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Posted: 4/4/2021 7:05:03 PM EDT
Wife and I are re-planning a trip that was interrupted by covid to Alaska this summer and are looking for recommendations.

Time frame will be later june to sometime in august. Planning for staying 10-14 days but are flexible.

Currently planning on visiting Juneau, Anchorage and Seward and spend 2ish nights in each city. Depending on logistics open to adding flights or driving.

Things we want to do:
Take a cruise of multiple boat tours to see glaciers, whales and other scenic things (2-4 days)
Salmon fishing if in season, otherwise some other fishing charter (full day trip)
Likely rent a car and do some moderate day hikes (2-3 days)

Current ideas
ATV / 4 wheeling somewhere cool
Some kind of guided tour(s)
Upside down forest and possibly ice cave in Jeneau.
Go kayaking inland or somewhere that's light to moderate difficulty.
Mine tours or history

Things we're not interested in
Hunting
difficult (10 mile plus) hikes
Bringing camping gear, or more than a day or so without a shower.

Other must see things? Places we should around there? Other places to consider? Places to avoid? General logistic issues?

Thanks
Link Posted: 4/4/2021 10:37:52 PM EDT
While one may attempt to plan to see as much of Alaska as possible, the main thing to keep in mind is the weather and logistic of planning events.  Alaska is Big and the weather can change quickly.  Not sure about the Juneau area but once you get to South Central time will control what you get done. Both Whitter and Seward offer some very good trips to see glaciers and sea life.  If it is open, the Sea Life Center in Seward is good to visit.  In the Anchorage/Mat-su, the Musk ox farm is worth seeing, Hatcher Pass and the mines there.  In the Hatcher Pass area, there are also some good hiking trails that are not too difficult.  Also a visit to the Reindeer farm, out side of Palmer is worth doing! Might even get a chance to 'kiss a moose'! The list goes on and on.  I am sure that others here will chime in shortly.
Link Posted: 4/5/2021 2:08:19 AM EDT
Hi, I don't know why, but people here always post they coming to visit in August.

August is the rainiest month of summer in southcentral Alaska.

June has the sunniest, best weather of the summer.

Your cruise plans to SE Alaska have probably been torpedoed by Justin Trudeau in retaliation of Biden killing the Keystone Pipeline:

https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/canadian-cruise-ship-ban-flattens-alaska-tourism-prospects

You like many other posters on AR15.com don't post what state you live in, so I don't know if this promo code will help you save money if you book cheap seats on AK Airlines:

https://www.adn.com/alaska-life/travel/2021/04/03/here-are-some-of-the-best-alaska-flight-deals-spurred-on-by-a-fare-sale-and-airline-competition/
Link Posted: 4/5/2021 10:55:51 PM EDT
Just making sure you're aware Juneau to anchorage is not easy logistically and you won't be able to drive. Plan rental cars being around $100 a day about that time. Youre going to burn a day on travel minimum for each change in location. And when you go hiking here make sure you pack for at least a couple days with food, first aid, bivy or shelter of some type. Weather comes up fast here and people get hurt all the time. Help isn't always right around the corner. Fishing charter out of Seward you should be able to see plenty of wildlife also there are kayak tours out there as well. Kennecott mine out in copper center is probably the most famous mine but its a long drive. As has been stated Alaska is a massive place that is difficult to access better to narrow down exactly what you want to do and what you want to see and tailor your trip toward that than trying to cram too many activities into a short time span
Link Posted: 4/6/2021 11:10:53 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By AkBearcat:
While one may attempt to plan to see as much of Alaska as possible, the main thing to keep in mind is the weather and logistic of planning events.  Alaska is Big and the weather can change quickly.  Not sure about the Juneau area but once you get to South Central time will control what you get done. Both Whitter and Seward offer some very good trips to see glaciers and sea life.  If it is open, the Sea Life Center in Seward is good to visit.  In the Anchorage/Mat-su, the Musk ox farm is worth seeing, Hatcher Pass and the mines there.  In the Hatcher Pass area, there are also some good hiking trails that are not too difficult.  Also a visit to the Reindeer farm, out side of Palmer is worth doing! Might even get a chance to 'kiss a moose'! The list goes on and on.  I am sure that others here will chime in shortly.
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Originally Posted By AkBearcat:
While one may attempt to plan to see as much of Alaska as possible, the main thing to keep in mind is the weather and logistic of planning events.  Alaska is Big and the weather can change quickly.  Not sure about the Juneau area but once you get to South Central time will control what you get done. Both Whitter and Seward offer some very good trips to see glaciers and sea life.  If it is open, the Sea Life Center in Seward is good to visit.  In the Anchorage/Mat-su, the Musk ox farm is worth seeing, Hatcher Pass and the mines there.  In the Hatcher Pass area, there are also some good hiking trails that are not too difficult.  Also a visit to the Reindeer farm, out side of Palmer is worth doing! Might even get a chance to 'kiss a moose'! The list goes on and on.  I am sure that others here will chime in shortly.


Thanks. We're trying to choose a geographic chunk of the state and stay within that area. Appreciate the recommendations.


Originally Posted By raven:
Hi, I don't know why, but people here always post they coming to visit in August.

August is the rainiest month of summer in southcentral Alaska.

June has the sunniest, best weather of the summer.

Your cruise plans to SE Alaska have probably been torpedoed by Justin Trudeau in retaliation of Biden killing the Keystone Pipeline:

https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/canadian-cruise-ship-ban-flattens-alaska-tourism-prospects

You like many other posters on AR15.com don't post what state you live in, so I don't know if this promo code will help you save money if you book cheap seats on AK Airlines:

https://www.adn.com/alaska-life/travel/2021/04/03/here-are-some-of-the-best-alaska-flight-deals-spurred-on-by-a-fare-sale-and-airline-competition/


Thanks. I'm looking into that. It seems like day trips might be more realistic. I'm not really tied down to where i leave from. We'll try and work it out where both the wife and I end up on the west coast somewhere before flying out. We both travel in the WY, CO, NW, TX, AZ area and CA. I'm not keen on trying to do a FL or NY flight up.


Originally Posted By deputytrueblood:
Just making sure you're aware Juneau to anchorage is not easy logistically and you won't be able to drive. Plan rental cars being around $100 a day about that time. Youre going to burn a day on travel minimum for each change in location. And when you go hiking here make sure you pack for at least a couple days with food, first aid, bivy or shelter of some type. Weather comes up fast here and people get hurt all the time. Help isn't always right around the corner. Fishing charter out of Seward you should be able to see plenty of wildlife also there are kayak tours out there as well. Kennecott mine out in copper center is probably the most famous mine but its a long drive. As has been stated Alaska is a massive place that is difficult to access better to narrow down exactly what you want to do and what you want to see and tailor your trip toward that than trying to cram too many activities into a short time span


Thanks. Ideally we wanted to cruise down to Juneau from somewhere on the coast further north west after renting a car to drive to the coast from anchorage, but that looks like it might not work out. We're not opposed to flying around but it looks fairly expensive. We're both pretty capable outdoors but knowing it's a different ballgame is why we don't want to do anything difficult that's more than a rigorous day hike.

I appreciate all the input. Any recommendations for fishing charters? I keep finding things that look interesting to do but are 500 miles and a fully day trip away. Thoughts on Denali? Looks like we could take the train up from anchorage and spend 2 nights there but its a day each way on the train.
Link Posted: 4/6/2021 3:57:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/6/2021 4:02:26 PM EDT by LeonardC]
I did the train from ANC to the Park with my Aunt.  It was a fun ride and some things you can see from the rail that you can't see from the road.  The "guides" were a big help in seeing things and explaining what we were seeing.  We went up one day and back the next because of time constraints.  I think we rode the Princess train cars.  Not sure how Covid affects all this.  She wanted to go into the Park, but there was just not enough time to fit in all the things on her list.  Besides, that means she gets to come back sometime just to go to the Park.

I have a neighbor that raves about the bus trip (tour) within the park.  There's a couple of levels of comfort; some are like school busses and then he has used one that had really nice seats and a camera/tv screen to keep the riders informed.   Again, it helps to have someone knowing what to look for and pointing it out.

{The Wife and I are waiting to go into the Park when we win a pass to take our own rig in.}

For us "poors" $ becomes an issue with all this stuff.  Playing tourist in AK can be expensive.

I think the Park Service has information on how far the busses travel within the Park.
Link Posted: 4/6/2021 4:02:22 PM EDT
Seward is a lot of fun. I try to make it down there once a year. My wife prefers Homer though.

I did a wildlife viewing tour out of Seward a few years back and it was pretty good. Don’t remember the name of the company off the top of my head.

I have always done all my chartered fishing out of Homer. I’ve been told the good fishing grounds are farther out from Seward so you spend a lot more time getting out there and back than fishing(at least for halibut). But I don’t know if there is any truth to that.

If I remember right the salmon should be running for the bay. I have done some fishing there for salmon and it’s pretty straight forward but by the time you buy a rod, waders etc you could probably just pay for a charter.

Mount marathon is a fun hike. If you aren’t experienced I wouldn’t do the race trail as it has some very sketchy parts. But the view from up top is amazing. Attachment Attached File



I’m not a big fan of anchorage.  As the old saying goes anchorage isn’t Alaska but you can see Alaska from there.

Denali is cool but it’s a long drive from anchorage. Without too much else along the way. Healy and Talkeetna are small tourist towns in the area.

Link Posted: 4/7/2021 5:21:57 PM EDT
Decide whether you want to do Juneau and the rest of the South East or Anchorage and South Central.  If you try to do both you're going to lose a day of travel, and for a two week trip I don't think it's worth it.  Alaska is big.  You won't realize how big until you get here.  Juneau to Anchorage is about the same distance as Jacksonville, FL to DC, or Detroit to Atlanta.  

Anchorage is a good base but you'll want to have a car.  From Anchorage you can be in Homer in around 4 hours, or Denali or Seward in around 3.  Valdez would be the farthest drive worth doing at almost 6.

Anchorage is about like any small city anywhere else in the country.  Some neat shops downtown, Wildscoops is a great little ice cream place.  The Anchorage Festival Market used to be in a parking lot off 4th but they moved it this year.  Used to be able to walk around it, get food from the vendors, then walk through downtown.  Not sure why it moved but it would be a hike to get to its new location from downtown.  The fish hatchery tour is pretty neat if its open.  You can salmon fish in downtown Anchorage in Ship Creek by the rail station.  Gets an OK king salmon run and decent silver run with pinks mixed in, reds and dogs show up occasionally too.  Go to the Bait Shack under the C Street bridge to rent gear or get a guide.  There's hiking on the east side of the city, Flattop is a popular trail, the coastal path and Earthquake park are good too.  The zoo is nice, mostly Alaskan animals, it's not too big but a decent afternoon trip.  The animals are more entertaining than most zoos I've been to, rather than passed out as far from the viewing areas as they can get most of the time they're up and active.  The conservation center down south is better if you had to pick one or the other though.

Girdwood is about 45 minutes south of Anchorage and has good day hiking, stop at Beluga Point and Bird Point on the drive down, maybe time it to see the bore tide.  Some little shops and galleries and stuff along the way too, Turn Again Arm Pit BBQ is a decent place to eat.  The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is just a few minutes further south from there too and worth a stop.  

Keep going a little further south and you come to the Whittier turnoff.  Whittier is an interesting place.  To get there you go through a one-way tunnel that doubles as the train tunnel.  Almost everyone in town lives in one building.  There's good scenery/wildlife tours out of Whittier and some glacier hikes.  .

Further south ignoring the Whittier turn you get to the Kenai peninsula.  Lots to do.  First is Turnagain Pass, good day hiking area.  Keep heading south and you get to the Sterling highway turnoff, take the Sterling to Cooper's Landing, Sterling, Soldotna, Kenai, Anchor Point, and Homer.  Lots of hiking and fishing all through there, good charters out of Homer.  If you keep south past the Sterling highway turn you get to Seward.  They do glacier tours out of there as well as fishing charters and lots of hiking.  Seward is a nice little town.  Good brewery and some decent restaurants and shopping.  I was in Seward for two straight weeks in June and a few days in July last year and saw humpback whales in town every day and porpoises several times.  You can walk the docks and see sea otters from feet away just about anytime.

We've always done boat tours with Major Marine out of Seward but I haven't ever heard anything bad about any of them.  I'd like to do Whittier one time.  Unfortunately I think they've suspended the park rangers guiding the tours for now.  The captains and tour staff are good but the park ranger guided tours are always the best.  

If you head north from Anchorage you'll see Palmer and Wasilla.  On the way you'll pass Eagle River, Chugiak and Peter's Creek.  Thunderbird Falls is through there and is a good short hike, maybe two hours if you go slow.  Eagle River has a nature center with hiking trails.  It's also the end of Crow Creek Pass, a two to three day hike that runs between there and Girdwood.  Mount Baldy in Eagle River is a good hike that gets you up high with views of Anchorage, Cook Inlet, and Matanuska Valley.

Head east to Palmer on the way to Glen Allen and Valdez.  Palmer is where I live, we have a reindeer farm and musk ox farm you can visit.  Every Friday we have a food truck rodeo downtown, usually live music and some arts and crafts vendors.  Late August we'll have the state fair going on.  Hatcher Pass is a good day trip, you drive from Palmer west up through the mountains.  Lots of places to stop and take short hikes, berry pick, see the old gold mines.  The pass may not be open in June, depending on snow melt.

Keep going east from Palmer and you'll go through Sutton, then follow along the Matanuska river all the way to Glen Allen and on to Valdez.  Really scenic drive with lots of hiking and ATV trails.  A trip out to the Matanuska glacier is a good day trip, you can walk through the ice caves and right out onto the glacier.  If you're in Alaska for Independence day there's a place where they drive cars off a cliff instead of shooting fireworks, we go every year and camp a few days.  4th of July fireworks aren't really a thing here, there's places that do them but the sun will be up past 11pm and it stays light outside most of the night that time of year.

If you head west instead you'll go through Wasilla and Willow on the way to Talkeetna and then Denali.  Not much to say about Wasilla, it's more of a place folks live and us folks in Palmer go instead of driving to Anchorage for what we need.  Not a bad place, just not much tourist stuff to see.  If you were looking to move to the area, this is a good place to look for a house and some land.  Willow is where Hatcher Pass takes you.  

Talkeetna is a cool little town.  Kind of artsy hippy type place.  They had a cat for their mayor for a lot of years, sadly Mayor Stubbs passed in 2017.  There's good restaurants, the birch syrup factory, a brewery, cidery, meadery, and distillery.  A lot of Denali stuff jumps off from here, the airport has helicopter and small plane tours.

Further north past Talkeetna you'll get to Cantwell and Healy.  They're the towns at the gates of Denali national park.  Lots of hiking and fishing there.  Take a bus tour of Denali.  Unless you luck out and the road is open you can't drive very far into the park.  Occasionally if there's not a lot of visitors they'll open the road, but that's usually before tourist season.  There's a lottery for an open road pass in September too, right before everything shuts down for the winter.

Salmon start running in May and wrap up in September in the South Central area (Anchorage and Kenai peninsula).  There's five different species and they each have two names; red/sockeye and king/chinook lead it off in May, tapering off in July, silver/coho start late July through September, pink/humpy and chum/dog (commercially they're called keta salmon) are July through September mostly, but no tourists come to Alaska for them.  Kings are the big ones everyone wants to come to Alaska to catch, runs are small and fish aren't as big as in the past though; I don't do much king fishing.  Reds run in big numbers but rarely bite, we get them in nets or by snagging in the salt and flossing in the fresh; flossing is fishing as big a streamer fly as legally allowed with as much weight as legally allowed about 24" up the leader, you bounce the weight along the bottom and try to get the leader in the salmon's mouth then strip the line to set the hook, lots of fun in the Russian and Kenai confluence.  Silvers are the second largest and I'd rather go on a silver trip than a king trip, they fight just as much and the daily bag is higher.  Fresh pinks are great but they don't freeze well and turn pretty quick once in the freshwater, they smoke pretty well and can then be frozen, they also can good; their meat is closer to trout.  Chums are great cold smoked or smoked and dried.  All of them will be in close to bays for the duration, but I've never had good luck on a boat after May though.  I know folks catching kings right now out of Seward and Homer.

Lingcod season will be open and that's usually a good trip.  Halibut of course.  Can get rockfish pretty much anytime, most charters end with a quick rockfish drift, can get a boat limit in 30 minutes usually, every charter captain has a few spots in his plotter with guaranteed rockfish schools.  Some folks like to go after cod too, but maybe not on a charter.

One last thing, if you're into craft breweries Alaska is full of them.  I could write a whole other post longer than that book I just wrote about them if you're interested.  You could do a decent brewery crawl from Homer to Talkeetna over a few days.
Link Posted: 4/8/2021 3:31:53 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/8/2021 3:49:50 PM EDT by LeonardC]
The above is a GREAT post!

Edit 2: ANC has the Alaska Native Heritage Center.  They have native dancers and have several different types of native camps set up.  I always enjoy going there.  ANC also has a nice museum of history and art down town.

Wasilla has the Iditarod Headquarters/Museum.  It's a nice stop and they play a tape of the race history, etc.  They have a dog "sled" set up on wheels with bench seats so they can take folks on a run.  We've never done it, but those we've taken there have loved it.  One time they had a bunch of sled dog to be puppies for people to pet.  I often see sled dogs working along the highway from Willow north pulling an ATV in the non-snow season. Those dogs love to run and the excitement is catchy.

Between Wasilla and Willow is the Nancy Lakes State Recreation Area.  There is a canoe trail system that I love to go on.  The whole route can be done in a long day.  It would be much easier to do the first 3 or 4 lakes going clockwise, then back tracking.  An outfit rents canoes to do this.  They changed hands a couple of years ago and I don't know how their system works.  There are a couple of cabins on the system that can be rented if you wanted to overnight; you supply your own bedding, etc.

Talkeetna is a tourist hub with lots to do.  Mahay's Jet Boat Adventures are there.  They do LARGE jet boat rides up the river in a couple of packages; one goes "up to" Devil's Canyon.  I've been on one of the wimpy rides with my Aunt.  It was a good trip (hint: be assertive and sit up front!).  There are several fishing guide places that work out of there.  Several planes fly out of there and that may be a good way to see a lot of country on short time.  There are some big names and then there are some great people that fly...if you want a name I can PM you with who I'd have my family fly with.  There are several different packages available from some outfits (time in air, landing on the ice, etc.).  Edit: I've seen ATVs going through town.  Guide in front (packing a handgun) with a bunch of ATVs in tow like a bunch of baby ducks...I don't know where they go on their tour.

Edit 3: As to showers, almost every laundry place will have showers available.  It's an Alaska thing!

This is a gun site: Just before Talkeetna is the Upper Susitna Shooters Association range.  There are several long range shooting classes during the summer put on there.  Private instructors use the 1K range for their programs.  I think most of them are 2 day classes.  No schedule is up yet.

Link Posted: 4/9/2021 12:19:58 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/9/2021 12:24:04 PM EDT by MrRecon]
This is a great post and should be pinned, IMHO (also Alaskan [anc]).
Link Posted: 4/29/2021 9:38:14 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/29/2021 9:39:34 PM EDT by Unclebeldin]
Spreadsheet I made

South central spreadsheet I made a few years ago for arfcommers visiting
Link Posted: 5/2/2021 3:26:01 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By Unclebeldin:
Spreadsheet I made

South central spreadsheet I made a few years ago for arfcommers visiting
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Winner creek trail is open, but the hand tram is closed for the foreseeable future.
Link Posted: 5/2/2021 4:06:19 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By hauslp:

Winner creek trail is open, but the hand tram is closed for the foreseeable future.
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Lot of speculation if it's ever going to reopen.  Some tourists fell off in August 2019 and died, it's been closed since.  I don't know how you fall out of it, they must have been trying to.
Link Posted: 5/2/2021 8:02:02 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By ArmyAirborne:

Lot of speculation if it's ever going to reopen.  Some tourists fell off in August 2019 and died, it's been closed since.  I don't know how you fall out of it, they must have been trying to.
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Originally Posted By ArmyAirborne:
Originally Posted By hauslp:

Winner creek trail is open, but the hand tram is closed for the foreseeable future.

Lot of speculation if it's ever going to reopen.  Some tourists fell off in August 2019 and died, it's been closed since.  I don't know how you fall out of it, they must have been trying to.

Probably leaned out too far with the selfie stick
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