Southcentral Alaska Questions - Thanks in Advance!
Replies: 27 - Last Post: Mar 24, 2012 11:15 AM Last Post By: section8
Mar 4, 2012 4:48 PM
15Another question has come up as I plan:
Is the Miles Glacier bridge open to view Child's Glacier in Cordova? I had read it closed last year but can not find if it is open again.
Mar 7, 2012 12:02 PM
16Hi...it's been a while since I've posted on here. I too am planning a family 2 week trip to AK this summer, early June. I considered taking the ferry across from Whittier to Valdez, but eventually nixed the idea. Although the cost wasn't prohibitive, it does eat up your time.(the ferry from Whittier leaves later in the day, the one from Valdez to Whittier goes very early, plus you have to alot time to get through the Whittier tunnel...just don't feel like being on the clock while on vacation) The fast ferry only runs one day a week, but if you were going to be in PWS...why go fast? Go slow and enjoy. Plus places to stay in Valdez, if you don't camp, seemed very high. Instead, we decided to drive up and around from Anchorage toward the Wrangell/St. Elias national park. From what I've heard, that is more off the beaten path than Denali or Kenai. We'll stay a couple nights at a small place on the road to Chitina and use that as a base to sight see nearby and travel down toward Valdez to see the sights that way. You could complete the circuit by taking the ferry from Valdez over to Whittier, but we decided to backtrack to anchorage via the road...there is plenty to see along the way.
We do plan to go to Seward and take a Kenai Fjord cruise, with plent of dramamine, since I suffer greatly from that as well.
One of my travel dilemma's is that I really have no desire to go to Denali proper. We like the "off the beaten path" places and to ride on school buses with a bunch of other tourists stopping to see wildlife just doesn't cut it for us, but I don't want to say I didn't see Denali. We are considering going up to Talkeetna and taking one of those jetboat tours. Has anyone out there done that? Did you like it?
I'd like to give a shout out to trekker and stopthebus for all the useful information in here. I've been peeking around at things for a couple weeks. I'm fortunate to have a dear friend that lives in Anchorage, been there her whole life, with a rustic cabin in Soldotna. My husband can't wait to try for a King...since we'll be there during the run.
Mar 7, 2012 12:22 PM
17You think that the bus at Denali is too touristy, yet you're asking if you should take a jetboat tour in Talkeetna?
Denali can be as touristy as you make it. You can take the shuttle and get dropped off at a backcountry campground or go trekking in the wilderness for days at a time. Or you can take a bus with a bunch of old people just unloaded from a Princess cruise.
It would be a travesty not to go to Denali if you are in Alaska.
Mar 7, 2012 12:27 PM
18Denali is touristy but I still like it. I have spent most of my life avoiding it (for tourists, you can't fish/hunt, etc.) but I was presently surprised when I finally went and regret not going sooner.
Wrangell-St. Elias and the surrounding area is great and is often overlooked by visitors. McCarthy is one of my favorite tourist tours.
Mar 7, 2012 12:28 PM
19Oh, and I've taken a jetboat out of Talkeetna, but only to get dropped off to fish. I don't know what their other routes are like.
Mar 7, 2012 1:23 PM
20So maybe I should rethink Denali. To be honest, a jetboat tour isn't my idea of fun....just thought our teenage boys would get a hoot out of it. I'd much rather float or paddle down a lazy river or hike along a mountain path. So, section8, if I want to make a daytrip to Denali out of Anchorage, what do you suggest? I know Talkeetna does not put you in Denali, but from some of the rivers, on a good day, the veiws would be nice and we might encounter animals along the way. (we did Yellowstone a few years ago, and the throngs of people pulling off the road and getting way to close to dangerous animals was crazy, don't want a repeat of that.)
Mar 7, 2012 1:30 PM
21It's hard to do a day trip to Denali from Anchorage. If you plan to go into the park using the shuttle system, it's really something you want to spend at least one full day on.
Talkeetna can be a fun day trip and you can see the mountain from that area. You may see animals, but not as many as you would expect to see in Denali. The jetboat isn't a bad idea, and there are rafting day trips in the area, if you'd rather do that. If you have the budget for it many of the flights over and into Denali depart from Talkeetna.
I think if I had one day and wanted to do something related to Denali, I would pick a flight tour that lands on a glacier in the park and spend a bit of time before and after checking out Talkeetna (it's a fun town).
Mar 7, 2012 2:25 PM
22Thanks section8...we are driving, but want to keep the long car trips to a minimum(I'm very much a (tour hard a couple days then take one off", preferably in a brewpub so hubby can unwind)...I'll relook at things to do in Denali if we drive up and consider spending a night. If not, it'll be a daytrip to Talkeetna and now I'm looking at hopping on the Hurricane flag train and floating back down the river to Talkeetna, which my anchorage friends told me is neat as well. And sorry for highjacking your thread OutdoorEL.
Mar 7, 2012 2:40 PM
Mar 7, 2012 4:04 PM
24The Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge and the newish Talkeetna Lodge are recommended in the Talkeetna area for those not on a tight budget. Talkeetna's ambience includes hairy backwoodsmen, who may come into town only once every few months to purchase staples, such as kerosene, plus the many mountain climbers from worldwide, who fly to the base of Denali from Talkeetna. A very colorful group. Most of the buildings are preserved from frontier days. I don't know if the newish Princess Lodge has jeep tours into Mt. McKinley State Park closer to the mountain peak. It is over a gravel road and not as touristy as Denali NP. The National Park concessionnaire lodges at Denali are very nice and newish. They are about 3 miles outside of the park entrance (no buildings inside the park; last ones removed in 2007) with frequent shuttlebuses. (I volunteered to help gather wildflower seeds to revegetate the areas where buildings were removed.) The location of the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is too touristy. It would be good to spend a night near Talkeetna, then two nights and one full day in Denali NP -- it is 100 miles to Wonder Lake and you definitely will see lots of wildlife in June. There are no food vendors in the national park, so you must pack a lunch and liquids for your full day; there are flush toilets en route to Wonder Lake and the shuttlebuses do make pit stops. You must either make advance reservations for the shuttlebus to Wonder Lake, or show up very early to stand in line for a boarding pass. You are allowed to hop off en route whenever you find a spectacular sight, then catch the next shuttlebus that has seating space for you. There is a naturalist tour to Kantishna for $100/person, just beyond Wonder Lake, but it is already too late to make reservations for that one.
The 60 miles McCarthy Road into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is gravel, not paved. The road stops at Kennicott River and no traffic is allowed over the river into McCarthy. When I was last there, there was a primitive hand-tram to pull yourself across the raging river. McCarthy has become more popular since then, so there may now be a pedestrian bridge across. McCarthy and Kennicott towns are preserved frontier mining towns, so don't expect luxury, especially in McCarthy. The Kennicott Hotel is elaborate Victorian style with linen, etc., dining room; however, it was the only building occupied in the copper mining town of Kennicott when I visited in 1994. There are wildflower and art/photo workshop tours plus mountaineering outings with the McCarthy guide agency. There is whitewater rafting on the Kennicott River and ice climbing on the Kennicott Glacier. You will see the renowned Copper River as you drive from Chitina over the bridge and onto the road to McCarthy. It is a favorite for salmon fishermen. The road from Chitina to Cordova, following the old railroad, was washed out, as well as the bridge near Cordova. The height of the Copper River commercial salmon fishing season is in May, at the mouth of the Copper River near Cordova. Some of the large king/chinook salmon do fetch about $1,000 each from restaurants in Seattle and NYC. They are full of the Omega oils used to give them strength to swim upstream against the river current. McCarthy Air flies tourists from Glennallen, and there is a shuttlebus for tourists. There is a Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge close to Glennallen, and they probably have the shuttlebus tours to McCarthy. (I did work for the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, which is why I know about the other lodges; I also worked in Denali NP.)
Mar 23, 2012 8:41 PM
A few more detailed questions -
1. Trekker, you mentioned getting pretty seasick on the Kenai Fjords cruise. Should we expect similarly choppy waters around Prince William Sound if taking a cruise out of Valdez?
2. We've been told to expect the mosquitoes but I've also read about no-see-ums and a lot of caterpillars/inch worms in certain areas. Any tips for dealing with these besides Deet or whatever else we'll already be using for the mosquitoes? If there's a specific brand of repellant that's recommended, that would be good to know.
Mar 24, 2012 9:17 AM
262. Bring a headnet. Even with deet, the bugs may be swarming around you - it's a lifesaver to have a headnet to keep them out of your eyes and ears!
I should add that we were in Alaska in late July/early August and had no issues with bugs outside Katmai.
Mar 24, 2012 11:15 AM
271.) The Kenai Fjords tours take you out into the Gulf of Alaska whereas PWS is much more sheltered. You can still get big water but rarely with the size and frequency you get out in the open ocean.
Coober PedyBook now
(4 star Hotel)
From US$170.26 per night
The WestBook now
(4 star Hotel)
From US$170.26 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$294.09 per night