Day trips from Anchorage, AK in August?
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Jun 2, 2012 6:40 AM Last Post By: trekker502
May 28, 2012 5:40 PM
Day trips from Anchorage, AK in August?I've never posted anything on a forum before so this is kind of exciting! I'm going to be traveling to Anchorage, AK with my boyfriend for a week sometime in August. We plan to rent a car for the whole week and use that as our main way of travel (I don't mind putting my feet to good use while I'm there either). We're on a somewhat limited budget so we'll be lodging in Anchorage the entire week. I planned on making a day trip to the Denali Zip line tours in Talkeetna, hopefully still allowing time to go into Denali National Park and do some hiking or roaming. Is that be a practical day trip or am I getting in way over my head? I went on a cruise that stopped in Skagway, Ketchikan and Juneau a couple years back but this time I wanted to get more in depth. I prefer site seeing as ''the locals'' do rather than large over packed extra touristy excursion type tours. Does anyone have any suggestions on good day trips out of Anchorage?? I don't mind driving an hour or two for a full days worth of activity. I've found a myriad of tours online but like I said, we're on a limited budget so I would prefer my own self guided tour at the expense of numerous hours spent researching online. My main goals would probably be to see some glaciers, I've even considered a glacier hike if I can find one at the right price, seeing some bears, moose, and orca's? I appreciate any suggestion you guys have!
May 28, 2012 6:57 PM
1Welcome to TT!
I dont' quite understand your reasoning for basing out of Anchorage - do you have a place to stay with friends or family? If not, and you'll be staying in a hotel or hostel, what is keeping you from booking accommodations in several different places for the week of your stay? Less expensive options are available in many places - for example, camping, cabin stay, hostels.
The day trip idea is ok in theory but the particular travels you describe are not doable in a day. For example, the drive alone from Anchorage to the entrance to Denali National Park takes about 4 hrs one way. Anchorage to Talkeetna is about 2.5 hrs one way. Googlemaps isn't always accurate but it will give you a rough idea of driving distances and times. Aside from a few stretches near Anchorage, highways here are one lane in each direction so if you get behind a slow vehicle it can take a while to pass. Road construction is also a given in summer and that can cause delays.
Can you describe what you like to do so we can make suggestions for you? sounds like you enjoy the outdoors but do you like to fish, visit museums, tour historic areas, bicycle...? Lots of hiking in the mountains on the east side of town and off the Seward Highway towards Girdwood.
You are likely to see moose around Anchorage, especially on the trails and near the airport area. Bears have been sighted this month in hiking areas in the Chugach Mountains on the east side of town. A friend that lives over that way tells me he had a black bear in his yard two days ago. You won't see orcas in this area but every so often belugas are sighted in Turnagain Arm, near Anchorage.
BTW, there are a few companies that rent bikes in downtown Anchorage and there is a very good trail system for touring town. Tons of locals use the trails all the time for walking and biking. One of my favorites is the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail which has great scenery and begins downtown. It goes all the way to the airport and beyond. I would say the nearest glacier hike to Anchorage would be Matanuska Glacier off of the Glenn Highway (you might want to check out this site - though I have to say it's not an endorsement as I know nothing about the operation. Looks like they have a zipline too. http://www.micaguides.com/). Matanuska Glacier is about 1 hr and 40 minutes from Anchorage, one way, barring any construction.
May 28, 2012 8:06 PM
2Crazy idea. A day trip to Denali is not gonna be fun... as stated, it's AT LEAST four hours each way, and to get to the really good stuff in the park you need to add on another 2-3 hour bus ride each way. So yeah, not a lot of time for hiking and exploring. A much better idea is to spend 3-4 nights at Denali and a night at Talkeetna, in addition to your time in Anchorage.
For glaciers, your best bet is Seward (2 hrs from ANC) to hike the Exit Glacier / Harding Icefield trails.
May 28, 2012 8:31 PM
3ah, yes, Exit Glacier and the Harding Ice Field. why didn't i think of that?! very good, much closer, and no need for a guide.
May 28, 2012 8:35 PM
4Some of the hostels do have private rooms for couples. Check http://www.AlaskaHostels.com for a list of the hostels in Alaska with their web addresses.
You should take backpacking gear with you for camping in Denali NP and in Seward's Miller's Landing You would need to go out on a Kenai Fjords cruise to see orca whales or out on a 26 Glaciers cruise in Prince William Sound out of Whittier. There are many moose and some bears in Kincaide Park and Connor's Bog next to the International Airport. Girdwood has lots of trails through the forest and along creeks plus mountain biking.
May 28, 2012 9:52 PM
5The reason we chose to keep the whole stay in Anchorage versus staying at multiply places, is family member gave us a week with a time share and the only place they offer in Alaska is Anchorage, therefore that's where I'm limited to (although I am going to look into splurging and traveling to Fairbanks for a couple of days before flying back home). I did plan on bicycling at the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail while I was there. I'm interested in seeing and learning more about the native culture in Alaska (maybe the Alaska Native Heritage Center or the Alaska Museum of Natural History? Suggestions?), other than that I planned on spending most of the time outdoors mainly hiking and bicycling. Does anyone have an opinion on Glen Alps? Thank you alapah for the link to the glacier tours, that's right in our budget for tours!
May 28, 2012 10:40 PM
6Man, that's going to be a crap load of driving. But, you should have no problems filling your week.
I would not go to Fairbanks. While it certainly has its charms, it tends to underwhelm visitors. I can think of a dozen better ways to use a few "splurge" days.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a good stop. The Anchorage museum is worth an afternoon and has an excellent native collection. The Anchorage Museum of Natural History is...funky. We love to take our kids there when it's rainy or cold but I'm not sure it'd be worth it for you.
May 28, 2012 11:01 PM
7Ditto on the suggestion to skip Fairbanks and use that money and time elsewhere (and I lived in Fairbanks for quite a few years). Why not apply the funds you would have spent on the Fairbanks splurge to take more quality time and overnights in places like Denali, Seward or Homer etc. so that you do them right? Also, may not be a big issue, but with all of that driving consider that gas is up to $4.40 or so right now in the Anchorage area and it will be higher outside of town (and probably creep ever higher over the course of the summer). All that driving hither and yon with nights back in Anchorage will start to add up.It'll be so much time in the car - time better spent exploring, etc.
If you're really into hiking and will be around Anchorage and its environs for that long, you might consider getting a copy of a guide book called 55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska. You could buy it in advance or wait til you get here and try getting a used copy at Title Wave Books on Northern Lights Blvd. If they don't happen to have a used copy they probably have new ones. It's a good bookstore for Alaskana books too.
When you arrive, you might find a good starting place to be the Alaska Public Lands Information Center which is located on 4th Avenue at F Street. They have all kinds of info and books about federal and state lands, parks, etc. They also show films on Alaskan themes every day and have a few displays. Good hot dogs out front too (reindeer dogs as well if you're into trying that). The Public Lands Center has a website: http://www.alaskacenters.gov/anchorage.cfm
Edited by: alapah
Jun 1, 2012 11:33 PM
8Thank you for all your suggestions! It really helps the planning the process. My last question...how about dining? Any good hidden gems that are a must try? I love all types of food, I've read about numerous restaurants in a variety of guide books but I always like local suggestions. I usually just walk around and find a nicely filled local bar or small mom and pop place to get dining suggestions.
Jun 2, 2012 6:40 AM
9Girdwood has several popular restaurants. The 7 Glaciers Restaurant at the top of Mt. Alyeska -- take the ski tram. On Crow Creek Road is another 5 Stars restaurant with New Orleans cuisine (I've forgotten the name at the moment). Chair 5 is a popular pizza and pub. Java Hauz is popular for organic breakfasts. The Bake Shop is another popular breakfast and lunch spot -- both of these were moved to the ski resort's Day Lodge the last time that I was there. There is another popular pizza and sandwich shop in the strip mall (at end) at the corner of Seward Highway/Alyeska Highway next to the gas station -- easy to pick up lunch or dinner on the go..
Edited by: trekker502
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