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7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

Fort Walton Beach...
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7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

I am 31, going to Alaska from Florida for the first time May 15 - 21. I travel a lot, but I've never been in snow! I am traveling solo and would like any suggestions as to creating my itinerary. It looks like one way or another, a lot of driving will be done. I will have a rental car.

For every trip, I like to bring back at least one picture or video to get a reaction: Wow's that's awesome, wow's that's crazy, wow you're crazy Joey. Things I've done like that in the past were taking a private helicopter and landing in the Grand Canyon, jumping off the tallest building in Vegas, taking an open door helicopter over active volcanoes in Hawaii, etc. Those, of course, were a little pricey but so worth it. What would be the equivalent of this in Alaska? Private Kayaking tour? Landing on a glaciar? Would taking a small plane be suggested or risky? From what I understand, there are a lot of plane accidents in Alaska because of the weather. I actually had a good family friend die in a private plane crash near Denali. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I've read a lot of posts here, so I don't want to ask the same questions, but I guess my questions are more geared towards what's best to do in the middle of May. I understand that its' not the same as going in June-August. Any help filling in an itinerary for May would be awesome. My priorities are (in order): Taking a one-day cruise tour to watch some glaciar calving, doing something "crazy" as described above, hiking on a glaciar without killing myself, seeing sea wildlife (posssibly taking a tour), maybe land wildlife and just sight seeing and taking great pictures in general. I'm not into fishing at all. I'd love to see the Northern lights, but it seems like May is not a good month for that.

Here's what I have so far:

Day 0, Wednesday, May 15

Arrive in Anchorage at 7 p.m.

Day 1, Thursday, May 16

Maybe go to Whittier, take a day cruise, drive and stay the night in Seward

Day 2, Friday, May 17

Day in Seward? Activities? Kenai Fjords tour? Climb exit Glacier?

Day 3, Saturday, May 18

Denali?

Day 4, Sunday, May 19

Denali?

Day 5, Monday, May 20

Suggestions?

Day 6, Tuesday, May 21

Suggestions?

Leave Anchorage at 8:30 p.m.

A different "flavor" each day is what I like to do. None of the above is firm, but let me know if it's a good start or if I should start up north of Anchorage to Denali or start south of Anchorage to Whittier and Seward. Thanks in advance!

fti
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1. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

Welcome to the forum. Definitely start south since the shuttle buses in Denali don't start until May 20.

I would do the Kenai Fjords 6 hour or longer tour on Day 2 in Seward. Most likely the road to Exit Glacier might not even be open that early.

Day 3 I would drive from Seward only as far as Talkeetna. Maybe schedule a flightseeing with glacier landing for this evening (often they have 7pm departures). Spend the night then on Day 4 continue to Denali. Flightseeing with a glacier landing is a great experience. If the flight gets canceled this evening due to weather, you can reschedule it for the morning of Day 4 before you drive to Denali.

I would probably drive the evening of Day 4 to the Tek rest stop in Denali (mile 29). Decent chance of seeing some wildlife. It is a gravel road, but only the last 14 miles are gravel (the first 15 miles are paved).

>>Day 5, Monday, May 20

Book an early shuttle bus to Toklat. Plan on getting off the bus at Toklat and doing some hiking around there or even further along the road (the road is closed to vehicles but open to walkers and bicyclists). Spend the night in Denali.

The morning of May 21st consider taking a rafting trip (various degrees of whitewater, length, etc). I have used Denali Outdoor Center multiple times in the past and they are excellent. Leave by about noon for Anchorage, back in Anchorage by 6pm. You need to be at the airport about 2 hours before departure to return the car, check in and go through security.

haines, alaska
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2. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

Welcome to the forum, Joey......be sure to post a trip report when you return from your trip......there are often extreme sports type people who will learn from your experiences.......

Fort Walton Beach...
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3. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

Wow, that helps A LOT! Thanks for the detailed info. I think your suggestions just finished outlining my entire trip.

As far as your Day 3 suggestions with flight seeing, do you have any tours you would suggest? Would that be out of Talkeetna?

Day 4 would you suggest staying in Denali as well as Day 5?

Thanks once again, that really helps a lot.

Wasilla, Alaska
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4. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

Last summer we watched a bunch of white water rafters take off on Six Mile Creek. The cool thing is they were doing it without the raft. They all had on dry suits and flotation devices and there were safety people in rafts. They waded out to the middle, rolled over on their backs and floated down. It looked like a blast...

I don't think it was Nova, although they do whitewater rafting on Six Mile: novalaska.com/rafting/…six_mile_creek

I want to say it was Chugach Powder Guides, but I don't see it on their website, so maybe not... http://www.chugachpowderguides.com/

Maybe it was Chugach Outdoor Center... chugachoutdoorcenter.com/six_mile_rafting.htm

Hmm... I could've also been Chugach Adventure.... http://alaskanrafting.com/whitewater.html

Edited: 4:08 pm, March 08, 2013
Anchorage, Alaska
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5. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

As mentioned above there's "Six Mile".

Sounds like you should "glacier surf" (see YouTube) or perhaps ice climb (a lot tamer).

fti
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6. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

>>As far as your Day 3 suggestions with flight seeing, do you have any tours you would suggest? Would that be out of Talkeetna?

Yes, out of Talkeetna. You might look at all the companies' websites. Some offer a deal online. I think there are four companies (K2, Talkeetna Air Taxi, Talkeetna Aero and Sheldon). They all have a great reputation. I generally book based on discounts/coupons.

>>Day 4 would you suggest staying in Denali as well as Day 5?

Definitely. You really need two nights at the park in order to maximize your time in the park on Day 5. Even though the bus only goes to Toklat, you sound like the kind of person who will want to get off the bus and explore. The year I took the bus on May 20th, the weather was amazing and many people got off the bus (at the strong urging of the driver - I never saw so many people get off a shuttle bus before then).

I thought about Six Mile for the rafting, but in my opinion you really need another night in Alaska to pull that off, which you don't have. If you tried to squeeze it in, you are sacrificing something else and will end up making your trip more rushed. Again, just my opinion. But in Alaska, quality is better than quantity and since you are already at Denali, you really have no extra travel time to get to the rafting there. With Six Mile, to do everything else you want to do plus raft there you need more give and take.

Not sure what kind of lodging you are looking for, but at Denali the hostel is great. They have a variety of rooms, cabins, bunk rooms at great prices. The hostel is about 14 miles south of the park entrance (which to me is an advantage in a number of ways - quieter, cheaper, good restaurants nearby and 14 miles closer to Anchorage if you leave right from there to drive back, which you probably won't).

Edited: 4:33 pm, March 08, 2013
Fort Walton Beach...
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7. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

Definitely a no to glacier surfing! Haha - that's just TOO CRAZY.

Fort Walton Beach...
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8. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

I appreciate everyone's input. Especially FTI. I can't express how much all your input helps and I agree that quality is better than quantity. The more I researched and looked into my itinerary, the more I found I wanted to avoid waking up in Denali on my last day (Day 6). Denali back to Anchorage is about 5 hours worth of driving. Combine that 5 hour drive with a 11-12 flight trip back to Florida (and going straight back to work the same day I land), it seems like waking up in Denali on my last day should be an option I should try to avoid.

Although the shuttle service opens May 20 (Day 5 of my trip), from what I understand, the shuttle only goes to mile 52. I called Denali National Park and they said before May 20, private cars will be able to drive up to Mile 30 (once shuttle service starts, private cars can only drive the first 15 miles). With that being said and to avoid my concern mentioned above, I'm thinking going to Denali first sounds like a better option? Let me know your thoughts.

With some schedule reshuffling, the schedule I'm leaning towards more now looks like this:

Day 0 - Wednesday, May 15

Arrive 7:10 p.m. in Anchorage

Day 1 - Thursday, May 16

Anchorage to Talkeetna (2.5 hours) + Talkeetna to Denali (2.5 hours). Flightseeing with glacier landing early afternoon out of Talkeetna. (Flights start at 9:00 a.m. every 2 hours until 7:00 p.m., giving some flexibility with rescheduling). Stay the night in Denali.

Day 2 - Friday, May 17

All day in Denali, spend the night in Denali

Day 3 - Saturday, May 18

???Not Sure??? Anchorage activities? More activities in Denali? Some other town/activites heading south? The drive from Denali to Anchorage is about 5 hours. I talked to Denali Outdoor Center and they said it’s just questionable whether or not they’ll be doing any rafting yet because of the ice clearing from the river.

Day 4 - Sunday, May 19

Drive to Whittier for glacier cruise (6 hours), drive down and stay the night in Seward

Day 5 - Monday, May 20

Wake up in Seward. Kenai Fjords 6 hour Tour, Exit Glacier Road might be closed. Stay the night in Seward

Day 6 - Tuesday, May 21

Wake up in Seward. Almost full day for more activities in Seward and/or Anchorage. Seward to Anchorage = 2.5-3 hours drive. Be at airport 6:00 p.m., leave 8:30 p.m.

To me, that looks like a cleaner schedule, although I'm limited with what I could do in Denali. With this itinerary, I guess the question mark is my Day 3, Saturday, May 18? As always, any suggestion will be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!

USA
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9. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

It's still well worth it to take the Toklat shuttle into Denali on opening shuttle bus day(s). Lots of animals still by the road & lots of babies, have been my experience that time of spring.

10. Re: 7 Days, 6 nights in May (May 15 - 21)

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