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Need help fine tuning itinerary......

Dania Beach, Florida
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Need help fine tuning itinerary......

My husband and I will be travelling approx August 28/29 thru Sep 15. We are late 50's early 60's and enjoy the outdoors, camping, hiking, fishing and wildlife. He has been on Inside Passage Cruise (before my time) but I have never been anywhere in Alaska. At first we (ME) were avoiding cruises but we found a good deal on a southbound - Whittier to Vancouver cruise stopping in Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.

We have come up with the following plan:

Day 1 - arrive Vancouver

Day 2 - pick up RV and drive thru to Denali

Days 3-5 at Denali TEK campground/plans to shuttle/hike to Wonder Lake? and raft trip

Day 5 drive to Matanuska - hike and overnight nearby

Day 6 continue on to Seward

Day 7 fishing day in Seward?

Days 8, 9, 10 - Kenai Park, Homer, Coopers Landing

Day 11 - we need to have returned RV in Anchorage and get to Whittier - ship departs 9 pm

We wanted to experience the train and are thinking the White Pass out of Skagway

We can possibly add one more day to the beginning - just want to get the best overall experience possible. Oh - we're going to be on a fairly tight budget so we can only afford a few major "splurges"

Comments??

New South Wales...
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1. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

Day 1 - arrive Vancouver (I sure hope you mean Anchorage here.......)

Day 2 - pick up RV and drive thru to Denali

Days 3-5 at Denali TEK campground/plans to shuttle/hike to Wonder Lake? and raft trip

Day 5 drive to Matanuska - hike and overnight nearby

Day 6 continue on to Seward

Day 7 fishing day in Seward?

Days 8, 9, 10 - Kenai Park, Homer, Coopers Landing

Day 11 - we need to have returned RV in Anchorage and get to Whittier - ship departs 9 pm

This all looks very "doable" except I wouldn't drive all the way to Homer just for one night then turn around & drive back again the next day. It is about 4-5 hours from Seward with no stops/delays. How are you planning on getting from Anchorage to Whittier?

I'd think about spending an extra day in Seward to explore Exit Glacier, Seaveys Kennels, Alaska Sealife Centre. Then take your time going back toward Cooper Landing where you could fish, raft or hike before making your way back to Anchorage for your final night. On your cruise departure day you could then take the train to Whittier, hop on a glacier day cruise then board your ship later in the afternoon.

Lake Tahoe...
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2. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

Not sure what you mean by Matanuska. If the glacier, that is about 60 miles east of Palmer on the Glenn Hwy. From there back to Anchorage (100 miles) and another 125 to Seward. Homer would be about 175 miles from Seward then 225 back to Anchorage (daysdrive)

fti
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3. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

Generally I like your itinerary. Once you firm up your plans I would make your Denali campground reservations. Late August is very peak season there with the fall colors.

If you can add a day, it would certainly help. I would try to take a Kenai Fjords tour from Seward (6 hours or longer). They are excellent.

I would probably figure out first what you want to do in Seward, Kenai, Homer and Cooper Landing and only after you decide that, decide how long you will stay in each place. Arbitrarily choosing locations without also thinking through activities is putting the cart before the horse. Fortunately with an RV you will have lots of flexibility.

You might need to spend the night of Day 10 in Anchorage so you can get the RV back early enough in the morning to make your way to Whittier. I would also consider the train or a shuttle that arrives early enough to take a Prince William Sound boat tour. They are great for glaciers and some marine wildlife (though the Kenai Fjords tours from Seward see much more marine wildlife). Also, you will see glaciers much closer on this tour than you will from your cruise ship.

Icy Strait Point is a great place to do whale watching (FISHES and Misty Bay Lodge get great reviews). The White Pass Railroad also gets great reviews. You might consider using a company like Dyea Dave or (the name fails me now - I think it starts with a C!) where you can take the train one way and the road the other way.

A cruise is a great way to see SE Alaska in a relatively short amount of time. There is great hiking and fishing in Ketchikan too, as well as totem pole parks and other activities.

Dania Beach, Florida
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4. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

Thank you TEZ823 questions:

1. Which is better - Matanuska or Exit Glacier? If we do one, will we really want to do both?

2. Just did a double take on the map - realize now that there is no road way directly from Seward to Homer (is that correct?) Homer does sound interesting - Maybe a little Key West-y? I've been looking at recommendations for hiking Russian River Falls.

3. Are there any inexpensive (free or cheap) ways to fish? We may do one charter but we're looking at $500-$600. Maybe we can rent poles in Coopers Landing and find a spot?

4. We are planning to do the train from Anchorage to Whittier but I'm wondering if it will be just a repeat since we will already have driven the Turnagin Arm? We can also do the Yukon White Pass Train out of Skagway while on the cruise.

I LOVE this forum! I am a nut for researching the details for a trip of this magnitude. Doubt that I'll get a second chance so I want to do it right. Thanks for your input!

New South Wales...
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5. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

Chilkoot Tours fti???

2ps - Every glacier is unique. Matanuska is a large, active inland glacier that you can hike on. Exit is a rapidly receding glacier and is fascinating in its own right. You hike to the face of the glacier. I can never get enough of glaciers but that's just me - I want to see them while they still exist!

You can't drive a "loop" around the Kenai Peninsula if that's what you were thinking. There are these massive great mountains and glaciers in between Seward & Homer that present a slight obstacle to that....... Homer is at the end of a one way road and is, I believe, the most western point of the USA road network. I don't know what "Key West" is but basically, it's a small tourist town at the end of the road with access to wilderness areas beyond. Worth the visit IF you have a couple of days to actually DO something while you are there but not worth the hours on your bum in the vehicle just to drive down "see it" & drive back (the drive is quite tedious - even for us Aussies looking out for wildlife & used to loooongg boring drives). Seward is better for that. The hike out to Russian River Falls is great as is that whole area around Cooper Landing and the Skilak Rd area. Very scenic.

If you don't want to go ocean fishing you can try combining rafting & fishing at Cooper Landing or when in Icy Straight I can HIGHLY recommend going out with the guys from Brown Bear Lodge - combination of fishing, bear viewing and just getting out in the wilds of Alaska. We had a GREAT time fishing with them.

There is no way to avoid traversing the Turnagain Arm a few times as it is the only road to access the Kenai and Whittier. When you drive, you will have the opportunity to stop and look around. On the train, you will just be able to take in the views. It will be different every time and you certainly won't get bored with it...... YWPR is a COMPLETELY different experience. Don't worry about "repeating" your experiences in Alaska. They will all be unique in their own way and you'll LOVE it whatever you do.

Anchorage, Alaska
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6. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

They're both at the end of a road and on the water. Both are fun and interesting; but I think they are completely different in style & attitude.

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7. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

You can take a guided hike on Exit glacier too.

When you said Kenai Park, I assume you meant Kenai Fjords National Park, not the town of Kenai.

So Day 8 Kenai Fjords NP cruise, spending the night in Seward.... is that what you plan? Or were you planning on a cruise in the morning, then drive to Homer?

You could probably fish for silvers at that time in the Russian River at the RR ferry or campground in Cooper Landing.

Dania Beach, Florida
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8. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

tez823 - Thanks for the great information! I'm going to follow up on that fishing in Icy Straight for sure!

Interesting about the western-most road in Homer ..... Key West offers visitors the Southernmost Point in the continental US..... It's the last island of the chain at the end of Florida. We'll have to think about Homer some more. At first we were going for the fishing but it looks like we'll be doing that out of Seward and maybe Cooper Landing. The Cooper Landing area does sound awesome.

Thanks again for your advice! I am really looking forward to this trip!

fti: Thanks for picking me up on this feed! (and for having the patience to get me going in the right direction)

Wasilla, Alaska
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9. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

The actual most western highway point is in Anchor Point. If you drive down to the mouth of the river there's a sign there.

Here's the Google Map link for that spot: http://goo.gl/maps/Jft2J

Lake Tahoe...
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10. Re: Need help fine tuning itinerary......

A couple of years ago there was a motorcycle race from Key West to Homer (Honka Hay oar something like that) The most western point that is mentioned was the beach at Anchor Point which you pass through on the way. It is in the campground and there is a sign.

Matanuska Glacier vs Exit Glacier? Matanuska is sort of out of the way and charges a stiff per person enrrance fee as the road is over private property.

Homer is noted for Halibut fishing and half-day charters cost about $120 per perdpn. They do all the work, provide the gear, bait your hook and fillet your catch. To ship it home yhou must arrange your own, mainly with nearby Coal Point. Or you could eat it that night and would be better than offered on the cruise ship (or bring it at our house and we will help - my wife does a great job with halibut :-)!)

Edited: 08 January 2014, 16:49