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Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

Boulder, Colorado
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Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

Hi there,

I'm planning a 1 week trip to Alaska this summer - more specifically the end of June. We are a couple, arriving Anchorage on the night of June 20th and flying out the 28th night.

I've read so much about Alaska and have so many ideas, but I'm concerned I am trying to do too much, I want to pack as much fun into the trip as possible but I also don't want to ruin it by running a tight schedule. Reading through online forums and MIlepost, I tried to absorb as many tips and recommendations as I could. As for priorities go, we love hiking and enjoying nature in its every sense, but not that we would be doing a 20 miles hike everyday :-) I would very much appreciate your comments to the itinerary that I've prepared so far. Below is my initial itinerary for the week, please feel free to comment and suggest anything and everything.

Day 0 - Flight arrives at Anchorage by mid night, pick up a car.

Day 1 - Summer Solstice Festival (June 21) half day, and drive from Anchorage to Denali National Park and Preserve by evening. (5 hour drive?)

Staying at a lodge 11 miles away from the entrance on Day 1, 2 and 3. Suggestions for things to do at night around?

Day 2, 3 - Hiking in Denali start early morning - Planning to take Wonder Lake Shuttle

Not very sure on which to take. Should we take different shuttles for different days? or look for hikes first and then check shuttles accordingly?

Day 4 - Leaving Denali in the morning and heading towards Seward stopping by the following:

Glenn highway -

Mile 87.6 ­ Rock glaciers, Mile 91.7 ­Matanuska Glacier, Mile 101 Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Area ­ (Edge Nature Trail to the glacier), Summit Lake State Recreation Site ­ - Summit Lake trail

Seward highway -

A 48.1 Junction with Whittier/Portage Glacier Access Road ­ 11.4 miles to Whittier

A 58.5 Turnagain Pass Recreation Area -­ hike, ­ Beluga pass

Spending most of the day driving with stops in between.

Day 5 - Hike Exit Glacier /Harding ice field - 6-8 hours

Day 6 - Kenai Fjord day cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park - 6 hours

Day 7 - Caines Head State Recreation Area - Hike Caines head coastal trail and drive back to Anchorage to fly back.

Not sure how long this trail is going to take? Need to plan the day around low tide?

Staying overnight in Seward on 4th, 5th and 6th. Suggestions for things to do at night in Seward?

I also want to include hiking in Chugach if possible..Flattop trail hike seems like a pretty popular.

Realized that we're not spending any time in Anchorage. Any suggestions there?

Your suggestions, critics and recommendations will be more than welcome. Thank you very much in advance. :-)

Ann

Sturgeon
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1. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

You have some pretty full days, with physical activities, so don't think you will need anything to do at night. Except eat and relax for your next day. I'd book the shuttle very day to wonder lake, in case the mountain is out one of those days. If it's not out, then you can decide where to get off and hike.

USA
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2. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

Yes, get shuttle tickets to Wonder Lake both days & decide when you get to Eielson visitor center dependent upon weather.

Yes, 5 hr drive Anchorage to Denali NP plus add on time for lots of great stops: veteran's memorial, denali view south & north. And maybe road construction.

I'm assuming you will be staying in Healy for your days in Denali which is north of the park.

Healy to Seward via Matanuska glacier is too long in a day. Especially with large proposed road construction project on the Parks Hwy. Here's what that drive would look like:

http://goo.gl/maps/8EXvt

Google times are not very accurate in AK with road construction. Plus you will want stops along the way.

Perhaps stay in Glacier View area near Matanuska Glacier that night.

Edited: 02 February 2014, 01:59
Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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3. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

I love the Glenn hwy, but it isn't on the way to Seward - I would consider making it an overnight as denalicat suggested. :)

Wasilla, Alaska
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for Alaska
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4. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

Day 4 isn't going to happen... Denali to Seward is 8 to 9 hours. Adding in Matanuska Glacier will make it a 12 to 14 hour day. And that's with no time actually at the glacier. And that leaves no time Whittier, Portage or Turnagain Pass. You will need two days to get all of this in.

Boulder, Colorado
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5. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

Thank you all very much for your comments. I made some changes to our itinerary based on your responses, but I'm torn if the 200 mile drive to Matunuska Glacier along Glenn Highway is worth it.

Day 0 - Flight arrives at Anchorage by mid night, pick up a car.

Day 1 – Start from Anchorage to Denali via Matanuska Glacier; with Night stay at Healy

This day seems like a lot of driving, not sure how long we can spend time at the glacier.

Day 2, 3- Hiking in Denali start early morning – WonderLake Shuttle both the days – Night stay at Healy

Day 4 - Leave Denali in the morning to Girdwood ( 5 hour ) – hike Turnagain arm trail – Night stay at Girdwood

Day 5 – Start towards Seward - Hike Exit Glacier /Harding ice field - 6-8 hours

Day 6 - Kenai Fjord day cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park - 6 hours – Day 5 and 6 night stay at Seward

Day 7 - Caines Head State Recreation Area - Hike Caines head coastal trail and drive back to Anchorage to fly back.

I really appreciate your suggestions. Thank you!

Anchorage, Alaska
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6. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

Anchorage to Denali via the Matanuska Glacier is not realistic. It takes about four hours to drive direct from Anchorage to Healy - that's just with a refueling stop and not other stops. It also assumes you are not stuck in road construction or behind slow vehicles. Aside from a few widened areas near towns, the highways here are all one lane in each direction. Summer inevitably means road construction - it's the only time of year for that to happen. The Glenn Hwy "side trip" will take you yet another few hours. You could do it as an overnight but not as part of a day trip from Anch to Denali.

Anchorage, Alaska
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7. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

Turns out there is going to be quite a bit of construction on the Parks Hwy this summer so be prepared:

newsminer.com/news/local_news/dot-gearing-up…

Boulder, Colorado
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8. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

Thanks a lot for your comment. We decided to skip Matsu and do the rest. Much appreciated! :)

New York
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9. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

Be WELL prepared for the bugs at Wonder Lake. You will need full strength Deet and I would also get hat nets.

Look at the Discovery hikes at Denali. www.nps.gov/dena

10. Re: Help with a 1-week Alaska itinerary

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