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Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

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Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

We arrive in Seward 17th May and want to see the best Alaska has to offer.... Not sure on time frame as have nothing planned from 17th onwards. Can anyone advise us about Barrow, Denali & Fairbanks - maybe even an approx time line needed to see these and of course Anchorage & Kenai - so confused with brochures - also would RV travel be better than car and hotel??

Manitoba, Canada
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1. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

Hi kardi727, welcome to TA.

First, how many days do you have for your landtour? By "arrive in Seward 17th May", I assume you mean on a cruise ship?

I suggest you spend at least a day in Seward before moving on up to Anchorage. You could take a Kenai Fjords wildlife cruise, visit SeaLife Center, Ididaride or GodwinGlacier sled dog tours, fishing, kayaking, etc. Also maybe walk to the face of Exit Glacier, though it might be too early in the season for that, depending on when the snow melts. You don't need a car to get around tingy Seward except for Exit Glacier, to which you can travel by either taxi or Exit Glacier Guides. Then you can take the evening train (or morning bus) up to Anchorage to rent your vehicle.

"would RV travel be better than car and hotel"

Neither is "better", just personal preference. You do obviously have much more flexibility with an RV. Are you looking at renting one-way (rent in Anch. and drop-off in Fairbanks)? If so, be aware there will be a large drop off fee for returning it in a different city than you rented it.

For Barrow, are you looking for a day trip or an overnight one? What other things would you like to do during your trip?

The shuttles into Denali don't run into the park until May 20, and even then it's only a 6 hr. tour. They go all the way to Eielson (8 hrs, great view of McKinley if it's out) starting June 1, if you will be there that long.

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2. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

Hi Manitoba Maple,

Thanks for your quick response - yes you are correct we do arrive on a cruise into Seward - so not sure about doing a cruise to Kenai straight after but the drive to Exit Glacier and a hike sounds appealing - i think getting a bus/train to Anchorage that evening makes good sense.

Have to catch plane out of Vancouver by 3rd June so not that much time to see all we would like to - didn't realise need so much time otherwise would have left the cruise and flew up direct (in hindsight).

Regarding RV versus car - what is the situation with camping/parking with RV - do we need to go into designated parks or can we just wing it and camp whereever?? Obvously this will keep us in the areas we want to be and out of the main cities as much as possible.

Barrow would be an overnighter i would think - is it worth staying over - i have heard not so much - but that is not coming from someone who has been there??

Alaska
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3. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

Hello Kardi,

Seward is a beautiful town, you will love it there. From Seward, I would go to Anchorage, there really isn't much to see in Kenai, it is famous for it's fishing but in May there won't be many fish there.

Anchorage has some stuff to see, and many hiking opporitunities. I would definitely plan to stop in Girdwood, and go take a look at Alyeska Ski Resort, you can take a Tram up and get really amazing views.

From Anchorage, pretty much anything you could want to see is accessible within a days drive.

I would get an RV, as some of the most beautiful spots in AK don't have towns near them. While a lot of people do park in RV Parks, you certainly do not have to. You will notice pull outs all over the place that you can just park at. There are no laws against this.

Barrow? You are brave, I live in AK and have no desire to go there! Not much to see there, just flat nothingness.

Australia
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4. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

Hi Akvalleygirl,

Wow great site - good to get replies so quickly from others...thanks heaps!!

Girdwood sounds like it could be a goer - I think its north of Seward but will need to look it up. The tram and Alyeska Ski Resort sounds good.

I think with the cost of accomodation when we arrive your right about the RV - i'll need to discuss that option as preferable to my friend who is travelling with me. Excuse the ignorance but whats a pull out? Is it like a rest stop on the highways that trucks usually use??

LOL re Barrow - maybe just a day flight in and out then....

cheers again and thank for your input - really appreciate it - warm clothes and casual i'm assuming for dress code??

Di

fti
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5. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

May 17 to June 2 would give you a very nice trip.

A "pull out" is part of the RV where one or more of the side "pulls out" in order to give you more space.

It really depends what your interests are but I could see something like this:

May 17 get off ship, Kenai Fjords tour

May 18 Exit Glacier, Sealife Center, evening train to Anchorage

May 19 pick up RV, drive to Matsu Valley, overnight somewhere en route to Valdez. Thunderbird Falls, Eklutna Lake, Independence Mine en route

May 20 to Valdez

May 21 glacier tour from Valdez

May 22 drive to Chitina

May 23 flight or shuttle to McCarthy and Wrangell/St. Elias NP

May 24 Root Glacier hike, NPS activities (mine tour for example)

May 25 back to Chitina, drive toward Fairbanks

May 26 arrive Fairbanks

May 27 to Barrow

May 28 return from Barrow

May 29 visit Fairbanks

May 30 to Denali

May 31 activities near park entrance - sleddog demo, visitor center exhibits and film, wilderness access center film, ranger-led Horseshoe Lake hike

Jun 1 - shuttle bus to Eielson

Jun 2 morning drive to Anchorage, evening flight to Seattle (5.30pm departure arrives 10pm).

June 3 morning shuttle to Vancouver, flight

The above depends on what time your flight on 3 June from Vancouver is. If the schedule at the end doesn't work, you can back it up and do the May 31 activities on May 30, shuttle to Toklat on May 31 and to Anchorage June 1st. The reason I tried to do it this way is that the first day the shuttle goes to Eielson is June 1st. Eielson is at mile 66, Toklat is only mile 53.

John

Manitoba, Canada
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6. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

"whats a pull out? Is it like a rest stop on the highways that trucks usually use??"

Mostly they are just a small parking area, no facilities like a rest stop would have. And yes, Alaska is very RV-friendly, you can overnight almost anywhere. Just try to be sure it's not inadvertently someone's driveway, lol. (One of the posters here told us about that happening.)

"not sure about doing a cruise to Kenai straight after[the cruise]"

Unless you're taking a wildlife cruise in one of the cruise ports, this will be your best chance to see wildlife such as orcas, humpbacks, porpoises, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, puffins, eagles, etc. No guarantees what you'll see, of course. One trip I saw all of the above, the other I saw only a couple. You might even see a gray whale that early in the season.

Australia
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7. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

Thanks again to both replies,

Am using your thoughts and ideas to stream line the "what's must see" and whats a "bonus" if we get time. Still no real idea on Barrow i.e. to go or not to go - do you think it's worth the time or would we be better doing a different flight elsewhere??

Di

Manitoba, Canada
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8. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

"Still no real idea on Barrow i.e. to go or not to go - do you think it's worth the time"

You're the only one who can decide that. I dug up an old thread about the trip so you can read it, and maybe it will help you decide:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g30940-i2296-k5988…

Remember, everyone's tastes are different. For example, a trip to Barrow isn't even on my radar screen of things to do. But some people are thrilled with crossing the Arctic Circle and/or dipping a toe in the Arctic Ocean. Different strokes for different folks.

So just like the rest of us, you're going to have to look through various activities you could do, and pick and choose which of them to include in this trip.

Australia
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9. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

Thanks Manitoba Maple,

I think Barrow will be on the agenda - like some others on the thread you sent it's been something i've always wanted to do - so why come home after going all the way to Alaska and not see the places you initially went there for.

Have decided on RV option and am getting quite excited about it all now...LOL:)

We look as though it will be south of Seward to begin with - Homer and fishing and bears... any info that could help there??

Manitoba, Canada
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10. Re: Alaska in May - 2 Aussies from downunder on their way north!

"We look as though it will be south of Seward to begin with - Homer and fishing and bears... any info that could help there?"

That could be a problem with timing. All the bear-viewing tours I know of (5) don't start until June. However, I have seen a link posted of one that starts in mid-May: http://www.hallobay.com/Alaska_Bears_1.html I have NO IDEA what your chances are of seeing bears before June, so your best bet is to e-mail them to ask what you could expect.

Your other alternative is to leave Homer until the end and go with outfitters like Bald Mt. Air or Emerald Air who have a wonderful reputation, but then you sacrifice going to Eielson in Denali. You could go only as far as Toklat, or, if you take a tour bus instead of a shuttle, if Mt. McKinley is "out" the bus goes a few miles further than Toklat to a breathtaking view of The Mountain. Otherwise it goes the same distance as the Toklat shuttle and at maybe 3 times the cost.

One thing in your favor is that I've read that when the shuttles start the 3rd week of May, the animals are closer to the entrance, so you might still get to see a lot of wildlife. No guarantees on any given trip, of course.

If it were me, paying $500 for a half day trip with a maybe chance of seeing bears, or paying about $600 for a full day trip with an excellent chance of seeing bears, I'd choose the latter. But this has to be YOUR choice. If you don't see much wildlife in Denali, and see only a couple of bears in Katmai, are you going to be really disappointed, or just say you gave it your best shot and "thems the breaks"?

BTW, before you make any final decisions, contact whatever outfitter you select to see if there is room on the day you want to go. If they are already booked, well, that might decide you.

BTW, since Barrow is "something i've always wanted to do", it absolutely should be on your itinerary! THAT was the reason I was waiting to hear. :-) (Some people want to go places because other people tell them they should, even though they don't have a real interest in it themselves.)

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