Tim’s Suggested 11 day Trip to Alaska
Download Tim’s travel advise here.
Fly to Alaska, suggest staying at the Historic Anchorage Hotel. Take a cab there. The hotel is downtown and walking distance to Avis Rent A Car (by renting downtown, you will save one day’s car rental and the 18% airport tax levied on cars rented at the airport) and great restaurants and gift shops. Dinner, Glacier Brew House, F St. Restaurant and Snow City Cafe for breakfast (the hotel also has a breakfast included in your room rate).
Rent your car and drive the Seward Hwy to Girdwood. Visit the Alyeska Hotel and take the tram/gondola to the top for a breath taking view of Cook Inlet (good place for lunch). 1 hour drive from Anchorage. Next, stop at Portage Glacier and wonder through the exhibit hall. Back in the car heading to Seward and stop at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Depending on what is “on the mend” you should see quite an assortment of wildlife. Back in the car and drive to Homer. Quite a few hotels in Homer, I’ve stayed at the Best Western and it is okay.
Take a ferry across Kachemak Bay to the town of Seldovia have lunch, hang out and then return to Homer for a 2-3 hr drive to Seward. No recommendations on hotels. Ray’s Waterfront Restaurant is good. Try and arrive early enough to visit the Aquarium.
Take a boat tour of Ressurrection Bay (a must). The long tour include a stop for a Salmon Fry Dinner and also includes getting up close and personal with a calving glacier (huge ice chunks breaking off and falling into the ocean), unless the glaciers have receded since I last did the tour.
An early departure, but plan an hour and a half to visit Exit Glacier. It’s a short drive from the north end of town. Then make tracks to Whittier. Very time sensitive on getting there (there is a one way tunnel through the mountain leading to Whittier that takes 30 minutes to travel through…you miss your turn, you wait an hour). You must make reservations on the Alaska Marine Hwy for you, your passengers and your car. Take the ferry across Prince William Sound (depending on the ferry, it’s a 5.5 hour trip across the most pristine waterway in the world). Stay in Valdez….no hotel recommendations.
Leave Valdez and drive to Glennallen, turn left and head for Palmer. Make reservations and stay at Sheep Mountain Lodge. Good good, great hiking, good accommodations.
Drive to Palmer (enroute, stop at the Matanuska Glacier and “walk the glacier”), turn right on the George Parks Hwy heading for Denali. Drive to mile marker 98, turn right and head for the Denali Overlook Inn (need reservations). The D.O. is located at mile marker 8.5 with a left turn into the property.
Start with Mahay’s Devils Canyon boat tour (or a choice of many activities – Talkeetna Chamber). Need reservations in advance! Leaves at 9am and gets back around 3pm. Then, depending on weather, take a flight seeing tour (Talkeetna Air Taxi, K2 Aviation). Marginal weather, do the zip line at Denali Zipline Tours, visit a musher’s homestead at the Flower Kennel and Homestead, take an ATV tour or hike X-Y Lake Trail self-guided or with a Alaska Nature Guides (halfway between Talkeetna and the Denali Overlook Inn).
Fly out, float and fish back to Talkeetna with Dave Fish Alaska or do a day river raft float trip with Talkeetna River Guides or Denali View Raft Adventures where you go on the northbound train and get let off in the middle of nowhere, inflate your raft (with a guide) and float back to Talkeetna.
Drive to Denali (2hr 20 min drive), check into your hotel and then take an afternoon bus trip into Denali National Park seeing wildlife and beautiful vistas.
Leave Denali southbound for your flight back out of Anchorage. On your way, turn left just before Willow (if after July 4th road opening) to go to Hatcher’s Pass. The road goes to gravel 1/3 of the way to the top of the mountain…the vistas are incredible!
There is an old gold mine to visit, or just stop and have a bite to eat at the Hatcher’s Pass Lodge with a full view of the Matanuska Glacier in the distance. When leaving follow the signs to Wasilla (about 25 minutes from Hatcher’s Pass), then continue another hour to the Anchorage Airport. Turn in the rental car, trip over!
Don’t have 11 days, days to eliminate would be the ferry trip to Valdez (saves one day),
the trip to Homer and Katchemak Bay and eliminate one day in Talkeetna. That would
get you down to an eight day trip (my minimum given the fact that Alaska is a long haul
Enjoy your trip, look forward to seeing you at the Denali Overlook Inn, Talkeetna, Alaska.