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Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

Cincinnati, Ohio
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Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

I'm just starting to sketch out an RV trip for next summer for my family (kids will be 7, 9, and 13). I don't have flights booked, but I'm thinking we'll arrive late (very late our time) on a Friday evening. The next day, we'll pick up the RV, buy groceries, and drive to Talkeetna. I don't want to "book" anything on this day, because I don't want to be committed to a specific time and feel rushed, but I'd like to stop somewhere for an activity or hike en route to Talkeetna. If there aren't any good options, we can plan to do something in Talkeetna when we get there.

After Talkeetna, we are going on to Denali, and I was thinking we'd hike or rent canoes at Byer's Lake on the way. Then our longest drive of the trip will be from Denali to Seward. I'd like to make a stop or two for things to do or see on the way for this drive too. The kids do better if we break up the drive and let them get out to burn up energy periodically.

I'd appreciate your ideas!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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1. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

>>>Then our longest drive of the trip will be from Denali to Seward. I'd like to make a stop or two for things to do or see on the way for this drive too. The kids do better if we break up the drive and let them get out to burn up energy periodically.<<<

This is not a good idea! It is too long a drive, with stops especially, in a car. Doing it by RV is insane . . . and here's why . . . https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/… . (Photo taken by Alaskan resident, blogger and photographer Susan Stevenson.) That photo was just taken last week on the drive just beyond Anchorage on the Seward Hwy. If it is not road construction, it could be an accident or just a lot of traffic including A LOT of RVs.

There is a lot to see and do along the drive. Without knowing what else you're planning, I would suggest a visits in Girdwood (tram to the top); the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center and the Begich Boggs Visitor Center near Portage Lake and Byron Glacier.

Edited: 16 June 2013, 15:15
Cincinnati, Ohio
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2. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

So you would not advised planning any stops on the drive because traffic delays could make it a really long drive, even without stops? Or are you saying we shouldn't plan to go this far in just one day?

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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3. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

Do not attempt that drive (Denali to Seward) in just a single day. It is nearly 400 miles and while Mapquest may say it is about 6 1/2 hrs, I doubt that is humanly possible in a car, much less an RV.

p.s. It would be criminal to NOT STOP along that drive, especially south of Denali and then again south of Anchorage.

Additionally, there are some cool places to stop and visit near Wasilla/Palmer, especially for the kids. But again, not knowing interests or what else you have planned, it is difficult to know. The Iditarod Hdtrs, Musk Ox farm and Reindeer farm are all in the same general area, but will take a full day to see them all.

Edited: 16 June 2013, 15:56
Cincinnati, Ohio
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4. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

OK, thanks. We can drive Denali to Wasilla/Palmer on the first day, then the rest of the way to Seward the next. The tram in Girdwood sounds nice, and we can pick one of the Wasilla/Palmer activities.

Anchorage, Alaska
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5. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

There's a whole day's list of great family activities in the Girdwood/Portage area ...

Look up AK Wildlife Conservation Ctr, Portage Glacier, Byron Glacier, Winner Creek (hand tram), Crow Creek Mine, panning for gold, Williwaw with it's salmon viewing and Trail of Blue Ice, and more.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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6. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

Go the Alaska forum and under Top Questions, look at Scenic Drives. There is detailed info and suggested stopping points for drives to Turnagain Arm, Potters Marsh and all the way to Seward.

Better yet, since you're doing a road trip, buy the' Alaska Milepost'. For each hwy in Alaska it provides the milepost number for gas stations, campgrounds, scenic viewpoints, activities, restaurants, etc. even likely places to spot a moose or watch salmon spawning An older edition off Amazon is under $10 ... money well spent.

For the Anc - denali drive, be sure to stop in Eklutna to see the Spirit Houses and orthodox church, maybe do a short walk at Eagle River Nature Center to see the beaver dam, visit Thunderbird Falls. All listed in the Milepost.

I don't necessarily agree that Denali to Seward drive shouldn't be done ... I've done it and it was fine. But as others said ... you need to be prepared for a 10-12 hr drive IF there is an accident, incident, etc. For me the real crime would be passing up all the sights and activities along the Turnagain Arm , especially with a young family ..... gold panning, hikes, Potters Marsh, Alyeska Tram, the Wildlife Center, etc

Sounds like a fun family vacation!

Cincinnati, Ohio
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7. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

Thank you for all the ideas! We do want to make sure we have time for lots of stops along the drive. I wish we were going this summer!

Cebu City...
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8. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

Just as a point of information. My wife and I left Denali at 5AM on Saturday, May 25th (Memorial Day) in a 28' Winnebago. I stopped 2x along the Parks highway to take pictures of Denali in the morning light. We had breakfast and surfed the net at McD's in Wasilla (we lost at least an hour here.) I drove by Sarah Palin's driveway but she wasn't home, so we continued on to Fairbanks where I gassed up in a station about 5 miles off the freeway because gasbuddy.com said it would be cheaper. (It wasn't). Then we started down the Seward Highway and oooohhhed and ahhhhed our way south.

We had lunch in Seward around 12:30pm.

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fti
MN
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9. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

hoz49's experience is definitely not typical. I think driving it on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend really helped him though - Friday and Monday are by far the more heavily traveled days. Also, the reference to Fairbanks appears to be a mistake. Absolutely no way that Fairbanks could have been included in that drive in that amount of time.

Just a week or so ago I drove from Palmer to Denali. Palmer is roughly the same distance to Denali as Anchorage is. We left at 9am, had a stop at the Denali South Viewpoint for photos and lunch and didn't get to Denali until just before 4pm (we drove to the Park HQ for the doggie demo and arrived just before it started). So it took us 7 hours for the drive with a +-30-45 minute stop for photos and lunch. That was just from Palmer. Certainly add 2-3 hours between Anchorage and Seward without stops. As Scott said, there are tons of things to do along the Seward Highway. No need to rush that trip.

If it were me, I would try to drive from Denali to somewhere just south of Anchorage one day, then continue the next day to Seward, but incorporating a lot of the activities along Turnagain Arm. Those activities alone could take you close to a full day (or more).

Edited: 17 June 2013, 23:04
Anchorage, Alaska
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10. Re: Things to see or do on drive to Denali?

I can drive door to door from Denali to Seward in 7.5 hrs. It'd have to be traffic and stop free ( and pretty lucky/boring). Sorry but the above poster is not posting something correctly, especially anything to do with Fairbanks along the way.