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seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

Anaheim, California
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seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

We are going on a cruise to Alaska in May that ends in Anchorage and we are flying out from Fairbanks. We want to go see Denali. I'm wondering now about transportation, due to to rental car fees dropping off in different locations. What do you recommend to get to Denali, where to stay, what to do, and how to get back to Fairbanks most economically? thanks for your help

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Alaska
Alaska
United States
Denali
Denali
2,420 Reviews
Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
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Winnipeg, Canada
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1. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

Exactly when in May? And why are you flying out of Fairbanks? Much cheaper to rent a car in Anchorage round-trip. How many days do you have? Who is "we" (any kids, if so, what ages)?

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Anaheim, California
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2. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

Yeah, I booked the airfare without thinking that through. I looked at driving distance being shorter to Fairbanks than back to Anchorage. Our cruise is May 19-26. I am finding rental cars that seem reasonable, with different

drop-off, but it's the taxes that double it! I guess it's between a shuttle to Anchorage and renting the car from there or renting from Avis in Whittier. I knew there were buses and trains but I have read there is no uber or easy shuttles once in Denali so we really need to get a car. Not sure where it's best to stay up there and which places are best to see. We leave fairbanks at midnight on the 29th. I figure the 26th is travel day, 27-28 are full days of sightseeing, and about half a day on the 29th before driving to the airport. Thanks for your help.

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Denali
Denali
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Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
Winnipeg, Canada
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3. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

What I would do....

May 26 - one-way rental car from Avis in Whittier. Drive to Anchorage (1+ hr) with stop at Wildlife Conservation Center, maybe Girdwood to go up the Tram if weather is clear, lots of scenic stops. Depending on your interests, you could either visit Native Heritage Center and Museum, 1 hr. trolley tour of city, etc., or if you enjoy scenic drives, head to Matanuska Glacier (2+ hrs) for the 2 hr. guided hike on the glacier with Matanuska Glacier Guides (must pre-arrange), maybe stopping at Musk Ox Farm along the way. Drive back to ANC and overnight.

May 27 - (return Avis car this morning or last night depending on when the 24 hours are up). Morning flight to FAI., maybe the 9:25 a.m. one arriving 10:25, costs about $100 pp. Pick up rental car, have lunch. 1 pm Riverboat Discovery. Supper. Pick up snacks/supplies for Denali. Drive to Denali (2+ hrs) to overnight at Denali Park Hotel (actually a motel, has microwave and minfridge), costs $114 per night plus tax. If time, drive the 14 miles into the park that private vehicles are allowed to look for wildlife. Do that a couple of times during your stay.

May 28 - shuttle to Toklat (6 hrs) to view scenery and look for wildlife. Bring food & beverages since none are for sale inside the park. With shuttles you can get off to hike on the way back and flag down a later shuttle to head back to the entrance. Entrance activities such as visitor center displays & film, rafting, hiking, Ranger sled dog demo, Husky Homestead, ATV, flightseeing, etc. Overnight Denali.

May 29 - morning in Denali if still things to do? Drive back to FAI (2+ hrs). Maybe Museum of the North or Antique Auto Museum, drive 8 miles north on Steese to view Pipeline Display, Running Reindeer Ranch (must pre-book), etc. Pioneer Park until it's time to drive to airport.

I hope this gives you some ideas.

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Girdwood
Girdwood
Anchorage, AK
Musk Ox Farm
Musk Ox Farm
370 Reviews
Palmer, AK
Denali
Denali
2,420 Reviews
Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
Denali Park Hotel
Denali Park Hotel
429 Reviews
Healy, AK
Husky Homestead
Husky Homestead
1,425 Reviews
Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
Healy, Alaska
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4. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

Maple - you are such a gem at itineraries! :)

Anaheim, California
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5. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

Thanks! I just book the Denali Hotel. I was looking at it already so when you recommended it, I went ahead and booked it. What scenery would we miss out on flying to Fairbanks rather than driving up to Denali from there? The rental cars were surprisingly not to bad except for the taxes, and we'd still have to pay that from Fairbanks. I'll compare costs on rental cars from there.

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Denali
Denali
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Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
Healy, Alaska
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6. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

Do you mean the scenery driving to Denali from Fairbanks rather than from Anchorage? Well, if the weather is clear, you can see Denali from either direction but better views are nearer to Talkeetna. Fairbanks is more rolling hill country, whereas the drive from Anchorage is pretty flat I think . . .

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Denali
Denali
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Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
Winnipeg, Canada
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7. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

Certainly the drive from Anchorage to Denali is more scenic than Denali to Fairbanks, especially around the Talkeetna area *IF* The Mountain is visible (usually it's shrouded in clouds). It would add 3+ hours more driving, but if you're okay with that, go for it. If you intend to do Matanuska, maybe overnight there the first night. No sense driving back to Anchorage unless you need to return the car. Check Homestead Cabins or Sheep Mt. Lodge.

Edited: 21 February 2018, 09:15
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Denali
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Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
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8. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

And Coalminer, thanks for the compliment. You are always so kind and gracious to everyone! :)

Healy, Alaska
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9. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

Well I really appreciate your itineraries - always timed well with lots of great things to do & explore. As a resident, I simply cannot do anything more than a rough itinerary. And when folks send me a PM with itinerary help, I always tell them to post on the forum as I really can't assist much. :)

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10. Re: seeing Denali after a cruise on our own

We found the scenery much nicer along the Anchorage-Denali route than Denali-Fairbanks - we stopped many times to take in the majesty of the mountains, the rivers, etc.

Edited: 21 February 2018, 23:29
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Denali
Denali
2,420 Reviews
Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
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