Ditto.ruralavalon wrote:Don't miss a ride on the Alaska State Railroad. It runs from Seward to Anchorage, to Denali, to Fairbanks. The highlight of our Alaska trip was the train ride from Anchorage to Denali.
We visited Anchorage, Seward, and Denali National Park. Seward was the high point of our trip.We enjoyed visiting Seward. Anchorage is just another large city, IMO.
Are you looking for rustic Alaska or tourist highlights? Would you like to hike or drive/ride. How long do you have to spend there and what is your budget? A little more information about your desires, interests and experience level will result in much more useful suggestions.
EmergDoc wrote:The second is some type of a trip in Denali where you can see the mountain (plan to stay several days as it hides a lot in the summer).
chaz wrote:We enjoyed a cruise from Seattle north through the inland passage with stops at Juneau, Ketchikan, etc. A wonderful 7 days.
We did Alaska a few years back, booking a combined land and cruise deal from Cruise West. They use small ships, 100 passengers on ours, for a very friendly, community atmosphere. ...snip
Have a great trip!
DireWolf wrote:After doing some research, it looks like planning a trip to Alaska is totally overwhelming. There are too many places to see and the sheer size of the state is incredible.
DireWolf wrote:Day 2: This morning, after enjoying a complimentary breakfast at the hotel, you will meet your guides in the hotel lobby for introductions and a group orientation at 8am. We'll load into our comfortable vans and begin the drive south from Anchorage through Turnagain Pass to Seward. The drive along the Seward Highway has been called one of the most scenic drives in the world. Beluga Whales cruise the waters of Turnagain Arm and glaciers cling to the rugged mountains of the Chugach Range. Once in Seward, we will take an hour to settle into the Harborview Inn - home for the next 2 nights. After settling into our accommodations and briefly getting acquainted with the charming character of this coastal fishing town, we'll head into Kenai Fjords National Park to begin our amazing hike along the astounding Harding Icefield Trail! This strenuous but rewarding hike winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breath-taking view of the Icefield. That evening your guides prepare a celebratory wild Alaskan salmon bake along the shores of Resurrection Bay. All meals included.
Day 3: After an early breakfast, we'll head down to the harbor to prepare for today's saltwater adventure in the incomparable Kenai Fjords. Those choosing the sportfishing option will check in at the harbor at 6:45 am and will be on the water by 7. And those opting for Kenai Fjords National Park tour will have a bit more time to enjoy their coffee before boarding their vessel for an 8am departure. As you head into the park, be on the lookout for whales, sea lions, eagles, puffins, bears and Mt. Goats as we tour this amazing coastal national park. We will all re-convene at the harbor at 2:30pm and make our way to the Alaska Sea Life Center - Alaska’s only public aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue center. That evening toast the day at one of Seward's many tasty restaurant options. Breakfast & Lunch Included.
Day 4: We begin the day with a drive to Whittier along the Seward Highway. On the way we’ll make a short visit to the Portage Glacier Visitor Center. Upon our arrival in Whittier, we’ll board an Alaska State Ferry for the trip to Valdez. Our crossing of Prince William Sound sails right along the face of the Columbia Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North America. Tonight, we stay at the Valdez Harbor Inn in downtown Valdez. All meals included.
Day 5: Today we spend the day kayaking in Shoup Bay. Timing the tides, the trip will begin with an orientation by our sea kayaking guides, followed by a 25 minute water taxi ride down the Valdez Arm and into Shoup Bay. After hauling kayaks and gear off of the boat, we’ll load into sea-kayaks and begin paddling into the inner sanctum of the Bay. The highlight will certainly be safely approaching the toe of the ancient tidewater glacier as it cracks, grumbles and calves massive blocks of ice into the bay. Sea kayaking among the floating miniature icebergs makes for a fun obstacle course to test our paddling skills as does riding the swift current of the connecting stream on an outgoing tide. We’ll also paddle past the largest Black Legged Kittiwake rookery in Prince William Sound. Breakfast & lunch included.
Day 6: After breakfast at the hotel, we'll begin the scenic drive along the Richardson Highway from Valdez to the tiny town of Chitina. We’ll stop briefly to witness the spectacular Bridalveil Falls in Keystone Canyon and will then break for a short hike and picnic near the Worthington Glacier. The Worthington, a Natural Historic Landmark, is a spectacular glacier that tumbles from the Chugach Mountains. Our brief hike will take us up a sweeping moraine offering stunning views of the blue ice and crevasses of the glacier and magnificent vistas of the mighty Chugach. From Chitina, we’ll make the 40 minute bush flight through the Wrangell Mountains to the historic town of McCarthy. We’ll check into the Kennicott Glacier Lodge, our home for two nights. This lodge has quite possibly the best view in Alaska and its historic charm, great food and warm hospitality make it one of the premier destinations in the state. All meals included.
Day 7: After breakfast, we’ll join St. Elias Alpine guides for an interpretive walk through the historic Kennicott Copper Mill before strapping on a pair of crampons and heading out on to the Root Glacier for a full four hours of glacier hiking. If time allows, we’ll take an afternoon hike to the Jumbo Copper Mine. Our glacier hike is suitable for beginners and children and is an amazing adventure on a real moving glacier. All meals included.
Day 8: We return by bush flight to Chitina by noon and then make our way north and west along the Glenn Highway. Views of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, the Wrangell Mountains and the Alaska Range will accompany us along the way. We’ll check into Sheep Mountain Lodge where we’ll sleep in log cabins. Sheep Mountain Lodge, nestled in the Talkeetna Mountains, is a favorite destination for Alaskans and tourists alike. Its views, real Alaskan charm, and amazing food make for an unforgettable stay. Breakfast & lunch included.
Day 9: Today we continue along the Glenn Highway past the mighty Matanuska Glacier and through the fertile Matanuska/Susitna Valley - a region referred to as Alaska's bread basket. We’ll stop along the way for a picnic in Denali State Park. If the weather is kind, we may enjoy our first views of Denali (Mt. McKinley) and the rest of the mighty Alaska Range. That evening, we will check into our hotel along the Nenana River near Denali National Park. All meals included.
Day 10: Today we’ll board the shuttle bus for the 60 mile ride through the heart of Denali National Park to the Eielson Visitor Center. Along the road corridor, keep your eyes peeled for Denali’s famous furry inhabitants carving out their existence amidst the some of the most amazing scenery in North America. Probability is high that you'll see caribou, moose, wolves, grizzlies, and Dall's sheep. And If the weather is kind, numerous chances to view Mt. McKinley – North America’s highest peak at 20,320’ - will greet you at every turn! Breakfast & lunch included.
Day 11: We’ll spend a half-day rafting the mighty Nenana River with the pros at Denali Outdoor Center. The Nenana is an exciting whitewater river and our expert guides will take us through canyons and rapids as we enjoy spectacular views and perhaps of Dall's sheep grazing the peaks of the Alaska Range. Rafting the Nenana is a true classic. The rest of the day can be spent exploring more of the park and its facilities, taking an optional flightseeing trip around Mt. McKinley, or simply relaxing to the sights and sounds of this magnificent place. Your guides will gladly point you in the right direction so that you can maximize your remaining time in Denali National Park. We'll celebrate our final evening enjoying Denali's best pizza dinner. All meals included.
Day 12: After a leisurely morning enjoying the sights of McKinley village, we’ll board the Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star for the eight hour rail cruise back to Anchorage. A highlight of the journey, the trip south by rail offers wonderful photographic opportunities and amazing views of this vast wilderness. Please schedule homebound flights for after 10pm. Breakfast & lunch included.
EmergDoc wrote:That sounds like a lot of fun. I've done a lot of that. You'll wear dry suits on the Nenana. I've been a tour guide on that train. If you have very low expectations of that train ride you won't be disappointed. It gets worse the closer to Anchorage you get. Tip your host guide. Don't count on seeing Denali. I'd give you a 3/7 chance.
EmergDoc wrote:You will not see wildlife, you will not see Denali, if you bring carry luggage it will go literally under your feet, the drinks are 3 times as much as they should be, the only place to eat has 5 choices, none of which are cheap, you don't get to choose when you eat, and at least 50% of your ride will be through a forest where you can't see more than 30 feet from the train. Does that cover it? But what do I know, I've only done it something like 100 times. If you'd prefer to believe it is a "rail cruise" and "a highlight" of what otherwise sounds like a great trip, you go right ahead. You have to get back to Anchorage somehow, and the train is as good as a bus, but don't expect it to be a highlight of the trip and you'll probably find it quite pleasant. And check the bag. And tip your host guide.
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