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Do I need a car in Seaward?

Toronto, Canada
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Do I need a car in Seaward?

Arriving in Anchorage Aug 17 night and will rent a car to head towards Denali. Spend a couple of nights there before going back down on Aug 20. Then I'll use the two days before my Aug 23 cruise boarding to explore Seaward. I'm interested in hiking the Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield as well as a trip into the Kenai Fjords. In this case, do you suggest I keep the rental car for the last two days or return it in Anchorageand take a train down to Seaward? Not sure how easy or hard to get around Seaward and cover my points of interest. Also not sure if I get the best scenery on the Seaward hwy or railroad. A lot of people,talk about Turnagain. If I take train to Seaward, should I drive to Turnagain before return the car?

fti
MN
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1. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

I assume you're traveling alone. I would not incur the expense of a 1 way rental to Seward. Nor would I rent a car in Seward once I arrive. you can get around Seward easily by walking, the free shuttle, a taxi or the Exit Glacier shuttle.

the train will travel along Turnagain Arm won't stop. if it were me I would try to drive that stretch before returning the car.

Edited: 20 February 2013, 14:33
Lake Tahoe...
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2. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

Both the Seward Highway and the railroad follow the Turnagain Arm. At Portage they go their own routes and meet again at Moose Pass.

As John (fti) suggested just drive the Turnagain Arm to Girdwood and back before returning your rental car. Recommend stopping for views going south at the turnouts as the views on on your right. You really don't want to walk or pulloff on the way back.

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

Thank you both. That clarifies my concerns. Will do as you suggest.

Wasilla, Alaska
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4. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

Going as far as Girwood is good, getting as far as Portage is even better (in my opinion) if you have the time...

In the Portage area you have the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage Glacier, Byron Glacier and Portage Lake.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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5. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

The shuttle town schedule is in this link ( it's 2012 )

http://www.sewardchamber.org/visit-seward/

If you look at the SCENIC DRIVES link under Top Questions above, the first drive is for the Turnagain Arm and it includes suggested stopping points

.

Lake Tahoe...
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6. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

The area between Girdwood and Portage isn't really that impressive, but the activities available could make it a worthwhile extension. The additional distance is about nine miles. What the heck, continue on and go to Hope or just up to Turnagain Pass

Michigan
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7. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

We liked having a car in Seward, but would not not recommend the one way car rental. I would return the car in Anchorage, take the train and then rent a Hertz Car in Seward. Yes, they have shuttles and taxis, but with limited time, we just preferred a car.

In our case, we disembarked the ship and went right to our Kenai Fjords Tour with them storing our luggage. After the boat tour we walked to the car rental, went back to the Kenai Fjords office to retrieve our luggage and then headed to our hotel, then out for dinner. The next day we drove to the Sea Life Center, had lunch and then drove to Exit Glacier. From there we headed back downtown and picked up dinner to go, returned the car and took the train to Anchorage.

It really depends on you as to what is the best choice. For us, we liked having the car for the one day.

Anchorage, Alaska
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8. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

IMO...

Having a car is indispensable. You have complete control over all of your activities, starting, stopping, changing, etc. whether you are on a bus, a train, or a car you get great scenery. The car just gives you the flexibility (usually at a cost). Only you can decide if the added cost (if it exists) is worth it.

It always has been to me.

Brussels, Belgium
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9. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

Even for Denali why are you renting a car ? You can't go with your car inside the national park. You can take a shuttle.

Exit Glacier is quite a way from Seward. I hitchhiked, which I did regularly in Alaska, especially for short distances, and which works very well.

fti
MN
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10. Re: Do I need a car in Seaward?

I find a car at Denali WAY more essential that in Seward. But everyone has their own opinions. Sure you take the shuttle bus into Denali NP, but with a car you open up lots more options:

-options for earlier shuttle buses

-options for more lodging (only some lodging near the park entrance offers a shuttle to the park, and not always at convenient hours)

-more options for eating

-more options to drive the first 15 miles of the park road in the evening (often when you can see wildlife close to the road)

My experience, especially with booking the car early, is that it is cheaper to rent a car and pay gas from Anchorage to Denali and back than to take the train or bus. This is only for one person. The round trip train price is $300 per person. I pay about $120 for a week's car rental plus about $80-$100 in gas, so a total of about $200 or slightly more. Even when I tent camp inside the park and the car just sits at the entrance for 4-5 days, it is still way cheaper than taking the train. Plus, I can shop in Anchorage for groceries and not have to worry about dragging them on the train or on the bus (not to mention my tent, gear, clothes, etc). Plus, I can make stops along the way between Anchorage and Denali. There are some really nice places to stop along the way.

To each his own, but I would not be without a car at Denali.

Edited: 26 February 2013, 15:47