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Help With Trip Planning

Ra'anana, Israel
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Help With Trip Planning

It's been a really long time that I wanted to visit Alaska and finally it will happen this summer. I Haven't booked anything yet but I plan to arrive in Alaska at around August 18-20 and stay for a bit more then a month.

I'm not very smart so I'm just beginning to plan for the trip (right now mostly by reading about the different regions and what they offer), So I'll probably return here when I have more knowledge :)

Right now I would like to get your opinion about one specific thing. I know I won't have enough time to get the full Alaska experience and some people have told me it's better to focus on specific regions than to rush everything. I originally thought to start at Juneau/Sitka and dedicate around 7-10 days visiting southeast Alaska and specifically Glacier Bay National Park.

I'm starting to see how this might really limit my options later on. From what I've learned so far I think the region I would most like to focus on is the Kenai Peninsula, and I think spending a week or more in the southeast might really limit my options for long range trekking (I'd really love to do at least one backpacking trail of at least 4 days). I would also like to spend some time in the Fairbanks area. I heard there's a decent chance of seeing the northern lights in September so right now I'm thinking this will be one of the last stops.

So thanks for bearing with me so far... my main question is what do you think I should do regarding to SE Alaska? My main interests are hiking, adventuring (Kayaking Cycling and just exploring nature) and wildlife watching (I would really love to see whales...). From what I've read Glacier bay is an awesome place for renting a Kayak and it's something I'm really looking forward too. I'm also fond of history and culture and exploring a city like Sitka sounds magical, and although it's not my main reason for coming to Alaska, if I have the opportunity I would definitely dedicate it some time.

So bottom line after you got to know me a bit...skip Southeast Alaska or go for it? :)

Would love to hear opinions of experienced travelers.

Greetings from Israel!

Edited: 07 April 2013, 15:55
Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Bodies of Water
Misty Fjords National Monument
Monuments & Statues, Geologic Formations, National Parks
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Historic Sites, Visitor Centres, National Parks, State Parks
Bristol, Connecticut
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1. Re: Help With Trip Planning

With a month I think you will have time for both areas. You should be aware that the end of your trip will be during the end and close of the tourist season, many activities will be closed/closing. I think is is a great time to visit. You could fly first to Glacier Bay and enjoy the area before activities end then head to Kenai/Anchorage/Denali and you could end your trip in Fairbanks. Be aware of the shuttle schedule in Denali and the end of the tours in the Kenai Fjords area. Do you plan to rent a car or use public transportation?

Ra'anana, Israel
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2. Re: Help With Trip Planning

I thought I had until mid-September before activities for tourist season end?

As for transportation, In the southeast I thought I'd fly to either Juneau or Sitka and from there on use mostly the marine highway for transportation westward between places and then make do with public transportation where I stop. I'm not against the idea of renting a car where it is the only way to get to a certain place I'd like to visit but generally I'll be trying to cut costs as much as possible even if it means giving up some comfort and depending on a bus.

I'd also like to try my luck hitchhiking and couchsurfing around Anchorage, as a way to meet new people :)

I'm not sure I understood what you meant with the route. Did you mean fly in to Glacier Bay (Gustavus' airport?) and then going westward? or starting some kind of loop from there to Juneau and the surrounding area?

If you meant the second option, wouldn't it make more sense to start at Juneau or Sitka and then take a ferry west to Glacier Bay, and then continuing westward to the Kenai? (Through Cordova perhaps?)

haines, alaska
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3. Re: Help With Trip Planning

The ferry only goes to Glacier Bay from Juneau twice a week during the summer.......so depending on how long you plan on staying in Glacier Bay, you may need to fly into Gustavus (Glacier Bay) at least one way........

If you plan on taking a ferry to Cordova, you would need to return from Glacier Bay to Juneau and take a different ferry.....check the ferry schedules and compare the cost and sailing times for this route......

As your planning continues, you may want to reconsider "couch surfing" and plan on staying in hostels when possible.......much safer, same thing for hitchhiking, I would never recommend it.......

Ra'anana, Israel
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4. Re: Help With Trip Planning

Thanks. If that is the case then starting in Glacier bay indeed makes more sense like Spacefry has suggested... I'd love to get more opinions about the southeast in general.

Bristol, Connecticut
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5. Re: Help With Trip Planning

I assumed with your need for time you would fly between Southeast Alaska and Southcentral Alaska. I think you will find it difficult to find public transportation to the Kenai Peninsula once you take a ferry to Cordova and then on to Whittier. There are some options for public transport between Whittier and Anchorage and then to Seward or Homer, the train ceases operation (between Anchorage & Seward) on September 15th.

When I mentioned activities/places closing I mentioned that would be a problem near the end of your trip, September 15th seems to be a end of season date for many places. Denali will stop the shuttle bus into the park on September 12th. You can still hike and drive the road after September 16th if you have a vehicle. The hostel in Denali is very nice but only open until September 15th.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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6. Re: Help With Trip Planning

I have been surprised by places that close even before Labor Day (like Mahey's Boat Tours in Talkeetna).

Ra'anana, Israel
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7. Re: Help With Trip Planning

Is there a convenient way between Cordova and Seward? I've heard good things about Cordova, but if I must do the entire way from Cordova to Anchorage just to return south again I'll probably skip it...

Bristol, Connecticut
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8. Re: Help With Trip Planning

You can get from Cordova to Whittier by ferry but getting directly from Whittier to Seward can be expensive and/or difficult. The only direct route from Cordova to Seward would be to charter a plane which would be very expensive.

USA
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9. Re: Help With Trip Planning

You spoke of the Kenai & a 4 day backpack trip.

The Resurrection Pass Trail fits that description perfectly. 38 miles, Hope to Cooper Landing, we've done it many times either in 3 or 4 days. There are USFS cabins to rent or tent camp on one's own, bear lockers at some designated tent sites.

alaskahikesearch.com/hikes/resurrection-pass/

One of my old trip reports:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k38399…

haines, alaska
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10. Re: Help With Trip Planning

Just a little more information on your idea of taking the ferry from Juneau to Cordova......

It travels to Whittier first then back tracks to Cordova......cost is $310 one way/per person......and the fastest trip leaves Juneau on a Tuesday, getting to Cordova on Thursday.....

You can fly into Cordova from Juneau on Alaska Airlines faster and for less money.........