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What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

Vero Beach, Florida
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What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

We (3 adults) are planning a car trip for June 2014 and are trying to decide on two locations: one to see the Kenai peninsula and the other to be in and around the Denali area. We would like to spend 4-5 days at each location, renting a cabin with kitchen or staying at a lodge at each location.

I am considering Seward for the sea location because of access to sea life and glaciers and then I am not certain about where to find a location close enough to Denali but also access to other areas as well. We don't want to have to pick up and constantly move from one motel to another. Our objective is to be able to do day hikes in and around Denali, but not limited to Denali and then drive to Seward and take a cruise to glaciers and be able to view the sea life plus day hike in this area also. We may want to go to the Kenai peninsula first and then drive north. We will be flying into Anchorage and renting a car from there. Please advise.

Also from the mileage chart, the drive between Seward and Denali is about 375 miles, probably more than 8 hours with stops. Should we consider making that a 2 day trip? If so where should we stop?

Lake Tahoe...
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1. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

If it were me I would not care to drive 375 miles in one day in Alaska. We did about 260 one day in August, but that was the light traffic Richardson Hwy from Fairbanks to Copper Center, but still enough driving for one day.

Visiting Alaska from a base station such as the Denali area and/or Seward is not the way to go, unless you don't care to go anywhere out of town.

Healy, Alaska
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2. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

Well, Alaska doesn't work to well with basing yourselves in a few spots, but you could make it work somewhat if you realize what those limits would mean to you. Most people simply want to see/experience more. It also depends on how much you are used to driving long distances. For me, I go to Fairbanks on a regular basis - it is 2 hrs one way - and I do that in a day, but for many people, that is longer than they drive in a year in one direction! For example, you could stay in the Denali/Healy area and see the park for a few days as well as perhaps drive some of the Denali Hwy (where it is paved) and you could also do Fairbanks as a day trip. But that is only if you like the driving . . .

Same goes for Seward - you could see different things on your way there/back - but most other areas would be a bit of a long drive.

You could break up the drive btw Denali and Seward by staying in Talkeetna or Wasilla/Palmer area - just depends on what you want to do. By the way, how much time do you have for this vacation and when in June are you coming? :)

Las Vegas, Nevada
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3. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

Talkeetna is a popular overnight stop - it's about 2 1/2 hrs south of Denali.

Or, since glaciers are of interest, take a detour to Matanuska Glacier, northeast of Anchorage.

OR, Palmer or Wasilla which are less than an hr north of Anchorage.

Or. stay in Anchorage, which is about 5 hrs from Denali.

There's a drive time chart under Top Questions. And a Scenic Drives.

Vero Beach, Florida
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4. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

What would be your suggestions for doing a week of inland excursions/day hiking and then a week along the sea with glacier and sea life viewing? We do not fish. We are not trying to see everything at a fast pace but want to appreciate what we see, less is more sometimes.

Anchorage, Alaska
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5. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

Good suggestions above.

I'd pick a 3rd spot and I'd make it Girdwood and make use of the Girdwood/Portage/Whittier area for a couple of days. There's a ton of great AK things to do in this area, some good accommodations, and great dining options.

Good luck,

Scott

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6. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

verohikers, did you ever make your summer 2013 trip? I assume not. Have you reconsidered your desire then to stay at one of the lodges back at Kantishna for all the within park hiking opportunities? Denali is indeed a hikers' dream!

Exactly how many days will you have in Alaska?

Vero Beach, Florida
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7. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

I did quite a bit of research last fall but did not make it to Alaska yet. But gave up my idea of staying in the Kantishna Lodges at the end of the park road because of their expense. I have a lot of info on Girdwood/Whittier and now I am wondering if I should drive down to Homer for a couple nights... just so much to do I need to focus on certain areas..I think 3-4 nights in Seward should take care of our interest in taking several day cruises to glaciers and seeing the ocean life and then maybe stopping by Girdwood as well. Plus there are many hikes to take in and around the Kenai Peninsula. I am also considering the Sheep Mountain Lodge off of the Glenn Highway between Palmer and Glennallen. Maybe we could spend a couple nights there before we finally make our way to Denali for 3 nights. So this squashes my "base camp rental cabin": idea for making day trips out of 2 locations. Taking care of airline reservations, accommodations and car rentals and other logistics like reserving 3 seats on the Denali Park shuttle is sometimes exasperating.

Vero Beach, Florida
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8. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

Forgot to mention our time frame of 2 weeks.

Lake Tahoe...
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9. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

We had a book handy about 50 hikes on the Kenai Peninsula but wife put it somewhere while dusting the house. Well detailed book and covers those in Kachemak Bay State Park. You need to hire water taxi to get there from Homer. Hope to do one to Grewingk Glacier Lake next summer. We can see part of the lake from our window and it is a shame that haven't done that yet.

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10. Re: What two locations to see S.Central Alaska?

These cabins some with kitchens & restrooms are just south of Denali at Carlo Creek:

http://www.denaliparklodging.com

I found their grounds spacious, quiet & loved looking at the historic cabins. There are2 good, casual restaurants & 1 fancier within walking distance. Just google Carlo Creek restaurants.