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Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

Pittsburgh
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Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

My wife and I recently had a great winter trip to Alaska and now plan to visit Southeast Alaska for approximately two weeks next summer. I'd be interested in getting feedback re my proposed itinerary. Not sure if this is the right place to post this but I couldn't find anyway to post it under Alaska or Southeast Alaska.

We plan to go sometime between July 15 - August 15. We'll be travelling independently and hope to avoid the cruise ship crowds as much as possible. (I'm familiar with the website that provides info re cruise ship arrivals/departure.) We're looking for a wide variety of experiences. The itinerary is based on 2014 ferry/flight schedules which I know could change for next year. I plan on renting a car for the first stop in Juneau and for one day in Haines. I would also rent a car in Gustavus if needed.

My current itinerary:

Day 1: Fly to Sitka and arrive early afternoon.

Day 2: Sitka; evening flight to Juneau.

Day 3: Juneau: Mendenhall Glacier/Hiking/Other Sights

Day 4: Juneau: Day trip to Tracy Arm

Day 5: Juneau: Day trip to Pack Creek; Evening flight to Gustavus

Day 6: Gustavus: Hiking and whale watching.

Day 7: Gustavus: All day Glacier Bay cruise

Day 8: Gustavus: Kayaks/Hiking

Day 9: Early morning flight to Haines; Sights around Haines; Hiking and/or Biking

Day 10: Haines Highway, including Steve Kroeschel's Wildlife Center

Day 11: Early am flight to Skagway; Klondike Gold Rush NP + White Pass + Yukon RR

Day 12: Morning flight to Juneau/See sights we missed earlier

Day 13: Catch early morning flight to home

I was originally planning on going to Ketchikan + Misty Fjords. I've scratched that partly due to cost plus the fact that Ketchikan appears to get very crowded with cruise ship passengers. Also, we'll be seeing Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay so Misty Fjords didn't seem as critical. We can also see totem poles in Sitka. I would consider adding Ketchikan if people think I'm making a major mistake.

I'm debating about adding a day to use the Alaska ferry system. I had originally planned on using the ferry system but the schedules aren't working well in terms of timing (based on 2014 schedule). Same issue re the fast ferry from Haines to Skagway. If I add a day I can take the ferry from Sitka-Juneau (likely the fast ferry) or for Juneau-Gustavus.

I would also consider adding a day for salmon fishing if I had a better than 50-50 chance of catching one and didn't have to spend a fortune. I'm guessing we would be limited to freshwater fishing, preferably with a guide, due to high cost of saltwater fishing. Haines looked like it might be worthwhile for salmon fishing (Chilkoot River or Lake) but almost all of the tours/guides are for saltwater fishing. Any info re freshwater fishing with a guide in Haines or elsewhere would be appreciated.

My last issue relates to timing. I want to make some of the reservations as early as practical. I'm thinking about starting the reservation process after the summer ferry schedule is announced (early October if my research is correct). Any major pitfalls in making reservations this early?

Thanks a lot.

Pittsburgh
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1. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

I just found the Alaska forum which is a better place for my itinerary post. If someone can tell me how to move it, I'd be happy to. For some reason I couldn't access the Alaska Forum on my I-Phone and TA app so I assumed there wasn't one. Just found it via my PC.

haines, alaska
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2. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

Welcome to the forums, Jeff....your itinerary looks well thought out and I like that you have allotted enough time to enjoy it.....

The best time to buy airline tickets with Alaska Air is in the month of October when they have their annual PFD sale........We buy our tickets then for the following year.....Alaska Air does not change their scheduled flight times, but when they do, they will notify you......

No problems with booking any accommodation, tours or other things ahead of time that I can think of......just hand onto your confirmations and maybe call a week or so ahead just to touch bases.......

Do book your trip to Steve Kroschels ahead of time and verify the date and time as soon as you get to Haines......his tours fill up quickly as he only allows a small number each day......

You really would not need a fishing guide to fish Chilkoot River or shoreline of the lake.....if you have your own fishing pole, and a half dozen brightly colored pixie lures, your in business......your travel dates are good timing for pink salmon, but you might also catch trout or dolly varden.......

If you want to fish on the lake yourself, you might want to contact Chilkoot Lake Tours....they have a couple of pontoon boats on the lake and will take folks out......

Or for a river guide you might want to contact Rainbow Glacier Adventures......they will match you with one of their guides and customize a trip for you......not sure, but they can probably provide the fishing gear, too....

Chugiak, Alaska
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3. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

It looks like a good plan to me. Alternately, if you are still interested in some ferry options, here's what I planned for this Summer and I put some tips in there on figuring out the ferry schedule. I planned for places where cruise ships weren't (other than Juneau) and I'm excited to be going to Petersburg. If my trip looks like something you might like, I can send you a private message when I'm back from it and let you know how it all went.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k72364…

Pittsburgh
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4. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

Mombear - Thanks for the input. In doing research for this trip I've come across a lot of your posts and they've been very helpful.

Alaskantinger - Thanks for your post and I would be interested in hearing back from you after your trip. I'm inclined to add a day so that I can catch a ferry (Sitka to Juneau, or Juneau to Gustavus). Your input would be very helpful.

Juneau, Alaska
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5. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

Your itinerary looks good, but any salmon you catch in fresh water won't be edible. If you want edible salmon, you have to catch them from a boat in salt water, and yes, it's not cheap. During your month window, however, many charter captains will guarantee king salmon because the runs peak then, and a half day (4 hours) is usually enough time to catch one.

As far as car rentals go, there are no cars for rent in Gustavus. Some lodges & B&Bs have bicycles available.

A day car rental would in Haines would let you get across the border and over Three Guardians Pass, which is spectacular mountain scenery with wide alpine valleys.

I would add the extra day(s) to take the ferry one direction to and from Gustavus and to or from Haines. The scenery on both trips is great from the water as well as the air.

Pittsburgh
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6. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

Juneaucabbie-

Thanks for the feedback. I was unaware that you couldn't eat freshwater salmon. I now know why I had difficulty in finding tours/guides for freshwater salmon fishing.

Re rental cars in Gustavus - I came across a lot of internet references to Bud's Rental Cars in Gustavus. I haven't found a website or Bud,though. I'll follow-up to see if he's still in business.

Jeff

haines, alaska
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7. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

We eat silver salmon that we catch in the river, all the time....it's great......pink salmon are usually considered inferior to many fishermen in Alaska, but they are edible as well.....just not nearly as tasty as the Red Sockeye or King salmon.......

Edited: 22 March 2014, 23:10
Chugiak, Alaska
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8. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

I just fed my co-workers a cold smoked pink that I processed and a cold smoked red that Alaska Sausage processed and 75% of them (about 25 Alasksans) liked my fish better. Fair's fair, mine was a pink caught in the ocean, but they had no clue that it was even a pink (dry brine made it look nice and red) and these aren't folks new to salmon.

My point being, I'm with mombear- if it's not a salmon that's gone wayyyyy up stream, it's likely to taste just fine to people that aren't super duper connoisseurs of salmon. I know people who think Atlantic salmon is tasty- personally, I'd rather eat nothing than that- couldn't even choke more than two bites down to be polite when I had it in Ireland, but I'll eat a pink or a river caught red any day of the week. The important part is that it's still 'chrome' - nice and silver. Then you don't have to worry about mushy meat.

Granted, if you are getting it from the ocean, you don't have to worry one lick about that, and maybe that's what JuneauCabbie is getting at. But everyone has their own tastes- some folks don't like reds- too fishy for them. I smoke reds and pinks and eat my silvers and pinks on the grill (when the pinks are fresh). I take a pass on all but the white kings. I've even eaten a chum salmon out of the ocean and thought it was excellent.

fti
MN
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9. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

You are seeing a lot, but honestly I really don't like so many of the single nights. You are only one night in Sitka and Skagway. You are going to have to get a REALLY early flight and not take the WPYR too far to fit in all you want to fit in on your Skagway day. If it were me, I would skip Skagway and add a night to Sitka.

Also I would switch your Pack Creek day in Juneau to Day 3. Leave Day 5 for the local stuff. You never know if your flight from Pack Creek will be delayed and you don't want to miss your flight to Gustavus.

The ferry one way to Gustavus sounds great, but it means you will have to cut something else out.

Maybe just take Day 12 and make that also a Skagway day then fly early evening to Juneau. Or check the ferry schedule and if it is an afternoon or evening ferry, take that.

Pittsburgh
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10. Re: Southeast Itinerary for Two Weeks

Alaskantiger - Thanks for the salmon info. I'm going to look in to a 1/2 day charter in Gustavus. I've seen two companies that offer them, although I don't know how frequently they're offered. I'm going to email them at some point to verify.

FTI - Thanks for the tip re Pack Creek. I hadn't considered flight delays. Will move it to the first or second day in Juneau.

The one night stops don't bother me as long as I can cover the major sights. Based on my research one day/night in Skagway seems fine. I can take a 15 minute flight from Haines that puts us in Skagway at 8:00 am. The tentative plan is to tour Klondike Gold Rush NP in morning, take the train in the afternoon, and dinner at Skagway Brewing Co. If we have any time leftover, we'll stop in some of the museums and other sights. I'm viewing the other sights as optional.

Our likely ferry trip will either be Sitka to Juneau (afternoon) or Juneau to Gustavus (morning). If we take a ferry I will be adding another day to the itinerary. The Gustavus ferry wouldn't cut in to Gustavus time - it would actually add a half-day. Alternatively, if we take the Sitka-Juneau ferry we will be staying a 2nd night in Sitka. I'm going to defer that decision until the summer ferry schedules come out in October. Thanks.

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