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Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

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new york
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Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

Hi,

I am traveling to Alaska in mid-July with my boyfriend. We love to hike and do other outdoorsy things (not so much into fishing). We have most of the itinerary, but are stuck with a few extra days between Seward and Denali. We want to limit mileage, but also want to make sure to see Alaska. So far, here is the itinerary (I noted where we needed help!)

Day 1 - arrive in Anc - pick up rental car - drive to seward (stops along the way)

day 2 - full day in Seward (fjords tour, exit glacier?)

Day 3 - TBD - NEED HELP

Day 4 - TBD - NEED HELP

Day 5 - drive to & overnight in Talkeetna

Day 6 - drive to & overnight in Denali

Day 7 - full day & overnight in Denali

Day 8 - drive to & overnight in Anchorage

Day 9 - full day in Anchorage, depart for NYC

New England
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1. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

What time are you arriving in Anchorage? Traveling from the east coast you will most likely be pretty tired so might want to consider staying overnight in Anchorage or Girdwood and then you would be fresh for the rest of the trip to Seward. You could then visit Exit Glacier, take a hike, visit the Sea Life Center when you arrive in Seward, spend the night and the next day either take a fjords tour or kayak tour to Aialik Glacier since the water taxi doubles as the fjords tour. On the way to Talkeetna you could consider staying near Hatcher Pass or the Palmer area to do some hiking and visit Matanuska Glacier.

There are others here who are much better with itineraries for others who may give you better ideas. I just know that last year when we travelled from the east coast we got in late and I would not have wanted to "hit the road" right away.

fti
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2. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

I too would not rush getting to Seward on Day 1. It is an extremely scenic drive and the best way to stop along the shoreline is when traveling southbound toward Seward and not northbound.

You might spend day 3 (or it might be day 4 if you spend the first night in Anchorage) taking the Harding Icefield Trail hike. It is a 4 mile trail (each way, return the way you came) with an elevation gain of about 3,000 feet. Incredible views even if you only go about half way. If you do the entire trail, figure 6-8 hours round trip. At the top you can get great views of the icefield. Expect some snow on the trail toward the top even in August (we went the 3rd week in August last year and had some snow).

How about hiking on a glacier? if you think you would like that, you can also do that on Exit Glacier near Seward (Exit Glacier Guides) or Matanuska Glacier north of Anchorage.

I might take one overnight after Seward and drive the Glenn Highway toward Palmer (Muskox Farm, Reindeer Farm) and go to the Independence Mine area. Some nice hiking trails near Independence Mine that seem underutilized. Unfortunately I have done very little hiking in this area, but I have read great things about it and a few people on TA have given great reports about it. You could either overnight near here (Palmer or Wasilla are most convenient) or if you don't spend too much time here, do it on the day you drive from Seward to Talkeetna. But I think you might like the glacier hiking on Matanuska Glacier, which would take some time to get to then do (Nova or Mica Guides are the companies that do the hikes).

With your interest in hiking, I think you are shortchanging yourself by only have one full day in Denali. You need to take a shuttle bus into the park in order to really see much scenery or wildlife and much of the great hiking is deeper into the park (only accessible by shuttle bus). I would consider adding one more night in Denali. Then if you do that, you can purchase the 3-for-2 shuttle bus ticket, available only by phone (buy two days, get a third consecutive day free). So you can get two full days into the park by shuttle bus and the third day only go as far as say Toklat and turn around (about 6 hours round trip). So you could do that and still drive to Anchorage the same afternoon.

John

new york
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3. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

sorry - just to clarify - we get in at 2am to Anchorage, and then we will sleep in the hotel until about 9 or so, and then set out to Seward (vs. going right from the airport).

Let me know if this changes your recommendations!

Thanks so much for the help =)

fti
MN
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4. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

I guess most people think differently than the regulars on this forum. Someone else had a similar posting with arriving Day 1 and traveling to Seward the same day. To us, it sounded like you were departing home, arriving Anchorage and heading to Seward the same day you were driving.

In your case, I think you could spend the night of Day 3 in Seward if you wanted to hike the Harding Icefield Trail, night of Day 4 in Talkeetna, night of Day 5 in Denali to give you the extra day, then the rest of the days the same.

Or night of Day 3 in the Matsu Valley if you wanted to do the glacier hike there, night of Day 4 in Talkeetna, night of Day 5 in Denali, then the rest the same.

Estero, Florida
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5. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

http://www.micaguides.com/

Drive out there is beautiful, hike on glacier or ice climbing is great.

Hatcher Pass has some great hiking too

alaska.org/driving/hatcher-pass-drive.htm

Cooper Landing in the Kenai has Russian River falls hike and lot of wildlife up around Skilak Lake

http://www.skilaklake.com/

If not a budget buster, this is a great time in Cooper Landing too

http://www.alaskahorsemen.com/

white water rafting in the Kenai

http://www.alaskanrafting.com/

I would trade night in talkeetna for extra night in Denali. If your flight is late out of ANC, you can make it there from Denali the day you leave. I would cancel day in Anchorage and try and fit two nights Cooper Landing in there somewhere and spend an extra night in Seward and do some kayaking while there

http://www.sunnycove.com/

Edited: 10:11 pm, May 26, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada
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6. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

You love outdoorsy things?

I would camp while in Alaska. Forget the hotels and spend your money on glacier tours and flight tours.

Either way you can rent a canoe at Nancy Lakes and spend a day on the water with the loons and beavers. Better yet, canoe to a primitive cabin for a night. …alaska.gov/parks/units/nancylk/nancylk.htm

new york
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7. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

This is all so helpful. The main reason we are staying in Anchorage for a day at the end of the trip is because we are camping in Denali, and want to take a shower before getting on the long flight back to New York!

Bristol, Connecticut
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8. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

You can shower at Ryley Creek Mercantile in Denali, there are also showers at the Mercantile/Store south of Byers Lake on the west side of the road. If you like to camp Nancy Lake, South Rolly and Byers Lake are all nice campgrounds with canoe rentals, they are located north of Wasilla on your way to Denali. If you camp be aware that some convenience stores and many laundromats have showers for public use.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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9. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

There is also a public use ($4) shower at the Talkeetna Junction - Tesoro Gas Station, mile 99 Parks Highway. - as spacefry said they are around if you need them.

fti
MN
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10. Re: Drive from Seward to Denali - overnight stops inbetween

Also, if showers are the only reason for a hotel, there are two Rec Centers in Anchorage that have a $3 entry fee that includes use of the shower all day (i.e. you could return later in the day again if you want). And the Spenard Hostel has showers available for a small fee for non-guests.