Parks, and then north on the Parks back to Fairbanks.

I believe that section of the Parks would be new for you north of Denali Park itself. Plus the Rich would be new, and the Denali Highway as well. Any car you rent that allows travel on the McCarthy Road would most likely also allow travel on the Denali Highway.

A car rental agency in Fairbanks that allows travel on gravel roads is Go North, although I believe they also have an office in Anchorage.

fti
MN
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8. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

I stayed at Ma Johnson's in McCarthy with a 2-for-1 coupon so I got one night free. There are also a couple of options on the "other" side of the bridge (where you can drive your car). The main issue with the Kennicott Lodge is that the only place to eat is at the lodge - figure about $30/person for dinner. In McCarthy at least we had a couple more options, all of which were less expensive.

>>In Wrangell I think we would like to do day hikes and explore the mine and Kennecott

Not much in Kennicott to explore. And you really can't "explore" the mine(s). You can hike to Jumbo and Bonanza mines (long day hikes with steep elevation gains and more for the view and the ruins). You can also take the mill tour but you can't get into the mill on your own.

If you stay in McCarthy you need to take the shuttle to Kennicott ($5/person each way?) or walk.

>>It sounds like you drove the Mccarthy, how was it?

I drove to McCarthy. The road was fine (we drove slow), but the car got filthy both inside and out. Some companies allow their cars on that road, others don't. It is a personal choice if one decides to drive on such roads when the companies don't permit it.

>>Also do you know about the ferry from Valdez to Whittier? Is it expensive to take your car?

I have taken that ferry with a car once but I don't recall the cost. ferryalaska.com will give you the schedule and prices. I always enjoy taking the ferry myself. You might consider reversing the order and going to Whittier first then ferry to Valdez, depending on the ferry schedule. Also, it is said that traveling west on the Glenn Highway is prettier than traveling east on it. By reversing the order you can travel west on the Glenn.

The suggestion by AlaskaJuju is another good one. Many decisions!

Edited: 19 March 2012, 17:31
Easthampton...
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9. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

We are taking the ferry from whittier to Valdez in August. I already paid $302 for the two of us and car. I think it was $89 pp and $124 for the car.

10. Re: Itinerary from Anchorage/Fairbanks including Wrangell Elias

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