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Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

East Tennessee
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Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

I'm in the early stages of planning a road trip from Anchorage to Haines in July, 2010. I'm not a good cruiser and I thought this would be an opportunity to see some fantastic scenery and get a taste of southeastern Alaska. I understand you can take a day cruise to Juneau from Haines/Skagway and also a flightseeing tour of Glacier Bay National Park.

I was considering driving to Haines and then taking the ferry to Skagway and driving back through Whitehorse on the return trip. Does this sound like a good plan?

I would appreciate any recommendations or comments for stops along the way, lodging, etc.

fti
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1. Re: Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

Welcome to the forum. Wow, I am jealous. It sounds like a great trip.

I understand the drive you are taking, especially the "Golden Circle" Haines Junction to Haines then Skagway to Whitehorse to Haines Junction is beautiful. Mombear suggested to me to allow at least 3 days for that entire trip from Skagway to Haines so you might take that into your planning. I decided to just visit Juneau, Skagway and Haines by ferry and leave the Golden Circle drive for another year.

There are two options that I know of to get from Haines to Juneau. The normal Alaska ferry is one option and the Fjord Express (http://www.alaskafjordlines.com/index.php). The ferry is cheaper and you can take a car if you want. Fjord Express is more expensive and no cars.

If it were me though, I would spend at least a night in Juneau. It is a bit rougher getting around Juneau without a car but I think taxis and public buses will still be quite a bit cheaper than taking your car from Haines to Juneau and back.

Juneau has lots to offer - whale watching tours, Tracy Arm tours (great for glacier viewing and wildlife), Mendenhall Glacier, museums and more. I spent 4 nights in Juneau last summer and could hardly find the time to do everything I wanted to do.

The flightseeing tour of Glacier Bay sounds great. I liked the two times I went there by boat. But flightseeing would give you a different perspective. You can do that from Haines or also from Skagway I believe.

There is a brochure about the Yukon available from their tourist office. I don't have it with me but it is very thorough in talking about that area including lodging, etc. A google search should bring it up.

John

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2. Re: Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

Hi Harriet

Yes that would be quite a road trip... maybe I can help you with your timeline.....if you flew into Anchorage and rented a car it would take about at least 16 hours to drive to Haines, we usually break up that section of the trip into two days, overnighting in Tok, Alaska.....while in Haines there are flightseeing tours to Glacier Bay and as John said ferry sailings to Juneau or Skagway....do allow at least three days for the Golden Circle, there is a lot to see and do in Whitehorse, you may even want to head north from Whitehorse to Dawson City (so much history there !) then take the free ferry across the river and drive the top of the world highway through the town of Chicken and back down to Tok......on the way back to Anchorage, I would take a side trip down to Valdez for at least one day......You would probably need three weeks to really enjoy the trip.....I would be happy to provide any specifics as your plans evolve !!

East Tennessee
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3. Re: Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

Thanks fti and mombear for your speedy replies. Your advice and comments gave me food for thought. It does sound like a wonderful trip and I wish I had decided to do this route before I booked my airfare ( with frequent flyer miles). I might have added on a few more days to our trip. I only have 10 days and my original plan was to drive to Homer for a bear watching tour and then take the ferry in Whittier over to Valdez and visit Wrangell-St.Elias National Park and returning via the Glenn Highway. Btw.. We just recently returned from a 10 day trip in Anchorage-Whittier-Seward-Talkeetna-Fairbanks-Denali- Hatcher Pass) and so my original plan was to go to the places we missed in southcentral and the Kenai Peninsula this trip but now I'm thinking this trip would be more exciting and yes...exhausting..lol.

So my dilemma at the present is whether to attempt or not this journey to southeastern Alaska knowing the time restraints.

This is what I've got in mind if my family decides to go:

Day 1.....Arrive in Anchorage at 6:25 p.m. Rental car with Alamo already reserved ($483.21 for a Chevrolet Trail Blazer or similar) Staying at the new Springhill Suites at University Lakes on Marriott reward pts( they just recently opened in July and we had a wonderful stay there on our August trip for our first and last days. There's a small lake with wonderful views of the mts and a walking trail).

Day 2...Travel to Tok or Beaver Creek. I would like to stop at Mantanuska Glacier on the way.

Day 3...Drive to Haines.

Day 4...Flightseeing tour to Glacier Bay National Park.

Day 5....Alaska Fjordlines tour to Juneau. Departs at 8:15 am and returns 8:15 pm. According to the web site, you have 3 hrs of free time in Juneau and then they take you to fee Mendenhall Glacier. And note to fti...reading your post makes me wish we did have time for an overnight stay:-(

Day 6...Take ferry from Haines to Skagway. Drive to Whitehorse taking in sights along the way. Overnight Whitehorse.

Day 7....Drive to Tok

Day 8...Drive from Tok to Valdez

Day 9...Take ferry from Valdez to Whittier and drive to Anchorage.

Day 10.. Depart Anchorage 7:35 pm for flight home.

fti
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4. Re: Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

I use miles for almost all my trips to Alaska. Note that you can change them for relatively inexpensive fee ($50-$150). If you are using American Airlines miles, you can change dates for free if you keep the same starting and ending cities. So there are ways around that one pretty easily if you in fact have the time.

Being that you also have hotel points, my guess is you are a relatively frequent traveler and elites often have even less change fees for award tickets.

With your relatively tight schedule, I would forget Juneau. For 3 hours? It really, really, really is not worth your time. Sorry to be so blunt. That will give you an extra day for your drive from Skagway back to Tok.

Any particular reason you are driving on Day 10 to Anchorage? It would be a shame for example to dirve to Valdez on Day 8 and then hop on the ferry on Day 9. I know the ferry schedule for next summer is not out yet (but you can find a tentative/possible schedule if you search press releases on www.alaskaferry.com). But depending on the ferry schedule, how about a Prince William Sound tour on Day 9 from Valdez then the morning of day 10 take the ferry to Whittier, drive to Anchorage, arrive by 4-5pm, check in 2 hours before departure and eat either at the airport or before?

Or if you the ferry won't work on Day 10 due to timing or you don't like doing it the same day, then day 9 take ferry to Whittier. Depending on the time you arrive, ideally take an afternoon PWS cruise from Whittier (usually departing at 1pm but if you get Sound Eco Adventure and are first to book for that day, you can set the departure time). Then drive to Anchroage.

Or, if it is a later ferry, day 9 to Whittier and overnight in Girdwood. Then morning of Day 10 back to Whittier for PWS cruise, or drive Seward Highway part of the way for spectacular scenery.

I realize you want to use points to reduce your cost and you haven't told us what your real interests are. Another option would be on Day 10 to see things in the Matsu Valley (Independence Mine, Wasilla/Iditarod HQ, Palmer, Musk Ox Farm, Eagle River Nature Center, etc, etc).

I hope this gives you more food for thought.

John

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5. Re: Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

Thanks John. I really appreciate you trying to help me. I'll certainly consider your suggestions. My main reason for considering the drive to Haines is for the scenery. I'm thinking the drive itself would be beautiful and memorable along with the cruise from Haines to Juneau.

On our trip in August, we did two glacier/wildlife cruises. 26 Glaciers Cruise out of Whittier and then the 6 hour Kenai Fjords Tour so I don't know if I need another one out of Valdez this trip but will certainly consider it especially if I go back to my original plan.

As for changing the airlines ressies, I'm reluctant to mess with them since they were made through two different airlines ( Continental and Delta) and I feel lucky to have gotten us all on the same flight and seated together. I'd rather not mess with that.

Btw...if we do decide to go to Haines do you or mombear have any suggestions for lodging? There will be three or us traveling.

Thanks again for your help.

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6. Re: Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

Since you are planning on driving to and from Tok from Anchorage, I might as well give you my standard recommendation to consider driving the Isabel Pass on the trip up or return trip, as it fits your schedule and desires - and the weather. I find Isabel MUCH more beautiful than the drive from Gulkana to Tok thrrough Mentasta.

The cost to you is to add miles and hours of drivin on the one leg. It takes 5 hours for 250 miles for Gulkana-Delta Junction-Tok vs. 2.5 hours and 230 miles to go through Mentasta from Gulkana-Tok. Heading north through Isabel on a clear day is my highest recommendation.

You might have covered Isabel Pass on your other travels, and adding road time is not always a desirable thing. You have some awfully beautiful country to drive through! Yes, and do take the drive to Dawson someday, that is a very special town and area.

71

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7. Re: Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

oops... my fingers think they can type without engaging the brain sometimes.

The cost to you is added miles and hours of driving on the extra (Delta) leg. It takes 5 hours for 250 miles for Gulkana-Delta Junction-Tok vs. 2.5 hours and 125 miles to go through Mentasta from Gulkana-Tok.

71

8. Re: Road Trip From Anchorage To Haines

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