I know its late in the season but maybe this report of our trip will be of some value to people who are heading to Alaska next year. Three of us went on our trip - me, my husband and my sister-in-law. All in our mid 50's. We all had a wonderful time. This part of my tale is the land trip we took prior to the cruise. The cruise tale will follow either tomorrow or within the next few days.
8/28 Flew from Fort Lauderdale to Anchorage on Delta through Atlanta. Flight was long but uneventful. Just before we arrived in Anchorage we flew over quite a few glaciers which were visible on the right side of plane. It was an amazing first sight of Alaska. Got into Anchorage quite late, picked up our rental car from Avis and went to the hotel. I booked the Sheraton through Price Line and got rooms for $129.00 per night. Rooms were comfortable and clean.
8/29 Drove to Denali which took us a little more than 5 hours to get there. That included a stop for lunch just before the pull out to get your first glimpse of McKinley. However, there was no McKinley. Too much smoke in the air from the fires north of Fairbanks. We stayed at the Denali River Cabins right on the Nenana River. What a wonderful way to sleep with the sound of rushing water. Booked them ahead of time - $139.00 per night. Went into Denali Park in the late afternoon and visited the kennels and watched a dog sled demonstration. Fun to see the dogs and the puppies.
8/30 Woke up real early to be at the Park by 7:30 to start our trek on the shuttle into the park. Thanks to the advice of Karen16 we took the shuttle to Eilson Visitors Center and saw a lot of wildlife but no McKinley - still obscured by smoke. Grizzly bears (at least 8 or 9), Dall sheep, eagles, 1 lone wolf by the river (pretty far away) and a herd of caribu - no moose. Our bus driver Cissy was wonderful she really told us alot about the Park and the animals. It was really really really cold when we started out in the early morning, especially if you are from South Florida. We had to scrape ice off our windshield in the mornings.
8/31 Got up early again and started back to Anchorage. Stopped in Talkeetna on the way back so my sister-in-law could take a plane ride to try to see Mt. McKinley. She was successful. The pilot was able to get above the clouds and they had a clear view of the summit. Stopped in Palmer to see the Alaska State Fair which was fun. Had really good fried halibut at the Fair. Saw the huge vegetables which won the prizes. Went on to Anchorage and stayed overnight again at the Sheraton.
So far the weather had been fairly nice. No rain and some sun. But the weather got nasty once we got to Whittier to get on the ship. MORE TO FOLLOW TOMORROW!!!