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Old 02-28-2013, 06:20 AM
119 posts, read 233,845 times
Reputation: 43


Hi, all!

My boyfriend and I have decided that we would really like to take a camping trip to Alaska this summer. We will be able to leave at the end of July/beginning of August. We will have about 10-14 days (depending on how much time off we can finagle). Right now, our bare-bones plan looks like this: fly into Anchorage, make our way up to Denali by rail, and camp along the way. We've got a tent, hiking packs, cooking materials, etc. There is so much to see and do in Alaska, and - for such a large state, 14 days is WAY too little time. I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to where would be the best places for us to camp, as well as any "routes" that would fit the plan. Neither of us have ever been to Alaska, although we do have camping/backpacking experience other places. We thought about heading up towards Fairbanks, but don't think we'll have the time. Our end goal is to see some of the natural beauty that Alaska has to offer, camp out, and relax.

We would really like to see/do the following:
1- See/camp out in and around Denali
2- Spend a couple of nights in really beautiful lodges
3- Camp out along the coast
4- Find hiking trails
5- Possibly rent kayaks or canoes one day
6- Stay out of "touristy" stuff as much as possible, but hang out in smaller towns that will have cool hangouts
7- Go fishing (possibly rent a fishing pole anywhere? Not sure if that is even offered)

Right now I think we both are overwhelmed (in a good way). We've both wanted to go to Alaska our entire lives (we're from Ohio), and now that it's finally happening, we don't exactly know where to start! Thank you in advance for any advice you have!
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:30 AM
Location: Anchorage Suburbanites and part time Willowbillies
1,709 posts, read 1,466,072 times
Reputation: 868
Try Tripadvisor. Read the Top Questions about Alaska that will be on the right side of the page including the trip reports.
Sign up and then ask your questions.

I would suggest renting a car. Do it soon as the prices will go up the closer it gets to summer. A car will give you a lot of flexibility.

The Denali Highway is a good place to do hikes from. So is Hatcher's Pass.

The Matsu Glacier is one of our favorites.

Get an Alaska Milepost. It will have campgrounds and attractions listed.

Alaska Forum, Travel Discussion for Alaska - TripAdvisor
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:25 AM
119 posts, read 233,845 times
Reputation: 43
Thank you - that Milepost guide looks very helpful! I just ordered it.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:26 AM
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,557 posts, read 3,928,913 times
Reputation: 1918
I also recommend the Milepost. And I also recommend research at Trip Advisor.
Alaska Forum, Travel Discussion for Alaska - TripAdvisor

Not having a rental car will limit your options... But it's still possible.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:02 PM
Location: Fairbanks, AK
1,745 posts, read 2,273,264 times
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Note that the Denali Highway is NOT the road going into Denali National Park. But it is a fantastic place to explore and camp along.
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:09 PM
Location: Inland Empire, WA
2,133 posts, read 1,688,252 times
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If you go to the Kenai penninsula there are many great hiking/backpacking trails, Exit Glacier - a day hike that will allow you touch a glacier, and canoe trails and world famous fishing.

For canoing the best area in the state, by far, is the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge/Swan Lake/ Swanson River Canoe Trails, I highly recommend the West Passage of the Swan Lake Canoe Trail- Canoe Lake to Spruce Lake (first lake to camp at), then portage to Trout lake then Gavia lake (gorgeous lake and is popular with the loons) for the next camp for a night or two, next onto Swan lake for a night, then cross Swan lake to the portage to the East fork of Moose river (a small, slow meandering river that will have salmon spawning along the way), make camp at the high bluff on the left bank for a night, then onto Sterling for the pull out. It is a casual 4-5 day trek and you will likely see very few if anyone else after Spruce Lake, a BIG plus in my book. An ultralight fishing rod and tackle or lightweight fly fishing gear will get you dinner if you like fresh rainbow trout or landlocked salmon-very tasty. Also a worthy area for day trips if you would rather do that.


Canoeing | Kenai National Wildlife Refuge | Kenai Peninsula | Alaska | Moon Travel Guides

There are many great hike/backpack trails on the K-Penn.
For Kayaking Seward or Whittier gets my recommendation, or Valdez, especially, if you make it there.
Fairbanks would be a great waste of time IMO.

Living here for 37 years it is difficult to really narrow things down , but... I will give it a shot with Denali in mind (overstated IMO and a HUGE tourist attraction of course).

Rent a car and DRIVE to Denali, the train ride is 8 looong hours and not as scenic as I had imagined before I experienced it. Talk to the Park Ranger and get your backcountry permit for backpacking/camping.

After Denali, drive east across the Denali highway to Paxson then turn south and drive on to Valdez and dp some silver salmon fishing, you can rent gear there at Fish Central or take a charter; Alaska Salmon Fishing Charters in Valdez, AK . You can also knock out a kayak/hiking trip while there; Alaska Sea Kayaking Prince William Sound Anadyr Adventures .

After Valdez, drive back to the north until the Edgerton Highway and head east to the Copper river and then on to Kennicott mine for more hiking; Kennecott - Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve .

After you finish in Kennicott drive back to the Richardson hwy and turn north to Glenallen, turn left and head back to Anchorage, then go south on the Seward hwy. Visit Girdwood about 35 miles south of anchorage and hike the Winner Creek Trail for a day trip or overnight. Continue on to the Kenai Penn. and take your pick of the many miles of hiking trails- far to numerous to list and ranging from short half or less treks to multi day excursions of various difficulty/terrain. http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_...rdb5194910.pdf

An alternative train ride would be to take the train from Anchorage to Seward vs. the train to Denali if you are set on a train ride. The Seward trip is far more scenic and around 5 hours if I remember correctly. Alaska Railroad Travel - Optional Sightseeing Tours .

FYI, I have no affiliation with any companies/organizations linked here, they are samples for your enjoyment .

The best advice I can offer is that you spend alot of time on the net and particularly in studying maps and the travel guides mentioned by others. You do not need any tour service or company any further than renting equipment to enjoy Alaska.
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:28 PM
2,669 posts, read 2,735,910 times
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All of the above advice is good especially AK 76's ! I use to live in Soldotna on the Kenai and have traveled around Alaska and Kenai is my favorite area. Just make sure that you take this trip--you will never regret it and will remember it always . I've traveled a good part of the world and Alaska is still my #1 place to be.
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:30 PM
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
15,596 posts, read 34,552,497 times
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Work your way to Homer, then go here for a night or two: Wilderness lodge and Cabin rentals near Homer Alaska, Alaska's Peterson Bay Lodge & Oyster Camp

Tellem Rance sent ya!
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:38 PM
4,718 posts, read 8,692,548 times
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I agree on the rental car -- too much to see and do that no car will be limiting. Time there does go fast. We went to Denali/McKinnley too. You should really try and see the Kenai Peninsula and take the road from Anchorage to get there, going thru Seward. An absolutely incredible drive, although everything in AK, geography wise is incredible. Stop at Denali STATE park too. Can't help with the camping, the four of us decided to Hotel/Motel it...
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:34 PM
Location: Anchorage
90 posts, read 131,170 times
Reputation: 102
Camping on the Homer Spit is an experience. I believe it only cost us about 18 dollars to pitch a tent right on the spit. Great experience.
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