Ok. here goes. we are flying into Cordova and will be there about four days.
then we have one week to explore. I was thinking we could go to Denali, ending up in Fairbanks and fly out of Fairbanks back home.
one way car rentals are expensive and tough to find it appears.
Is it worth it having a rental car in Denali or are you better off just taking a bus and the shuttle?
Is Denali as impacted as Yosemite and a struggle to find campsites and such the week after labor day?
There are two adults, NO kids!
oh -Valdez - just because I noticed you can take a ferry there and bypass Anchorage perhaps. But may we want to see Anchorage? I heard Alyeska resort Girdwood area is very nice. But i"m not a luxury resort type.thanks!
Denali is nothing like Yosemite, but you will want to have your shuttle bus reserved ahead of time and if you plan on camping, you should reserve that as well. Cars are the best for a flexible schedule - just depends on your schedule. What all are you hoping to see and do?
To clarify: We are flying into anchorage and then cordova first Sept 1-4 where I will be working on a museum project. After that we have a week free Sept 4-11th and I'm trying to decide if we should go up to Denali and Fairbanks or focus on the Kenai Peninsula area.
We are interested in , wildlife viewing (moose would be great, but I hear it's hunting season then), hiking, glaciers, some fishing, First Nations culture and I'd really love to see the Northern Lights, but realize it's a small chance in early September.
We live on a boat and I work on a boat in Monterey Bay, so the ocean occupies most of our lives. I love the water and coastline, but have never seen interior Alaska. Wondering if the four days in Cordova will give us a good taste for coastal Alaska in that region or if we'll want to explore more of the coastline.
Sounds like Denali will be really impressive during the first part of September.
thanks for any advice!
“Also, my partner asked how safe it is to tent camp with grizzlies?”
Well, my suggestion would be that he camp with you instead! :-)) Seriously though, the bears in Alaska are pretty easy to get along with as long as you don’t do something stupid like have food in your tent. Store food and anything with an odor (toothpaste, etc.) in the car trunk or in a bear-proof locker. Do not leave food out at any time. Or your hiking boots either. And of course keep a clean camping site.
BTW, you have the best-calving glacier near Cordova, Childs. So be sure to drive out there for a few hours (gravel road past the airport, so be sure you rent a car that is able to be driven on gravel). Also great hiking along there, good chance of spotting wildlife. I assume you’ll have your evenings free to do that?
Here is a sample itinerary:
Sat. Sept. 4 – 1:22 pm flight from Cordova arrives Anchorage 2:09 pm. Pick up a rental car for 2 days (2 pm to 2 pm). Right now Avis downtown is the cheapest at $68, including taxes, but the airport Thrifty is only $4 more and the convenience would be worth it IMO, plus saves you a taxi ride. A good site to compare prices is www.carrentals.com .
Very scenic drive to Seward (2.5 hrs, longer with stops). Outside of Seward, easy 1 hr. hike to the face of Exit Glacier and/or a bit more challenging hike to a nice overlook of the glacier. Keep in mind that sunset is 8:55 pm, with twilight until 9:39 pm, and you do NOT want to be coming down the mountain when it’s dark….
Sun. Sept. 5 – Either: all day fishing/wildlife viewing combo with Saltwater Lodge if they’re still running that tour in September, or else 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 pm. Kenai Fjords NP cruise. After supper, drive to Girdwood (under 2 hrs) to overnight, maybe go up the tram if the weather is clear for a great view, light hiking. Note: if the Kenai Fjords tour gets cancelled due to bad weather (contact them early morning to find out), hurry up to Whittier for the 11:30 a.m. Tunnel opening and you can do the afternoon 26 Glaciers cruise in Prince William Sound.
Mon. Sept. 6 – drive to Anchorage (1 hr). Hike/bike Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, visit Native Heritage Center (at least 2 hrs), and the Alaska Native Medical Center gift shop to see native crafts, pick up snacks/supplies for Denali. Before 2 pm, pick up the Hertz K Street rental (maybe make that one for 1 pm to give you some leeway) and drop off the first rental car that is due back at 2 pm. Drive to Talkeetna? (2.5 hrs), stopping at Eklutna Village just outside of Anchorage. The autumn colors should be pretty spectacular starting around Talkeetna (which is a great place to do flightseeing if desired), so take advantage of any sunny weather to stop and enjoy the scenery. I don’t know what the fishing is like near Talkeetna at that time of year. I think you can get silver salmon, trout and arctic grayling there, but I’m not a fisherperson so am of little help in that regard. Will you have your own fishing gear? Lots of places to fish in that area, depending what you’re looking for, and you might overnight at somewhere nearby. Here’s a link to get you started: alaska101.com/exploreAlaska/biglh/alaska_tra…
Tues Sept. 7 - morning fishing? Drive to Denali (2.5 hrs. from Talkeetna) Possible activities during your stay in Denali: drive the 14 miles into the park that private vehicles are allowed (excellent chance of spotting moose on that drive, since they’re getting ready for the rut—just look for a row of cars parked along the road and a bunch of people with cameras). Hike at the turnaround point, hike an entrance trail. See visitor center displays & films & free Ranger sled dog demo. Whitewater rafting. Overnight near Denali, or if you’re camping, in either Riley Creek or Savage River CG’s right inside the park.
Wed. Sept. 8 – early shuttle to Eielson (8 hrs) to see wildlife and scenery. Must reserve in advance (campgrounds too) at www.reservedenali.com . Bring binoculars for both of you since most wildlife is seen at a distance, and food and beverages since none are for sale in the park. You can get off the shuttle almost anywhere to hike, then catch a later shuttle to resume your trip. Go to the Denali forum and look at Top Questions at the top right of the page for ideas about hikes. Overnight Denali.
Thurs. Sept. 9 – 2nd shuttle to Eielson. We always suggest two to give you a better chance at seeing wildlife, but of course you can cut one of the trips short if you prefer to hike or do other things. After supper, drive to Fairbanks (2 hrs) to overnight.
Fri. Sept. 10 – See Museum of the North, Riverboat Discovery. Other possible activities: Chena Hot Springs (including Ice Museum), El Dorado Gold Mine, see Pipeline display 8 miles north of city, Santa Claus House in nearby North Pole, Creamers Field, Large Animal Research Center, etc. Overnight Fairbanks.
Saturday Sept. 11 – activities in Fairbanks until flight home.
I hope this gives you a few ideas.
You are the best! I'm a detail person so appreciate your thorough reply and all the awesome suggestions, with back up plans too!
I'll get on the Denali reservations right away.
I was worried about packing too much into that week, but now feel more comfortable with it. your suggested itinerary sounds reasonable and not too hectic.
Gotta run to work, sure i'll have more questions later....
The two car rental option mentioned above is a really good one. Note that since you are picking up the second car at Hertz downtown, you might want to reserve Avis downtown for the first car. You will have one somewhat complicated pick up - either initially when you first fly in from Cordova and take a taxi downtown or after returning from Seward when you return the Thrifty rental to the airport but have to get downtown for the Hertz rental. Personal preference I guess but I would prefer to get the "hassle" out of the way at the beginning of the trip.
"or after returning from Seward when you return the Thrifty rental to the airport but have to get downtown for the Hertz rental."
Pssst....John....they drive the Thrifty to the Hertz rental....transfer their luggage into the Hertz....then drive both cars to the airport to drop off the Thrifty, then boogie off in the Hertz....
>>Pssst....John....they drive the Thrifty to the Hertz rental....transfer their luggage into the Hertz....then drive both cars to the airport to drop off the Thrifty, then boogie off in the Hertz....
I thought about that, but I hate paying rental companies for second driver fees. So either it means paying a second driver fee or having one person the only driver on the Thrifty rental and the other person the only driver on the Hertz rental.
Tell me a company or industry where a very definite benefit to that company is turned into a money-maker? Having a second driver is advantageous to the company in that more drivers are sharing the driving so one driver doesn't get tired and into an accident. So what do the rental companies do? Charge $10/day or more for the "privilege."Edited: 10 August 2010, 18:17