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Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

Knoxville, Tennessee
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Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

day 1-3 denali, day 4 byers lake, day 5,6 matanuska state rec area,

day 7 near valdez, day 8 take columbia glacier tour, (tour returns late so have to spend night near Valdez )day 9-13???? spend last night back in fairbanks prob at B&B to get showers & camping stuff dry.

Only can afford the glacier tour...so rest of time would like to hike, see wildlife, & view scenery...not much on museums, tours, etc. Would you take time to drive down into St. Elias? What should we plan for drive back to Fairbanks between Valdez & Fairbanks on the Richardson Highway? Wondering about Fielding Lake campground , Paxson or Delta Junction Area? Where is most scenic/ desirable to camp or just to look around the area at? Any suggestions very

much appreciated!!!

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fti
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1. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

Welcome to the forum.

I assume you are flying into Fairbanks?

I would spend at least days 1-3 at Denali - that is only 2 nights (night 1 and night 2), which means you really only get one full day in the park. If you spend a 3rd night there, you get two full days in the park. Well worth it in my opinion since you specifically mention three things that Denali is famous for - hiking, wildlife and scenery. I spend 3-6 nights in Denali at a time and find it constraining sometimes.

I would strongly encourage you to take the Meares/Columbia Glacier tour from Valdez. With just the Columbia Glacier tour, you don't get close to the face of the glacier since there are so many icebergs. The longer tour gets you to Meares Glacier, which gets you closer to the face and the ability to see the calving.

At Byers Lake, you can camp at the campground or you can also try to get one of the Byers Lake cabins. I stayed in cabin #1 twice - right next to the parking lot, but still very quiet. Also have stayed in the campground - large and secluded sites.

If you have 13 days, I would definitely try to get to Wrangell/St. Elias. See if your rental car company allows travel on the McCarthy Road. If not, you can take a shuttle there. You can take your camping equipment on the bus and there is a campground not far from the bridge that you walk over to get to McCarthy. The Root Glacier hike is well worth it. If you buy a Toursaver coupon book, you can get both Stan Stephens and St. Elias Guides coupons that give you buy one, get one free tours. That way you could do both tours. Great hiking near here too. If you want a strenuous hike, consider a hike to one of the mines in Kennicott. I would like to do that the next time I visit that area.

There is a campground between Glennallen and Paxson - saw it last September but didn't stop to look around. You should also consider driving the paved portion of the Denali Highway (about 30 miles from the Richardson Highway going west).

I stayed in a campground just north of Valdez when I went a couple of summers ago. I liked it better than staying in Valdez, which looked very crowded to me, and mostly RV's.

When are you going? Late August/September will give you great fall colors in Denali and along the Denali Highway.

John

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2. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

I see you already started another thread on this topic and that you are traveling in July. It would really help us volunteers if you keep all your questions regarding one itinerary in one thread. Many don't have the time to go back to multiple threads to find information (like the dates of your trip).

Thanks!

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3. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

I would just add to fti's post, that there is another campground on the Denali Highway about mile 22, just where the pavement ends, called Tangle Lakes campground. Very beautiful. Paxson Lake campground just south of Paxson is also very nice, and Fielding Lake just north of Paxson is also nice. They're all nice!! :)

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4. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

So sorry! Our itenerary changed from 7 days to 14days so thought I had to start another thread...my bad

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5. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

Would appreciate any comments on this revised plan...am really not sure what to do as I want some quiet time & not to be driving forever everyday yet also want to make the best of our time. First time to Alaska & most likely won't have another chance to come back so any help is so appreciated! We arrive in Fairbanks 9:30pm July 7 and depart Fairbanks 10:30 pm July21. ( 4hr difference in time zone) so we will be tired! Spend night in Fairbanks; July8 grocery store for suppllies, drive to Tek campground, set up; July9 shuttle bus to Wonder Lakes; July 10 shuttle bus to ?; July 11 drive out & possibly hike on way out, set up at Riley campground so can see exhibits, demonstrations, etc. and shower ;July 12 explore more at entrance or hike on entrance road ? take in cabin nite dinner; July 13 leave

Denali & explore Talkeena maybe take a float trip or hike...spend night

near there in B&B; July 14 drive to Matanuska State rec. area & stay in

state park cabin 2 nights...rest,hike,maybe take mica guide glacier hike;

July 16 drive to Valdez, stopping along way to explore/hike: July 17 Stan Stephens glacier cruize: July 18 drive to McCarthy...stay in hostel or camp

July 19 hike around area/explore; July 20 drive to somewhere between

McCarthy & Fairbanks on Richardson highway & spend night...not sure

what would have time to do ...need to organize & dry out camping stuff

July 21 drive to fairbanks & maybe catch a museum before flight that night

at 10:30...will be traveling 18 hr to get home. ugh! so don't want to plan a big day that day. Thanks so much for any suggestions! FYI we can't take any expensive flight trips,ferries,or guided trips. Did buy the tour saver book & a milepost. Thanks so much

Edited: 20 March 2011, 00:08
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6. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

Well, even though you may be an Atlanta Braves fan, I will chime in again :-) I will be in your state next month for two Braves vs. Mets games (Let's Go Mets!!).

The Milepost will be really valuable for your trip with all the areas you are visiting. Glad you already have that. Look through it, especially for the Glenn and Richardson Highways - will give lots of ideas for stops.

So:

July 7 to Fairbanks, overnight

Jul 8 shop for Denali, drive to Tek. Can use your Tek pass if you want to go as far as Polychrome Pass later today (bears near Sable?). Be sure to take a bus schedule with you from the WAC when you arrive.

Jul 9 shuttle to Wonder Lake

Jul 10 I would book another shuttle to Wonder Lake. Only go to Wonder yesterday or today if the Mountain is out. Otherwise, get off at Eielson and catch a different bus back. Be prepared for mosquitoes at Wonder Lake this time of year (headnets and probably DEET).

Jul 11 - I think you are spending too much time at the park entrance. I would stay at Tek another night. Go into the park again. Hiking is free in Denali, the Tek pass is the same price for any number of days, riding the shuttle bus gives you great chances to see wildlife.

July 12 to the park entrance, shower, 2pm or 4pm doggie demo, cabin night dinner, maybe Savage River hike before your shower (easy but nice- could do this on your way out from Tek). Just one night at Riley Creek.

July 13 spend an hour or two at the Visitor Center for the exhibits and film. Maybe the film at the WAC (more historical film). Two hours is really all you need at the entrance for this stuff, maybe less. Afternoon to Talkeetna.

Jul 14 to Matanuska Glacier area

Jul 15 Matanuska Glacier area

Jul 16 to Valdez with stops along the way. Worthington Glacier and several waterfalls are especially nice in this area.

Jul 17 Stan Stephens cruise (I strongly suggest the Meares Glacier option - they apply the Columbia Glacier price toward Meares so it is not quite half price but still a great deal).

Jul 18 to McCarthy. I drove from McCarthy to Valdez a couple of summers ago after doing a morning Kennecott Mill tour. We left late morning and stopped on the McCarthy Road for a picnic lunch (great rest area for that). But it will be a fairly long drive - 7+ hours?

Campground and hostel are located near the bridge, though I used a 2-for-1 coupon and stayed at Ma Johnson's for two nights.

Jul 19 hike around/explore. How ambitious are you? Consider the Bonanza or Jumbo Mine trail though it would be an all-day hike with pretty big elevation gain. Check in Kennicott at the ranger station for hiking ideas - they have great maps and ideas, no charge for the ideas and planning help. You might consider camping in Kennicott - there is a trail to Root Glacier and after a while rather than going toward the glacier, you go another 100 ft or so I believe to the campground. Rustic, no water, outhouse. I didn't camp there but would consider it for my next trip.

Note that the shuttle from McCarthy to Kennicott costs $5-$10/person each way (I forget how much).

There is a 2-for-1 Root Glacier hiking coupon in Toursaver but it might be out of your budget. You can get onto the ice without crampons, but you really can't go very far before it becomes unsafe.

July 20 from McCarthy to ??. I actually drove all the way from Fairbanks to McCarthy with stops. It was a relatively long day, but we took our time and make lots of stops. Still arrived in McCarthy for dinner. So if you are only going half way, this will be a leisurely drive. Stop at the Wrangell/St. Elias NP visitor center (some programs might be available depending on your timing, nice displays). Lots of other possible stops.

I am not sure of a good place to stay between McCarthy and Fairbanks to "dry out the camping stuff." I would probably suggest to stay in the hostel in McCarthy and dry out the camping stuff there instead. More places to do that I would think with the hostel and lodge. And if you tent camp this night, and it rains, not sure it will help to "dry out" the camping stuff. You could look to stay in Paxson or Tangle Lakes, which was mentioned above.

Jul 21 - I disagree about not planning a big day. Actually the more you plan, the more tired you will be and hopefully the better you will rest on the flight home. Maybe stop at North Pole for some Christmas shopping (very touristy, but my sisters love Christmas ornaments, esp. from Alaska). Museum of the North is great, as is the Public Lands Information Center (APLIC) in Fairbanks. The APLIC is free, the museum has a small entrance and parking fee.

Be at the airport about 90 minutes before departure for returning the car rental, checking in, and going through security. Not as much time is needed in Fairbanks Airport as in Anchorage, IMO.

Re: camping gear. I remember about 3 years ago when I was camping in Juneau. The day before we flew out I actually was near the airport so I went there to weigh two suitcases. One was something like 8 pounds underweight. It rained heavily that night so the next morning we packed up and put the tent in that case that was 8 pounds underweight. When they weighed the case again at check in, it was overweight by a few pounds. I knew the dry tent would have been fine, but water is heavy. Took a little moving around of articles to get the weights in order. But unfortunately that is one of the downsides of tent camping. Just plan on not maxing out your weight limit in your suitcases (usually 50 pounds).

You might want to be starting a packing list in the coming weeks. I am always on the lookout for small things like condiment packets. If I go through a fast food drive through, I often ask for condiment packets even if I don't use them. Handy and light to bring with me when camping in Alaska. And I hate buying a bottle of ketchup up there then using it just a couple of times :-). My frugal ways come out again! But thinking ahead on things like that really can add up in savings.

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7. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

Thanks so much for your help! (eventhough I am kind've a braves fan!)

I will take your advice about not taking 2 days at Riley...and thinking now of driving from McCarthy to Fairbanks in one day to have a full day to poke around Fairbanks & go ahead & stay somewhere where we could make sure everything got dried out. One thing keeps knawing at me...I have never slept at night around an area where there are grizzles...has there been much of a problem at Tek with them that you know of? Also, what is the best prep we can make for possible downpours...have a tent w/a fly but probably need to get some kind of light weight tarp ... thanks again for all your help! Have fun at the game...its getting warm here ...in the 70's today!

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8. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

Great advice from fti. My only suggestion would be to enjoy the Visitor Center exhibits and film BEFORE going to Tek. Only because I think it's a nice intro for what you're about to experience in the park.

Another spot worth visiting on your way back to Fairbanks is Rika's Roadhouse near Delta Junction. It's an interesting glimpse into pioneer life in Alaska, with several buildings and old tools, machines, etc. It's a lovely location on a river. Good view of the pipeline too, as it crossses the river in its own little bridge.

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9. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

>>Thanks so much for your help! (eventhough I am kind've a braves fan!)

My Atlanta nephews would call that heresy. You either are or are not a Braves fan!! Kind've Braves fans is like kind've pregnant :-)

Great tip from yescanada about Rika's Roadhouse. We stopped there for looking over the buildings/exhibits on our way from Fairbanks to McCarthy.

It was a fairly long day from Fairbanks to McCarthy but we broke it up a lot. We stopped for a while at North Pole for some Christmas ornaments, once to observe a moose not far from the road, at Rika's Roadhouse for probably an hour, at a pulloff near a river with picnic tables and outhouse to cook lunch, and stopped at the NPS office for a good while all on our way from Fairbanks to McCarthy.

I checked my trip journal and we left Fairbanks at 9am, arriving at the footbridge at McCarthy at 8.15pm. So it took us about 12 hours with lots of stops.

I like yescanada's idea of going to the visitor center first before going to Tek. My only hesitation in doing it first is if that puts you later in the afternoon into Tek campground. My guess is that you want to arrive early to mid afternoon at Tek for a decent campsite. But leaving Fairbanks by 9-10am puts you at Denali before noon. Lunch, picking up your permits and an hour or two at the visitor center and you will be on your way to Tek by 2-3pm, which is about the latest I would aim for.

Edited: 21 March 2011, 03:13
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10. Re: Need help tweaking low budget camping itenenary

The miserable website dumped my first reply, but this area is so beautiful it is worth putting together a second dime.

Dry Creek Campground north of Gelnnallen is a mosquito heaven. I suggest you stop there only to find out how bad the mosquitos can really get. Next time I am in that neighborhood I will try Sourdough campground. Paxson Lake campground is perfectly acceptable and there are some nice cold streams you can take a bath in if you can tolerate a reasonable level of mosquitos. It is beautiful there, but my favorite spot to stop is now Mile 7 of the Denali Highway west of Paxson. There is a paved turnout as you are driving east and climbing the hill. Pull over and check out the scenery to the EastNorthEast. There will be a beautiful lake right below you and the Alaska Range in the distance with the Gulkana Glacier showing. If the weather is good or promises to get better by mornging, take advantage of being in Alaska, park your car on the turnout and take your tent and camping gear across the highway and up the hill to a flat spot and set up for the night. No one will bother you, this is Alaska. Then you can wake up to this beautiful view with a new lighting.

Tangle Lakes campground is also fine, but it is beyond the spectacular view that you get at Mile 7.

For other sights and possibilities, go to

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28923-c119230/Alaska…

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