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Suggestions, please, for a day in Denali


TravlnMom

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My two teen boys and I are going on a 14-day CruiseTour with HAL. We have one full day at Denali National Park, and I have no idea what we should do to best take advantage of our time there. (HAL includes the Tundra Wilderness Tour on the previous afternoon.)

I have looked at all the HAL-sponsored tours for ideas, and done some independent research, but still not sure what to do. I’d love to hear comments and suggestions.

Do we need to book these ahead of time, or should we wait until we arrive (to allow for variable weather, Mom’s energy level, etc.)?

Thanks to all! [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]

Alaska at last! 'Till the Veendam
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They have some really fun white water rafting tours in Denali that would be super fun for your boys. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] The sceanery is beautiful too.
You can go to the Denali Borough web site [url="http://www.mtaonline.net"]www.mtaonline.net[/url] or call their Borough office 907-683-1330. (A Borough is like a county for the lower 48, so basicly that is their local government office) I don't know the number for their visitor center but they will. I only know that number because I work for the Fairbanks North Star Borough. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

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The rafting you're looking for is probably [url="http://www.alaskaraft.com/"]http://www.alaskaraft.com/[/url] .

We're doing the rapids trip with them this year. Last year we did a 4 hr horseback ride with Saddle Safaris. It was just us and the guide up to a ridge where there was a clear view of The Great One (but don't go expecting to see the mountain b/c I understand it's not likely; that said, we saw it three days in a row.) They had shorter rides if 4 hours sounds too long to be in a saddle.

You might also go hike one of the trails in the front of the park. The one at horseshoe lake is nice and only takes a few hours. If I had a bit longer, I'd do the Savage River trail, which is an hour into the park, but there's a shuttle bus (free).
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TravlnMom,
I am also on a HAL cruisetour - ours is in 46 days and we will also end up on the Veendam. For our free day in Deanli, we will be taking Summit Flight from Talkeetna first thing in the morning, then we have a noon Whitewater Canyon Run rafting trip which leaves from the lodge where we will be staying. We finish the day with the Cabin dinner theater buffet at 8:30. It will be a busy day, but we will be able to rest the next day on the train back to Anchorage. For all of these trips, I used the toursaver book (which gave us buy one get one free) and saved $339. My son is a bit older than yours, he just turned 20, but he is excited aout all three. I think for the cabin dinner theater he is more excited about the buffet than the show, but that is okay.

I hope that helps. Enjoy your trip.
Mary
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I assume you are NOT taking your flightseeing out of Talkeenta, but going with Talkeetna Aero and instead are going out of Denali Park??? Flight seeing is excellent and probably your only opportunity for see McKinley. Choose carefully your put in for any rafting. Big difference between a float and rapids trip. If going with rapid, be sure they provide dry suits. My opinion, scenery isn't spectacular. The Park service offers just excellent opportunites for activities. Consider them. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]http://www.nps.gov/dena/home/visitorinfo/programs/rangerpro/2002programs.html#pro
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We are very excited about what we have chosen after researching things and reading on these boards, but whenever I post our excitement is deflated. We are going with Talkeetna out of Denali, sorry for the typo) they are picking us up at our hotel. The rafting trip is on rapids, but we are not paddling - our choice was to go on one a little bit more exciting without having to work too much. There actually are two others to choose from, one is a float trip and one is where you paddle. We also believe that being out in the fresh air and taking in what is around us is wonderful not matter what. I am not sure about the wet suits, but will check. This program is run by Denali Park Service I am not sure if that is the same as the ranger programs you mention.

Hope this helps.
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Thank you to all for suggestions.

We were thinking of the “Denali Safari” which is a jet boat trip. The description mentioned opportunities for photography, and my 16 y/o eats, sleeps, and dreams of camera equipment. Also, thinking of going to the King’s ranch(?) to visit with the Husky puppies. We’ve got some flightseeing options at other stops, so are looking for something a *little* less expensive for this stop. Any comments?

Do we need to book these ahead of time? Everything else for our 14 days is planned out – I don’t know if I’m being obsessive or prudent.

Plut0, don’t get let the boards get you down. It’s always good to hear everyone’s thoughts. There is no one, true, perfect set of adventures – and it gives us all something to talk about! We arrive in Alaska on June 13, and get on the Veendam June 20. When will you be on the Veendam? We are excited that she is in dry dock right now, getting, among other things, lots of maintenance and NEW BEDS!

Budget Queen, Thank you again for your suggestions. I will also add the park programs to my Denali list. Do the park programs require another 6-hour bus trip out to Eilson (sp? Sorry).

Thanks!! [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]
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Travelmom,
We are arriving in Anchorage on June 26 and will do a few days on our own before joining the HAL tour. We board the Veendam on July 4 so you will take it down to Vancouver and then send it back to pick us up!!

We are also very glad about the new beds and other changes that she will get in dry dock.

I will be interested to hear about your pre-tour trip to Anatuvik Pass. We originally booked that and then changed to a different tour out of Fairbanks.

I talked to my TA today after reading some of the posts on the HAL board about mixed up seating times for dinner. She confirmed with HAL our dining time and indicated that she was told the ticket would most likely arrive within the next week to 10 days.

Do you have any shore excursions planned for you and your family?
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Hell0, Plut0!

We will take good care of the ship for you.

For shore excursions,, we are booked on these trips:

In Sitka:
· Historic Russian America, Raptor Center, and Russian Dancers
· Sitka Sea Life Discovery (semi-submersible)

In Juneau:
· Mendenhall Glacier and Alaska Salmon Bake
· Mendenhall Glacier Ice-Age Explorer (helicopter)

In Ketchikan:
· Misty Fjords by Floatplane

We elected to go through the ship for security, but now that I know more, I think we should have used some independent operators.

What do you have planned?

Do you ever hope that taking the trip is as much fun as planning it???

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Trav- I would have reservations. AND no, none of the ranger activies require a trip to Eielson except for the daily 1pm hike there. Look at the trail map and there is also a general park map on the site, plenty of options close to the visitor center. For clarification- any white water raft trip on the Nenana requires a DRY (not wet) suit in my opinion. The water is ice cold. I don't know of any park rafting operator??? Do you have more information? There are lot of private venders offing the trips.
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TravlnMom,
I have to agree planning has been loads of fun. I research and investigate choices and my son vetoes what he doesn't like, then I pick my favorite from the remaining. Without all the tips from these boards, finding interesting things would have been quite a challenge. These boards have let me to good web sites, visitor guides, books, tours, etc.

For our trip we booked the following:
Sitka: Hiking trip with the ship. After we will go to the Raptor center on our own

Juneau: Captain Larrys Whalewatching followed by Dog Sledding

Ketchikan: Misty Fjord flight and then we would like to go to one of the Totem pole places on our own. Still trying to decide which one.

We also have a number of other trips planned from Anchorage.

BudgetQueen, I checked and the rafting company provides professional dry suits to all rafters. I am glad to hear that after reading you note above about how cold the water can be. It doesn't look like they are run by the Park Serivce, but work with them and operate some of the lodges. Here is the link to the rafting part of the website: [url="http://www.denaliparkresorts.com/rafting.shtml"]http://www.denaliparkresorts.com/rafting.shtml[/url]
We found them through the vistors guide we had and the tour savers book. After looking at their website and talking with them on the phone, we thought it was a good option for us.
Hope that helps.
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Denali Parks Resorts is a reputable company, no worries, sounds like your going to have a blast! [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

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9/04 Pride Second Anniversary, First Honeymoon!
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BQ, the 1pm Eielson hike sounds interesting. When using the shuttle, so people reserve the return school bus trip back or do they simply do what they want to do and hop on any bus when ready?
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At Eielson- there will be a ranger - who you will list with the number of seats you need for a return bus - IF YOU DO NOT GO BACK ON THE SAME BUS YOU COME OUT ON. The list fills buses based on available seats in the order of the list. Very organized. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
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This may sound dumb, but...
If you go on the Eilson tour and get off somewhere along the way, will they know right then if there will be available space on the next bus? I can't help but envision us standing by the roadside for hours waiting on an available bus [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif[/img].
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Nope, because someone can just walk out of the tundra a mile before you and take the last seats. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] But seldom would you have to wait even an hour?? They really squeeze people on, taking every available space. In peak season, buses are leaving every half hour and sometimes 2 per time slot.
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