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How is the Glenn highway from Palmer to Valdez?It is the Richardson from Glennallen to Valdez. It appears you are thinking there may be issues? Sorry, no, these highways are NORMAL, well maintained paved highways, just like anywhere else.
The difference will be, to NOT underestimate your time. It is not nonstop 75mph freeway driving. Average your time at 45mph, so to allow stops and construction.
It's an easy drive from Palmer to Valdez.... 2 lanes all the way. Some people describe the first section of the Glenn Hwy as curvy and hilly. I guess it depends on where you're from and what you're accustomed to.
When are you travelling? If it's after July there's an experiemental garden in Palmer with the enormous flowers and vegetables. But the main attraction along the Glenn is the view of the mountains and Matanuska Glacier, where there is ice trekiing and white water rafting. Be sure to look up in the mtns for dall sheep.
The best part of the drive is after Glennallen when you turn onto the Richardson Hwy. That last 50 miles as you drop into Valdez are quite dramatic .... Worthington Glacier, Thomspon Pass, several waterfalls, and rafters on Keystone Canyon. Plus the Pipeline is your constant companion so it's interesting to watch it snake thru the countryside. There are some frost heaves on the Richardson which makes it interesting if you're driving fast. I thought our RV would get airborne a few times,
Valdez is a lovely little harbor town surrounded by mountains. If you're lucky enough to get good weather you'll love it. But it gets a lot of rain. Even in the rain we found it beautiful and interesting. Be sure to stop by the museum then visit the site of Old Valdez. There was a boat that does a glacier tour ... don't remember the name but check the town web site . Good fishing! We went to the harbor every afternoon to watch the charters come in. In the evening drive out to Allison Point, where the pipeline ends and there's a hatchery. If salmon are running, bears come out in the late afternoon and evening. We loved Valdez ... will definitely return.
The town web site has lots of info http://www.valdezalaska.org but definitely get a Milepost.
Bell's hwys logs are helpful too but not nearly as detailed as the milepost: http://www.bellsalaska.com/myalaska/index.htm
I've decided to go to Valdez via the Richardson Highway then from Valdez via the ferry to Whittier.When you say 'go to Valdez via the Richardson', does that mean you'll drive from Denali to Fairbanks in order to take the Richardson Hwy from Fairbanks to Valdez? That's nice drive too. :>)
I was only in Valdez that one time. We didn't take the ferry because on that particular trip we had an RV and the ferry was just too pricey. I had driven the Glenn a few times before and knew it would be an easy day's drive to Anchorage so we drove.
Stan Stephens is a long time tour boat operator who runs excellent tours. Several fishing charter operators, available.
Frankly your timeframe is short, if you can add days, do so. You need at least 3 days for Denali , best with 2 days to get to Valdez, otherwise you are in for a very long day of marathon driving, and no time for any activities. Valdez is best with 2 nights, rather than arriving later afternoon, then being out on the early ferry the next day. Why even bother going there?
A significant highlight of the Richardson is getting to McCarthey/Kennicott. Well worth the time investment, or at the very least scenic flightseeing is excellent. Add to the mix, some of the best salmon of all, Copper River salmon, if you happen to be there at the right time.
Less can be more, especially, with only 5-6 days. IF you continue with this plan, then I suggest you may be better to consider a southbound sailing out of Whittier or Seward, leaving Valdez that day, and having a one way rental car to either location via Avis in Whittier or Hertz in Seward.
We are somewhat flexible. We will have 10-11 days total with 2 nights in Denali an then on to Delta Junction. Next day to Valdez. Do I understand the ferry rates correctly in that you have to pay so much for the car and then a fare for each passenger?You are grossly underestimating time and distances. Now you are stating only 3 or 4 nights for mainland Alaska? And what is your reference with Delta Junction? In your first post you have the Glenn Highway listed? There is no way, in your timeframe, to do all this driving and distance, unless, all you are looking for is being on the road? Which, in my opinion, is a very poor plan.
And finally yes, you pay for EACH passenger, PLUS the car. Be aware of the lengths. A car absolutely needs advance reservations.
If you are going from Denali to Valdez, via the Parks, Glenn and then the Richardson highway, they are all in excellent condition. Most of the Parks is 65 MPH and as we speak they are changing the Richardson from Glennallen to Valdez to 65 MPH but they have to get the signs changed first. The Troopers are letting folks get by with higher speeds anyway, so they say. I drive that segment with my pickup and have never been near "airborne", even at 75 MPH.
You say you are going to Valdez via "Palmer", which means you are taking the route I just described. Much of the highway, from Palmer to Glennallen on the Glenn Highway has been upgraded in recent years. The speed limit is 55 MPH---- but I drive that segment about a dozen times a summer season and today it is a really good road which, on some of it, they are talking about uping the speed limit as well.
Lots of stuff to see and do, many good places to eat or stay, plan on taking lots of sightseeing stops. A must is the National Park Service headquarter's, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, pavillion at Copper Center. If I were you I would make overnight reservations at the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge at Copper Center. Just a couple hours from Valdez.
The ferry from Valdez to Whittier is a great trip. If you have extra time you can stay overnight in Valdez and take an in-depth glacier excursion out of there or do the same in Whittier.
I'm having a difficult time figuring out your schedule from the posts so far. For instance, like Budget Queen asked, how does Big Delta (Delta Junction) get into the picture? With a little more info we can perhaps help a little better.
We will be going from Denali to Valdez through Fairbanks on the Richardson highway. We are planning 2 nights in Valdez then back to anchorage either by ferry or by the Glenn highway. As I understand it, we won't be able to take a rent car to McCarthy. Is there any other way to see Wrangell-Saint Elias NP? We have 10 - 11 days total.Your "total" days, then I am assuming are without the cruise? 17-18 days of vacation then?
If you are going to loop around Fairbanks, then it is hardly worth your time, unless you plan on a couple nights there.
I would suggest flying into Kennicott/McCarthy and taking the road, via shuttle the other direction. Be WELL prepared, it's a bumpy ride. It will take at least a full day, to make this touring worthwhile, longer, if possible.