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Seward and/or Denali. Is this too much in four days?


healthteacher

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First time cruise and Alaska. We disembark in Seward on July 24 (HAL from Vancouver) and were thinking of 2 days and nights in Seward (Friday and Saturday). With our flight leaving Tuesday afternoon from Anchorage, are we crazy to try to see Denali too? I'm thinking we will need to choose one or the other. If you were choosing, would it be Denali or Seward?

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First time cruise and Alaska. We disembark in Seward on July 24 (HAL from Vancouver) and were thinking of 2 days and nights in Seward (Friday and Saturday). With our flight leaving Tuesday afternoon from Anchorage, are we crazy to try to see Denali too? I'm thinking we will need to choose one or the other. If you were choosing, would it be Denali or Seward?

 

You can do both, IF you don't stay in Seward- get off your ship EARLY, tour until 6pm, then take the train that day to Anchorage. Next morning pick up rental car, drive to Denali Park, allow 6 hours, add more time for the plenty stops along the way. Two nights at Denali park, Shuttle to at least Eielson- booked in advance. Return to Anchorage, overnight. Leave.

 

This depends WHAT you were planning in Seward and if you can fit your priority in a single day. OTHERWISE forget Denali Park, it needs the min. timeframe I have listed above.

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Budget Queen is certainly the resident expert here, but I'll throw out a few alternatives to her suggestion. Working backwards, if your flight out is Tuesday afternoon, then you could plan to spend Monday in Denali, and Sunday getting up to Denali. If you spend Friday in Seward, you have time to play with on Saturday.

 

No matter what, I'd book a Kenai Fjords National Park trip for Friday after you disembark. If you take the 11:30 6-hour trip, you'll be back in Seward around 5:30. You could stay over in Seward that night; you could go by car or train to Anchroage that night, although you'd be bypassing a couple of potentially interesting stops along the way if you do. If you stay over in Seward, then you have lots of options for your Saturday. You could visit the Sea Life Center in Seward for a couple hours. You could spend an hour or so at Exit Glacier a few miles north of Seward. Driving north towards Anchorage, you could stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. You could take a short sidetrip to Portage Glacier (with or without a 1-hour boat trip across the lake to the foot of the glacier). You could stop in the small town of Girdwood for a meal or to take the tram up to the top of the mountain. No matter what, you'll enjoy the very scenic drive up to Anchorage. If you get to Anchorage in the afternoon, since it's Saturday, you could check out the Anchorage Market or the museum. You could stay overnight in Anchorage or further north in Palmer or Wasilla. On Sunday, you could drive to Denali, with possible side trips to Hatcher Pass and/or Talkeetna. (A flightseeing trip of Denali is one of the signature lures of Talkeetna, if that fits in your budget.) If you get up to Denali before late afternoon, you can see the visitor center and possibly catch the 4 pm ranger talk at the kennels. Stay overnight in the Denali entrance area or Healy just north of the entrance. Early Monday morning, you could go for your bus trip through Denali National Park; people on this board generally recommend taking the park shuttles at least as far as the Eielson Visitor Center, or further to Wonder Lake if the weather is good. Depending partly on what time your flight home is on Tuesday afternoon, you could either stay over Monday night near the park again and drive back to Anchorage airport Tuesday morning, or you could head somewhere south of Denali (Talkeetna or Palmer/Wasilla) to stay Monday night.

 

A number of these things should be booked in advance, especially the Denali shuttle, which can sell out, as well as flightseeing and probably the boat trip in Seward. If you do a search on this site for any of the above locations or trips, you'll find a wealth of information which can help in your planning. Just don't wait to long to book hotels and excursions, since it's already getting late in the booking season.

 

So yes, you can absolutely do both Seward and Denali in your timeframe! Or if that seems too fast a pace for you, or there are other things you wanted to do, then pick some part to cut out.

 

-- Eric

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In my opinion, no, you do not have enough time for both Denali park and Seward. I do think the above poster is underestimating timeframes, and the Shuttle buses into Denali Park, STILL have you tied up with time, who cares who's driving?? :) Taking the train, or their listed bus out of Seward makes little difference. You are still getting to Anchorage late. You need a shuttle to at least Eielson, It's a long day to think you are going to get all the way back to Anchorage.

 

The only way I recommend both areas- which certainly are the highpoints for Alaska wildlife, is for you to get an overnight flight home, and not morning.

 

With your current limited time, I would overnight in Seward and overnight in Anchorage. Decide WHAT is of interest to you, if you want 2 nights in Seward??? Otherwise, Anchorage certainly has a lot to offer and doing a drive to Talkeetna/Hatcher Pass/glacier trekking etc etc etc would make a great day trip.

 

 

BQ seems to be the resident expert but I thought I would offer you her quote from another blog where a person was going to leave Seward to Anchorage after the day on the Fjord cruise. I guess the wind changed direction. I believe she got it right with what she suggested this time for you.

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BQ seems to be the resident expert but I thought I would offer you her quote from another blog where a person was going to leave Seward to Anchorage after the day on the Fjord cruise. I guess the wind changed direction. I believe she got it right with what she suggested this time for you.

 

Excuse me, BUT why didn't you post the question???? That response is for ONE less day, of which, I will continue to say, they do NOT have enough time for both Denali Park and Seward.

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Budget Queen is certainly the resident expert here, but I'll throw out a few alternatives to her suggestion. Working backwards, if your flight out is Tuesday afternoon, then you could plan to spend Monday in Denali, and Sunday getting up to Denali. If you spend Friday in Seward, you have time to play with on Saturday.

 

No matter what, I'd book a Kenai Fjords National Park trip for Friday after you disembark. If you take the 11:30 6-hour trip, you'll be back in Seward around 5:30. You could stay over in Seward that night; you could go by car or train to Anchroage that night, although you'd be bypassing a couple of potentially interesting stops along the way if you do. If you stay over in Seward, then you have lots of options for your Saturday. You could visit the Sea Life Center in Seward for a couple hours. You could spend an hour or so at Exit Glacier a few miles north of Seward. Driving north towards Anchorage, you could stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. You could take a short sidetrip to Portage Glacier (with or without a 1-hour boat trip across the lake to the foot of the glacier). You could stop in the small town of Girdwood for a meal or to take the tram up to the top of the mountain. No matter what, you'll enjoy the very scenic drive up to Anchorage. If you get to Anchorage in the afternoon, since it's Saturday, you could check out the Anchorage Market or the museum. You could stay overnight in Anchorage or further north in Palmer or Wasilla. On Sunday, you could drive to Denali, with possible side trips to Hatcher Pass and/or Talkeetna. (A flightseeing trip of Denali is one of the signature lures of Talkeetna, if that fits in your budget.) If you get up to Denali before late afternoon, you can see the visitor center and possibly catch the 4 pm ranger talk at the kennels. Stay overnight in the Denali entrance area or Healy just north of the entrance. Early Monday morning, you could go for your bus trip through Denali National Park; people on this board generally recommend taking the park shuttles at least as far as the Eielson Visitor Center, or further to Wonder Lake if the weather is good. Depending partly on what time your flight home is on Tuesday afternoon, you could either stay over Monday night near the park again and drive back to Anchorage airport Tuesday morning, or you could head somewhere south of Denali (Talkeetna or Palmer/Wasilla) to stay Monday night.

 

A number of these things should be booked in advance, especially the Denali shuttle, which can sell out, as well as flightseeing and probably the boat trip in Seward. If you do a search on this site for any of the above locations or trips, you'll find a wealth of information which can help in your planning. Just don't wait to long to book hotels and excursions, since it's already getting late in the booking season.

 

So yes, you can absolutely do both Seward and Denali in your timeframe! Or if that seems too fast a pace for you, or there are other things you wanted to do, then pick some part to cut out.

 

-- Eric

 

The problem would be what time their flight is??? Anchorage is best with a 2 hour window, and you need to allow 6 hours for the drive, especially with being unfamiliar with the city, and having to gas up, turn in the car etc. It also would not be recommended IF they go to Wonder Lake, which is spectacular in their timeframe.

 

It depends what they had planned to do in Seward. Otherwise, ideally, it would be better to at least get them back at least to Talkeetna Monday night.

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I think we will be going with Budget Queen's idea of no overnight in Seward. Hadn't thought of that before!!! I was stressing over the excessive expense of a rental car as well as the fewer hotels in Seward, but this plan gives us more hotel options, one less day car rental, Denali and a beautiful train ride! Awesome!!! Everybody talks about the Kenai Fjords trip, but my parents are 80 and prone to seasickness. I wouldn't want them to be miserable if it was rough. Is it worth the chance or should dramamine and a 'hopefully' smoother day do the trick? (By the way, we live down the road in Binghamton)

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I think we will be going with Budget Queen's idea of no overnight in Seward. Hadn't thought of that before!!! I was stressing over the excessive expense of a rental car as well as the fewer hotels in Seward, but this plan gives us more hotel options, one less day car rental, Denali and a beautiful train ride! Awesome!!! Everybody talks about the Kenai Fjords trip, but my parents are 80 and prone to seasickness. I wouldn't want them to be miserable if it was rough. Is it worth the chance or should dramamine and a 'hopefully' smoother day do the trick? (By the way, we live down the road in Binghamton)

 

Kenai Fjords is one of my top Alaska recommendations. :) Perhaps, see what precautions may be an option?? There are many excellent products to consider. Could give them a little trial before hand and certainly consult a health care professional. You have some rough potential on the cruise ship as well.

 

My nephews are in the Susquehanna school district. :)

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We will check with my parent's doctors. Thanks for the advice. The cruise may give us a better indication of their 'sea worthiness'. Can we wait until the day of the fjord trip to make our decision or do those get booked up in advance? Our basic plan looks like: arrive early the 24th and spend day in Seward. Brave souls take fjord trip, others stick to Sea Life Center and city sights. Catch Alaska Railroad 6 pm train for Anchorage and overnight Friday there. Pick up rental car in the morning and drive to visit our relatives in Palmer. Continue on to Denali to visitor's center and ranger talk at 4. Overnight somewhere near entrance. Then we have Sunday and Monday for Denali. What would be the best plan on those days that would have us waking up Tuesday morning without a long way to go back to the Anchorage airport?

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Then we have Sunday and Monday for Denali. What would be the best plan on those days that would have us waking up Tuesday morning without a long way to go back to the Anchorage airport?

 

 

Sunday do the shuttle bus to Eielson. Monday, drive back to either Palmer, if you wish to again see relatives, or Anchorage. Could stay in either. You can take your time this day, with a stop in Talkeetna, Hatcher Pass/Independence Mine, Eklutna Spirit House tour, Musk Ox Farm, Sled Dog Museum in Wasilla, etc .

 

 

 

If you don't already, your last full grocery stop is Wasilla, so be sure to consider that, on your way to Denali Park, since you do have to bring all your own food and drink with you on the shuttle bus.

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Are there grocery stores in Healy? We are staying at the Denali Lakeview Inn. I know they will pack a lunch, but just wondering in case we need something.

 

Nope, just a very small and more costly, "convenience" store, with a very limited selection. At Glitter Gulch, there is the same thing, but a slightly wider selection.

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We have narrowed down our Healy hotel choices to the Budget Queen recommended 'Denali Park Hotel' and the 'Touch of Wilderness' B+B. A key feature for us in the availability of a frig. and the Denali Park Hotel has one. The emerald room at Touch of Wilderness has one, but may be too pricey. I am waiting for a call from the proprietress to negotiate a price with their summer special.

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Since time is valuable on vacation, I suggest stopping a the Fred Meyer in Wasilla. You can't miss it as you pass through the city. If you're not familiar with the chain it's very similar to Wal-Mart but probably better with the groceries. They also have Starbucks inside. :)

 

Wasilla is pretty much the last place to get food, supplies, and gas at a decent price. From Wasilla, prices go "north" as you do so bringing your own food will save $$.

 

We aren't picky but found the restaurants in the Denali area to have poor food and service for the price. We had several meals on par with Applebee's or Ruby Tuesday but the tab for 2 was $40-$50. We wish we had made note of restaurants with high ratings before our trip.

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We have narrowed down our Healy hotel choices to the Budget Queen recommended 'Denali Park Hotel' and the 'Touch of Wilderness' B+B. A key feature for us in the availability of a frig. and the Denali Park Hotel has one. The emerald room at Touch of Wilderness has one, but may be too pricey. I am waiting for a call from the proprietress to negotiate a price with their summer special.

 

These are very different lodgings. :) Touch of Wilderness, did have a general fridge for everyone, right outside the rooms. An extremely nice property.

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Everybody talks about the Kenai Fjords trip, but my parents are 80 and prone to seasickness. I wouldn't want them to be miserable if it was rough. Is it worth the chance or should dramamine and a 'hopefully' smoother day do the trick? (By the way, we live down the road in Binghamton)

 

Definitely figure out the seasickness options before you go. My DH and I had been horribly seasick once on a ferry across Lake Michigan and didn't want a repeat performance. We did check with your doctor before heading to Alaska and my DH used the patch on the Kenai Fjords trip. I had been taking Bonine all week, plus wearing a wristband. Both my DH and I did get queasy on the Kenai Fjords trips in spite of those precautions. However, whenever the slightist queasiness started, I immediatedly took two ginger root capsules. They were truly my miracle drug!! Now, BQ, who knows a lot more about this than I, has posted that ginger root is not for everyone, as it is not compatible with all medications. My doctor actually did not have much faith in ginger root helping seasickness, but gave us the okay to use it. Ginger root really helped us survive this trip when the going got rough. We met some locals on the tour, who had been on it many times. They said our day was the roughest they had ever experienced. If this trip appeals to your parents, definitely head BQs advice and check out with their doctor, what would be a good choice for them.

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These are very different lodgings. :) Touch of Wilderness, did have a general fridge for everyone, right outside the rooms. An extremely nice property.

We ended up going with Touch of Wilderness after several emails and calls. The owner was very gracious and was going to give us the bigger room at the low special rates, but it was unavailable for both nights of our stay. She confirmed what Budget Queen says about the common fridge so we are all set!

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