Alaska - July-Aug 2013 - Iterinary advice?
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Jan 25, 2013 8:44 AM Last Post By: Dutch_Uncle
Jan 24, 2013 12:16 PM
Alaska - July-Aug 2013 - Iterinary advice?hello! All
I am so glad to see this forum open again. I have gained invaluable advice here earlier on my travel plans.
My family and I are travelling to Alaska July 29-Aug 15.
Tentative iterinary is
Jul 29-Aug 5- Cruise thru inner passage - Hubbard glacier arrive in Whittier
Aug 5 thru 14th - land tours within Alaska
I have the following questions:
1. I am unablet to find any info on Whittier - other than that it is a historic military establishment. Any one give me insight into whats there to see in Whittier?
2. Is there a car rental company in Whittier? Anyone any luck there?
3. Is there a coach bus service to Seward?
4. Any sightseeing advice in Seward?
5. I think I would need to come to Anchorage anyways just to rent a car. If that is the case, is there a way to get to Anchorage from Whittier? Is train ride pretty good and reliable on time ?
6. Any advice on travelling to Denali/Talkeetna from Anchorage?
I would ideally like to visit Whittier, kenai Fjords, Katmail NP, Seward/exit glacier, Wild life anywhere along the way, waterfalls, glacier caving, Denali and Talkeetna. I have a total of 10 days.
thanks a lot.
Jan 24, 2013 3:32 PM
1I spent one night in Whittier a couple of years ago. I found it a very interesting little town, with a fascinating history. It has a population of less than 200 people, almost all of them living in one and the same building. Then there's another building, the Buckner building, once the largest building in Alaska, that was seriously damaged in an earthquake a while back, so it's just left in ruins now. Quite a bizarre sight, more resemblant of something you'd see in a bombed out city in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. The harbor was also worth exploring, and a beautiful place to watch the sunrise. And the access tunnel was interesting as well, only a single lane shared by traffic in both directions AND trains. You can rent a car in Whittier, Avis for example, but it might be cheaper to take a bus or train and rent in Anchorage instead. Google train and shuttle bus for Whittier and compare for yourself... example: http://whittiershuttle.com/
I found Seward quite nice as well, nice shopping, dining and strolling near the water front. The fjord tour departing from there to see the calving glacier was AMAZING.
I would rent a car to get around, to Seward, Denali, etc. Rather than relying on shuttles.
Jan 24, 2013 6:37 PM
Jan 24, 2013 7:00 PM
3Whittier was built during WWII, because Prince William Sound offered the only warm water, ice-free port, near Anchorage. They also built the railroad tunnel at that time. The main building is grey concrete blocks -- it looks like a penitentiary. After more cruiseships started docking in Whittier, rather than in Seward, one or two new, small hotels were built. However, I recommend that you take the shuttlebus or train directly to Anchorage. It is about 1.5 hours, depending on traffic and waiting for the tunnel to open.
In Anchorage, I recommend the Sheraton Hotel downtown or the Millennium Hotel near the international airport. I also recommend Denali Auto Rental, which is reasonably-priced -- not brand new cars, but year-old cars. It is at the beginning of the Seward Highway, across the street from Carr's Supermarket.
Seward is 100 miles south of Anchorage, at the end of the Seward Highway. Homer is about 200 miles south of Anchorage; its turnoff is the Sterling Highway, about 20 miles north of Seward, at Tern Lake. Be sure to top off your gas tank at the half-way point because it is many miles between gas stations.
There are day-trip flightseeing tours over Katmai, across Cook Inlet from Homer. Brooks Camp needs reservations by lottery. The Sterling Highway follows along the edge of Kenai Lake and then the renowned Kenai River through the canyon and out onto the Kenai Peninsula. Homer is called the Halibut Capitol of the World and has many charter fishing cruises out into the Pacific Ocean for salmon and halibut. The vendors for the flightseeing tours are located on Homer Spit -- the breakwater for Katchemak Bay.
In Seward, I recommend that you stay at a hotel/motel near the Kenai Fjords cruise boats, such as the Breeze Inn. Seward has a nice, small aquarium. Exit Glacier is about 8 miles outside of the city. Miller's Landing is about 5 miles outside of the city and offers kayaking tours of Resurrection Bay.
Denali National Park is about 250 miles north of Anchorage, and you should allow a full day for driving and seeing the scenery. Take a detour to the frontier town of Talkeetna for lunch. There are flightseeing tours of Denali Peak out of Talkeetna, and it is the town where mountain climbers gather to fly to their basecamps.
It is necessary to make all reservations as soon as possible. My sister made her reservations for the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge in January for her vacation in August, and barely got in. She also made reservations for the naturalist tour all of the way (100 miles) to Kantishna frontier gold mining village, near Wonder Lake, in January. Denali National Park also has its own, very nice lodges that are operated by concessionnaires.
Have a good trip!
Jan 24, 2013 7:15 PM
4I forgot to include that, if you drive at dawn or dusk, when wildlife are hunting and feeding, you will have a greater chance of seeing them. However, along the Kenai Peninsula especially, you will have moose unexpectedly walk directly in front of your car to cross the highway at any time of day or night. You must be cautious when you drive along these roads. At 6 a.m., I saw wolf cross the Seward Highway directly in front of my car carrying a duck from Potter Marsh! There is a pack of wolves living in the city of Anchorage. Bears also live in the city. There are many greenbelts in the city of Anchorage and bicycle paths connecting them. You can see moose, Dall sheep, grizzly and black bears, coyotes, wolves, foxes, and porcupines in Anchorage, or at the salt lick a few miles south along the Seward Highway. Near Tern Lake, I saw a grizzly bear stalking a newborn moose calf with the mother moose trying to defend her calf. You will see many bald eagles.
On your cruise through the Inside Passage, you will see hundreds of bald eagles and huge ravens. You will also see Dall porpoises and whales. On the Kenai Fjords cruise, you will also see whales, porpoises, sea otters, and many sea birds. In Denali NP and also along the road to Homer, you may see caribou.
Jan 25, 2013 8:44 AM
5WHITTIER: As indicated above, built during WWII to provide an ice-free port out of range of those pesky Japanese carieir aircraft. Now theer are harbor tours,and a small museum in the small commercial sstrip that is not part of the main residence, the Cold War bombproof high rise. Whittier is wet, much more rain than Anchorage. The saying is "The weather in Whitter is just like Anchorage, except (nasty) --ier." Take rain gear.
SEWARD: The Exit Glacier is a gem. The markers on the access road to the glacier show where the glacier ended in past years. Pay attention to the updated bear information posted at the visitor center.
SEWARD-WHITTIER-ANCHORAGE: This is a spectacular road, and also one of the most deadly in Alaska, or the US. It is two lane asphalt, and has very heavy traffic, both locals going fishing and boating and sightseers looking at the glaciers and animals. There are many distrctions, to include animals and fallen rock, and certainly the driver won't get much out of the trip if he is paying attention to the road.
DENALI/MOUNT MCKINLEY: Go for the longer bus trip into the park. This is where the serious animal sightings take place. The bus can stop, but the trains and passenger busses on the highway do not. Also try to spend more than one day at the park. It is the crown jewel of the system.
Alaska such a rich buffet that you will have plenty of good expereices.
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