I don't know where to post this, so I will post it in honeymoons.
The boyfriend and I have decided to bite the bullet and plan a trip to Alaska. I am beyond excited, as this has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I am fascinated with wildlife, and can not think of a better place to witness such beauty in it's natural state.
Anywho, I know we will be flying into Anchorage, and we will be going in July, because that is the warmest month in Alaska, and will be staying for 2 weeks, but other than that have no idea what to do. I have been looking on the Alaska tourism website for excursions, but was wondering if anyone has been there who can give me some tips. These are the things we are looking to do:
If any of you have been there and have any pointers, that would be fantastic!
posted at 1/7/2010 3:08 PM EST
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/7/2010 3:47 PM ESTIf you want to do a fishing trip, I can ask my DH where in Alaska he went. I know they took a puddle jumper from Anchorage to some podunk place in the middle of nowhere and then were boated up or down river someplace. It was literally in the middle of nowhere, but they were in a pretty cozy camp [camp showers though, if that skeeves you out]. It was VERY expensive, but they were taken to various spots to go fishing and had amazing food provided at the campsite [it was gourmet quality; he still raves about the food]. He caught some ginormous fish and has the most gorgeous photos. It's for hard core fishing nuts, though. If it's up your alley, let me know and I'll get the name of his outfit.
One thing I can tell you is to check TripAdvisor for hotels. Apparently, there are ALOT of hotels in even major cities that have a heavy pro-stitute [seriously BDC, this is a "forbidden word"?] and crime rate. He and his brother were scheduled to stay at a not-inexpensive hotel in Anchorage for one night and he was killing time before leaving for the airport and did a search on Trip Advisor. Apparently, there were complaints about blood stained mattresses, muggings, "noise" involving pro-stitutes, and broken sinks. He changed their reservations right away. It was a pretty hilarious story, but I doubt it would have been as funny had he had to stay at that hotel. lol.
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/7/2010 3:58 PM ESTHave you thought about doing a cruise? I just ask because my parents are doing on in July and I know there are day adventures (for lack of a better term) and they are going hiking and stuff too. I am not sure what their dates are but I know they are going sometime in July, and that their cruise has a stop in Canada but I am not sure what they are specifically doing in Canada (meaning I don't know if it is to pick up/drop off passengers or if there is an excursion planned).
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/7/2010 4:18 PM ESTOh boy ALF...I don't think I would enjoy hanging out with Pros-titutes! The fishing we are thinking doesn't involve hardcore like your DH's, more a long the lines of day trips.
Wendy we thought about a cruise, but I really want to get a lot of Alaska in. Lots of wildlife, etc. I feel I would be missing out on stuff if I were on a huge ship.
I need to call the tourism agency and have a long talk with them. It's such an amazing state but so hard to plan a trip. Maybe a travel agent can help.
Thanks for the tips, ladies!
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/7/2010 4:47 PM ESTPeonie,
I've never been to Alaska, but have always wanted to go. Man I am super jealous of you right now. I went to Yellowstone when I was 15 with my parents and if Alaska is anything like (probably 100x better) it is going to be breathtaking.
I did find this that might work. Looks like a group tour that hits all the things you have on your list. Sort of like an all-inclusive wildlife viewing vacation. How awesome!
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/20/2010 1:22 PM EST
My husband and I actually honeymooned in Alaska last August. We loved it and can't wait to go back. We did a one week land tour and a one week cruise. I feel we got really lucky as Princess was offering a two for one deal when we booked.
We started with the land tour in Fairbanks. And cruised from Anchorage to Vancover.
I can get you more detail if you like but some things not to miss:
Dog Sled demonstrations/or do it yourself!
Helicopter ride to the top of a glacier.
Mt. McKinley. But be prepared as only 30% of people who visit get to see it due to weather.
Widelife in Denali. Take tours that go deep in as you will be more likely to see a lot more Wildlife. IN other words, take the 8 hour rather than 4 hour tours.
Whitewater Rafting: MY FAVORITE and more exciting than fishing as you can see the millions of salmon as you are slowly cruising.
Zip Lines in the Rainforest. The have them everywhere in Alaska and they are scary yet beautiful rides.
Take a Ride and Learn from Real Life Deadliest Catch crabmen.
We did find that the train through the land portion was AWESOME. The landscape, glaciers and widelife you can see via the glass dome roof is fantastic. But we were the youngest by about 30 years. That didnt bother us though as we can talk to anyone! We actually toured with basically the same couple through the land portion and then cruise and we had a blast regardless of age difference.
Def take a look at the Princess wilderness lodges. I am not sure of their prices since we did the complete tour but some of them are absolutely beautiful. I believe in Kenai we stayed in a cottage with fireburning stove in the middle of the mountains. It was beautiful. The Denali Resort is nice as well. I would suggest not spending a lot of time in Fairbanks although I would suggest Chena Hot Springs which is about 70 miles out. Otherwise, I found Fairbanks rough!
Cruise is great too. Nothing like waking up to a glacier out your balcony. And we saw TOOONS of Calving. There were a few days at sea and some of the things you take for granted is that the inside of the ship is much more congested than you are used to because people aren't sunbathing on deck!! HAHA.
Let me know if you want specifics... I can certainly pass along!
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/20/2010 4:06 PM ESTKath, you have no idea how helpful that post was.
Your honeymoon sounds just amazing. I wanted to do that for our 'future' honeymoon, but he really wants something tropical, so we opted for an Alaskan vacation.
I am going to research some of your suggestions and if I have any more questions, I will contact you. Thank you so much!
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/20/2010 8:16 PM ESTAlaska is great, and if you look you can find some excursion boats thet take you for 2 nights, 3 days of your trip to see rocky coast, glaciers, whales etc,but are no where near as expensive as the big cruises. Much more nature, much less time in cabins and lounges- Alaskan evenings at sea you do not spend much time on deck.
The worst thing is Money, money, money. You will easily spend $6,000 to $10,000 for 2 weeks for 2 in Alaska, including airfare.
Your basic airfare is 1600- 2,000 minimum round trip for 2, before fees and taxes, actually 1,900 to 2,300 minimum.
You may want to consider other Alaska like possibilities. Boston to Calgary is 1,100- 14,00 with fees etc, Boston to Jackson WY1,000 to 1200. You can fly in to Jackson Hole Wyoming, rent a vehicle and pay gas for 1,000 to see several parks from the Grand Tetons and Elk Refuge all 800 miles to Banff, go to Jasper and Glacier too, and Fly home from Calgary, all for the price of airfare to Alaska. In Alaska you will have many more costs, several hundred at a pop.
A helicopter hop to McKinley or a glacier is great, if you can spend 700 dollars for 2 for 3 hours. and so it goes.
I think it is a trip not to be missed. But if the 6K to 10 K for Alaska is too much for now, see below, Tetons to Banff, Jasper, Glacier.
(note- in 2004, Alaska trip, my brother and I spent 9K in 3 weeks, and 1 week was back country camping and kayaking with an Alaskan friend, only paid gas, food, and about 20 dollars a day fees.)
Also, a lot of people planning do not realize- there are cities in Alaska you can only get to by air or boat. So you cannot look at a map and say Let's do this here, then go 200 miles and do this. There may not be a road. Hopping about by air is expensive. AAA or other can give you travel books which point these things out, if you or someone near and dear are a member.
If Alaska is discouragingly pricey, look at Jasper, Banff and Glacier National Parks in Western Alberta and over the Brittish Columbia Border.
Elsewhere in British Columbia, and parts of these places, you cannot tell from the majority of Alaska. Grizzlies instead of Kodiak Bears, no whales, walrus and seals, but then they also do not have the Alaskan Summer state bird, the mosquito, in any significant number.
Bighorn sheep, cougars padding down to the other side of the river for a drink, bears in the berry patches and fishing in streams as you kayak by, it is all there. Moose and elk and deer everywhere, ravens in the evergreens, eagles and hawks. Parts of Banff have wolves. Caribou herds in some northern parts. Whitewater Rivers, spectacular Gorges. There are professionally guided travel tours and exciting wildlife filled streams you can fish, and others that even a novice can manage to paddle in.
No Aleuts in this part of Canada, the Eskimoan peoples will be Inuit, and there are a host of Indian tribes ( and Metis) in that part of Canada.
In the NW US, people forget the Grand Tetons. Wildlife rich.
Because many of the wildest lands of US and Adjacent Canada are easy to travel between, you might want to look at the US Federal Lands Maps and Canadian too, because there are many National forest and Wildlife conservation and Fishing Lands not covered in National Park websites, even when they are 10 miles down the road.
For example, the National Elk refuge (also full of moose) is a 2 hour drive from the Tetons NP in NW Wyoming. People go to Yellowstone and miss both of them, and the amazing whitewater and fishing rivers of both Idaho and Montana, which are as great as Alaska's.
Bing a map (for the Canada directions, beats Google)
Directions: Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Banff N.P. Alberta, Canada
If this is what you are going to Alaska for
On the site, below, I would suggest looking at the maps by state of NW Wyoming, Western Montana and Northern Idaho, then follow the bing map up the Alberta/ BC border to Banff, Jasper, Glacier, or look up Province Maps of Alberta and British Columbia.
Look in PDF format (Adobe reader - free) and click on Print Maps- this way you can look in Adobe and magnify the miniscule print to 150% or more.
You can print them, or just look.
If you surf the web for info and pictures of the Grand Tetons, Banff, Jasper and Glacier, you will find them equally as great as Alaska, and you can drive between them, see all of the magnificent land and wildlife.
With other future plans (maybe a wedding one day?) you might not want to spend 8-10 K on Alaska right now. If you go to Alaska, make these parks your next big trip.
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/20/2010 9:29 PM ESThttp://www.kenaifjords.com/kenai-daycruises.html
Peonie - I had to find a brochure- this was before my current computer - we went on 3 excursions with these folks, and along with Kodiak Island and Denali, they were highlights of the trip.
The Alaska Page of the national atlas of federal lands site above shows places and islands they serve. Wag
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/21/2010 2:11 PM ESTWhata, we are actually now considering Yellowstone due to the cost, so I really appreciate this post. I knew Alaska would be expensive but didn't realize how expensive.
I would love to hear more about Yellowstone. Are there guided tours? I REALLY want guided tours, and not to drive around aimlessly (afraid I will miss important things) Seeing wildlife is most important to me.
Thank you so much for all of that helpful information.
Any tips on Yellowstone, Montana, or Idaho would be great!
Re: OT- Alaska
posted at 1/22/2010 4:50 PM ESTPeonie,
I live in Alaska and can probably offer some pointers. Yes, Alaska is more expensive than other vacation destinations, but the economy has impacted the tourism industry greatly and as such industry groups are predicting heavy discounting. Last summer I saw deals for 7-day cruises for under $500 pp! Keep in mind that July might historically be the warmest month, the weather and climate vary greatly depending on the region. Be prepared for ANYTHING. Bring clothing you can layer if necessary as well as raingear. Anchorage/coastal areas are cooler and wetter in summer (avg 65-ish). Areas inland (Denali Nat. Park & Fairbanks) can be much warmer (80s). End of June/beginning of July is the time I usually recommend to people.
Two weeks is probably not enough to see everything (heck, I've lived here almost my entire life--except my college years in Boston-- and still haven't seen it all!). I would prioritize what you really want to see/do and don't get trapped into trying to 'do it all'. The state is enormous and you will spend a lot of time traveling between places, so take that into account when planning your trip.
When I have visitors, here are the places/attractions I take them, so I highly recommend them. I am very outdoorsy and don't mind getting diry, so keep that in mind:
*Museums: http://www.alaskanative.net/ and http://www.anchoragemuseum.org/
*rent a bicycle in Downtown Anchorage (tandems also available) and ride the Coastal Trail.
* Lots of great hiking! Chugach State Park has lots of day hikes with incredible views, very accessible, & difficulty levels for all from easy to advanced. http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chugach/
* take a day trip to Girdwood/Portage Glacier (about 30-45 minutes south of Anchorage). The drive is among the most scenic I've ever seen. Girdwood is a small ski resort community with a cool, laid back, artsy attitude. Take a ride on the ski tram at Alyeska Resort to top of the mountain. Great views! Portage Glacier is another 15 minutes south of Girdwood. There are hour-long cruises to Portage Glacier several times a day. http://portageglaciercruises.com/
Kenai Penninsula (2 hours + drive south of Anchorage):
-Best fishing in the world! There are several communities to fish--Kenai for river salmon fishing; Homer (another small, laid back, artsy community) for deep sea halibut fishing. Charters are pricey, but a great experience and worth the price.
-Kenai Fjords wildlife tour: http://www.kenaifjords.com/
Denali National Park (4+ hours drive North of Anchorage):
-white water rafting- http://www.denaliraft.com/
-day long wildlife viewing tour- tour http://www.denaliparkresorts.com/tours/index.cfm
-take a flight seeing tour of Denali. pricey, but totally worth it. - http://www.talkeetnaair.com/flightseeing.html?gclid=CMXwlP_wuJ8CFSddagod33e10g
Fairbanks (2.5+ hour drive North of Denali; 6.5-7 hour drive north of Anchorage):
-Gold panning tour: http://www.eldoradogoldmine.com/
-Chena Hot Springs. I highly recommend the Ice Museum tour, even though it's ~$15pp. http://www.chenahotsprings.com/
-Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle down the Chena River (several restaurants along the way to stop at for food or drink) http://www.2paddle1.com/popular-excursions-local.php
-the Antique Auto Museum. http://www.fountainheadhotels.com/auto/index.html
you'll be surprised, it's really interesting and some of these antique cars are the only ones in the world. I was impressed.
-If you or hubby is a golfer, Fairbanks has 24-hour tee times in the summer! Imagine starting a game of golf at midnight? It's light almost all summer. Very cool experience. http://www.northstargolf.com/ or Fairbanks Golf & Country Club.
-The Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska- I'm not kidding, but it's a fun little trip just south of Fairbanks. Open year round and meet the 'real' santa. Ask to see his Driver's License! http://www.santaclaushouse.com/
I don't have a lot of travel experience in Southeast Alaska where the cruises go. I've been to Juneau, the state capitol and can recommend a few activities there.
Anyway, I think you can message me on here if you have any questions or want recommendations on hotels, restaurants, etc.
I hope you have a great time in Alaska! Good luck.