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May 10-17: Kenai Peninsula AND Denali? Too early for Denali?

Corpus Christi...
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May 10-17: Kenai Peninsula AND Denali? Too early for Denali?

We (two adults) are traveling to Alaska for the first time from May 10-17th and don't know whether to try to go to both the Kenai Peninsula and Denali, or to concentrate just on Whittier/Seward/Homer.

Our itinerary is:

May 10: Arrive in Anchorage

May 11: Drive to Seward, with stops along the way

May 12: Kenai Fjords boat tour

May 13: Sightsee on the way back up to Anchorage; sleep in Anchorage

May 14: Drive to Denali

May 15: Denali Teklanika Tundra Wilderness Tour (goes to Mile 30; 5-7 hours); only this shortened tour is available

May 16: Sightsee back down to Anchorage area

May 17th: Anchorage museums/environs and leave on red-eye

My questions are: With only the shortened Tundra Wilderness Tour available (Mile 30) is it worth the time to go to Denali? The road will still be open to private vehicles, but we will be in a rental car and are told we can't drive on the unpaved Park Road. If we didn't go up to Denali, we would spend the time down on the Kenai Peninsula exploring more of the coastal areas and add a scenic drive north/east to Talkeetna, Eklutna Lake, etc. for a small sense of the interior.

Thank you very much for any advice!

USA
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1. Re: May 10-17: Kenai Peninsula AND Denali? Too early for Denali?

If it were I, I wouldn't go to Denali for the TWT to Tek CG. That's in the woods, might see moose, but for me it would be a sad tease of the high tundra, Polychrome, bears, etc beyond. Come back for a week when you can get to Wonder Lake. June is my favorite month.

You could take a flightseeing tour of Mt McKinley from Talkeetna.

You could add Matanuska glacier, a beautiful drive east of Palmer, Hatcher Pass/ Independence mine for variety. Perhaps research those areas to see if they would interest you. Hatcher has the tundra.

Chugiak, Alaska
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2. Re: May 10-17: Kenai Peninsula AND Denali? Too early for Denali?

Yeah, I'm with denalicat. Hopefully Southcentral will be green and pretty by then. A trek on the Matanuska Glacier, maybe a full day in Talkeetna to give you a couple chances at flightseeing if the weather is being difficult would be a better choice than the extra driving for a not super taste of Denali.

Corpus Christi...
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3. Re: May 10-17: Kenai Peninsula AND Denali? Too early for Denali?

Thank you very much for your replies! We will plan our trip south and skip Denali, with a short trip to the north/east for a taste of the interior. Thank you again for your guidance.

Edited: 17 April 2013, 01:24
fti
MN
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4. Re: May 10-17: Kenai Peninsula AND Denali? Too early for Denali?

If it were me, I would go to Denali but not do what you said. I would not take the Tek TWT. I would drive those first 29 miles of the park road. Drive it the evening you arrive. Drive again twice the next day - morning and evening. And drive again the morning you leave. I would also consider buying two cheap bicycles in Anchorage. You can easily bike from Tek to Sable Pass if it is nice weather. I did that once in the fall and it was really nice. I know rental car companies say no gravel roads, but most are thinking about the major ones like Denali Highway, Dalton Highway, etc.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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5. Re: May 10-17: Kenai Peninsula AND Denali? Too early for Denali?

After seeing Denali (& Mt McKinley from 65 miles inside the park), and the scenery along Glenn hwy to Denali, I was glad I wenrt, even if for only 2 days.

Edited: 20 April 2013, 05:42
Chugiak, Alaska
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6. Re: May 10-17: Kenai Peninsula AND Denali? Too early for Denali?

Mark, Denali is definitely something not to be missed when you can get farther into the park or see it when it's greened up or in Fall colors. However, this early in the season, you just can't get very far in and this traveler will miss a lot of what you got to see. But, just so they (and you) know, here's what the park looked like when I went near Memorial Day to Toklat:

flickr.com/photos/…

I prefer for people to see something akin to what they would see at that place and time and make the decision for themselves based on empirical data rather than subjective opinion. It was a neat trip, but nothing like the gorgeousness of the park in the Fall and Summer. It was my first trip up there and I was wondering a bit why everyone was so impressed with it. Heh! Getting to see the lynx and fox was a highlight, though. Hope that helps.

Edited: 20 April 2013, 06:55
7. Re: May 10-17: Kenai Peninsula AND Denali? Too early for Denali?

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