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Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

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Christchurch, New...
posts: 158
reviews: 22
Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

Hi

At present we are in a quandry after reading heaps of info.

Our departing date is still open and not sure what to do.

After our cruise from Vancouver to Whittier ending 5th Aug, we were planning on spending 3 or 4 days in Anchorage area then busing to Denali for 3? days then train to Fairbanks for maybe 4 days before flying home. (The cheapest home fare is through Alaskan airlines to Hawaii so departing Anchorage or Fairbanks is not an issue but......)

Would it be worth the cost & time etc going through to Fairbanks rather than even maybe staying around anchorage. We won't have a car and relying on public transport and tours though I guess could adapt to driving on the right hand side :) Maybe we could get a rental to Denali NP?

Thanks for any help much appreciated Lou :)

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
posts: 28,468
reviews: 35
1. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

Personally, I wouldn't spend 4 days in Anchorage - maybe just a day or two . . . I would rent a car, and I would visit Seward for 2 days, and then head north to stay in Denali for 2-3 days, depending on your interests and while many folks don't care for Fairbanks, you would see an entirely different part of Alaska by visiting there - I would give it a day or two. I am not really good with specific itineraries, but those are the places I would visit. :)

Alaska
posts: 215
reviews: 35
2. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

No. 1: you definitely don't want to spend 3 or 4 days in the Anchorage area. You might spend one day there, museums etc, then it's time to head out of town.

No. 2: you don't need a rental car in Denali Park if you are just planning on doing the bus tours inside the park each day you are there. You could take a bus or train to the Park.

No. 3: If you decide to go on to Fairbanks, you definitely need a car. As I'm sure many others will tell you on this forum, traveling around Alaska without a car is a sad proposition.

So it seems that you have about a week after your cruise, am I reading that right? Unless you're joining up with a tour or tours of some kind, a week in the state without a car is not a good idea.

Paxson, Alaska
posts: 311
3. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

For goodness sake, get out of Anchorage - it's so close to Alaska that you owe it to yourselves to go the extra miles to see what the state really is. Loop north from Anchorage on the Parks Highway to Cantwell, cross the Denali Highway to Paxson, then south on the Richardson to Glennallen and west on the Glenn Highway back to your beginning. If you want you can stub north from Cantwell up to Denali Park if you have time; if you wish to avoid the crowds then you may not go that route.

Lots of rants on this forum about driving the Denali Highway - I guarantee that you will find it no more challenging than driving through the Canterbury Plains - and FAR less rigorous than. say, looping around Banks Peninsula. Kind of like going through Cardrona. And as a big plus: you can drive on whatever side of that road you feel like - I always do....... ;)

Audubon L. Bakewell IV

Denali Highway Cabins

Paxson

www.denalihwy.com

Fairbanks, Alaska
posts: 1,389
reviews: 29
4. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

I would go to the Kenai Peninsula for sure. I really like Audubon’s route it would defiantly be off the beaten trail. If one was to take the Back way out of Anchorage I would plan on an overnight stop near or around Cantwell. It is an awesome drive but it slow and takes some time.

If you decide on the Great Golden Heart City of Fairbanks I would only recommend maybe two days there. I also agree with Coalminer it is a whole different Alaska here in Fairbanks.

Oh yes, the Rat is back!

Christchurch, New...
posts: 158
reviews: 22
5. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

Hi thanks for all your replies.

One question now that I would ask..

I have been reading that Rentals don't let you onto shingle roads, does the above routes go off tarseal please?

cheers Lou :)

Paxson, Alaska
posts: 311
6. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

Use a rental agency that hasn't any such restrictions: Go North, High Country, Rent-a-Wreck - and there are others, too.

Audubon L. Bakewell IV

Denali Highway Cabins

Paxson

www.denalihwy.com

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
posts: 5,675
reviews: 138
7. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

You can have a great time in Anchorage for 3 or 4 days and not have to rent a car.

But, rent a car, stay in Anchorage for just a day (or two) and see everything else that is even better then Anchorage. You'll see/visit many amazing places.

MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
posts: 13,476
reviews: 24
8. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

The major companies dont allow their cars on the Denali Highway (technically you can do anything you want; you just break the rental contract). The companies Audobon mentioned above are a good start to finding companies that allow it.

You dont "need" a car rental at Denali but it sure helps. Access to much more (and usually cheaper) lodging, no need to rely on hotel shuttles, ability to drive the first 15 miles of the road in the evening.

Cadiz, Kentucky
posts: 1,474
reviews: 122
9. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

Audubon - Thanks so much for that giggle "as a big plus: you can drive on whatever side of that road you feel like - I always do......." I loved that about the Denali Highway - we could stop right in the middle of the road any time we wanted when a "Kodak moment" appeared. I guess we shouldn't advertise that though or it will become a thing of the past ;)

Paxson, Alaska
posts: 311
10. Re: Anchorage area or + Denali to Fairbanks query

Well, my wife never fails - I mean, NEVER FAILS! - to query "Why is it when heading out, you go on the left side of the road.....and then when coming back, you're on the left again?"

The best answer I can suggest is that the asymmetric shape of ruts and bumps may be such that they give the appearance of being smoother in the less-traveled direction. The second best....and more probable...answer is it's just me being me....