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Old August 12th, 2009, 12:55 PM
ejb ejb is offline
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Default Denali train or motor coach?

We are planning a July 2010 Southbound and will stay a day or two before on our own. We would like to set up a Denali trip, aslo on our own and want some feedback on which transportation is better and also if someone has had good or bad experience with any particular vendor there.
We don't have anyone in mind yet but would like to know what you think.
Bus or Train? and Who?
Thank
EB
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Old August 17th, 2009, 10:27 AM
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Soooooooo......... Nobody has an opinion?
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Old August 17th, 2009, 10:33 AM
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Never done the Denali . I prefer always prefer the train over the bus.
On the train you can get up and move around . On a bus you are stuck
in your seat until the bus stops.
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Old August 17th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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Thanks, What we were wonderig about is does the bus stop and let you look around. It seems like the train just keeps moving and if you were ready when wildlife or something happens then great. If not then you just missed it.
But I don't know if the bus stops for wildlife or just keeps moving like the train.
I would like to get up and move around on the train and not fond of buses, just thought that they might be better for viewing.
EB
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Old August 17th, 2009, 01:04 PM
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Most tour bus will slow down but don't stop for Wildlife . They do stop stop at points of interest.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 02:13 PM
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We were on the train from Fairbanks to Denali. There really isn't much opportunity to see any wildlife on this part of the trip. You are traveling through the interior and you will just primarily be seeing trees on both sides.
We were on the train also from Denali to McKinley Wilderness Lodge. We were on a coach from McKinley down to Kenai. It never slowed down for viewing anything and it's all a very long ride.
Personally, we decided that we would rent a vehicle and do the driving ourselves if we have the opportunity to go back. We loved Alaska! The best viewing is from boats, ships and from the air. I would recommend budgeting the most for those activities to really see Alaska. And if you want to see wildlife, plan your excursions for the early morning or early evening. That's the best time.
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Old August 27th, 2009, 08:22 AM
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Thanks for the reply. We have been a just a few cruises now and have noticed that when we book a excursion we feel like we are spending most of our time in port waiting for and riding in a bus, boat or train and very little time doing what the excursion was about.
We think the scare about the ship leaving us behind has made us book thru the ship. I think we are leaning toward fewer excursions and more exploration.
If I can plan to get to a ship from my home half way across the US then I think we can plan to get back to the ship in time.
I am thinking about a rental car in Alaska and just see what we can see!
EB
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Old August 27th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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We were at Denali a couple of weeks ago. Because of the tight schedule the tour has us on we were only able to do the short tour into Denali. It was very rushed and if someone actually spotted anything, the bus driver just kept talking and driving. The ones we talked to who went on the tour all the way into the end of the road, and there is only one road into Denali, all saw wildlife and had time to stop and look. That trip is an all day trip. Good luck.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 12:01 PM
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First off, you mention staying a "day or two on your own"". Denali Park requires at least 3. So unless you are planning on adding more days, you do not have enough time.

With only your stated timeframe, I only suggest you consider Seward. Plenty to see and do, If your cruise sails from there, great, IF not, then rent a costly one way Avis car with a drop in Whittier. There is much more to "cost" to consider than money. In a short timeframe such as what you state- it is definately a waste of valuable time to back track for hours to save a few bucks. How much is your overall vacation worth??

For further clairfication- many people just do not realize the vast distances of Alaska. To consider the Alaska RR, I always recommend an extra day over driving to Denali park. For me, it is a long slow boring ride with trees and more trees via rail. McKinley is seldom seen, which is a highlight. The train also misses everything in between, and so do buses. A rental car is superior, if an option to consider.

Another point is in reference to the above poster's Denali Park "tour". I never recommend the "tours"' and definately will always state that the Natural History tour, which the above poster took is an extremely poor choice. Like going to Disneyland and never getting out of the parking lot.
I just can never understand why it's even offered. Denali Park is a highlight of many Alaska visits. But you have to get IN to the Park. You don't see it from a lodge or the Parks Highway. My min. distance in is Eielson via the shuttle bus, 1/3 the cost of the tour buses. Do your homework and find out the differences, then make an informed choice based on your touring priority. It's unfortunate that some people book tours in Alaska having no clue what they purchased, there are some significant points that can really enhance a trip there.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 02:43 PM
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Karen16,
Why do you need at least 3 days? Does it take a day to get there, a day to site see and then a day to get back or did you mean 3 days to see the park?
Also, staying a day or two was meant to be a figure of speech not the actual amount of days we plan to stay. We are trying to figure out the amount of days by working out the travel and site seeing time needed.
Thank you for your input.
If we rent a car, can we drive it or is it too far? We have been to Alaska and do know how vast it is. We have just not been to this area.
I will check out Seward, maybe Denali is just not this trip??
EB
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Old September 4th, 2009, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejb
Karen16,
Why do you need at least 3 days? Does it take a day to get there, a day to site see and then a day to get back or did you mean 3 days to see the park?
Also, staying a day or two was meant to be a figure of speech not the actual amount of days we plan to stay. We are trying to figure out the amount of days by working out the travel and site seeing time needed.
Thank you for your input.
If we rent a car, can we drive it or is it too far? We have been to Alaska and do know how vast it is. We have just not been to this area.
I will check out Seward, maybe Denali is just not this trip??
EB
You need to allow 6 hours transit from Anchorage to get there and back. Then another 8 hours, min. to get INTO the park. There is no sense going unless you do. You need to do your homework. And find out what areas offer you and what is of the most interest to you. Even 3 extra days is skimpy by Alaska travel standards. I recommend at least 5, more is better!

Yes, most certainly a car rental is an excellent option, since it allows you all the fantastic "small stuff" stops along the way. But once at Denali Park, you then need to take a shuttle bus to get into the park. My min. recommendation is Eielson. The Park Road is 90 miles, the public section is only the first 16. With a car, this is very worthwhile to drive during your stay, as an "added" bonus for wildlife searching.
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Old September 10th, 2009, 05:32 PM
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Thank you. The rental car sounds good. I guess I would need to stay at a lodge close to the park the night after the park tour. Is there any good mid-range hotels or are they all expensive lodges?
Thanks
EB
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Old September 16th, 2009, 01:36 PM
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There are several costly "lodges", but also nice B&B's smaller independent motels, cabins etc.

A basic motel that I have stayed in several times is the Denali Park Hotel. In Healy, 15 minutes north of the park entrance.

http://www.denaliparkhotel.com/
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Old September 17th, 2009, 12:22 PM
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That sounds like what I am looking for. What is the cost/night if you don't mind me asking?
EB
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Old September 17th, 2009, 12:40 PM
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Oops, I just saw the web address at the bottom, Thanks EB
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