traveling in Alaska
Replies: 14 - Last Post: May 27, 2012 4:10 PM Last Post By: trekker502
May 21, 2012 3:42 PM
traveling in AlaskaI will be flying in to Anchorage the end of June and eventually making my way up to Denali Park. I will be flying home July 18. I have a few questions:
In Anchorage, I would like to get around by bicycle. Is the city small enough that this is a good idea? I plan on visiting the museum and Native Heritage Center. What else should I see?
I am a 40 yr old woman. Do people my age go to hostels? I would like to do this economically.
I would like to take a cruise to Kenai Fiords. Are they all pretty much the same or does any one stand out? Is one day enough? I saw some that let you stay overnight on Fox Island and you can kayak and go to the National Park.
How about going to Kodiak Island to see the bears? How long does the ferry take and how expensive is it? When I get off on Kodiak, how do I get to the area with the bears? Is there any other way than flying?
I also wanted to visit Skagway but it looks very difficult to get there without a car. Is there any way? It is a 16 hr drive by car and I really don't want to do that.
I plan on taking the train to Denali and the bus back. About 10 days of my trip will be spent in Denali since two of my children are working there. Is there anything else I should see in the southern part of Alaska?
Any advice anyone can give me would be appreciated.
May 21, 2012 3:48 PM
May 21, 2012 6:58 PM
May 21, 2012 7:09 PM
3huh #1? this is the USA forum...but you made me look...
bicycle is an excellent way to get around Anchorage. there are many trails that criss cross town, several of which have tunnels under major roads. here is a link to trails information: http://www.trailsofanchorage.com/
here is al ink to the Alaska Marine Highway system with timetables, costs, etc: http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/
nothing is cheap here, particularly getting out to more remote areas like Kenai Fjords or Kodiak. the only way to reach Skagway other than car is to fly to Juneau and then take an air taxi service from there to Skagway - not inexpensive.
depending on what you want to see and do, an all day marine tour of Kenai Fjords National Park would suffice, IMO.
May 21, 2012 7:27 PM
May 21, 2012 8:18 PM
5I recommend Spenard Hostel, 5 minutes taxi ride from the international airport. They are one block from an access route (Wisconsin Road) to the beautiful Knowles Coastal Trail, which stretches from the international airport to downtown Anchorage and the Captain Cook Hotel. A web page for the Alaska hostels is http://www.AlaskaHostel.com which gives you the Fairbanks hostel and also the web address for the Spenard Hostel. The hostel rented bicycles the last time that I stayed there. It is also one block from the bus stop for the downtown bus.
The Seward shuttlebus costs about $100 each way. The full day Kenai Fjords cruise costs more than $100. There is a hostel in Seward which you can find on the web page.
The Alaska Native Cultural Center is not in a good neighborhood of Anchorage and quite a ways to ride a bicycle -- I am sure that there is a tour bus probably from the downton Hilton Hotel, which is close to the downtown bus center where you may take the #7 bus back to the hostel. The Cultural Center is at the north end of Muldoon Road, one block before the entrance to Elmendorf Air Force Base and next to East High School. It is one of the roughest, gang-infested areas of Anchorage.
There is a ferry from Whittier (1.5 hours from Anchorage by train or Alaska Grayline bus) to Juneau, but it does not run often -- check the schedule. I do not know the cost -- you do not need to reserve a cabin; many passengers "camp out" in the lounge after hours or pitch their backpacker tents on the stern. There are free showers and a cafeteria and snack shop. You would need to plan to fly home from Juneau airport or from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory Airport (Canada). There is a small motorboat taxi shuttlebus daily between Juneau and Skagway. There is a hostel in Skagway and one in Juneau -- Google each city's Visitors' Center for the web address.
May 21, 2012 8:28 PM
6Re: Kenai Fjords -- there are two companies that run cruises, Major Marine and Kenai Fjords Tours. We took one cruise with each and STRONGLY preferred Kenai Fjords Tours. It's more expensive but the boats are less crowded and it seems like less of a "cruise ship tourist" experience. The Northwestern Fjord cruise with Kenai Fjords tours was probably our favorite activity during our four week Alaska trip last year.
May 22, 2012 6:51 AM
7Number 3 poster, this was the original posting in the CANADA forum. As you can quite clearly see it was in the Canada Branch!!! The moderators must have moved it.
Copied from the OP's profile!!!
posted a new Thorn Tree thread called traveling in Alaska in the Americas - Canada Branch
I will be flying in to Anchorage the end of June and eventually making my way up to Denali Park. I will be flying home July 18. I have a...
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May 22, 2012 9:47 PM
8regarding - How about going to Kodiak Island to see the bears? How long does the ferry take and how expensive is it? When I get off on Kodiak, how do I get to the area with the bears? Is there any other way than flying ?
I suspect it would be quite rare to see a bear from the road system on Kodiak
May 23, 2012 12:59 PM
9Remember, Alaska is huge. Saying you want to see Skagway on a trip to Anchorage is like saying that since you are in Paris, you should go to Rome. I would just focus your trip along the road system north and south of Anchorage and forget about Skagway and Kodiak. You will most likely see bears in Denali (not as big as the ones on Kodiak, but plenty wonderful). Kenai Fjords in great, so would trips to Columbia Glacier in Prince William Sound out of Whittier. Go to Homer, maybe take a water taxi to Seldovia. There are amazing hikes on the Kenai Penisula (around Seward), and outside of Anchorage in Chugach State Park. You will not run out of things to do. Have fun!
May 23, 2012 1:57 PM
May 23, 2012 3:05 PM
11En route back from Seward and Homer, stop in Girdwood and stay at Alyeska Hostel http://www.AlyeskaHostel.com and walk on the trails through the dense Chugach National Forest with lots of beautiful wildflowers and creeks. There are two bicycle rental shops and a paved trail starting at the Alyeska Prince Hotel. There is a beautiful walking trail through the forest that starts from in back of the ski tram at the hotel and will take you up to the ridgeline overlooking the 20-Mile River plus the 7 hanging glaciers over Glacier Valley/Girdwood. If you take the tram to the top instead, there is a cafeteria plus a fancy 5-Stars 7 Glaciers Restaurant and bar. You can look out over Glacier Valley and see Turnagain Arm fjord with the Kenai Mountains looming on the opposite side. You may hike down the ski trails to the bottom. Be aware that there are bears, moose, foxes, and porcupines in Glacier Valley. It is safer if you walk along the more popular trails and make noise, such as singing, so that you don't surprise a bear. Don't get too close to baby moose or bear cubs.
If you go to Homer, I stayed at the Seaside Farm Hostel http://www.SeasideFarmHostel.com , which is several miles outside of town overlooking Kachemak Bay. I assume that there is a bus that goes out there, or you may need to take a taxi. It is owned by Jewel Kilcher's aunt -- a family of Swiss folk/country singers. Homer is known for halibut fishing, and you may go out on a charter fishing boat into the Pacific Ocean to catch either halibut or salmon. The crew will clean your catch and pack it with dry ice for shipment back home with you on your plane, if you are immediately flying out of Anchorage.
May 23, 2012 4:00 PM
12...miss camping out on the Homer spit (beach) years ago ha ha (maybe 35?)
and fishing all nite while sitting with friends next to a campfire of driftwood and coal rolling in with the waves
then grilling a fish on that same fire
have a great summer - I am envious :)
May 27, 2012 12:55 PM
13Thanks for the recommendation trekker502. I own the Spenard Hostel and i think it's great, but i'm a little biased. ;) Spenard Hostel does offer daily and hourly bike rentals, and i think that via bike is a great way to see Anchorage. (More info here www.alaskahostel.org)
It looks like most of your questions have been answered, and range41 made a good point about the size of Alaska and what is reasonable to do in one trip. Sticking with the road system is a good plan. While we do have plenty of people who fly to Kodiak to see bears, they are usually people who are travelling for several months. You may be going to the airport and waiting to see if your flight is actually going to be departing several days in a row (or worst case scenario, weeks!) because the weather there is notoriously rainy/foggy/cloudy, and while flights are scheduled every day, they certainly don't actually make it out every day, depending on the weather.
The only other tip i have is that if you are planning on seeing the Museum and Native Heritage Center, there is a Culture Pass (www.alaskaculturepass.org/) which covers admission to both for $30 vs. $41 if you buy them separately, and you don't have use both on the same day. The Native Heritage Center is located a bit out of town, but there is a free shuttle that goes there from the Visitor Center downtown.
My last recommendation(s): lots of travellers get around Alaska by bus, and this is done easily enough, but if you are going to rent a car, do so as early as possible, as they are expensive and prices only keep going up as availability goes down, and they do sell out. Also, Talkeetna, on the way to Denali Park, is worth a visit. Cute little town with lots of history and the base for all Denali climbing expeditions. There are two great hostels there (Talkeetna Hostel International talkeetnahostel.com/ and House of Seven Trees Hostel email@example.com) and also a really great hostel in the Denali Park area (Denali Mountain Morning Hostel www.denalihostel.com/). In fact, you can find out about all of the hostels in Alaska at alaskahostelassociation.org. Enjoy your adventure!
May 27, 2012 4:10 PM
14Hi adventurenaptime! I was in the Winter Community at Spenard Hostel in 1993-94, when Walt owned it. I assume that he and his children still own the Alyeska Hostel. I also met the next owner, whom I was told now owns the Denali Mountain Morning Hostel, since I frequently visited my many friends at the hostel after I had moved to an apartment.
I moved from Alaska in April 2008, and I don't know how many changes have occurred since then except for those mentioned here on this forum. Thank you for clarifying about the free shuttlebus from the Visitors Center to the Native Heritage Center on Muldoon. I know that the Hilton Hotel was owned by one of the Native American tribal corporations, so I assumed that they offered the shuttlebus ride.
I don't know if you still have private shuttlebuses to Denali and to Seward stop by your hostel en route out of town? The Seward and Homer Stageline shuttlebuses did not have convenient office locations in Midtown, near the Carr's on Northern Lights and the Library on 36th/Old Seward Highway.
(3 star Hotel)
From US$199.95 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$312.22 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$135.71 per night