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First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

NYC
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First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

I’m starting to plan a trip to Alaska in late July/early August, for a family of 4, our two children aged 14 and 11. We plan to aside 10 days for the trip. We’re most interested in wildlife (land and sea), seeing glaciers, Denali, and something coastal. If it were not too difficult, also to see the Northern lights. We are less interested in cities. We would most enjoy an independent, self guided tour for most of it, but are open to suggestions for boating tours or Alaskan Railroad or flightviewing. We love to hike, as we did in Yellowstone, but would not consider ourselves as serious hikers.

I’ve always planned my own trips and enjoy doing the research but I need help with this one especially getting around between places like Anchorage/Seward/Denali. We will probably rent a car for part of the trip and I'm confused how to manage getting a car/drop off between all the different areas, especially if part of the trip involves railroad. We would enjoy scenic drives but prefer not to spend all day driving either.

I would appreciate your recommendations for

1) 10 day itinerary including Denali, glaciers, wildlife viewing sea and land, possibily including northern lights

2) Practical booking tips for transportation.

3) Is it Ok to hike independently in Denali, or is it really best to do a guided tour?

Thank you.

fti
MN
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1. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

Welcome to the forum. I suggest that you consider renting an RV. That will give you options, not make you eat as many meals out, and not make you book lodging in advance. In Alaska, you really want to book lodging in advance or else you get "what is left" and you spend valuable time going from place to place checking availability.

With 10 days you can visit Denali, Seward and Homer with stops in between. I might go to Homer first, then Seward then Denali then back to Anchorage, with an overnight between Seward and Denali. Or Denali then Homer, with an overnight en route, then Seward then Anchorage. The route partly depends on your flights, especially your departure time when you fly out of Anchorage. If you fly out in the evening, you can easily make it from Denali or Homer to Anchorage for the flight. If you fly out earlier in the day, you might be able to be in Seward and still make it back to Anchorage the same day for the flight.

With four of you, I would recommend hiking in Denali on your own. No problem with scaring wildlife unexpectedly if you just talk at normal levels. I love hiking on the tundra in Denali. Having said that, you could take a ranger-led hike at Denali - the Alpine Hike from Eielson Visitor Center is one, the Horseshoe Lake from the visitor center near the entrance is another. There are usually a couple of other ranger-led hikes near the entrance. Maybe you can do one of those the day you depart Denali if they are morning hikes.

Once you book your flights I would book a car rental while you continue to check other transportation options. Generally car rental prices keep increasing the longer you wait.

Dania Beach, Florida
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2. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

I'm new to the forum and planning my first trip to Alaska as well. I totally agree with fti - an RV is a great way to explore. Our family experienced an RV trip from San Francisco through Yosemite and Sequoia quite a few years ago. Our son was about the same age then as your kids. He's all grown up now - this trip it's just the two of us!

We're getting a small truck camper out of Anchorage. I found ABC Motorhome to be offering the best deals right now - they have an early booking special that (I believe) is going to run through the month of January.

Anchorage, Alaska
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3. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

For some great AK, family activities you should consider the Girdwood/Portage area. See http://goo.gl/lSnN2 for a TA post with lots of info. about this area (glaciers, easy hikes, etc.)

Northern Lights...

Don't count on NLs as there just won't be that much dark while you are here on your vacation.

I'd use a car and/or motorhome. The train is nice; but you lose flexibility in stopping and exploring when you see something that excites you.

Duluth, Minnesota
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4. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

I'll be there this June for 10 days with my family of 4, as we were last year, and FTI's post is spot on for what we have planned. We have a 31 ft RV reserved from Great Alaskan, will cover the Kenai Peninsula from Homer to Seward, and end the trip with 3 days in Denali. We'll be doing a lot of fishing, but other than that our interestes are much like yours.

With all the info available on the web, and from sites like this, theres no reason at all you can't plan your trip on your own...heck, that's 1/2 the fun:) Lots of folks here to give you both general and later very specific thoughts on whatever you might be interested in.

A few of the things my family likes/liked most;

Kenai Fijords park cruise out of Seward. We've done one every time in AK, and will again. Great way to see glaciers, whales, sea birds, sea lions, otters...

A flighseeing trip of some kind; ours are usually to fishing destinations, but there are great flights out there to see bears, glaciers, etc...

Hike to the Russian River falls

Alaska Railroad from Anch-Seward and back...first or last day of your trip perhaps

This will be our first trip to Denali, so we're pretty excited about that too. Tons of good info here as to how to spend your time there wisely.

Have a great trip...you'll be back:)

Edited: 07 January 2014, 15:50
Dania Beach, Florida
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5. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

MN man... Our trip also sounds similar. We're doing RV the end of August so heading to Denali first. Can you offer any tips with regard to fishing? Also, you mentioned the R/R trip Anchorage to Seward round trip. We're thinking to go one way Anchorage to Whittier - do you know what the difference is??

Duluth, Minnesota
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6. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

2p; sorry, the only RR trip I've been on was the RT from Anch to Seward...both because it worked for our rental vehicle (just left it parked for the day) and because the reviews of that leg are very very good (and they're right:)

As for fishing...I guess I could talk your ears off, ( and probably bore everyone else!) So narrow it down for me a bit; what would you like to fish for? Experience level? Do you want to take fish home? Will you have your own gear? Willing to pony up some serious $$$ for guides or a flyout?

that'll get us started...:)

Anchorage Alaska
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7. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

Another vote for the RV.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k25270…

Search hogfamily in the Alaska forums for some places our boys like, (the Alaska trip reports).

Edited: 08 January 2014, 02:28
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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8. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

I'll add the link to my blog on our 2010 RV adventure in Alaska . . . bennettsgreatalaskanadventure.blogspot.com/ . It may help you to better visualize what you can see and do. Our trip was 15 days total, but we started/ended in Fairbanks. We covered a lot of ground and did a lot of the things you mention being interested in.

Duluth, Minnesota
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9. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

I just got started reading your blog Von...very cool! I wish I were more organized/talented/savvy so I could put something like that together. probably end up just being lots of boring ol' fish pictures!

How big was your RV/how many of you? I'm sure it's in the blog, but I have to head to work and my wife is giving me the stink eye after spending all last evening on here! Good thing she loves it up ther too:)

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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10. Re: First trip to Alaska for family of four in July/August

MNman . . . we had a 29' Winnebago with side-outs. It was just the two of us . . . me and Mr. Timeshare.

We had a great time on that trip and will be doing it again this summer (July/August) but swapping out the Kenai Peninsula for Wrangell/McCarthy/Kennicott and Valdez. A highlight will be the 3 day/2 night fishing & sightseeing excursion out of Valdez with G'day Charters . . . www.muzzysplace.net/GdayChartersIntro.html.