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Old 04-21-2016, 09:10 PM
 
191 posts, read 151,578 times
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Hi, was wondering if you guys might be able to offer a suggested itinerary. My wife and I are considering doing maybe a 5-7 day trip to Alaska sometime in July. We would probably be flying into Anchorage from Texas. We just want to take in all the nature of Alaska but aren't planning on doing any sort of camping. Are there easy day trips from Anchorage that we can do while Anchorage serves as a home base?

Thanks!!
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Old 04-21-2016, 09:17 PM
 
Location: Palmer
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It's pretty tough to really see Alaska while staying in Anchorage every night. You know what they say the best thing about Anchorage is, "it's close to Alaska". But it isn't really Alaska.

You could do an overnight to Homer and go out on a short charter.

You could go to Whittier and to the 26 glacier tour and be back in Anchorage by nightfall.

You could to an overnight to Denali and see the park and the nature there.

Or you could stick real close to Anchorage. You could go to the Wildlife park in portage and that would be a drive in Turnagain Arm. You could drive to the Matanuska Glacier and back. 100 miles one way.

You could do a flight seeing tour with Rust's Flying Service or one of the others.

You could go to Talkeetna and do a Fight seeing tour over Denali and be back.

That would at least give you a taste
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Old 04-22-2016, 12:46 PM
 
Location: interior Alaska
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Don't stay in Anchorage every night.

If you're not super outdoorsy but want to maximize wildlife viewing, I'd spend at least one night in either Valdez or Seward (similar activities...IMO Valdez is prettier and has more personality, but Seward is closer to Anchorage and more tourist-friendly) and do a boat tour of Prince William Sound, and spend at least one night up at Denali NP and do the bus tour into the park at least as far as the Eielson Visitor Center (which is like an 8 hour round trip, I think?). Both of these give you really good chances of seeing much wildlife in a more predictable way. There's also interesting stuff on the way to all three of these destinations.

If you have a vehicle that is allowed on gravel roads (which is a big if) and the weather is decent, if I was trying to maximize wildlife viewing in the time window you have, I'd go from Anchorage to Denali NP, stopping by Talkeetna on the way, spend the night by Denali, do the Denali park bus, spend the night by Denali again, drive the Denali Highway (mostly unpaved!) to Paxson, swing south to Valdez, stay the night, do a glacier/wildlife cruise for the day, stay the night, head back up toward Anchorage, stopping at the Matanuska Glacier en route. That's five days right there. Lot of driving, though. Gorgeous driving, but a lot of it.

Then go to the Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage before you leave and see any animals that you missed in the wild, lol.
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Old 04-22-2016, 01:03 PM
 
Location: Kenai Peninsula, AK
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OK, no camping, but would you be open to renting an RV? Drive times from Anchorage to the places you're gonna wanna see will eat up a portion of your vacation.

The other alternative is to plan for 2-3 (or 4) days in hotel rooms in places besides Anchorage.

Here's some stuff I suggested to a friend who is coming up to Alaska next year:

1. Kenai Peninsula
- One night in Homer, take the Rainbow Connection ferry over to Seldovia, or check out Oceans & Islands Visitor Center and shops/galleries/Homer Spit.
- One night in Seward, possibly a glacier cruise, or spend time around town at the SeaLife Center, renting kayaks, etc.

2. Anchorage Day
- Explore downtown, Anchorage Museum
- Chugach National Park along the Turnagain Arm (Bird Point, McHugh Creek, there's trails for a variety of levels)
- Possibly come back down to Girdwood / Wildlife Center / Whittier

3. Mat-Su (sorry... no suggestions here just from lack of experience. But I'm sure there's stuff.)

4. Overnight trip to Talkeetna/Denali

That'll put you at five to six days, and is sort of the bread and butter tour of Southcentral Alaska. If you're renting an RV, there are other options that could be cool, like going up to Fairbanks (via Denali) or taking a smaller loop from Cantwell to Paxson back to Glenallen.
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Old 04-22-2016, 01:14 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,433 posts, read 3,553,463 times
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The TripAdvisor forum for Alaska is another great resource for visitor planning: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForu...49-Alaska.html
And I personally would spend as few nights in Anchorage as possible. Things in Alaska are too spread out to "base" yourself in one place.
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Old 04-22-2016, 08:50 PM
 
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Ideally you would want to start and stop in ANC but spend the rest of the trip going in a big circle around the state. It's going to be hard to do it in 5 to 7 days, but I would try to get to Homer, Seward, Valdez,Fairbanks, Talkeetna, and a trip across the Denali Highway but don't tell the rental car company. A run through Hatcher Pass would be good also.

The problem with Anchorage is that there is one road north and one road south, and driving back and forth will get repetetious and a waste of time.
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Old 04-22-2016, 10:22 PM
 
191 posts, read 151,578 times
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thanks a lot everyone for your input so far !
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Old 04-23-2016, 01:43 AM
 
Location: In the middle of nowhere
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Mat-Su, Drive through Hatcher Pass or take a day drive to Gunsight Mountain.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keyman51 View Post
Mat-Su, Drive through Hatcher Pass or take a day drive to Gunsight Mountain.
As long as the Hatcher Pass road is open, usually 4th of July weekend
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Old 04-24-2016, 11:24 AM
 
Location: Alaska
240 posts, read 141,018 times
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What do you want to do is the question. What kind of shape are you in? The Turnagain drive is beautiful and has a few stops along the way. You could easily spend a few hours in Whittier and do an easy hike around the visitor center.

Alaska is huge and everything is far apart, couple that with trying to experience Alaska from Anchorage or the road takes away from your trip immensely.

Would plan some day hikes and a boat trip around Seward. If you do not want to spend an entire day on the water, they have several 4 hour tours (1 more than Gilligan, so you're safe) around Fox Island. They stop there and eat, the service and food is good. Plus, when you get back to Seward you still have over half a day to shop around and visit Exit Glacier.

Denali has some bus tours that go into the park. I never did one when living around Healy, but a couple of my friends at the time did. They loved it, however, it was very bouncy, and they were exhausted when they returned. There are TONS of easy day hikes around Denali as well. Some are in the park and many are just outside the part north and south of it.

You could take a train from Anchorage to Denali (same with Seward), the views are breath taking. I did this early April of 2005 and had a blast. Seward is small enough to walk around and could grab a cab to Exit Glacier. Denali has seasonal buses that are free running into and out of the park entrance daily.

If you do decide to stay in Denali for a night or two, there are some cute cabins about 20 miles south and believe they will pick you up. However, if you want to make things easy and inexpensive, book your stay in the McKinley Chalet. Just don't eat the food there. Some local restaurants have far better food and service. My personal favorite is The Crows Nest - a burger and Pabst for $9.00 (roughly), but that was 11 years ago.

One thing you're doing right is planing this yourselves and not becoming one of the large touring companies cattle.
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