thank you for those who responded to my previous question...it's a big help...
i'm thinking of getting a cruise from whittier to vancouver and i would love to go to denali park before the cruise...
1) are there any tours from anchorage to denali?
2) would 1 night stay at denali be enough?...if my flight will arrive anchorage 11:00AM friday and my ship will leave at 5:30PM the follwing day, will i have enough time to have a quick tour of denali?....or should i just stay at anchorage?...i rather go to denali but if time will not permit me, then i guess i have to settle with anchorage...
Absolute NOT. You need to invest at least 3 extra days for Denali park and even that is greatly skimping. Add days if at all possible you are missing some great touring opportunities if you don't. Take advantage of being all the way there. For further clarification- it is AT least a 5 hour drive to Denali Park, necessary will be a SHUTTLE bus into the park to at least Fish Creek- 8 hours, then return to Anchorage- 5 hours via rental car 8 hours via rail.. Then to Whittier- 2 hours via rail, 1+++ hour via bus.
What company are you planning to go with for the flight out of Anchorage?
I probably will not have 3 days to spare to go to Denali but since I'll be in Anchorage, I want to do something. I'm not going to have a rental but I want to do something besides playing ball. Rafting maybe also a possiblity.
Re: Re: Re: NEED HELP ON TRIP FROM ANCHORAGE TO DENALI
I'd allow at least 5.5 hours driving. The drive is easy, but long. Yahoo is either flat wrong or is basing its measurements from the southernmost boundary of Denali NP (or from the state park of the same name?). The park is massive and to tour it you need to get up to the Visitor Center -- 5.5 hours from Anchorage.
Your new plan is physically possible, just very tiring. You need at least 2 nights in Denali to allow for: (1) Day to travel there and (2) Early morning (as early as possible) tour or shuttle into the park, which will necessitate sleeping that night before the long drive back to Anchorage. Your plan does that, but I wouldn't want to sit in a long car ride immediately after a very long day of air travel. You also have a ton of driving time relative to touring time with your timing prohibiting you from doing much if any sightseeing along the drive. Remember that the drive to Whittier tacks on an additional 1.5-2 hours on top of your 5.5 hour drive from Denali (with time being variable based on a tunnel that is only open in 1 direction at a time). So, we're talking about 13 hours of driving in 3 days with only 1 day of touring. Note: I would give a cushion of time between your estimated arrival in Whittier and the cruise departure to ensure that something doesn't go wrong and result in you missing your cruise. This safety will cut into your Denali time, so that you will likely just have a few hours in the morning to hike or participate in some other activity.
[Also note: To get from Anchorage to Whittier, you have your choice of: (1) cruise-ship transfer, which will require you to be in Anchorage at a particular time or (2) getting an expensive 1-way rental with Avis (the only rental that has a station in Whittier) ... you likely will arrive in Anchorage to late on Monday to avail yourself of the train.]
This is why folks here normally recommend 5 days of travel (not counting partial days resulting from flight arrivals/departures) for interior travel that takes you to Denali. Shorter trips are better off spending time in Anchorage, Talkeetna and/or Seward. That being said, Denali is often one of the biggest highlights of the cruise and is vastly different than what you will see during the rest of your Alaskan travels. It would be great to do it if you can swing it.
yahoo says it's only 2 1/2 hours...it that incorrect???
i was able to extend my stay but only for day...
SATURDAY: Arriving ANCHORAGE @ 2:00...drive to denali
SUNDAY and MONDAY: tour Denali
MONDAY: afternoon drive back to Anchorage
9:30 PM cruise starts from Whittier
would that work?
No it won't work, you just do not have enough time and Yahoo is WRONG. All you need is one delay someplace, and you will miss your ship. For clairfication- there is also cruise contracted and the regular run of the Alaska RR Anchorage to Whittier. With your above schedule your only option there would be for the AVIS rental. I do not recommend this. Either add more days or plan something else- like an overnight in Talkeetna?
Re: Re: NEED HELP ON TRIP FROM ANCHORAGE TO DENALI
You probably could do it with the extra day as you laid out, but one more day would be better to reduce risk. With your Sat-Mon schedule, you would be driving 10-11 hrs on Sat and Mon to have a whole day to ride the school bus (shuttle)in denali for additional 8-11 hrs, and that doesn't include airplane ride to Anc or bus from Anc to Whittier which you would still have to do on Mon. On our trip two years ago, we spent two days riding shuttle bus and then drove back to Anc the last day after 8hrs on shuttle in order to get to Anc to catch bus to Seward next morning for Statendam cruise.
Your idea of a flightseeing trip from Anc would be costly but may give you a chance to see Mt McKinley, but you still wouldn't get to experience the denali wildlife up close and personal.
this is a princess cruise-tour package they call 'HEART OF ALASKA'
...It leaves vancouver on jun 25th arrive fairbanks july 4th...
..i'm thinking of following the same itinerary after taking just the cruise portion...
i will skip fairbanks and leave from denali on day 10 morning on my way to anchorage to catch my night flight...
1 Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 5:30 PM View
2 At Sea
3 Ketchikan, Alaska, United States 6:30 AM 2:30 PM View
4 Juneau, Alaska, United States 7:00 AM 7:30 PM View
5 Skagway, Alaska, United States 7:00 AM 8:30 PM View
6 Glacier Bay Scenic Cruising, Alaska, United States 6:00 AM 3:00 PM View
7 College Fjord Scenic Cruising, Alaska, United States 3:00 PM 6:00 PM View
8 Disembark in Whittier and board the Denali Express direct to Denali National Park. Enjoy the evening at leisure at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge.
9 This morning, you'll take the Natural History Tour* into Denali National Park. Enjoy another evening at the lodge.
10 Ride a motorcoach north to Fairbanks. Upon arrival, board an authentic sternwheeler for a Riverboat Cruise. Overnight in Fairbanks.
11 Your tour ends this morning in Fairbanks.
A bit better, but still has its problems. I hate to say it because you're clearly trying so hard to make this work.
This is one of those rushed cruisetours that leaves people tired. But they have more touring time than your modified schedule. The trip from Denali to Fairbanks is much shorter than to Anchorage and while you're driving, they're touring. Then they get a night in a hotel while you board a long plane flight home. For me, this is still uncomfortable. I would have less fear about missing my flight from Anchorage than the cruise as under your original plan...worst case is that you have to fight to get another flight the next day...expensive but less heartbreaking than missing College Fjord and Glacier Bay and then getting yourself to Skagway to meet the cruise. I would still leave a huge cushion on the return trip to Anchorage in case of delay/breakdown/etc.
I drove straight from Whittier to Denali and didn't find this too taxing. We disembarked really early and so we had quite a bit of time to stop off and tour along the way and have a nice lunch. The drive back to Anchorage was a little more annoying because the driving time was adding up, but we weren't rushed to meet a plane deadline, so we toured along the way and we still had several more days on the vacation after returning to Anchorage. I'd strongly recommend adding at least 1 night in Anchorage after your time in Denali. Then you wouldn't be rushed and aren't taking risks. Still not ideal, but it gets you to Denali, allows for some extra touring and all for the minimal sacrifice of 1 additional vacation day.
I assume you used this schedule as an example, but note that you do not want to take the Natural History Tour. Its really short and doesn't give the in depth shot at wildlife. You want either the shuttles or the Tundra Wilderness tour ... true for everyone, but especially for you given how much work is involved in this Denali trip.
NO but sorry Nicole- you need to invest more time, bottom line. This is a very poor tour option at a high cost for what little you get.
I'll spell it out- From Whittier - to Denali Park you are 10 hours on a train, with only so so scenery. A lot of repetition past Talkeetna, McKinley viewing is excellent but rare. Probabaly arriving about 6pm so not much time in the evening. A big problem is the Natural History tour - worthless, you need at least the Tundra Wilderness. You are not likely to see any wildlife on the former and little of the wonderful Denali Park scenery- a significant reason you want to go?? You have a 2 hour bus ride to Fairbanks- the included boat tour is excellent, but you don't have any gold dredge included? To really see Fairbanks you need more that that. A car rental would be my suggestion.
Now I'm confused here. I think Nicole was trying to use the cruisetour itinerary as a model and as proof that a quick-y landtour is possible. I don't think she's saying that she wanted to book the actual cruisetour...so that gets ride of the expensive issue that we have with cruisetours. I took Nicole to mean:
Day1: Disembark in Whittier. Princess transfer to Anchorage. Rent car in Anchorage. Drive to Denali, possibly with some stops along the way. [By car, you don't have the 10 hour commute...just 1+ to Anchorage and then another 5.5 to Denali...still long, but can do some touring]
Day 2: Tour Denali either by shuttle or Tundra Tour in early morning (lasts about 8+ hours). That gets rid of the Natural History problem that we will all tell you about. Afternoon you can do some light hiking or go to the dogsled kennel or something.
Day 3: Drive to Anchorage. Depart by plane for home.
Is that right, Nicole?
As I said before the problem is that you are traveling more than the cruisetour does and you're doing the actual driving rather than napping on a train (if you tried doing it by train, you'd have to check that the Denalit - to - Anchorage trip actually worked with your schedule) and you are spending less time sightseeing by giving up touring Fairbanks. Inverting things so you tour post-cruise only alleviates a few issues ... you'll likely get to Anchorage earlier than if you flew into it at 2 pm and depending on the flight time, you can leave Anchorage by plane later than you would if you were heading to the cruiseship. But, you're still pushing things beyond the value that you will probably get from it. Assuming I read you correctly, I still see the only possible way of doing this by adding Day 4 as an Anchorage touring/flight day, which frees up Day 3 for more touring. This would make for a tiring trip, that is more doable than your proposal.
Another not-so-great alternative is to continue on to Fairbanks and fly out from there. That saves you some driving, but the price of the rental will go up significantly.
I'd also advise getting into Vancouver the evening before to avoid any delay problems on the front side, so thats another day.
Nicole, I promise you. Karen has done this trip a ton of times. She knows her stuff. When she strongly advises against something (an itinerary, an excursion, etc.) you really want to listen to her warning. And her 3 biggest warnings are always: (1) don't book a cruisetour, go independently; (2) never take the natural history tour; and (3) you need a bare minimum of 5 days of touring if you want to see Denali. Don't look for a creative way around the warnings.
I'm sorry- I certainly misread the post. I have been getting all kinds of emails etc and clearly am not reading as closely as I should. Anyway- of course Jrask is correct on her "copying" the "tour". The problem is- it is a poor tour choice and continues to not be enough time. All your time is on the road, all you need is one "snag" to throw everything off. I can see already- that you will need to carefully pick your Whittier-Anchorage transfer- probabaly private car service would be best for a ride directly to the airport for car pick up. I wouldn't count on the cruiseline buses unless you can guarantee a specific time??? See when the cruise contracted rail arrives Anchorage airport?? You sound determined to do this- research this fully and take a good look at maps. Necessary - head to your library and get a copy of THE MILEPOST, read the Parks Highway.
I understand the dillema. My first Alaska trip got progressively longer and progressively more expensive the more I planned. Ultimately it was well worth it. But if you can't swing it, you can't. Don't lose too much heart, there are other options with the time you have.
There are great things to do in Anchorage and the surrounding areas ... biking the coastal trail, flights to see Mt. McKinnley, Elkutna, Native Heritage Center, Eagle River Rec Area ...
Seward also has a lot to offer with tops going to Kenai Fjords tours (half-day or full-day, not just into Resurrection Bay), where we saw seal, sea lions, otters, puffins, orcas, and humpbacks as well as a small boat encounter with a glacier (much closer that cruise ship). The drive to Seward (Turnagain Arm) is immensely scenic with many turnouts. Decent chance of seeing wildlife along the way. Its about 2-3 hours between Seward and Anchorage with Whittier being an offshoot from some point in between. You could do much of the scenic drive as a day-trip from Anchorage and could make it to Seward if you wanted to stay overnight there.
I don't have any real info so I don't know how it fits into your schedule, but they also have great (but expensive) bear watching trips.
Some research is required in this regard. Pick your cruise based on the itinerary: which ports you prefer, time in ports, glacier viewing, departure/arrival. You'll see some minor difference in ports...Skagway (goldrush history) v. Sitka (russian history) ... some lines add Icy Straits (small town that is new to the route). Look at excursions (mainly the same between all of the lines) and what you want to do to decide whether you want a longer time in any one port (I like more in Juneau b/c of so much that we wanted to do there). Glacier preferences lean toward a glacier bay & college fjord combo (both Hal and Princess do this on many itineraries).
I'd give a preference to Seward over Whittier if you have time for the Kenai Fjords Tour or other touring in Seward. If you will be largely passing through, than there is no real benefit to Seward ... Whittier is closer to Anchorage, so you have less of a drive.
Roundtrip v. 1-way. Roundtrip is cheaper especially for airfare. 1-way is superior for adding some more glaicer viewing & for giving you time to tour the interior. If not touring the interior, I'd start leaning toward roundtrip for costsavings. If roundtrip, the preference is for a Vancouver departure for more time in Alaskan waters. Without reviewing what Karen says, I'll bet that she gives the same advice.
Northbound/Southbound on 1-way. There are pros and cons either way. Northbound builds from more familiar scenery to dramatic experience with glaciers. Karen's counterpoint will be that Southbound gives you daytime viewing in Vancouver for beautiful scenery. If exploring interior, I also liked my first time to have the independent land tour after my cruise gave me the Alaska primer. But the long flight home from Northbound is a pain...the flight going to a vacation is never as long as the one coming back. Some want to end their trip in the luxury of the ship...for me, I don't stress or get tired on landtour and prefer to unwind to transition from work to vacation at the beginning of the vacation. You also have this question about 1 or 2 days in Anchorage or Vancouver. You can easily use this time in either place. Only you can decide which is best and how this interacts with the other considerations for what is the best decision for you.
Secondary considerations: quality of the naturalist (Princess & Hal usually good reviews), some ships have blue glass on deck viewing space that is a pain because it discolors the view (many Princess ships have this negative feature), price, cabin size/balcony, etc.
Since you ask- frankly- a couple days in Anchorage is NOT worth a one way trip. And No Whittier is not better than Seward. With these vacation days- I would do a round trip Vancouver. There is ONLY one day different between round trips and one ways. Of course there is a variety of routings, ports, and glaciers to choose from. An added couple hours in College Fjords is not worth it to me unless I am going for 2 weeks, but that is me. There are other glaicer viewing opportunities- with my favorite a helicopter glacier landing. So - my preference only with this timeframe, round trip cruise out of Vancouver and a couple days in Victoria- at least an overnight- don't consider this for a day visit. Or your time in Vancouver- plenty to see and do in this wonderful city.
On the above- clarification- it is Vancouver Island not Vancouver for the daylight sailing southbound and included on round trip Vancouver sailings.