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Old 12-08-2016, 04:25 PM
 
Location: Seattle
1,531 posts, read 1,314,365 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadking2003 View Post
We are not interested in fishing, hunting or mountain climbing. We enjoy local food, sightseeing and shopping. Also, day cruises to see the glaciers and float plane rides over the mountains. We rent a car almost everywhere we go. We would probable be there for a 7 - 10 days.
With seven days and your wish list you're going to have to pick and choose very carefully; with 10, a little less difficult, but still challenging.

Just some thoughts as a former resident and as one who's traveled very extensively around the state...

Timing matters. A lot. In June the mosquitoes on the tundra or near fresh water bodies will fly off with you; by September the tundra in Denali NP will be showing fall color but the hotels and buses will still be full. Very full.

The Kenai - Anchorage - Denali - Fairbanks tourist corridor is very heavily visited. Sometimes it can feel like the wilderness is just out of reach, with a bunch of campers and pickup trucks getting in the way. Getting off the road system - on the water, in the air - is imperative. One CAN NOT fully appreciate the vastness and beauty of the place from the highway.

Denali is gorgeous but can be a major time suck for those with limited days. From Anchorage it's at least a 3-day prospect - one to get there, one to be there, one to get back. And that's for middling odds that you'll see the mountain anyway, due to the weather the mountain manufactures for itself. Seward and the Kenai Fjords are not dissimilar; a few (scenic) hours to get there, a day to be there, and some hours back. In June-August the days are long enough that you can return from Anchorage the day of your Kenai Fjords cruise, but it will be a very long day. One advantage of the Fjords is that it's still beautiful even with clouds.

On more than one occasion I've recommended people skip Denali and use those days elsewhere. I know, heresy.

There are more flightseeing options - Denali, glaciers, bears, volcanoes - out of Anchorage than anywhere else. Check out the likes of Rust's - Alaska Flightseeing Tours & Air Taxi Services | Rust's Flying Service - for examples. Not cheap, but it's not cheap from anywhere, and it's (usually) way, way more convenient than schlepping to Homer or Talkeetna.

The best native crafts (the real deal, not something stamped out in China) are to be had at the Alaska Native Medical Center gift shop in Anchorage. While you're there, check out the displays of native arts throughout the hospital - stunning stuff.

Wild game can't be served in restaurants. (I've had farmed kudu in SA too, also warthog.) Most of the fish except salmon - and probably all of the shellfish - will have been frozen and a lot will actually have come from Seattle.

Rent an SUV - you'll need the higher seating position to see well enough to pass on 2-lane roads. Except for vehicles from locally owned companies, rentals aren't allowed on gravel roads.

---

So what would I suggest?

How adventurous do you feel? Are you willing to go off the beaten path?

Here's a little side trip I like to recommend for people with inquisitive streaks:

You can fly round trip from Anchorage to Kotzebue or Nome for $330 - $350 in an Alaska Airlines jet; flights take around an hour - 90 min.

Kotzebue is an Inupiat Eskimo community above the arctic circle and on a branch of the Arctic Ocean. In you're there in most of June and early July, the sun won't set; it will be daylight around the clock even if it does set for a couple of hours. You can stay at the comfortable Nullugvik Hotel across the street from the beach, visit the Native cultural center, visit a fish camp, and just experience a part of Alaska very few summer visitors ever see.

Nome (which you can reach straight from ANC or from Kotzebue - the same plane stops there) is an historic gold mining town on the Bering Sea. (Gold is still being mined; see the TV show Bering Sea Gold.)

What Nome has going for visitors is that there's a surprisingly extensive road system radiating from the town into the Seward Peninsula. You can rent a vehicle in Nome and take off into the tundra, along the Bering Sea coast, see wildlife (muskox, bears, moose, reindeer, caribou, lots of birds) and stunning landscapes, along with interesting artifacts left behind by a century of mining and prospecting.

Look at these sites - Nome Scenic Drives | Driving The Nome Road System and Wildlife Viewing on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska Department of Fish and Game to see what I'm talking about.

You could do a three- or four-day excursion to Kotzebue and Nome (24 hours in Kotz and 2-3 days in Nome) for around the price of a bear tour - less actually - and you'll have seen and experienced something very special.

Finally, re Southeast Alaska. You could take the "milk run" Alaska Airlines flight to Juneau (stops in Cordova and Yakutat) then have a google at Tenakee Springs. Tenakee is a picturesque little village that meets most people's fantasy ideas about Alaskan villages, and the ferry ride from Juneau is quite scenic. A day trip to Tenakee on the boat would definitely give you a feel for the region's environment. Then back to Juneau and off to home you go.

Like I said, just some personal thoughts.
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Old 12-12-2016, 04:51 PM
 
Location: Austin
29,546 posts, read 16,487,525 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
(And small ship cruises are ENTIRELY different from the ones run by the big cruise lines, by the way, and are greatly superior to them. On a small ship cruise, the focus is purely on seeing Alaska. But most folks can't easily afford them. People who think they don't like cruises should check out the small ship options before writing cruises off completely, though. A ship carrying 120 passengers and which offers no fancy dining, shopping, and entertainment options feels completely different than those 5,000 passenger behemoths)
Yes, but the cost is pretty high. What I looked at would be around $11,000 for two of us. Then add to that a few days on land and the trip would get up around $15,000.

I will never go on one of the huge cruise ships. I will go on small ships when there is no other good option like the Baltics.
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Old 12-12-2016, 04:53 PM
 
Location: Austin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scratch33 View Post
Girlfriend & I toured Alaska, Yukon & Northwest Territories on our motorcycles back in 2007. Best way to do it IMO.
I would love to do that but I just sold my Harley. We had many wonderful trips through the Rockies.
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Old 12-12-2016, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Austin
29,546 posts, read 16,487,525 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
With seven days and your wish list you're going to have to pick and choose very carefully; with 10, a little less difficult, but still challenging.
Like I said, just some personal thoughts.
Thanks. Great info.
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Old 12-13-2016, 09:13 AM
 
3,299 posts, read 1,872,658 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadking2003 View Post
I would love to do that but I just sold my Harley. We had many wonderful trips through the Rockies.
You could rent a bike for a day or two.
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Old 12-14-2016, 07:02 PM
 
Location: Harbor Springs, Michigan
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Just want to mention that most car rentals will not let you take their cars offroad so a 4x4 is unnecessary. Make sure you book something comfortable as you will be covering a lot of miles. Anchorage to Seward is 120 miles (Girdwood is the only place to buy gas between these two place). Anchorage to Talkeetna 113 miles or Denali Nat. Park is 237 miles.

IMO you can easily visit Seward for day cruises, Homer to visit the spit and also manage Talkeetna/ Denali Nat Park and even Fairbanks easily in 7-10 days.
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Old 02-04-2017, 06:08 PM
 
Location: Eastern Oregon
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Regarding the Alaska ferries, you don't *have* to rent a cabin. You can camp out on the deck with your tent or sleep in one of the lounges. Not exactly a restful way to spend a night, but it's less expensive that way.
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Old 02-05-2017, 05:03 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
71,961 posts, read 83,625,334 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadking2003 View Post
I'm doing research on a summer Alaska trip but without the cruise (except for day cruises). Has anyone done that and what do you recommend?

We are not interested in fishing, hunting or mountain climbing. We enjoy local food, sightseeing and shopping. Also, day cruises to see the glaciers and float plane rides over the mountains. We rent a car almost everywhere we go. We would probable be there for a 7 - 10 days.

Thoughts?
We have friends that did just what you are talking about several years ago. They had an awesome time, but were gone a month. I would never consider a trip to Alaska without doing it on a cruise. You can see so much more in a shorter time. That is just my opinion. Just going from one place to another by car is time consuming. The sites are many miles apart depending on what you want to see. My parents also did the trip many years ago: had a great time but again, they allowed a lot longer than 7 to 10 days. You may want to consider a cruise/tour combo. That is a very popular way to see Alaska; a 7 day cruise out of Canada and adding on a 3 or 4 day tour to Danali.

Last edited by nmnita; 02-05-2017 at 05:15 AM..
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Old 02-05-2017, 06:56 PM
 
Location: Washington State desert
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I did the Alaska State Ferry in the mid-90's. A great trip! Keep in mind the scenery is the same from a State Ferry as it is from a cruise ship. Of course, some demand luxury. I didn't on this trip, and I even got a private inside cabin from Prince Rupert BC to Haines, AK. Nothing fancy, but beats sleeping in the passenger section. Even had a shower! Will never forget that trip. BTW, you can catch the Alaska Ferry System in Bellingham, WA, about 90 miles north of Seattle.
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Old 02-05-2017, 10:02 PM
 
Location: Seattle
1,743 posts, read 3,199,829 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan Alaska View Post
Just want to mention that most car rentals will not let you take their cars offroad so a 4x4 is unnecessary.
Yeah, people do it anyway but it’s not a good idea. GoNorth rents vehicles and allows them to be driven on gravel roads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nmnita View Post
You may want to consider a cruise/tour combo. That is a very popular way to see Alaska; a 7 day cruise out of Canada and adding on a 3 or 4 day tour to Denali.
If I didn’t live in Alaska this is how I’d do it. A cruise/land tour combo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pnwguy2 View Post
I did the Alaska State Ferry in the mid-90's. A great trip! Keep in mind the scenery is the same from a State Ferry as it is from a cruise ship. Of course, some demand luxury. I didn't on this trip, and I even got a private inside cabin from Prince Rupert BC to Haines, AK. Nothing fancy, but beats sleeping in the passenger section. Even had a shower! Will never forget that trip. BTW, you can catch the Alaska Ferry System in Bellingham, WA, about 90 miles north of Seattle.
I’ve done two trips with vehicles on the ferry from Bellingham to Haines. Beautiful scenery indeed. What you miss on a ferry are places like Glacier Bay National Park, Tracy Arm Fjord and the Sawyer Glaciers, Hubbard Glacier, College Fjord, etc.
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