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  #1  
Old July 14th, 2012, 09:30 AM
CathyCruises CathyCruises is offline
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Default Tour vs Shuttle in Denali?

Trying to plan our HALF DAY in Denali! I find the 'renown' Tundra Wilderness Tour for ~$149/pp--which goes to Toklat. Then for $36.95 I find a shuttle to Toklat. Is there anyone out there who can tell me what exactly I am getting for the extra $100??

Is is a better bus? Nicer seats? I know there's a lunch, that can't be worth much. Narration vs. no narration? Very hard to understand the difference. . .HELP! For 6 people this makes a significant cost differential.
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  #2  
Old July 14th, 2012, 10:02 AM
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agabbymama agabbymama is offline
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Originally Posted by CathyCruises View Post
Trying to plan our HALF DAY in Denali! I find the 'renown' Tundra Wilderness Tour for ~$149/pp--which goes to Toklat. Then for $36.95 I find a shuttle to Toklat. Is there anyone out there who can tell me what exactly I am getting for the extra $100??

Is is a better bus? Nicer seats? I know there's a lunch, that can't be worth much. Narration vs. no narration? Very hard to understand the difference. . .HELP! For 6 people this makes a significant cost differential.

If you do a search of this thread, you will find many that prefer the shuttle. I think the main difference is a little nicer bus, with a video camera that can zoom in on the animals. You aren't served a lunch, it's more of a snack box. Yes indeed, for 6 folks the cost differential is significant.

Also, on the TWT you have your seat the whole way in and back out. If you take the shuttle, you can get on and off (if you want to) and catch another shuttle back out.

The TWT is great if you are on a cruisetour with limited time at Denali, and HAL or Princess are making all your arrangements. If you only have half a day in Denali, not sure you can do either one, as it does take a full 8-9 hours to do the TWT. You may be stuck with the Natural History Tour or the Visitor Center and maybe the sled dog demonstration. Half a day there isn't much time.
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  #3  
Old July 14th, 2012, 10:56 AM
frugaltravel frugaltravel is offline
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TWT picks up at many hotels, shuttle leaves from the WAC. If you have teens or younger the cost difference is even greater. If you have the time I would book the shuttle to Eielson. More bus options and you can always get off earlier if you want.
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  #4  
Old July 14th, 2012, 11:19 AM
mapleleaves mapleleaves is online now
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As the PP stated, with only have half a day you probably only have time for the NHT. The park road is almost 100 miles, so a half-day doesn't give you enough time to get INTO the park to view the wildlife and scenery.
Description of the TWT from the Denali reservation site:
http://www.reservedenali.com/play/to...ilderness.aspx
and the Toklat shuttle:
http://www.reservedenali.com/play/sh...es/toklat.aspx

Are you arriving by train? If so, you might be able to catch the 5pm Toklat shuttle. But it returns at 11pm so you'll be walking back to the lodge (35-45 minutes). The Toklat shuttle will get you into the bear territory so it's definitely worth the trouble. The next morning go to the free 10am sled dog demo.
If that's not possible, look into a refund on the NHT and take the free bus to Savage River. The free bus goes to mile 14 and the NHT goes to mile 17 so you wouldn't miss much. The Savage River bus is 2 hrs RT.
http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisi...ttle-buses.htm
Too late to rent a car and DIY ?
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  #5  
Old July 14th, 2012, 11:29 AM
CathyCruises CathyCruises is offline
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We are on Princess and arrive by rail at about noon. There is a TWT available at 1:30, and a shuttle to Toklat at 3:00--so we have time to do either. But not time to get off and wait for a later shuttle. I wish we had two days in Denali and one in Fairbanks, oh well, nothing we can do about that.

I have read that the seats are nicer on the tour, and also read that the buses are identical--but from what I can tell there really isn't that much of a difference.

I lived outside of Yellowstone for years and visited frequently so I am used to seeing (or not seeing) animals--I know it's a crapshoot. But if both go along the same route at about the same time, it seems like the chances will be about the same as well!

I see that there's a shuttle to Eielson at 2, which would be better than Toklat at 3--can we get off at Toklat and catch a different shuttle back from there?
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Old July 14th, 2012, 11:56 AM
PennyAgain PennyAgain is offline
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The seats on the TWT are not that much nices than on the shuttles.

For the money, I do the shuttle.

The lunch on the TWT is not 'worth' more than a few $.
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  #7  
Old July 14th, 2012, 01:29 PM
CathyCruises CathyCruises is offline
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I shuld mention that we are 'on our own'--did not take a cruisetour with any tours included, so we can choose whatever we want. Don't have to worry about any refunds or switching, which makes it easier.
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  #8  
Old July 14th, 2012, 01:51 PM
frugaltravel frugaltravel is offline
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Originally Posted by CathyCruises View Post
We are on Princess and arrive by rail at about noon. There is a TWT available at 1:30, and a shuttle to Toklat at 3:00--so we have time to do either. But not time to get off and wait for a later shuttle. I wish we had two days in Denali and one in Fairbanks, oh well, nothing we can do about that.

I have read that the seats are nicer on the tour, and also read that the buses are identical--but from what I can tell there really isn't that much of a difference.

I lived outside of Yellowstone for years and visited frequently so I am used to seeing (or not seeing) animals--I know it's a crapshoot. But if both go along the same route at about the same time, it seems like the chances will be about the same as well!

I see that there's a shuttle to Eielson at 2, which would be better than Toklat at 3--can we get off at Toklat and catch a different shuttle back from there?
When are you going? I don't see a 3pm Toklat shuttle except for very early in the season. In any case, yes I would take an Eielson shuttle but I would go at least to Stony Overlook (mile 61) and catch another bus back from there. Between mile 53 (Toklat) and mile 66 (Eielson) is prime bear habitat. Actually if it were me I would just stay on the shuttle all the way to Eielson. The TWT's now all go to mile 61 anyway so you are really on the Eielson shuttle only about 30 minutes longer round trip than the TWT, with about 1/2 hour break or more at Eielson. You get more chances to see bears and you get to see the excellent Eielson Visitor Center.

Seats are almost identical. TWT is for those who are less concerned about their money
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  #9  
Old July 14th, 2012, 08:48 PM
CathyCruises CathyCruises is offline
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We will be there on 7/20--when I went to book there was a 3PM shuttle to Toklat and a 2PM to Eielson. Do I need to prebook?

Thanks again for all the great advice--you guys are the best!
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  #10  
Old July 15th, 2012, 08:23 AM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Originally Posted by CathyCruises View Post
We will be there on 7/20--when I went to book there was a 3PM shuttle to Toklat and a 2PM to Eielson. Do I need to prebook?

Thanks again for all the great advice--you guys are the best!
YES, you absolutely need to prebook. You are only there one day and these buses fill up. You also do not have any extra time to waste booking buses.

You can certainly get the 2pm Eielson Shuttle bus. You are OK with walking 1+++ mile back to the lodge?
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  #11  
Old July 15th, 2012, 10:35 AM
CathyCruises CathyCruises is offline
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Oh--are there not shuttles to take us back? Yes, we are okay with walking and after all that time sitting it would probably be welcome.

I am still a little confused on the benefits of Eielson vs. Toklat? I can leave earlier--but will I get back earlier if I get off at Toklat or will I just be hanging around?

Keep in mind that we will have already taken a 4 hour train ride that day plus have an 8 hour bus ride the next day!
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Old July 15th, 2012, 06:59 PM
frugaltravel frugaltravel is offline
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Oh--are there not shuttles to take us back? Yes, we are okay with walking and after all that time sitting it would probably be welcome.

I am still a little confused on the benefits of Eielson vs. Toklat? I can leave earlier--but will I get back earlier if I get off at Toklat or will I just be hanging around?

Keep in mind that we will have already taken a 4 hour train ride that day plus have an 8 hour bus ride the next day!
The 4 hour train ride that morning and the 8 hour bus ride the next day are just "transportation." The TWT and shuttles are more "excursions" with wow factor for scenery and wildlife. Totally different.

You would need to go to the Denali NP website to find and print a bus schedule and/or pick one up the day you arrive and get your bus tickets. Yes, if you took the Eielson shuttle at 2pm and got totally bored or wanted to return early, you just get off and flag down a bus in the opposite direction. Honestly, unless it is pouring rain I doubt that would happen and you would end up going to Eielson anyway.

Check with your hotel how late their shuttle runs from the park, but very unlikely they would be running that late.
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Old July 15th, 2012, 07:07 PM
CathyCruises CathyCruises is offline
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Beat you to it! We booked six seats on the 2PM shuttle to Eielson!! If we get exhausted and want to return earlier that's an option but I guess we will stick with it. I wanted to book the 1PM, but I was concerned we wouldn't have enough time to get there from the train, grab a sandwich from Subway and get to the station in time--so we bought a little breathing room.

Thanks for all the help

Last edited by CathyCruises; July 15th, 2012 at 07:08 PM.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 11:15 AM
frugaltravel frugaltravel is offline
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Beat you to it! We booked six seats on the 2PM shuttle to Eielson!! If we get exhausted and want to return earlier that's an option but I guess we will stick with it. I wanted to book the 1PM, but I was concerned we wouldn't have enough time to get there from the train, grab a sandwich from Subway and get to the station in time--so we bought a little breathing room.

Thanks for all the help
I am not sure I would go all the way out of the park to Subway then back again just for food. The grill right near the train station will have plenty for you to choose from (both cold and warm) that you can eat and/or bring with you. That alone will save you at least 1 hour of wasted shuttling time.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 11:23 AM
CathyCruises CathyCruises is offline
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Well I have no idea how it's all laid out. I assumed Princess would take us from the train to the lodge and we would be departing from there. So if we arrive at 12 and have the 2 PM shuttle, what would be the most efficient use of our time? Obviously very hard to know the lay of the land BEFORE we get there!
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Old July 16th, 2012, 11:57 AM
Budget Queen Budget Queen is offline
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Originally Posted by CathyCruises View Post
Well I have no idea how it's all laid out. I assumed Princess would take us from the train to the lodge and we would be departing from there. So if we arrive at 12 and have the 2 PM shuttle, what would be the most efficient use of our time? Obviously very hard to know the lay of the land BEFORE we get there!
I would take a walk over to the Access center, there are some exhibits. Are you going to have to pick up your tickets? There is also a limited food selection there.

You also can NOT count on the train being on time.
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  #17  
Old July 16th, 2012, 12:16 PM
mapleleaves mapleleaves is online now
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The Lodge web site says their shuttle runs hourly to the park. Find out about the specifics of the schedule. If it's ON the hour you would need to take the 1pm. Your lodge will probably sell boxed lunches. Or at the Moreno Grill next to the Denali Visitor Center you can buy grab 'n go items as well as boxed lunches.
At the end of the shuttle trip, use this map to get back to your hotel ... from the WAC walk a little ways on the road, then pick up the trail as a shortcut to the hwy.
http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisi...d/DENAmap2.pdf

Last edited by mapleleaves; July 16th, 2012 at 12:18 PM. Reason: map
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Old July 16th, 2012, 01:13 PM
frugaltravel frugaltravel is offline
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Or at the Moreno Grill next to the Denali Visitor Center you can buy grab 'n go items as well as boxed lunches.
This is the absolute best suggestion. Better than the limited offers at the WAC and way better than trying to get the 1+ miles each way from the train station to Subway or the Princess Lodge and back again. Remember, you also need to stand in line at the WAC to get your tickets. That could take a couple of minutes or 1/2 hour depending on the line.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 01:25 PM
CathyCruises CathyCruises is offline
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So the WAC is closer to the train station than the Lodge is? We should not take the transport from the train to the lodge, then?
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  #20  
Old July 16th, 2012, 03:19 PM
mapleleaves mapleleaves is online now
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If you aren't on a cruisetour do you need to checkin at the hotel and drop your luggage first?
But if your luggage is taken care of ... just hop off the train and you're in the midst of the entrance area 'stuff'. The map I posted earlier shows the location of the train depot, WAC, etc They're about 1/4 mile apart; there's a trail along the road. This one is just for the Denali Visitor Center, Grill, Train Depot .
http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisi...tor-center.htm
If you decide not to go to the hotel first, just be sure to have everything you need with you when you get off the train (clothing, ID, cameras, binoculars,etc).
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