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Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

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Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

We will happily welcome any advice that is budget minded in trying to plan our itinerary for a family of 5.

We have 2 seniors (1 can do all activities us soon to be 50 year olds can do) and 1 14 year old. Our mother in law will sit out all rafting/kayacking trips due to afraid of water, so that leaves 2 couples (father in law can pair up with 14 year old, and hubbie & wife). I must add that we are all strictly non-smokers, and are very clean and responsible.

As 5 of us are going to Alaska, please provide any information of a budget minded way of visiting, staying and eating (lots of good salmon will be welcome) rental car(s), cabins and some B&Bs. We are looking at the first few weeks of August, 2007 for our travel dates & would love to visit:

Denali (at least 3 nights) do white water rafting.

Kayacking where ever it's good for beginner/intermediate levels

Delicious salmon bakes with music (top 2 would help)


A beautiful glacier

Kenai Pennisula


Homer and area is a must


Easy to moderate 1 - 2 - 3 hour hikes with a park ranger

gold panning

local ferry system could work well into our schedule.

Kennel tour of sled dogs

We have no one who will be fishing.

Uncrowded areas for activies will be favored!

small interpretive boat rides with 25 or under passengers preferred.

If anything needs advance booking, please let us know.

and anything else that you would recommend & rate as YOUR top 10 (off the beaten path is a plus).

We would love to try to keep it under $900.00 per person for the 10 days.

ANY Links to the place would help very much!

We love guided white water rafting with dry suits.

Love a few good salmon bakes.

Love mountains, open spaces, stunning views. Animals would be fun to see. We do have time to stay in lovely places (like Denali) and are planning at least 3 nights.

Budget B&Bs with the best food and accomodations for the lowest budget prices -

Any cabins were we get 2 double beds and a sofa would be excellent if it's budget minded.

Rental car agencies (we'll be cruising into Ankorage/Whittier).

Any shuttles recommended? Value buses?

Our car will need to be a mini van with large windows or a large SUV. We'll need ideas where to get groceries, etc.

A few places where locals go along the route would be great. Ideas on prices will be a tremendous help. Why you like what you are recommending would be appreiciated. You can email us directly at: rvfun111@hotmail.com .

Thank you very, very kindly! We would love to hear from coalminer as we enjoyed reading posts thus far and suggestions! Thanks so much & everyone please write :)

Portland, Oregon
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1. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

Have you considered renting an RV (Great Alaskan Holidays). We had one that would sleep 6 easily with lots of amenities. It was $149 per day which we decided was cheaper than renting a car and adding motels/B&B etc. We stayed free several nights in Fred Meyer parking lots where we could shop for food or we pulled off the road for picnics and dinners at good view points. Even stayed free two nights on the way down and back to the Kenai at turnouts and saw Beluga whales right out our windows. Can't see that from a hotel room! It gave us lots of flexibility. Gas was cheaper than in California and we got about 12 miles/gallon.

In Denali we camped at Riley Creek and then spent 3 nights at the campground 30 miles in which cut down on time spent on shuttle busses and it was a beautiful area. $14 to $16 per night. We ran the generator as no electric hookups. We even had a TV though we only used it a few times when we camped at RV campgrounds so we could check weather and plan accordingly.

The free kennel tour at Denali was fun as you got close up and personal with dogs. No actual sled rides but lots of fun.

Seward-Go on the 9.5 hour Northwestern Fjord trip as it goes as far out as you can and it's wonderful. We saw lots of sealife and great glacier calving. Seward is also a good place for Kayaking. Also visit the Sealife center where you can take a behind the scenes tour.

Southern Outerbanks...
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2. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

We (2 couples in 50s), just got back from 3.5 weeks in Alaska. Top on our list of places for the budget minded is Alaska Saltwater Lodge, stayed there 4 nights.This place was by far the best value on our trip.


The upstairs of the northern bldg is available with 2 or 3 bedrooms., kitchen and den area large enough for 6. We had it with 2 bedrooms for $190 per night.

Next best value was just north of the Denali entrance in Healy, EarthSong Lodge, stayed 3 nights. The lodge is less than 20 minutes from the Denali Visitors Ctr. It was both much less expensive and much nicer than anything in glitter gulch (unless you just like crowds, noise, and gift/junk shops).


EarthSong has 1 room, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom cabins. Our 2 bedroom cabin was $195 per night.

We spent 3 nights at Kenai River Drifters Lodge in Copper Landing. A 1 bedroom cabin with 2 queen beds, futon in living area, was $310 per night. It was not as nice as Saltwater Lodge. If I had it to do over again, I would stay at Saltwater Lodge longer and day-trip to Copper Landing to enjoy the Russian River hikes and all day raft trip on the Kenai River.

In the next couple weeks I'll be posting detailed excellent reviews for both Saltwater Lodge and EarthSong, and a favorable review for Drifters Lodge.

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3. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

You will see a lot more and enjoy more of Alaska in 14 days than 10, so if you can do go for 14 days or even longer.

I think all the destinations you listed are possible, except Ketchikan, which is simply too far for such a short trip. You can take the ferry to Kodiak and back from Homer, but I am curious - why did you pick to go to Kodiak?

We stayed at cabin 3 at Carlo Creek 13 miles south of Denali National Park entrance. Cabin 5 there would be perfect for you - 2 queen beds and 1 twin for $105 per night. You will probably not find such a low price anywhere else. See www.carlocreek.com. Their cabins are older, in a beautiful setting, off the road. Ours had a tiny bathroom, but it was enough for us. It was just 2 of us, so I don't remember any other lodgings that would be great for larger families, but I am sure there are some. Just do some searching around, basically start with Chamber of Commerce lodging lists for each area you want to visit and check the websites of each motel, B&B, cabin, etc. Then check for reviews here on Tripadvisor and elsewhere.

We did a great kayaking day trip to Columbia Glacier from Valdez. No experience needed, and the water is totally calm. The drive from Anchorage to Valdez in unbelievably beautiful, just adding to my recommendation that you go to Valdez. You can also kayak from Seward or Homer, but I haven't found any other trips besides the one we did that would take you to kayak between icebergs - a once in a lifetime opportunity in my opinion. $199 per person, was our splurge, but totally worth it - the best day of our two weeks trip.

To really experience a glacier you have to hike on one. Matanuska Glacier is the most easily accessible one, only 100 miles from Anchorage. You can hike it on your own ($12.50 per person), but you would only be able to walk to the white ice but not too far on it. We did a 4 hour guided hike, with crampons, and really got to enjoy the ice, walking between the amazing formations, looking into deep blue holes, etc. This is another activity I would definitely recommend.

Cruises do not arrive into Anchorage. They end either in Whittier or Seward. The car rental situation in those two places is probably limited and more expensive. Check into the different options. You can take a bus or train to Anchorage and rent a car from there. Renting downtown is much cheaper than at the airport. If you are interested in exploring Kenai Peninsula maybe you can leave your family there and go get the car in Anchorage and drive back. Seward to Anchorage is 120 miles, 2+ hours, Whittier is even closer.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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4. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

Morning from up North! Well, for the true budget minded, camping has to be the most economical . . . especially tent camping, as RV rentals are quite a bit more, and staying in camp grounds is cheap. You will need to consider this. Then the next affordable is either cabins or B&B's that have cooking facilities. Dining out in Alaska is expensive - even our fast food is quite a bit higher than the lower 48, so you need to be prepared for this. B&B's usually always provide breakfast, so that is cost effective, as well as many have a complete kitchen, so that can really help you out.

As far as buying food, I would hit Sam's/Costco in Anchorage and then a Fred Meyers for the rest of your groceries . . . that is what I do. Only buy groceries in the larger towns . . .you'll spend much, much more in the small towns and with much less selection.

As far as your lodging, it's good that you are beginning your research now - plenty of time to look. For your stay in the Denali Park/Healy area, here is our local chamber page w/hotels, cabins, and B&B's: www.denalichamber.com There are a few places I can think of that would work well for you - Denali Suites - as it's a complete apartment unit (Not a B&B) w/2 bedrooms, full kitchen and living room. www.denalisuites.com As well as the cabins listed on the chamber page, I would also recommend: www.alaskaone.com/ridgetop. If you see some you like and have more questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Two dog sled businesses come to mind- Jeff King and Ramy Brooks - both run a tour during the summer time, and don't forget, Denali Park NPS also has a doggie demo, which is free and well worth watching.

For your river trip, I would recommend Denali Outdoor Center - best reputation on the river here.

Take the shuttle bus into the Park, as far as you wish to go, but at least to Toklat or Fish Creek and if you are choosing to camp, I would camp within the Park at Teklanika (hard side only) or you can tent camp at Wonder Lake.

Most restaurants are pricey in our area, but there are some that are a good value - good food at reasonable prices...one of my favorites is McKinley Creekside Cafe near Carlo Creek. The Princess Hotel's Bistro also qualifies - my favorite is their seafood nachos - enough for 2-3 people! :)

Okay, that's enough for Denali Park/Healy area . . . remember the cheaper things are the exploring you do on your own - hiking, etc. Some of what you do/where you stay will depend on whether you are camping or not. Let's us know what you choose and then we can also add other recommendations. Best of luck! :)

Adirondack, New York
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5. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

If budget is important then skip Kodiak as this will set you $ 300.00 per person just to fly there. Ketchikan is in another area of Alaska so skip it, as already suggested. The ferry does not travel every day from Homer to Kodiak and it takes between 10-12 hours and is not cheap.

What other places you want to visit on Kodiak Peninsula except Homer? You need at least three nights to spend in Denali and at least three nights in Homer. I recommend Seward for two nights.

Then a stop in Girdwood for one night so you can take 26 Glacier Cruise from Whittier and see beautiful mountains.

Not much time left after that. If you decide to extend your trip to 14 days consider adding a couple nights Valdez and maybe two nights in Anchorage.

I never came across accommodation in Alaska that allowed smoking so this is not going to be a problem but make certain while reserving. If you ever decide to stay in Anchorage in one of Marroitt's hotels then thay all are going smoke free in October.

Because you want less expensive accommodations definitely reserve them as soon as you know your itinerary, otherwise you may find that only high end places are left. In Homer I recommend one of the cabins that can accommodate 5 of you. check this website www.cabinsinhomer.com

We always get our groceries in Carrs and these supermarkets are all over Anchorage, and one in each of the following towns, Wasilla, Homer, Valdez, Seward. When you get to the first Carrs go to the customer service and get your discount card, that alone will save you lots of money and it takes only a few minutes to fill out your application.

Yopu can go sea kayaking either from Seward, Homer or Valdez.

In Denali take the shuttle bus www.reservedenali.com

Again make your reservation for the shuttle in advance.

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6. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

Wow! Incredible "almost instant" advice ~ and it's all so appreicated! It looks like I can begin to build something from this. We are looking at a northbound cruise that ends in Whittier on 8/4/07. We are looking for easy ways to get to some activities from the ship as well as we do not want to do the bulk tours from the ship. If it cannot be avoided, that is one thing. We don't fancy going on a tour boat with 70+ passengers, but would like to look for small, intimate tours of 20 or under. When our cruise ends on 8/4 we would need to look for a form of transportation. From there I guess we could hang somewhere until one person (or 2) goes to get the car on a bus. or other transportation.

We'll be looking into the RV - I found ABC RVs will rent by the week (not sure about 14 days) but they are 1/2 price if booked by early October for August, 2007. If there is a one way available, we might do a drop off. The trick is to get as many free miles as possible. Our family has traveled 2,000 miles in one week in CO /UT /AZ /MX but it's very tiring. We want to be able to experience nature, and some free things to appreicate won't be bad. We are not looking for lodging where it is crowded, but a possible prebooking of B&Bs and cabins is a good possibility as it would be comfortable, and we would not have an RV we are driving around. Does any one have good recommendations for RV's from Anchorage, and where is the least expensive mini vans or SUVs (to hold 5)? Would that be Anchorage?

Any other suggestions of good salmon bakes, rental car locations, how, you planned your route, historic roadhouses, or locations of B&Bs or cabins with deals off the beaten path would be greatly appreciated. As we plan, we'll continue to touch base with folks on the forum! Thanks you!

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7. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

Travel 1000 - tell me about Carlo Creek Cabins - looks good on their web site. We are three - my husband me and our 18 yr old son. I don't mind rustic - just want it to be CLEAN. Don't like big touristy hotels. What about places to stay or eat in Talkeetna? Any suggestions out there? After the cruise should we spend a night in Girdwood or drive up to Talkeetna do the flightseeing and spend the night there before continuing on to the Denali area? Advice please. Thanks

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8. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

floridatravelgal - We stayed at cabin 3 at Carlo Creek a few weeks ago. I don't know what kind of accomodations you are looking for. I was looking for the cheapest place that was clean, quiet, and comfortable, and Carlo Creek fit that well. The setting right next to a creek and off the road was very nice. And their new laundry facilities were a bonus for us ($2 per wash and $2 per dry). They have some cheaper but new cabins without bathrooms, if you want that. But be aware that you will be waiting outside to use the shared bathhouse (with private bathrooms). I felt sorry for the people we saw waiting out in the cooler weather, wasting their time. Our cabin was one of the 5 older cabins. It had 2 beds - a queen and a twin, side tables, chairs, heater, screen on the window, was cutely decorated with dry flowers, and had a private bathroom the size of a small closet. The shower was made of metal, so there were some rust streaks showing. But the water was hot and plenty, and it was great to have a bathroom in our cabin. They have a reservation system online that shows which cabins are available. They also let us use the refrigerator and freezer in the office, but it's only open 9 to 10, so we couldn't take our things out early in the morning before the shuttle. McKinley Creek cafe is right by Carlo Creek. We had great dinner there and got coffee to go from there in the morning (their breakfast menu looked great too, but we had to leave early).

We didn't go into Talkeetna or Girdwood, but heard both have interesting activities. It all depends on how much time you have and what you are most interested in doing.

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9. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

Hi folks, thanks so kindly for your replies. I have held our families cabin on a Princess cruise from Vancouver up to Whittier starting July 28 and runs to August 4, 2007. Your help has got me pointed in a positive direction and your time and advice is so appreicated. We are really looking at 14 days with an RV afterwards. Does anyone have any opinions of ABC RV Rental out of the Anchorage Airport? Should we use them, we'll include a report for everyone on how it went.

I posted in another heading the following questions and areas we are looking for any contructive input:

On our RV 14 day tour, we are looking for the best budget minded show and good King Salmon.

For August, 2007:

Our family of 3 fairly fit adults and a 13 year old is traveling with our inlaws on a Northbound cruise going Vancouver to Whittier leaving July 28, 2007. We end up 7 nights later in Whittier. We have decided the RV will be fun since we do have a little experience with towning a travel trailer and the camping mindset.

In keeping within a budget, yet experiencing the beauty and nature we could use a lot of advice or ideas!

A) need advice on 3 - 4 intimate "non cruise crowd" tours for 4 adults when the Princess cruise makes their stops starting around July 29, 2007.

B) We are focusing on RV with early 50% off booking discounts - that has the best value and reputation and ease of pick up. Will use the RV for about 2 weeks.

C) Tours during the 14 day (RV bound) post cruise that match up with our schedule after being on the Princess. Thanks

We are looking to book a few things keeping budget friendly that is not too overwhelming with combined transportation from the ship to the location of the excursion. Does anyone know if most tours will pick us up at the dock, or will we need to get our own transportation for kayaking and white water rafting? These are our main interests, with glacier viewing and easy/moderate hikes.

Pre-cruise and stops the ship makes are:

1) We are looking for a budget over night in Vancouver, B.C. the night of 8/27/07 before leaving on the 8/28. Any suggestions with something that has breakfast and transfers to the dock?

Stops in Ketchikan - have from about 7:30 AM till 12:30 NOON

Possible interests:

Rain Forest Wildlife Sanctuary

back country jeep and canoe safari

clover passage by kayak

Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer

Misty Fjords Seaplane Exploration

Stops in Juneau - have from about 9 AM till 7:30 PM

Possible interests - can do something that we can easily get to without running ragged - maybe just one activity.

Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Hatchery Tour

Historic Juneau Gold Mine tour

Rain Forest Garden Adventure

Mendenhall Glacier & Wale Quest

Glacier View Sea Kayaking

Stops in Skagway - have from about 8 AM till 7:00 PM

Any ideas here that are budget minded and keeps us out of the cruise crowd? We are looking for just one or two activities if they are near to each other.

Something like:

Gold Fever Adventure

Chilkoot Trail Hike and Flat Adventure

Deluxe Haines Highlights

Eagle Preserve Scenic Float Adventure

Wilderness Kayak Experience

Ends in Whittier - do you folks advise us staying over night and then

just sending one or two people over to get our RV Rental the next day? ABC Motorhome Rental is out of Anchorage Airport. Does anyone know of a budget B&B or cabin in the Whittier area?

Are there any recommendations on seeing:

Turnagain Arm History and Tram Tour

or Kayaking in Prince William Sound?

We are not looking for anything fancy after the weeklong cruise. At this point we'll be looking for natural beauty.

We are interested over the following 14 days (traveling in an RV) to find some FREE safe, quiet (but not too quiet) and beautiful pull over spots to boondock - any ideas of lakes, etc. where maybe one or two other campers might be hanging at? This would be fine.

We'll be looking along the way for some prepaid budget value tours, kayaking (2 more trips while we are RVing), whitewater rafting (2 trips) with dry suit, helmet, and guide.

Budget camp grounds with possible free showers? Do places have these?

We will be wanting to spend 3 nights in Denali, and take the shuttle bus that goes all the way in to the lake in Denali. Who do we talk to to get this shuttle all the way in to Wonder Lake?

The best budget boat tour (small) that takes you to a glacier pool.

Please let us know if you have any suggestions for this possible itinerary. Should there be anything else in between we should see, please let me know what it is and why we should see it. It will help us with our planning! Thanks so much!

Whittier or Anchorage - 1 night

Homer area - 1 - 2 nights

Kenai Peninsula

Talkeetna area - 1 night

Denali National Park area - 3 nights in this area maybe a 4th

Fairbanks - 1-2 nights (if it's needed?)


and some of the towns in between and the trip back down. We are very interested in Valdez - but not sure how to route that into the 14 day plan.

If there are any suggestions from this point, please continue to send your thoughts. You are all incredibly helpful.

We prefer to avoid the cruise crowd folks. We would like to decide on activities and be hooked up with the service providers that offer the best value for their trips. We are seeking value & reputation in our side trips. Thanks so much! Any other tips are welcome!

Thanks so much for all your input and time!

Adirondack, New York
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10. Re: Budget 10 - 14 day Self Tour Of Denali, Talkeetna Need Help.

To get information on shuttle buses in Denali National Park go to this website and click on shuttle buses http://www.reservedenali.com/home.php

This side is not updated for 2007 season but you get an idea what to do and when to buy your tickets.

You won't be able to avoid cruise crowds. YOU ARE going to be on a cruise.

Hiking is almost always free if done without a guide. Sometimes you have to pay parking fee at the trail heads. Eagle River is one of those places but you pay $5.00 for a car load. Many trails available in Alaska for any any age or physical abilities.

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