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10 Day trip to Alaska

Charlotte, North...
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10 Day trip to Alaska


I have spent a lot of time reading this site and several books while planning my trip to Alaska and would LOVE some input about our plans! My husband I (both in late 20s) will be in Alaska from August 12-21st of 2010. We want to see and experiance as much as possible (don't have any interest in fishing). We hope to do as much tent camping as possible. I pretty much have most of it planned, but kinda stuck in a few places. Any imput or advice would be greatly appreciated! I should mention, we are trying to not spend a lot of money. Thanks!

August 12th - Arrive in Anchorge at 6pm. (still trying to figure out best place to spend the night). Do some Grocery Shopping and preparing for Denali.

August 13th - Walking or taxi (depending on where we stay) to take Denali Star train to Denali. Arrive in Denali at 3:45 and staying at Salmon Bake. Taking 2 hour rafting trip.

August 14th - 10am - Check in at Riley Mercantile Creek to stay at Teklanika camground. Catch 11am shuttle to campground. Explore area around campground.

August 15th - Take shuttle bus to Wonderlake. Stopping at Eielson (interested in Wildflower tour) to explore along with any other place we find interesting.

August 16th - Shower at Mercantile and catch train back to Anchorage (arriving at 8pm) Sleep in Anchorage at a hotel/hostel (not sure where yet)

August 17th - Rent a car and head towards Seward stopping in Girdwood to look around. Possibly stopping in Whittier to kayak in Prince William Sound (does anyone have any advice about this)? We would like to do a 2 or 3 hr kayak trip.

Continue to Seward. Hike to Exit Glacier. Go to Seward and sleep in either Miller's Landing or Sewards's Waterfront Park. I thought it best to make reservations at Millers landing incase the Waterfront Park in full b/c we are going during the Derby. Anyone have any other suggestions on where to stay?

August 18th - Take Kenai Fjords Tours boat cruise (the 9 hr one that goes to Fox Island for lunch)

August 19th - Hike to Harding Ice Field, visit Sea Life Center, and take a 6pm 3 hr. kayak trip with Sunny Cove in Ressurection Bay.

August 20th - Travel to Homer / Homer Spit. Kayak to Elephant's Rock with True North.

Now this is where I get REALLY confused. Should we sleep in Homer or continue to Kanai Lake or skip it?

August 21st - Open to any suggestions. Our flight leaves Anchorage at 9pm.

Is there anything anyone suggests I change/add? Any help would be most appreciative. I have spent a lot of time researching, but would appreciate any help!


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1. Re: 10 Day trip to Alaska

Welcome to the forum.

It would help us to know what part(s) of your trip are fixed and not subject to change. And which part(s) are reserved but you are open to paying a cancellation fee if someone can find a better idea for you.

Honestly, I am a bit puzzled at your taking the train to Denali and driving to Seward. I would definitely have done it the other way around. The train takes pretty much all day to get to Denali. If you did this, you could actually gain an extra day in the park (Aug 13 you could take the camper bus to Tek). And you must be very light packers. I couldn't imagine taking the train to tent camp in Denali. My tent, sleeping bag, ground mat, walking stick, food, day pack, etc, etc, etc. Wow. I am impressed to say the least!

And you do realize that by staying at Tek you are significantly reducing your time in the park. That is, unless you were planning on Aug 16th to keep your campsite set up while you take another shuttle bus into the park. If Aug 16th is just taking a camper bus from Tek to the entrance, take a shower and drive to Anchorage, you basically spent little time in the park.

If you stayed at Savage, you could set up camp on Aug 14 (or even Aug 13 if you drove), then take a shuttle bus that day into the park (maybe only to Eielson or Toklat). Aug 15 take your Wonder Lake shuttle. Aug 16 take an Eielson shuttle (8 hours) departing at say 7am, back by 3pm, shower, on the road to Anchorage well before 5pm, in Anchorage by 10pm. And with the buy 2 days, get 1 free offer on the shuttle buses, it is a very good deal.

I just think it is a shame that you are spending three nights at Denali and only really getting deep inside the park on one day. Perhaps something else to consider is camping at Wonder Lake. Same 11am camper bus, you get a ride deep inside the park that first day, Aug 15 you can explore on the camper/shuttle buses throughout the park, hike, etc. Aug 16th take the camper bus back to the entrance. If you take the 6.30am camper bus, that is the same one you will have taken from Tek, just leaves earlier. But you get to ride between mile 29 (Tek) and mile 85 (Wonder Lake) twice more than if you stay at Tek.

And if the Mountain comes out (much more likely from Wonder Lake when the shuttles are not operating), you are viewing it from your campsite, which is the closest place along the park road to view it. Just an incredible opportunity I would not miss (I will be at Wonder Lake Aug 23-26).

I think Aug 19th is very busy. The Harding Icefield Trail hike will take 6-8 hours. Your time at the Sealife Center will be severely limited depending on when you get back from the hike.


Manitoba, Canada
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2. Re: 10 Day trip to Alaska

I just love it when John responds before me! Makes my job so much easier...

Aug. 20th doesn't work either. You have a 4 hour drive prior to a 10 a.m. tour.

If you really do "want to see and experiance as much as possible", you can fit everything in nicely if you rent a car for the whole trip.

You might want to look at one of the trips here for kayaking in Whittier: alaskaseakayakers.com/prince-william-sound-d…

Manitoba, Canada
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3. Re: 10 Day trip to Alaska

Here is a sample itinerary if you rented a car for the whole trip:

August 12 - Arrive in Anchorage at 6pm. Don’t forget you have a 4 hour time zone difference to get used to. If you feel like doing something, hike/bike Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Overnight Anchorage hostel?

Aug. 13 – pick up rental car, get supplies for Denali, drive to Denali (5 hrs) with scenic stops. Possible activities: drive the 14 miles into the park that private vehicles are allowed and hike at the turnaround point, hike an entrance trail, see the visitor center displays & film, see the free Ranger sled dog demo at 10, 2 or 4. Late afternoon/early evening whitewater rafting. Overnight either Riley Creek CG or Savage River CG (must reserve campgrounds and shuttles in advance at www.reservedenali.com ).

Aug. 14 & 15 - Either:

A. – shuttle to Wonder Lake. Get off somewhere to hike, catch another shuttle to resume your trip. If McKinley isn’t “out”, maybe get off earlier (eg. Eielson) so you have more time for hiking. Overnight Riley Creek CG or Savage R CG. Same on Aug. 15.


B. – camper bus to Wonder Lake as John suggested, hiking, overnight Wonder Lake CG.

Aug. 16 – drive to Williwaw CG (6 hrs), stopping at Girdwood to look around, maybe do the easy 1 hr. roundtrip hike to Byron Glacier to actually walk on the glacier. More info: alaska.org/driving/portage-valley-whittier-s… . Overnight Williwaw CG (must reserve in advance).

August 17 – drive through the nearby Tunnel (open only 15 min. per hour, on the half-hour going in and on the hour coming out) for the 9 a.m. to noon Kittiwake Rookery kayak tour: alaskaseakayakers.com/prince-william-sound-d… . Drive to Homer (4 hrs), stopping at Cooper Landing to see Kenai Lake and do the 2 hour easy roundtrip hike to Russian River Falls to watch salmon jumping up the falls. If you need to pick up more supplies, there is a good Fred Myers right on the highway at Soldotna. In Homer, drive the spit, beachcomb. Overnight Homer.

Aug. 18 – 10 a.m. to 4 pm, kayak to Elephant Rock with True North. Drive to Seward (4 hrs) to overnight: www.cityofseward.net/parksRec/campgrounds.htm . I think you’re okay since you’re arriving mid-week, but Glacierlady (our Seward expert) will know more about that. Or you can book your first night at one of the hostels.

Aug. 19 - Take Kenai Fjords Tours boat cruise (the 9 hr one that goes to Fox Island for lunch). Book this for the first day so that if it gets cancelled due to bad weather, you can try again tomorrow and do tomorrow’s activities today. If time after supper, easy hike to the face of Exit Glacier, or can do that on your way out of town on the 21st (or tomorrow if you don’t do the whole Harding hike).

Aug. 20 – visit SeaLife Center. Hike Harding Icefield (6 to 8 hours). BTW, I assume you understand that this hike is NOT on the glacier itself, but a trail going up the mountain beside the glacier: http://tinyurl.com/2slct7 . If you want to hike right on the glacier, that’s too dangerous to do without a guide, but you can do that with Exit Glacier Guides. Overnight Seward.

Aug. 21 – 9 am. to noon kayaking with Sunny Cove. Drive to Anchorage (2.5 hrs) seeing anything you missed on the way down. Be at airport by 7 pm for 9 pm flight home.

I hope this gives you some ideas.

Edited: 9:12 pm, June 26, 2010
Anchorage, Alaska
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4. Re: 10 Day trip to Alaska

Ok, am I the only one completely envious of these "20 somethings" that can hike to the Harding Icefield & then do a 3 hour kayak trip?????

I had trouble opening my beer after the hike up to "heaven".

Sarcasm aside, please reassess your abilities on that day. Harding is incredible; but difficult. I believe the hike and then completely relaxing activities (wining & dining!!!) could make this a full day.

Manitoba, Canada
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5. Re: 10 Day trip to Alaska

"Ok, am I the only one completely envious of these "20 somethings" that can hike to the Harding Icefield & then do a 3 hour kayak trip?????"

Why do you think I scheduled them for 2 different days on my sample IT? ;-)

Charlotte, North...
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6. Re: 10 Day trip to Alaska

Everyone....thanks so much for all your wonderful input. This is our First time ever planning a trip (we are treating this kind of like a honeymoon since we haven't taken one yet). It is such a HUGE learning experiance!! We are definately going to take ALL your advice tweak our itinerary. I really cannot thank you enough for your help!!!

7. Re: 10 Day trip to Alaska

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