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Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

New York City, New...
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Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

Hello tripadvisor friends! Hoping for some advice as I get started planning my first trip to Alaska. My wife and I (early 30s) are planning a 10 day trip during the last two weeks of May 2014. We will fly into Anchorage and, to see everything we'd like, it seems most appropriate to rent a car and are planning to do so (but if you feel otherwise, please feel free to share). I more or less followed one of the itineraries suggested in the travel brochure from TravelAlaska.com but I'm wondering if I'm over-doing it with the driving and should concentrate on more time in less places.

Day 1 - fly into Anchorage (arrive late) and spend the night there.

Day 2 - spend in/around Anchorage

Day 3 - drive to Seward, stay in Seward

Day 4 - Seward

Day 5 - drive to Kenai (maybe stop on the way?), stay in Kenai

Day 6 - Kenai

Day 7 - Drive to Homer, stay in Homer

Day 8 - Homer

Day 9 - Drive to Kenai, stay in Kenai

Day 10 - Drive from Kenai to Anchorage to catch a late flight home

I suppose one of my main concerns is whether I should spend the time to drive to Homer and back from Kenai vs. just cut that piece out of the trip and spend more time in Anchorage and Seward (or stop somewhere else either from Anc-Seward or Seward to Kenai). We are mostly looking forward to casual hiking and wildlife, if that sways the decision one way or another. The coast drive from Kenai to Homer looked pretty incredible but I'd be willing to forego if you think there's better options. Thank you so much in advance for taking the time and any suggestions!

fti
MN
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1. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

What are you doing in Kenai that you are spending so much time there? Unless you have some sort of fishing charter you will be bored out if your mind.

I would go first to zlHkmer then Seward then Renaming NP if it were me. Even in late May Denali is well worth it.

Bristol, Connecticut
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2. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

Renting a car is the best option for the sites you would like to visit.

Do you have plans in Kenai, 3 nights there seems like a lot if you do not have specific plans? With your interests I would try to squeeze a night in the Girdwood area.

If you do not have specific Kenai City plans how about taking those days and putting a trip to Matanuska Glacier/Hatcher Pass/Independence Mine at the end of your trip? There may still be snow in the Talkeetna Mountains but Hatcher Pass is a great area for hiking and you would see a bit of different scenery.

haines, alaska
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3. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

You don't say what you want to see or do in each location......

I agree with the others that there is no reason to stay in Kenai.....unless you are planning to fish, it's sort of a drive through place to get to Homer, in my opinion.....Homer will have lots more things to do and see, and the scenery is much nicer than Kenai, there are several cruise tours to see marine life, hiking, kayaking, great restaurants............

Either add those extra Kenai days to Homer or as Spacefry suggested, add Matanuska Glacier before returning to Anchorage........You can hike onto Matanuska Glacier or raft the river......lots of hiking around Independence Mine, area.....

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4. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

Thanks a lot, this is what I needed to hear. Girdwood looks right up our alley, I am going to add one or two nights there (any thoughts?) on our way to Seward. I like the idea of Hatcher Pass/ Talkeetna/ etc but my one concern is that it looks like I'd drive back the exact route from Seward to get there that I had taken from Anchorage. Is this a legitimate concern or am I overthinking it? Alternatively, is driving from Seward to Matanuska Glacier to Hatcher Pass to Anchorage realistic in 4-5 days? If so I could do:

Day 1 arrive Anchorage

Day 2-3 in Girdwood

Day 4-5 in Seward

Day 6 Matanuska

Day 7-8 Talkeetna

Day 9 back to Anchorage, fly on day 10

I can modify the amount of time in any place but curious if this generally sounds reasonable? Thank you again!

Bristol, Connecticut
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5. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

There is only one road from Seward to Anchorage so no matter what you will always cover the same territory to get back to Anchorage. The areas I suggested are north of Anchorage, I don't know if I would go all the way to Talkeetna unless you plan flightseeing. The Talkeetna Mountains I am referring to are Hatcher Pass area.

I really think you need to decide what activities you want to do and then plan where to do them. I am not sure you should give up Homer but that would depend on what your plans are. Maybe something like this:

Day 1: Arrive Anchorage

Day 2: day in Anchorage drive to Girdwood (overnight)

Day 3: Explore Girdwood/Portage Glacier (overnight Girdwood)

Day 4: Seward (Exit Glacier if road is open)

Day 5: All day small boat cruise, recommend 6+ hours

Day 6: Drive to Homer

Day 7: Explore/Kayak, visit Seldovia or Halibut Cove

Day 8: Islands and Oceans Center in morning and drive to Girdwood (overnight)

Day 9: Drive to Matanuska Glacier and explore area (Ice Climbing/hiking), maybe overnight Sheep Mountain Lodge

Day 10: Make your way back to Anchorage for late flight (could visit Hatcher Pass State Recreation Area this morning)

Las Vegas, Nevada
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6. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

it's hard to comment on the itinerary when you don't indicate your plans at each location. ie 2 days in Talkeetna? yet no visit to Denali which is the budget jackpot for scenery and wildlife viewing and only a 2 1/2 hr drive from Talkeetna? If you could move your trip dates by a week, the shuttle to Eielson Visitor Center starts June 1.

Your trip is quite early in the season. Some lodging and activities don't open until Memorial Day so be sure to check on planned activities and lodging to ensure they're available during your dates.

Instead of using the brochure from TravelAlaska, I think you'd learn a lot more by reading thru the trip reports from 2012 and 2013. The reports are quite detailed and reading about first-hand experiences at the various destinations will help you develop an itinerary.

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7. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

Sorry - when I referred to Talkeetna, I was really using interchangeably with Hatcher Pass. I did not intend to go all the way into the mountains. Hatcher Pass Lodge sounds nice from what I read so was thinking of spending time there. It sounds like I need to focus a bit more on our preferred activities and then get our locations ironed out (originally was trying to do the opposite -- the wife and I are pretty easy going so figured if we were in a cool city, we'd easily find something to keep us occupied). I'll re-consider a trip to Homer but am leaning towards more time north of Anchorage.

New York City, New...
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8. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

OK friends, I took your advice and did some more thinking with the Mrs. about what we really want to accomplish on our trip. I read through many of the 2012 and 2013 trip reports and some of the other similar threads in the Forum and think I have a better idea of what makes sense for us. since our main goal is to see wildlife and do some hiking, how can we go to AK and not visit Denali?? Based on several similar trips I read (i.e. about 10 days, renting a car) the following seems reasonable but would love feedback (again). In particular do you think the Matanuska leg of the trip makes sense.... or should we maybe just spend one of the nights in Palmer instead? Revised itinerary (we added 1 day as well):

Day 1: Land late in ANC

Day 2: Spend in Anchorage. Likely we'll bike the Tony Knowles Trail, TBD what else

Day 3: Drive to Seward. Plan multiple stops along the way (Potter's Marsh, Wildlife Refuge, etc)

Day 4: Spend in Seward. All day Kenai Fjords marine cruise

Day 5: Leave Seward to drive towards Matanuska Glacier. Likely stop in Girdwood for Mt. Alyeska, maybe spend time in Palmer, etc. Plan to arrive in Glacier View late in the day. Any other ideas how to spend the morning in Seward?

Day 6: Hiking and exploring Matanuska Glacier

Day 7: Leave early for Talkeetna. Plan to do a flightseeing trip into Denali in the afternoon.

Day 8: Drive to Denali. Spend the latter half of day 8, then all days 9 and 10 around DNP. Still have to figure out exactly what we'll do, but not too worried about keeping ourselves busy.

Day 11: Drive back to ANC for a night flight.

Bristol, Connecticut
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9. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

What are your exact dates? The dates will make a huge difference in what you can do and see in Denali. If you could push the end of your trip to cover June 1 then you will get a trip on the shuttle bus all the way into the park, before that date they do not travel the entire length of the road.

10. Re: Proposed Southcentral Alaska Itinerary

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