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Giantfan13

Need a few suggestions

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We are leaving for Alaska next Wednesday (Aug 28), flying into Anchorage. We have rented a car and will be in Anchorage for 3 full days and need some advice what to see and do?

We are not going to Denali as it is too far a ride for one day and we cannot stay over. I don't mind driving so I was wondering how to plan our 3 days there. We don't have to stay in the Anchorage vicinity. I am an avid amateur photographer and we just love to view spectacular sites. We are seniors and don't mind doing some short hikes but nothing really strenuous.

 

Any and all suggestions will be appreciated. 

 

Cheers

Len

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You could fill a day with a hike on the Matanuska Glacier and a visit to Hatcher Pass.

Another day could be filled with a visit to Whittier and Prince William Sound Glacier cruise.

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Posted (edited)

Look at these SCENIC DRIVES in alaska.org .  (they include suggested stopping points for views or activities).  https://www.alaska.org/things-to-do/scenic-drives

Matanuska Glacier

Turnagain Arm

Portage Valley and Whittier Tunnel

 

Where does your ship depart from?  If it's Seward, consider taking the train a day prior , overnight, and do a Kenai cruise, or, take the train to Whittier, overnight and do a Prince William Sound cruise.

 

 

Edited by mapleleaves

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I recommend a day trip down to the Portage Glacier Visitor's Center.  The drive down Seward Hwy, along Turnagain Arm, is gorgeous.  At the center, go on the Portage Glacier Cruise.  It's 1 hour on a double-decker boat.  They get pretty close to the glacier, and put you right up to a waterfall.  It's totally worth it.  

 

The Byron Glacier trail head is also right there.  It's 3 miles round trip on totally flat trail.  

 

Afterward, you can duck in to Whittier, which is a cool drive through the tunnel.  I recommend Swiftwater Seafood for lunch.  They have a good halibut sandwich.  

 

For awesome views near Anchorage, go to Flattop Mountain at Glen Alps.  It's about a 20 min drive from town.  The views from the trails are pretty awesome.  Be sure to do the Flattop hike.  You won't regret it if you love to take pictures!

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When I read the phrases "avid amateur photographer" and "love to view spectacular sites" I immediately thought of Independence Mine State Historical Park and Hatcher Pass.  Just goggle the mine name to find some photos of the old mine structures and the views from the pass.  The other thought I had was the drive along Turnagain Arm and the views from the top of the Alyeska tramway.  

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We had a full day before taking the train to Seward to board our ship, so we decided on the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier.  The cruise was absolutely fantastic.  It leaves at 12:30 and returns at 5:30.  They recommend you leave Anchorage at 9:00 to make the 10:30 tunnel opening (otherwise you will be pushing it a bit at 11:30).  Prince William Sound is gorgeous, and you see many glaciers along the way, some very close up.  Many, many picture taking opportunities.  Google Phillips Cruise 26 Glacier Cruise.  Your drive to Whittier is the same as the Turnagain Arms drive recommended above.

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2 hours ago, moneeman said:

We had a full day before taking the train to Seward to board our ship, so we decided on the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier.  The cruise was absolutely fantastic.  It leaves at 12:30 and returns at 5:30.  They recommend you leave Anchorage at 9:00 to make the 10:30 tunnel opening (otherwise you will be pushing it a bit at 11:30).  Prince William Sound is gorgeous, and you see many glaciers along the way, some very close up.  Many, many picture taking opportunities.  Google Phillips Cruise 26 Glacier Cruise.  Your drive to Whittier is the same as the Turnagain Arms drive recommended above.

 

I'll second this suggestion.  26 Glaciers is an excellent tour.  

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On 8/16/2019 at 6:47 PM, mapleleaves said:

Look at these SCENIC DRIVES in alaska.org .  (they include suggested stopping points for views or activities).  https://www.alaska.org/things-to-do/scenic-drives

Matanuska Glacier

Turnagain Arm

Portage Valley and Whittier Tunnel

 

Where does your ship depart from?  If it's Seward, consider taking the train a day prior , overnight, and do a Kenai cruise, or, take the train to Whittier, overnight and do a Prince William Sound cruise.

 

 

We are leaving from Seward and we plan on staying the night there. We are taking the bus to Seward and then doing a Kenai Fiord cruise. seems if you book both with this company, you get a rebate for the entire bus fare which makes it a pretty good deal.

 


Cheers

Len

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Thanks so much for all the great suggestions. I've printed them out and will carry them with us and plan out our 3 days. We are so excited.

 

Is it worth the trip going North, say to Talkeetna, as just a drive for a day. That is about how far North we want to venture in a day.

 

Cheers

Len

 

 

 

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Talkeetna is one of those places that you either like or you don't.  Some people think it's cute and artsy, others think it's overly commercialized.  It's a very small village.

You'll have to weigh it against your other options.  I mean I sure wouldnt give up a day trip to Matanuska Glacier and Independence Mine in order to see Talkeetna, but it depends on your interests.  

 

Another place of interest if you drive the GLenn Hwy to Matanuska is to stop in Palmer . The town has a garden patch with ginormous cabbages, squash and flowers.  Incredible to see.  Next to the museum.

Also, just north of Anchorage is the Eklutna Spirit Houses and Orthodox Church.

http://www.eklutnahistoricalpark.org/

 

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15 hours ago, Giantfan13 said:

Thanks so much for all the great suggestions. I've printed them out and will carry them with us and plan out our 3 days. We are so excited.

 

Is it worth the trip going North, say to Talkeetna, as just a drive for a day. That is about how far North we want to venture in a day.

 

 

Talkeetna is a cool little town but I wouldn't say it's worth 4 hours of round trip driving.  

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Posted (edited)

Well if it was me, I'd head to Hatcher Pass, but then spend the afternoon and evening at the Alaska State Fair, which is going on in Palmer.  https://www.alaskastatefair.org/site/#home

 

Typical state fair kitsch - food, booths, etc., but the big draws are the displays of the giant vegetables grown in the long summer daylight.  The setting is superb, such as with the rodeo (not sure if there still is one) - 

 

alaskarodeo2.jpg

 

On the way back to town, you might want to drive up the Knik River Road, maybe as far as the Knik River Lodge.  It's quite common to see moose along the roadside or in the wetlands between the road and the river, and I've seen black bear every time I've driven up there.  You could also stop at the Eklutna Tailrace to see if anybody is catching silver salmon, which ought to be close to their peak run.  Then stops at the Eklutna Historical Park (interesting cemetery with "spirit houses" over the graves) and beautiful Mirror Lake (name tells all.) 

 

sept08-059as.jpg

 

If you wanted to add Matanuska Glacier, this would be a two-day trip.  Map of the various places - https://goo.gl/maps/RWvMmDM7jSVKh1dG6

Edited by Gardyloo

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If Denali isn’t visible and surrounded by clouds the drive to Talkeetna is mainly passing by a bunch of trees. Not much from a photographers stand point. I like the Matanuska Glacier/Hatcher Pass suggestions.

 

The drive to the glacier includes some nice scenery as you climb above the Matanuska River. The glacier itself is spectacular on a nice day.

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Consider checking out the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It's right down by the Portage Glacier visitors center. You  can easily combine the two in a day trip. Beautiful drive as well down there from Anchorage as well.

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Posted (edited)

I've suggested this place several times and still think it's a great and an easy place not too far from Anchorage: Eagle River Nature Center.  Eagle River is about 15 minutes north of Anchorage on the Glen Highway.  East of Eagle River on Eagle River Road is the nature center - about 10-15 minutes at the end of the highway.  There are some very easy trails that will take you out to the Eagle River (maybe a 10 minute walk) and there are several wooden viewing platforms.  If you were only going there and back to Anchorage the entire trip could be under two hours, depending on how much time you spend making pictures. I've been there a few times but found it by accident while driving at random the first time. I've seen moose prints in the water but never seen one right there - a moose in a pic there could be pretty spectacular.  If you need anything at Walmart there is a super-center right on your way there! (Ha Ha)

 

Good luck! Enjoy your trip!

 

Along the way on Eagle River Road - the nature center is far off in the distance.

35589869840_8bea40862c_b.jpg

 

From one of the viewing platforms.

35808418432_7c56526dba_b.jpg

 

Viewing platform.

35937652346_b19b3fb652_b.jpg

 

This past winter - it's nice there any time.

48174755407_639aec8193_b.jpg

Edited by SuperCrewBear

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WOW, some terrific suggestions. Too bad we only have 3 days to try and fit a lot of this in.

 

Cheers

Len

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Posted (edited)
On 8/18/2019 at 7:23 PM, SuperCrewBear said:

I've suggested this place several times and still think it's a great and an easy place not too far from Anchorage: Eagle River Nature Center.  Eagle River is about 15 minutes north of Anchorage on the Glen Highway.  East of Eagle River on Eagle River Road is the nature center - about 10-15 minutes at the end of the highway.  There are some very easy trails that will take you out to the Eagle River (maybe a 10 minute walk) and there are several wooden viewing platforms.  If you were only going there and back to Anchorage the entire trip could be under two hours, depending on how much time you spend making pictures. I've been there a few times but found it by accident while driving at random the first time. I've seen moose prints in the water but never seen one right there - a moose in a pic there could be pretty spectacular.  If you need anything at Walmart there is a super-center right on your way there! (Ha Ha)

 

Good luck! Enjoy your trip!

 

Along the way on Eagle River Road - the nature center is far off in the distance.

35589869840_8bea40862c_b.jpg

 

From one of the viewing platforms.

35808418432_7c56526dba_b.jpg

 

Viewing platform.

35937652346_b19b3fb652_b.jpg

 

This past winter - it's nice there any time.

48174755407_639aec8193_b.jpg

Super pixs. Now that is something I'd be interested in.

 

Are the trails marked, as to know where they are, or did you discover them by chance?

 

thanks

 

Cheers

Len

Edited by Giantfan13

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On 8/18/2019 at 12:09 AM, mapleleaves said:

Talkeetna is one of those places that you either like or you don't.  Some people think it's cute and artsy, others think it's overly commercialized.  It's a very small village.

You'll have to weigh it against your other options.  I mean I sure wouldnt give up a day trip to Matanuska Glacier and Independence Mine in order to see Talkeetna, but it depends on your interests.  

 

Another place of interest if you drive the GLenn Hwy to Matanuska is to stop in Palmer . The town has a garden patch with ginormous cabbages, squash and flowers.  Incredible to see.  Next to the museum.

Also, just north of Anchorage is the Eklutna Spirit Houses and Orthodox Church.

http://www.eklutnahistoricalpark.org/

 

Palmer is one of the places we were planning on visiting, Thanks for the heads up on the other things./

 

Cheers

Len

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On 8/18/2019 at 3:28 PM, c-cruise said:

Consider checking out the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It's right down by the Portage Glacier visitors center. You  can easily combine the two in a day trip. Beautiful drive as well down there from Anchorage as well.

Thanks for the heads up. We have been here several years ago but it was wonderful and maybe worth another visit. 

 

Cheers

Len

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On 8/18/2019 at 12:28 PM, Glaciers said:

If Denali isn’t visible and surrounded by clouds the drive to Talkeetna is mainly passing by a bunch of trees. Not much from a photographers stand point. I like the Matanuska Glacier/Hatcher Pass suggestions.

 

 

 

The drive to the glacier includes some nice scenery as you climb above the Matanuska River. The glacier itself is spectacular on a nice day.

 

I'm so glad you mentioned about the drive to Talkeetna. I would have thought it a very picturesque type drive, but will have to rethink that option.

 

Cheers

Len

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A full day could be used to make that trip to Denali and back to Talkeetna just for the scenery alone. It does get pretty awesome beyond Talkeetna. Just north of Talkeetna the views of Denali can be rather impressive.

 

exOFXu2.jpg

 

FF9LWNF.jpg

 

The view from the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge will allow a great view of the Alaskan Range. Especially at first morning light.

 

wuohP73.jpg

 

Also if you take a full day small boat Prince William Sound tour, you may get up close to several glaciers. Surprise Glacier had been calving so heavily that we were unable to get near the face. Harriman was rather quiet so we got very close.

 

mqgVDxN.jpg

 

Cascade, Barry and Coxe Glaciers are a great view from afar. Sometime Barry will fill the inlet with bergs.

 

Cs4h1E0.jpg

 

hgJX2XO.jpg

 

You will find it easy to make use of your photographic skills. If you get the opportunity to spend time whale watching, make sure to us a good fast focusing zoom lens on a high FPS camera body. I found my D7500 with the 28-300 worked great. A little trick I learned was to keep one eye at the viewfinder while the other eye searches the wider FOV. I found that worked very well to allow rapid acquisition of any subject making a breach.

 

ypYQh4g.jpg

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Giantfan13 said:

Super pixs. Now that is something I'd be interested in.

 

Are the trails marked, as to know where they are, or did you discover them by chance?

 

thanks

 

Cheers

Len

 

If you go there just park in front of the small center building (the times I've been there it's been closed...I have no idea what is inside...) and then follow the signs.  You basically go around the building to the right and follow the signs.  It's, at the most, 1/2 mile each way to where I took my pictures.  You can walk further if you want.  I found a map online easily.  Just do a search for "Eagle River Nature Center Map".  The trail to the wooden platforms is slightly down to the river but nothing serious.

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