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Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

Atlanta, Ga
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Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

We are in early planning stages for mid June 2015 trip - active couple (early 50's) - right now general 9 day itinerary is roughly: landing in Anchorage getting car and heading to Girdwood - then to Whittier for glacier cruise --> Homer -->Mat-Su area maybe -->Denali (either staying in Talkeetna or Healy) and back to Anchorage. We like hiking, wildlife, flatwater kayaking, rafting, eating/drinking - my wife is not into fishing - so that is not a focus at all.

My big question of the day is what to do between Whittier and Homer. I know the glacier cruises in Whittier seem to end around 5:30pm or so - and do not want to rush the 4 hr drive to Homer after a long day. Russian River falls hike looks interesting. ? float upper Kenai. Looking at staying somewhere in between - ?Cooper Lake, ?Soldotna, ? another idea - my research brings up mainly places that emphasize fishing (which as I said, is not our interest on this trip). I also have nixed Seward from our list because there the emphasis is on Kenai Fjords trip and my wife does not do well at all with rough seas. Any ideas greatly appreciated.

New South Wales...
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1. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

Stay in Whittier which will give you a full day to enjoy the trip to Homer, do hikes & sightseeing along the way. You could eve do an evening hike or kayak trip in Whittier. I don't think you are hugely 'missing out' on anything by not going to Seward.

Rockland, Maine
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2. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

Just some thoughts on your itinerary in general:

There is a reason that Turnagain Arm is on National Geographic's top 10 list of drives of a lifetime. Plan to do it in the daytime.

The museum in Whittier is well worth a visit. I had no idea about a lot of the history on display there. (The Japanese occupied inhabited American soil for over a year during WWII?!). Since it's in the same building, visit the general store on the other side and look at the prices of everything when it has to be trucked in through the tunnel.

I did not find the seas to be rough on the KFNP tour out of Seward. Most of the time you are up in the passages and not in open water. Our tour included a visit to Fox Island, which is in Resurrection Bay (no open water) and which is very nice. Looks like a sea kayaking Mecca of sorts.

Exit Glacier in Seward is well worth a visit. Our trip would have been greatly diminished if we left that out. Looking forward to going back.

Old Town Kenai is very nice as a mid-way stop between Whittier and Homer: sort of off the beaten path. I recommend Veronica's Coffee House very highly. We went to the Sunday service at the Russian Orthodox Church and were glad we made time for it.

We stayed in Soldotna and found it to have far more goods and services than the rest of the KP combined.

The beach at Anchor Point was a favorite spot for its lack of touristy feel and abundance of bald eagles.

Homer was a lot of fun. We stayed on the Spit and enjoyed the constant breeze.

We made it up to Talkeetna and enjoyed that a lot too. Plan on breakfast at the Roadhouse if you go. Dinner at the West Rib was a blast too. Both are very lively.

The Iditarod museum in Wasilla is worth a quick stop too, since it's right on the way north.

Consider renting an RV instead of a car. We did and it made the logistics a lot easier and more flexible. I think it was cheaper overall too, ~$125/day + ~$0.50/mile for gas vs ~$45/day plus lodging.

We did the trip in August 2012 and are going back in three weeks. We are probably only 5 years younger than you two, with similar interests.

fti
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3. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

If you are planning on visiting Denali National Park, do NOT stay in Talkeetna. That is a 3 hour drive each way from the entrance to Denali NP. Stay in Healy, in the canyon area or in the Carlo Creek area.

Another alternative to staying in Whittier is to drive to Girdwood and stay there. More lodging and dining options in Girdwood than in Whittier and as was said, the drive along Turnagain Arm is outstanding.

Atlanta, Ga
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4. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

Lots of different ideas/opinions - keeps it interesting! Let me clarify my plan for this first part of our trip - Land in Anchorage - rent car - drive directly to Girdwood and stay overnight - this drive would take place around 7 pm - which I am going to assume is daylight - driving along Turnagain Arm. The following morning we would drive to Whittier - hop on noon - 5:30 glacier cruise. Stay somewhere that night and make our way to Homer the next day.

so--staying in Whittier is an interesting idea. or going back to Girdwood is do-able but backtracking (going wrong direction I think), or going to Seward (also doesnt seem in the right direction towards Homer but maybe Exit Glacier is worth it, and maybe we shouldnt be afraid of that KFNP cruise), or maybe driving over to "Old Town Kenai".

Anchorage --> Girdwood-->Whittier--> ?--> Homer

thanks for the other tips as well - re: Anchor Point, the Denali area,etc

Anchorage, Alaska
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5. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

If you were going to spend a night, I'd backtrack to Girdwood and get a great meal at Jack Sprats, Double MUsky, Seven Glaciers, Chair 5, or Silvertip Grill. My 2nd choice would be to stay in Whittier and walk around the village & do/see things mentioned above.

On the way to Homer, I'd definitely stop and head in Russian River Falls (reasonable chance that by mid June there might be some salmon at the falls jumping upstream).

Duluth, Minnesota
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6. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

Rather than staying in Whittier or backtracking, you could get a nice little cabin in Cooper Landing, on the way to Homer. Beautiful area, the prettiest (inland) area on the KP in my book yes, most of the places there emphasize fishing, but you sure don't need to. You could get up and hike to the Russian river falls and still easily make Homer that afternoon. Or do a float down the upper Kenai. I know Drifters lodge has cabins and does float trips.

Edited: 28 July 2014, 15:31
Atlanta, Ga
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7. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

MNman - the Cooper Landing idea was what I first came up with as it seemed to move us along in a logical direction - and a bit of a different view, Nice to hear it is prettiest inland area. Ideally, if someone would take us on a little wildlife float trip (and also let me toss a line) that'd be great.

Lake Tahoe...
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8. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

You have been given alot of good information here. We often overnight in Cooper Landing at Kenai Princess Lodge, but only if the price is right. We have stayed at the Inn at Whittier (just a few weeks ago) but the food selection in the restaurant was not very good (for this season). As for lodging in Soldotna or Kenai (city) nothing there suits us. For obvious reasons we don't care to stay there as it is just about another 90 miles to our garage.

And, to clarify the inforation regarding the Japanese (post #2) that was two islands in the outer Aleutians and not Whittier. Whittier was built as safe port from surprise attacks and was ice-free. Dutch Harbor was attacked in 1942 during the Battle of Midway. This is a very important Alaskan history that is often overlooked

New Braunfels, Texas
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9. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

we've stayed here a couple times, it's off the Seward Hwy just south of Whittier about an hour or less. The area is very pretty. The rooms are not that exciting but good for an over-night and the cafe offers some good food. http://www.summitlakelodge.com/

Atlanta, Ga
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10. Re: Suggestions for stops/stayover between Whittier and Homer

thanks golfguy...that looks like a great option