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Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

Wash DC
3 posts
2 reviews
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Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

My husband and I are very excited to visit Alaska in September! We are planning on taking the ferry over from Valdez with our rental car, spending a few days in Whittier, and then traveling on to Seward and Homer (2 nights each). We are wondering how far the drive would be from Whittier to Seward and then Seward to Homer? What are the roads like to Seward and Homer? Also, is it worth is to bring the rental car on the ferry or would we be able to rent a car in Whittier and return it in Homer then fly back to Anchorage? Any comments are appreciated!

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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1. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

I wouldn't stay in Whittier at all . . . drive to Seward. Not good with times, but they are all good maintained highways to both Seward and Homer. No car rentals in Whittier . . . where are you starting from?? Just wondering . . . :)

Wash DC
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2. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

We are actually arriving in Anchorage, staying the night in Palmer, then moving onto Copper Center & Kennicott. From there we are going to Valdez. Do you think we are better off returning the car in Valdez, flying to Seward, renting a new car, returning it in Homer and then flying to Anchorage?

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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3. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

Welcome to TA.

Unfortunately renting and dropping off cars at will like you suggested in your last post is unfortunately not possible in Alaska. There is only one rental company in most these places (Avis in Whittier, Hertz in Seward for example) and no direct flights between most places unless a private plane or charter.

Generally I like your idea of one rental car for the entire trip. Have you checked the ferry schedule from Valdez to Whittier for the day you wish to travel to be sure they operate that day? Did you check the cost? You MUST make a reservation for ferries in the summer when travel with a vehicle (or risk waiting for days for availability).

Roads are great in Alaska, at least where you are planning on traveling.

The only reason I would stay in Whittier for a few hours is to take a Prince William Sound glacier cruise, but you can do that from Valdez too. Or perhaps kayaking but other than that there is not much to do/see in Whittier.

Whittier to Seward is well under 3 hours with stops (and you will be stopping often to absorb the beautiful scenery). I think it is 3 hours from Seward to Homer too but now my mind is drawing a blank.

I suggest you post how long your trip is, what your interests are and what you plan to do in each place you visit (or do you want suggestions?). The tendency for most people taking a similar route is to spend a night in each place then move on, which does not work well in Alaska. You need two nights in Valdez for example in order to have time to take a Prince William Sound boat tour. Same in Seward for a Kenai Fjords tour. I often spend 3 nights in some of these places since there is so much to do.

John

Manitoba, Canada
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4. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

I'm trying to get a feel for what you are trying to accomplish.

Is it that you just want to drive one way and ferry back the other? In which case, rent a car in Anchorage for the entire trip.

Or is it that you want to avoid the long drive from Anchorage to Valdez? In which case, fly there and back and rent a car in Valdez for one of your days there to explore a couple of hours north, a very scenic drive. Then rent another car in Anchorage for the rest of your trip.)

How did you plan to get to Kennicott? Most rental companies won't let you drive the McCarthy road. You can take a shuttle in, or fly one way/shuttle the other (which I'd recommend so you'd get to flightsee the mountains and glaciers).

I agree with Coalminer and John that Whittier is not likely a place you want to stay for a few days. What had you planned to do there? What are your interests? (Fishing, kayaking, glaciers, hiking, wildlife, museums, bear-viewing, etc.)? How many days do you have?

Seward to Homer is about 4 hours. Homer to Anchorage is about 5 hours. Whittier to Seward is just under 2 hours, but you might get delayed in going through the tunnel (it's open only 15 minutes per hour in either direction).

Wash DC
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5. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

Thank you all so much for your help-this is great! Ok here are some more details.

We arrive on 9/4 at 4:30 and will drive to Palmer (just to get out of the city-does anyone know if traffic is an issue?)

9/5-drive to Copper Center-taking our time.

9/6-drive to Kennicott-we were planning on trying to find a rental company "without restrictions" as one Alaskan told us to do. Spend one night here (is this enough?)

9/7-drive out of Kennicott to Valdez

9/8-Valdez-kayaking if still available; glacier cruise

9/9-Valdez (Should we spend more time in Kennicott instead of so much time here?)

9/10-Take 12:15 ferry to Whittier and drive to Seward

9/11-Seward

9/12-Seward

9/13-drive to Homer

9/14-Homer

9/15-go back to Anchorage as we have an early morning flight on 9/16 to Katmai for 2 days.

This is really a relaxing vacation, with some hiking, wildlife, touring and sightseeing. We are not really fishing or museum people.

We were thinking of flying back from Homer to Anchorage just to cut back on the amount of driving.

Again thanks for any input and your time!!

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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6. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

Thanks for posting more details. That really helps - especially for MM who I am sure will give you some great ideas to tweak your itinerary.

I don't think you will have much traffic on Sep 4 out of Anchorage though you do start at the airport on the SW side and need to go to the NE side to get out of town. By the time you get your luggage and car, it will easily be 5.30pm (probably longer, maybe much longer, if you have to use a local company that is off-airport in order to find a company that allows travel on gravel roads). You also might want to stop for dinner in Anchorage (more choices than further toward Palmer).

I have not been to McCarthy or Valdez yet (next year) but I would look at www.nps.gov/wrst to see what activities are available. Root Glacier hike and mine tour are two activities. Only you can decide if you have enough time to do what you want to do there. Do note that the drive is slow along the gravel road. You might want to plan two nights there just to give you more options.

I am really glad that you are going to Katmai for 2 days. I think that is much better than a day trip. Where in Katmai are you going? Brooks Falls? the coast?

I think it will be difficult to find a rental company that will allow you to pick up the car in Anchorage and drop it in Homer but you can certainly check.

Also, if you are taking the ferry from Valdez to Whittier then driving to Seward, and don't drive back to Anchorage from Homer, you will miss a very scenic portion of the Seward Highway that is just south of Anchorage (Turnagain Arm).

John

Manitoba, Canada
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7. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

Here are a few thoughts:

I would very much suggest you drive from Homer back to Anchorage. The last couple of hours will be incredibly scenic, with lots of things to do and see: alaska.org/driving/turnagain-arm-drive.htm . Besides, the fee for renting in Anchorage and dropping off in Homer will be huge.

9/4 – I’d suggest you drive a few miles north of Palmer to Hatcher Pass (maybe Hatcher Pass Lodge if there’s still availability?) Very scenic, great for hiking.

9/5 – you might want to stop off at Palmer to see the Musk Ox Farm, and at Matanuska Glacier for an ice trek or rafting if they still have it that late in the year. Check the websites of MICA and Nova for details.

9/6 – Again, I strongly suggest you do a fly/drive and let someone else worry about flat tires. (The gravel road is built over an old railway track, and ties and spikes occasionally still come through). Or, better still, spend your 2nd day allotted to Valdez here. You can take a shuttle in and out, hike, ice trek on Root Glacier, take a tour of the mine, go rafting, etc., but again, check websites because I don’t know how late in Sept. those are available and I don’t have time right now to check for you.

Shepherd, Michigan
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8. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

Hello Moxie,

My man and I flew into Kennicott in July for a 24 hour visit. I wish we could have justified another whole day with our time and budget. It's an amazing place to visit; very laid-back, friendly people, lots of hiking available or relaxing. We did the 1/2 day glacier hike on Root Glacier. They will "size you up" in other words, as I was told, "who goes with the grandma's and grandpa's and who goes with the young people" to guesstimate what degree of challenge suits you. We qualified as "grandma and grandpa" but because (I think) I called the young lady on this approach, we went with the youngin's. It was a challenge but I'm so glad we did it.

The flight was an experience in and of itself. Bad weather on the return flight contributed to a "less than relaxing" trip but again, we lived through it to tell the tale. If you'd like to check out the day on my blog feel free to go to fuzzytravel.com/luckygreen/5751-day-nine.htm… Day 9 and 10 are Kennicott and Root Glacier.

While you might miss something flying in, there's also the option of taking the shuttle in and flying back or visa versa.

Kenai, Alaska
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9. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

Kennicott is an amazing place with alot to explore. Dont miss the mill tour. It is very cool and it will not be the same for long. Also, hike the glacier, you will learn so much. If you can stay at the Kennicott Glacier lodge, do it. The history there is amazing and the meals are all family style, making it a fun way to meet others. The road into Kennicott is fine, dirt with curves, but nothing crazy. I'm wondering why the rental companies are so worried about it. There are alot of dirt roads in AK that are worse.

Seward and Homer are both very beautiful and you will enjoy the drive. Enjoy a blackened Halibut burrito at the Railway Depot in Seward (a hole in the wall with great food!) and sample the wines in Homer at the Bear Creek Winery.

Enjoy!

Kelly

10. Re: Kenai Peninsula-thoughts?

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