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Planning our first Alaska trip

Ontario Canada
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Planning our first Alaska trip

We are two retirees who have had the opportunity to travel to many places. This is our tentative itinerary and we would love some feedback please. Is it realistic in our timeframe? Are we missing important spots? Nothing is booked yet except campsite in Denali.

August 20 ViaRail Toronto to Vancouver 4 nights

Arrive Vancouver August 23

August 25- Sept. 1 Vancouver to Alaska Cruise cruise

Ketchikan/Juneau/Skagway/Glacier Bay/ends in Seward

Sept. 1 Pick up RV

Chickaloon

Sept. 2 Valdez

Sept. 3 Copper Center

Sept. 4 Fairbanks

Sept. 5 Fairbanks

Sept. 6 Denali National Park

Sept. 7 Denali National Park

Sept. 8 Denali National Park

Sept. 9 Bird Creek

Sept. 10 Homer

Sept. 11 Homer

Sept. 12 Homer

Sept. 13 Anchorage

Sept. 14 Fly home

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Chugiak, Alaska
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1. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

Where are you picking up the RV? Why are you stopping in Chickaloon (not much there)?

If you are picking it up from Anchorage, I'd head to Denali first. Labor Day weekend seems to be when the colors have peaked the last couple of years. Then, I'd head to Fairbanks from there, then drive south to Copper Center, Valdez, etc.

The only thing I'd think about would be subtracting a day from Homer and adding in Seward. They have longer day cruises out of Seward that would be good for marine wildlife viewing that Homer doesn't offer. But that would depend on what your interests are and what you were doing elsewhere. Might help to mention those things that are most important for you to see and do and what things you are planning to see at the various locations so the folks on here can help out more.

The amount of time spent in each place looks good and it doesn't seem like you are planning on any drives that are way too long.

If you do switch Denali first, I'd do something like this:

Sept. 1 Pick up RV

Sept. 2 - Denali

Sept. 3 - Denali

Sept. 4 - Denali

Sept. 5 - Fairbanks

Sept. 6 - Fairbanks

Sept. 7 - Copper Center

Sept. 8 - Valdez

Sept. 9 - Palmer

Sept. 10 - Seward

Sept. 11- Homer

Sept. 12 - Homer

Sept. 13 - Anchorage

Sept. 14 Fly home

I added in Palmer and Seward and both of those allows for a bit less driving. There's some neat stuff to do near Palmer. On the way there, you can stop at the Matanuska Glacier and go on a guided ice trek onto the glacier. There's the Independence Mine up at Hatcher's Pass to see, the Musk Ox farm, the Reindeer farm, the Iditarod Headquarters about 15 miles away outside Wasilla, etc.

Instead of driving 5-6 hours to get to Bird Creek from Copper Center, it'd only be about 4 hours. Then the drive to Seward would only be about 4 hours the next day. But if 4 hour drive between locations seems like a lot, you might want to pick different locations. There's a fair amount of driving between each place you've chosen. That's ok if you don't mind driving. Some people like it- some don't. I personally don't mind a four hour drive as long as I'm not doing it every day.

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2. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

Thank you so much, Alaskantiger. Last year we rented an RV in the southwest USA and fell in love with this type of vacation. At this point, we have seen enough churches and museums and we are more interested in natural beauty. My husband would like to try his hand at fishing.

I like your suggested changes. I chose Chickaloon because it is so close to Anchorage where we will probably rent the RV from CRUISEAMERICA. I figured that, by the time we bought groceries, etc. it may be quite late in the afternoon.

Once again, many thanks and we welcome any other info. We would like to do private tours from the cruise ship and also arrange our own transportation from Seward to Anchorage, if possible.

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Chugiak, Alaska
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3. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

If you are putting in at Seward from your cruise, you could grab a train up to Anchorage. Cheaper than renting a car one way and maybe a bit more fun than a bus.

I would suggest fishing out of Homer that time of the year. Pretty late for salmon in the rivers- they'll be pretty spawned out, but you could have some luck getting some out of the ocean. We went out of Homer that time of the year last Fall and had good luck with halibut, but not with salmon. We had a rough seas day, though. Definitely make sure your husband takes some Bonine.

Depending on when you are picking up your RV on the 1st, that gives you part of that day for getting groceries. You could head up north an hour towards Denali and stop near Nancy Lakes or somewhere in Wasilla or Willow. It's a bit more pretty up north a bit than in Anchorage.

You should check out some Trip Reports from the right-hand side of the Top Questions in the main Alaska forums. There are some RV trips in there and just other reports that'll give you ideas of what to do in each location so you can pick out the things that sound the best to you.

You should also look into getting a Milepost which will tell you where you can stop for food and gas along the way as well as giving you some interesting bits to read about certain places.

Edited: 22 April 2013, 07:11
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4. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

Why are you zig zagging from the kenai (seward)i through Anchorage to the interior, back to anchorage enroute to the kenai(homer) then back up to anchorage? You are wasting time and gas. Do everything you want to do on the Kenai first the head north. You may have to re arrange your camping reservations. You may have to do an auto tour on the Kenai with a one way rental to anchorage before you get the RV. Remenber you can find a place to seal and freeze fish and store it anywhere you go, and it is cheaper to take it home with you as luggage than it is to ship it. once packed it is good for 24 hrs of travel

Edited: 22 April 2013, 21:31
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Kenai
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Chugiak, Alaska
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5. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

'Do everything you want to do on the Kenai first the head north. '

Bushwhacker- they can't do everything on the Kenai first if they are coming off a cruise in Seward and wanting to go by RV. They have to go up to Anchorage to get the RV. If they want to backtrack to spend their time in Homer in an RV, that's their choice. I'm assuming they looked at a map and understand they are backtracking, but it's really only going to shave about six hours off their trip to not backtrack so it's not that much difference.

And taking the fish home as luggage only works if they do Homer last, not at the beginning of the trip as you are suggesting.

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Ontario Canada
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6. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

We are thinking of renting our RV from Clippershiprv. Any feedback?

Anchorage, Alaska
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7. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

Why Clippership RV versus any of the other many suppliers?

Have you done any research on the internet/TA?

Ontario Canada
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8. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

Have checked Great Alaska Holidays and Best of Alaska Travel. No availability. Cruise America is $60.00 more per day. Have seen the negative reviews of Clippershiprv. Also some positive ones.

fti
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9. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

I like alaskantiger's itinerary with doing Denali NP first for the reasons stated. it will only cost you $4 to make the reservation change, which is well worth it. Besides the fall colors, you have a greater chance of snow later in the month, which can close the road into the park for a while (hours or days).

If you were not in a RV I would say you are moving a bit too quickly, with several single nights, which really means you can't do very much those days. Having an RV helps in that regard re: packing/unpacking, but you still are limiting yourselves to what you can do. Palmer to Seward in one day is probably going to be 4-5 hours of driving plus stops along one of the most scenic roadways in the USA, so figure 5-8 hours. So in reality you won't get to Seward until late afternoon and if you leave for Homer the next day, you have the morning in Seward and that is it. Quite a shame IMHO. Perhaps to "soften the blow" so to speak, would be to get off your cruise, take a 6 hour Kenai Fjords cruise that day (returns by 5.30pm) and take the 6pm train to Anchorage. Then when you return on Sep 10 you can go to Exit Glacier, fish, Sealife Center, etc. You will only have time for 1-2 activities that morning before lunch then making the 4 hour drive from Seward to Homer.

I would be very cautious with the RV rental company. A couple of companies have had some serious issues, including one that is a total scam (not Clippership). Think about it - you have two weeks to see a lot of Alaska. If the RV gives you troubles, you will be wasting a lot of time. I haven't read the RV reviews, but have read about RV hassles here on the forum. I just warn you to not be penny-wise and pound-foolish. What that ends up meaning to you, I don't know.

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10. Re: Planning our first Alaska trip

ABC Motorhomes in Anchorage usually gets good reviews.

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