We will be "on our own" for a week after our Princess cruise this summer. We are trying to decide between renting a car for the week or using bus &/or train to go from Seward to Denali to Fairbanks to Anchorage. While the bus or train would give us more opportunity to see the scenery we would be subject to their limited schedules. I am also concerned about what we would do with our luggage while rafting, kayaking, sightseeing, or whatever if we didn't have a car to store it in. Does anyone have any experience which would help us with this decision? Suggestions appreciated.
Your luggage would be at your hotel if you go via rail or bus (my least recommended mode interior). Easy to check into your hotel then do your activities. Actually in my experience you have less opportunity for sighseeing via the train or bus vs self drive because you can stop anywhere on your own. I think you don't realize that the Park Highway- is only 2 lanes of open travel with frequent pull offs- not a congested mulitlane bill board laden highway.
If we rent a car we will do 2 days in Denali and then drive to Fairbanks. After a day there we will fly to Barrow for a day. Then we will need to get back to Anchorage where we will have 1-2 days before our flight home. Do you recommend we drive Fairbanks to Anchorage in one day (giving us more time in Anchorage) or stopping over night in Talkeetna or somewhere else to break up the drive (but giving us less time in Anchorage. We do appreciate all the advice you and the others on the board have given us.
No I don't recommend Fairbanks- Anchorage in one day 350+ miles. I also do not recommend Barrow on a day trip, you aren't there long enough to see the midnight sun, a main reason to go. Little else there, I spent 4 days several years ago but did Bowhead whale flight seeing 2 days and didn't caught up in the very touristy tours. Talkeetna is a great stop and I always stay there- don't forget to consider the excellent McKinley flights from there- the best in my opinion. Plan your day carefully in Anchorage and determine what you wish to see and do. The city is quite spread out and the fringe areas offer a lot as well. I always spend considerable time on the Arm.
Hi, While we were not able to rent a car for our trip from Anchorage to Denali, as we were on a cruise tour...I agree with Karen that I would do so next time. We took a bus to Talkeetna and stayed in the great lodge there. We had a day in Talkeetna, which we loved it is a VERY small, artsy, town. No police, no leash law, lots of younger folk hanging out drinking coffee. We took a float trip and visited an sled dog kennel. Then we took the train on to Denali. While the train was a very interesting trip...on a Princess dome car, the train trip back from Denali to Anchorage...got to me. I drive a lot in my business and when I realized I was going to be on the train for 8 hours just to go that 200+mile trip, I could not help but think of all the things I could be seeing along the way... and STILL be back in Anchorage at the end of the day!
You will have the opportunity to see far more of the real Alaska if you rent your own car. The major tour companies stop at places where arrangements highly favorable to thoe tour companies have been made. If you want to meet any of us real Alaskans--stay off those tour buses. As an owner of one of the small establishments near a Princess hotel, I have heard many complaints from those relatively few people who managed to "escape" from the main group. You don't need to feel trapped and herded--stay off those buses. Otherwise, you will probably never know the real Alaska you were denied the opportunity to experience.