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Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

Perth
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Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

In August 2008 my husband and I will be taking an Inland Passage cruise from Vancouver to Seward and then hiring an RV for 18 days returning it to Seattle Washington. We currently are planning on spending 5 days between Seward and Homer fishing, dog sledding and bear watching and then driving through Alaska and Canada (inland, ie the Rockies) on our way to Seattle.

What I want advise on is whether we spend an extra couple of days in the Kenai region, as our days there are virtually filled with booked tours, to have a good look around and go directly to Tok (bypassing Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks) and along the highway from there or go to Denali for the two days and continuing from there.

I've heard great things about Denali but as we are driving an RV wont we be seeing a lot of beautiful scenery and possibly animals along the way anyway?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

albuquerque, new...
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1. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

Aussie,

I think you are reading my mind. We will visit in July, and I currently have reservations in Denali, but am wondering if we really want to go up there or spend the extra time around Seward, and the Kenai peninsula. I am actually thinking about switching the time from Denali to Valdez.

Hope the Alaska experts can point us in the right direction

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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2. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

Personally I feel it would be a shame to miss Denali, especially if it will be your only time in Alaska, which I guess it might be for someone from Australia.

However, driving an RV from Seward to Denali will easily take 8-10 hours so it would be a very long day. In this I figure stopping for supplies, road construction, taking photos if the Mountain is out, etc.

I guess it depends on what you feel best fits your interests. Denali's draw is the scenery, wildlife and the chance to see Mt. McKinley. You really need two nights there - arrive Day 1, shuttle bus into the park Day 2 (Wonder Lake is my strong preference), then leave Day 3.

At the park entrance on Day 1 or Day 3 you could see the exhibits and film at the Visitor Center, sleddog demo, film at Wilderness Access Center, and light hiking near the park entrance.

I try to get to Denali as often as I can just because I love it there.

If you take an RV to Denali, I would suggest Savage River campground (Tek is even better but is past the border where private vehicles can usually go so they require a three night minimum). I guess you could pay for three nights but just leave after 2.

John

Cadiz, Kentucky
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3. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

I agree with John! If there's ANY way you can work in 2 nights at Denali, and take the shuttle through the park, do NOT pass up the chance. You'll see beautiful scenery all over Alaska, but NOT the same scenery as you will see there. And we certainly didn't see the animals anywhere else (other than the Wildlife Conservation Center where they were behind fences!)

Manitoba, Canada
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4. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

Hmm. This is a tough call, but my opinion would be to spend the extra time on the peninsula. Two days is really not enough to drive to Denali and enjoy it, and you have zero time for Fairbanks. And as much as some people see lots of wildlife during their shuttles into Denali, some of us don’t see much at all. I saw 1 moose and 1 bear and several Dall sheep during a 9 hour tour, and except for the moose, everything was just a dot in the distance without binoculars. Not that the moose was close up, but at least he could be seen well with the naked eye. Well, we did see some ptarmigan right by the bus, but that’s not what I went into Denali to see. Luckily, McKinley was “out” and that made up for the poor wildlife viewing.

A compromise might be to do flightseeing of Denali from Anchorage (weather permitting).

“wont we be seeing a lot of beautiful scenery and possibly animals along the way anyway?”

Scenery you will see, especially on the drive south from Anchorage. Be prepared to dawdle and stop for photos along there. As for wildlife, you MIGHT see some just driving by, but normally you have to make an attempt to find it.

It sounds as if you are doing a bear-watching tour, so it’s extremely likely you’ll see several bears fairly close up. The Homer area is famous for having moose wandering around; there are about 500 in that area alone. If you’re up for an early morning drive (5 a.m.) you could see dozens. Here is more info: alaskaoutdoorjournal.com/Wildlife/kpmoose.ht…

Likely you’ll be able to see dall sheep and/or mountain goats on the mountains around Turnagain Arm. And if you time your visit to Beluga Pt. for when the tide is coming in, you might get to see the white whales. If you’re going to be near the mouth of the Kenai River, that is another prime beluga whale spot, again when the tide is coming in.

Here is some more info on the drive from Anchorage to Homer: http://alaska.org/driving/homer-drive.htm

BTW, I'm not trying to discourage you from going to Denali. If that's what you want to do, you should do it. :-)

USA
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5. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

You really cannot plan to leave Tek Campground a day early- you are committed to stay the whole 3 days:

Teklanika River Campground is located 29 miles inside Denali Park, beyond the point where private vehicles are allowed to drive. However, if you remain at Teklanika Campground for a minimum of 3 consecutive nights you may drive your vehicle to this campground. Once you arrive at Teklanika you may not move your vehicle for any reason until the completion of your stay. If you anticipate health problems, please do not consider this site as an option. You will be issued a permit for specific travel dates when you check-in at the Visitor's Center. Early check-out for campers with private vehicles is not an option."

Of course, if you've chopped off a finger cutting fire wood I suppose they will let you back through Savage checkpoint without too much of a hassle!

Wasilla, Alaska
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6. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

The great thing is that you are driving an RV which gives you the flexibility. Don't feel that you have to plan out every moment of your trip here. If you are in the Kenai, and have good weather and feel like hiking, or doing other things, then don't feel that you have to drive up to Denali. On the other hand, if you think you have seen and done enough in the Kenai, then head up to Denali. Unfortunately, most visitors try to see it all rather than seeing it well, and I think that is what you are getting at.

Manitoba, Canada
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7. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

"Early check-out for campers with private vehicles is not an option."

I don't see that statement as being legally enforceable. To hold you against your will would be tantemount to kidnapping.

We've certainly heard of people leaving early. Is this a new rule? I don't see it on the .gov site: http://tinyurl.com/yofub2. Is it somewhere else?

Portland, Oregon
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8. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

You can certainly Tek campground early...there is no issue there......it's just you can not return if you leave. So if you pay for three days but stay two that's fine as long as you realize you can not return for the last night if you have moved your vehicle.

We camped there in August 2006 and loved it...great access to the bus system and a beautiful area to hike.

Have fun but if you can get to Denali........GO!

USA
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9. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

Denali cannot of course enforce one to stay the whole 3 days. However, they strongly want to discourage people from booking 3 days with the plan to only use 2. The reason for this is that they try to decrease vehicle travel on the park road past the Savage River checkpoint. Also, of course, other campers can't use that one day of an empty campsite, since 3 days must be reserved.

10. Re: Extra days in Kenai or visit Denali? Advice pls

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