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Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

Aalborg, Denmark
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Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

Hi TA users. My wife and I (both around 50 y.o.) are beginning to plan an Alaske Trip late this summer. So far we have the flight booked to and from Anchorage Sept. 8.- 29. The masterplan is to rent a RV and drive a round trip: Anchorage-Denali-Fairbanks-Tok-Kenai peninsula and back to Anchorage. My questions to this forum are:

1) Is the trip too ambitious for three weeks? I don't mind driving, but of course not for 6-8 hours every day.

2) Is it best to go clockwise or counter clockwise for this trip?

3) Is it okay to camp some nights in the nature - away from camp grounds? (is it legal and is it safe)

4) We like wildlife watching and would really like to "meet" the grizzly bear - and watch it catch salmons. Do you suggest taking a dedicated flight trip (and from where) to do so - or is there any place on our road that we might be able to catch this sight? I am aware that we are talking wild animals and it is a question of luck, but just to have the best odds.

5) If the only possibility to do "Bear viewing" is a flight trip - which off course is rather expensive, do you the suggest us to take this before we rent the RV - so we don't pay rent for the vehicle while we are out in the wilderness at some lodge?

6) We have a fourteen hours flight from Denmark to Anchorage. Do you suggest to stay in Anchorage for a few days to acclimatize - or just go straight to the RV rental and get out there? (we prefere nature from the city - but maybe one or two days in Anchorage is a must?)

7) Any other advice to first timers in Alaska - and first RV travellers?

I am aware that we probably can find the answers in some of the many, many threads in this forum, but nevertheless I would be really greatful if some of you would help.

Thanks a lot

Hans

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Alaska
Alaska
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Bristol, Connecticut
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1. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

I would work your way north to south and do the bear viewing early/upon arrival as many of the tours will be ending around the time you arrive. If you want to do Denali the last day for the shuttle buses will be September 12th so head there first.

I would do your trip clockwise in the order you have listed. I think a day/night of rest in Anchorage would be fine but that is really up to how easily you adjust to the time difference and travel time and when you can schedule a bear viewing.

It is legal to stop and camp unless it is marked Private Property or No Camping.

There is a very recent post written by a traveler on RVing in Alaska it should be on the first couple pages of the forum, it should give you an idea about what to expect.

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Alaska
Alaska
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Anchorage, Alaska
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2. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

(1) read through "Top Questions" (near top right if screen). It will really help you.

(2) your vacation is coming at the end if our "summer season". I'd do activities in the north first and southern activities last.

(3) after Sep. 15, many tourist related activities that involve a guided or organized trip wi be closed.

Aalborg, Denmark
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3. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

Thank you for your answers sdpryde and spacefry. I have gone though the "Top questions" as you said - and I see that it really is the end of the season we have chosen. Never mind - that's how it is, and we will just have to get the best out of it. We are from Scandinavia and used to weather conditions. But we will definately take your advice and head straight for Denali. Just don't know if we take a day or two in Anchorage first.

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Bristol, Connecticut
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4. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

I think you will be fine with it being the end of the season, I am heading there this year September 6-21. You will still be able to do many activities and just explore the state. The tours in Kenai Fjords National Park run until the end of September but your choices will be limited. With the cruises running a bit later in the season some businesses are staying open later in the month.

Only you can decide how the flights will effect you. I have less issues flying west. With the 9.5 hour flight (12.5 hours total) and 4 hour time change I generally can recover after a good nights sleep.

Anchorage, Alaska
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5. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

I can sleep/rest quite well on planes, so for me, I can usually hit the ground running and start my vacations right away. If you feel you need to rest then you need to rest; safety and comfortable will make your trip more enjoyable.

Given the above, I'd try to get Denali as soon as reasonable. You could do a "short" day to get there. Rest. Do a mid-day shuttle to Eielson the next day. Rest. And then you'd likely be recovered from the flights and ready to add more activities to your days.

Bear viewing...

Since you are late in the season, I'd wait until after Denali to measure the quality of bear sightings there. If you want more, then I'd contact bear vieiwng flight options out of Anchorage (or other towns) to see what they are seeing and/or have available.

1) Is the trip too ambitious for three weeks? I don't mind driving, but of course not for 6-8 hours every day.

- Not too ambitious. I think it's a great length of time.

2) Is it best to go clockwise or counter clockwise for this trip?

- I'd go clockwise as you've listed.

3) Is it okay to camp some nights in the nature - away from camp grounds? (is it legal and is it safe)

- Yes it is. If you are not on posted, private property you will be fine. Safety? Very safe, just be wise/smart as anywhere new and read the "bear" threads listed above.

4) We like wildlife watching and would really like to "meet" the grizzly bear - and watch it catch salmons. Do you suggest taking a dedicated flight trip (and from where) to do so - or is there any place on our road that we might be able to catch this sight? I am aware that we are talking wild animals and it is a question of luck, but just to have the best odds.

- It's getting late in the "catching" salmon season for the bears; but check in with a couple different vendors that offer "flight-see" as to their opinions. Get more than one opinion.

5) If the only possibility to do "Bear viewing" is a flight trip - which off course is rather expensive, do you the suggest us to take this before we rent the RV - so we don't pay rent for the vehicle while we are out in the wilderness at some lodge?

- I'd get the RV and head for Denali first unless a guide offered you a great opportunity out of Anchorage in he first 2 or 3 days. Then I'd delay the RV.

6) We have a fourteen hours flight from Denmark to Anchorage. Do you suggest to stay in Anchorage for a few days to acclimatize - or just go straight to the RV rental and get out there? (we prefere nature from the city - but maybe one or two days in Anchorage is a must?)

- I love Anchorage; but I'd do the rest of the state first and save a day or two at the end for my wonderful home town.

7) Any other advice to first timers in Alaska - and first RV travellers?

- keep posting questions in this thread

- relax and enjoy AK

Have you selected an RV company yet? Do you mind saying which company?

Good luck,

Scott

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Alaska
Alaska
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Anchorage, Alaska
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6. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

Hi, I travel frequently between Europe and Alaska and find the adjustment from jet lag to be worse coming to Alaska as do many of my guests. I suggest you not sleep on the plane and plan to stay in Anchorage overnight the first night. You'll be very tired and will have to work at staying up until later in the evening so that you then are "on" Alaska time for sleeping. A pleasant walk in the afternoon, eat a nice meal and then off to bed.

You'll be tired the next day but if you plan your flight seeing tour for that day (these are day trips from the lake across from the international airport), you'll be excited and not too aware of the jet lag. You'll sleep well that second night and be ready to pick up your RV and start driving - more important is that you will be pretty alert to drive. The roads here are primarily two lanes so they are a bit more difficult than a four lane highway.

Do start by heading north as the activities at Denali will be ending. You can drive from Anchorage to Denali in a day but it would be nice to stop over in Talkeetna and allow yourselves time to stop along the way both days to enjoy views and interesting places.

Hope this helps.

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Alaska
Alaska
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7. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

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Aalborg, Denmark
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8. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

Thank you for the link The_organizer.

We have booked a 25 feet RV at Great Alaskan Holiday and the route will be (flexible); Talkeetna 1 nt, Denali National Park 3 nt, Denali Highway 2 nt, Valdez 2nt, Glen Highway 1 nt - then south to Kenai to spend the rest of the time 11-13 nights there. We are looking so much forward to the trip.

Only one thing I am still not sure about: We pick up the RV at 5 p.m. so the first night will be in Anchorage before shopping and leaving the next day. But I am not sure if we should just stay at GAH's parking lot or should drive to a RV park in Anchorage. The RV parks in Anchorage doesn't seem to be nice reading the reviews on TA. I will have to do a little more research.

Edited: 16 July 2014, 09:05
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Anchorage, Alaska
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9. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

1st RV night...

I'm in agreement about Anchorage campgrounds being less than good (though there's one in Eagle River that gets fairly frequent recommendations - I do not know it off the top of my head).

Is the "5pm pickup RV" day the same day your flight arrives?

yes - If it is I'm thinking you could be very tired and just immediately resting in the RV in GAH's lot might be best. I believe many travelers do this.

no - I'd head towards Talkeetna. If you've picked up your RV supplies already, you might make it all the way to Talkeetna. If not, and you need an hour to pick up some groceries, then there's several camp grounds between Wasilla and Talkeetna that would meet your needs and not have you on the road too late.

Edited: 16 July 2014, 15:39
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Eagle River
Eagle River
Anchorage, AK
Wasilla, Alaska
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10. Re: Alaska trips - suggestions needed please.

Big Bear RV Park is located an hour north of Anchorage, just before Wasilla. You could do your first overnight there and then shop for supplies in Wasilla the next morning.

https://alaskarvpark.net/

Wasilla does have a 2.5% sales tax... Anchorage does not. So you'll save a little bit by doing your shopping in Anchorage. But if you wanted to just get on the road that first day, its an option.

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