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Alaska?

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Alaska?

Postby traderaaron » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:07 am

I saw the airfare sale for Alaska Air and it got me thinking about Alaska this summer but it is such a huge place I don't even know where to start.

Any experiences and information is welcome. I could backpack (either backcountry or more hostel style backpack traveling), sight-see, fish, do photography or climb a mountain but glacier travel and associated activities are above my skill.

I know this is pretty vague but I am hoping someone with some ideas can help me refine what I might be interested in.

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Re: Alaska?

Postby DaveP » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:52 am

I made a trip to Denali National Park last spring. Well worth the time! Flew to Fairbanks, got a cheap room for the night, if you could call it that...was twilight until 0300 or so. The park itself has several options for camping, hiking, etc. I took a national park bus deep into the back country and set up a base camp from where I was able to make a day hike in any direction The area also serves great for a multi-day backpack trip. Just remember to bring bug spray. The mosquitos appear as a cloud around my head in most of my pics. Wildlife galore...grizzly, moose, caribou. Fresh blueberries right off the tundra. I think you get the idea. Feel free to get ahold of me if I can help.

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Re: Alaska?

Postby peter303 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:04 pm

A basic reconnaissance "road trip" can be fairly thrifty in shoulder season
and very beautiful. We just took a tent and sleeping bag and drove a rental
along the road system. There are campgrounds everywhere, even in the
center of towns like Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, etc. We filled the trunk
with two daily cold meals and ate a third hot one third at a road stop somewhere.
You want a very water-proof tent and rain gear.

One itinerary is to explore the Parks highway from Seward to Fairbanks.
Take at least one boat cruise on the boat end. I saw hundreds of whales
and thousands of birds on one of these. Denali Park is the crown jewel of
of the sights. Its tourist-tacky at the entrance, but thins out in
the interior. Another post mentioned how the bus and remote hiking worked.
Denali climbers proceed from Talkeetna, an hour's drive to the south.
Thats a mixed hippie-arts and climbers town like Boulder/Nederland.
You can scout the outfitters there and take a fly-sighting plane around Denali.
On another trip we did the more remote pipeline road, from Valdez, Matsu glacier,
Wrangel Elias Park up to Fairbanks. The mountains ringing Valdez reminded me of
the Alps.

The roads only take you so far. Then you have take the ferries or bush planes.
But that can be a future trip.

Re: Alaska?

Postby traderaaron » Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:24 pm

Thank you both for the information, I may be sending you p.m's for specifics.

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Re: Alaska?

Postby mtnmojo » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:08 pm

an Alaska trip sounds sweet....how good are the airfare deals if you don't mind my asking?

Re: Alaska?

Postby traderaaron » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:10 pm

mtnmojo wrote:an Alaska trip sounds sweet....how good are the airfare deals if you don't mind my asking?


Seemed reasonable to me. From Denver to various destinations starting at $199, Alaska Air, book by 1/31 I think.

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Re: Alaska?

Postby cougar » Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:54 pm

Tons of places and things to do there - while it's all great, I think the coast offers some unique experiences vs. CO - sea kayaking Kenai Fjords or somewhere in the area - you have glaciers, mountains, the sea, and a variety of wildlife all close by. Denali has spectacular scenery as well, and an amazing backcountry - trailless and open (lots of bears). Both are easily accessible from Anchorage - by car, train, boat, etc.

I spent my time there doing a little bit of everything and doing a loop around the central part of the state, it was a bit rushed but a nice sampling. June is great for all the daylight and for doing a 'recon' trip. Skip Fairbanks - there's nothing really up there, unless you want to say you've been there, and want to do a loop - Parks Hwy + Richardson Hwy. Richardson will take you down by Wrangell/St Elias and down to Valdez. Great scenery. Also look into the Alaska ferry if you want to visit some coastal towns.

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Re: Alaska?

Postby Eph 2 5 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:59 pm

I'd highly recommend McCarthy, Alaska. From highway 4 (Richardson Highway), it's a 3 hour drive on a dirt road that's in fairly good shape. We drove it in a Ford Escort. It's pretty remote and the setting is really beautiful. You have to stop at the end of the road, cross a river on a footbridge and either hike into town or call the motel owner to come get you on the far side of the river. It's on a mountainside with Mt. Blackburn (a 16er) in the distance and 2 glaciers in the valley below. The Kennicott Mine is perched on the hillside as well. I had never done any glacier hiking, but I took a guided hike out onto the Root Glacier. The next day we hiked up to the Bonanza Mine even higher up the mountain. We also took a flight-seeing flight through parts of the Wrangell/St. Elias Mountains. It was expensive ($400 for 2 of us for 90 minutes(pick your own route), but unbelievable scenery (massive glaciers, some 15ers and 16ers).
We flew into Anchorage, rented a car, drove south to Seward, back north to Denali, drove east across the Denali Highway (mostly dirt road) south to McCarthy, west to Valdez and back to Anchorage. We were there 11 days and saw a lot. It was probably the best trip of my life. As was said in a prior post, take a boat tour into Kenai Fjords Nat'l Park from Seward, or Prince William Sound out of Valdez. The marine life is spectacular (humpbacks, orcas, sea lions, sea otters, salmon). We saw a bald eagle and black bear from the boat too.
We took the bus trip through Denali all the way to the roadhouse at the end of the road. Amazing wildlife - grizzlies, caribou, moose, wolves, dall sheep. It's not always easy to see Mt. McKinley, but if you're lucky enough to see it you'll be floored. We really splurged and took a flight seeing tour around McKinley too. I thought we were going to slam into the Wickersham Wall on the north side of the mountain we got so close. We also did some off-trail tundra hiking in Denali. While we were hiking, we saw tour buses stopped several miles across the valley. I got my binoculars out and could see a grizzly roaming around close to the road. It was far away, but it was a creepy,but exciting feeling to be out there with those animals.
If you're going to be driving around Alaska, I'd recommend getting The Milepost. It's a magazine that has a lot of information about the various highways (where good views are, which mountains you're looking at, where gas stations are, etc.)

Re: Alaska?

Postby traderaaron » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:10 am

I know someday I'll backpack in Wrangell St. Elias NP so doing some recon of the area sounds fun, but it all sounds fun, right.

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Re: Alaska?

Postby peter303 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:48 am

traderaaron wrote:Seemed reasonable to me. From Denver to various destinations starting at $199, Alaska Air, book by 1/31 I think.


I'm only seeing $400s for the shoulder season in May. I was first seduced
when the [ late, great ] Frontiers Airline offered an inaugural $330 direct fare in 2004.
Peruse the vehicle rental prices too. June 1 is the "magic date". Everything doubles after then.
You can skip a car and do the train from Seward, Whittier, Anchorage, Wallasia (say hi to Sarah),
Teelkanta, Denali, Fairbanks and others. It has a higher summer price too.

Re: Alaska?

Postby traderaaron » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:53 am

peter303 wrote:
traderaaron wrote:Seemed reasonable to me. From Denver to various destinations starting at $199, Alaska Air, book by 1/31 I think.


I'm only seeing $400s for the shoulder season in May. I was first seduced
when the [ late, great ] Frontiers Airline offered an inaugural $330 direct fare in 2004.
Peruse the vehicle rental prices too. June 1 is the "magic date". Everything doubles after then.
You can skip a car and do the train from Seward, Whittier, Anchorage, Wallasia (say hi to Sarah),
Teelkanta, Denali, Fairbanks and others. It has a higher summer price too.


$199 each way plus fees. I was getting $462 total I think for various dates in June.

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Re: Alaska?

Postby AdamC » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:49 am

I'd like to go to Glacier Bay or Denali national Park. But there is also Barrow, Its the northern most town/city in the USA. I just think it would be cool place to go.
I'm taking a cruise to Glacier bay in a few months.

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