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Need itinerary advice- Just beginning to plan!

chicago,IL
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Need itinerary advice- Just beginning to plan!

We will be landing in Anchorage in late August and have 10 days. We are trying to fit in quite a lot so I realize we cannot see it all. We are open to renting a car, (though we are open to train/bus etc) but do not want to drive for long hours every single day. Upon arrival we would spend the night in Anchorage and bike the coastal trail. Then one plan is to head to Sheep Mtn. Lodge for 1 night. Here is where I am stuck. I cannot decide if we should continue towards St. Elias National Park and Chitina. Then go to down to Valdez- take the car ferry to Whittier and back to Anchorage. OR- simply head south to Seward- Homer and explore just that area. What are the pros/cons of each? Shouldn't we see a national park while in Alaska? We like to hike, fish, kayak. Please help! We have 10 full days. Thanks!

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3 replies to this topic
Winnipeg, Canada
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1. Re: Need itinerary advice- Just beginning to plan!

There is no requirement to visit a national park. Plan activities you'd enjoy doing wherever that leads you.

Chitina is not in Wrangell-St. Elias NP. Were you planning to take Kennicott shuttle to McCarthy? Or do the fly/drive combo? If you want to drive your own vehicle, be aware most car rental companies don't allow driving on the gravel McCarthy Rd. Check the bottom of the website for McCarthy Lodge for rental suggestions.

Also be aware that the ferry doesn't run from Valdez to Whittier every day. I think it's Tues, Thurs. and Sat., but check the website to be sure.

If you want to go to Wrangell-St. E, why were you spending a night at Sheep Mt.? Most people don't want to hike more than one glacier. Or did you have other activities planned? If you're in good shape, near McCarthy you have a chance to explore ice caves (depends on safety/availability). Check St. Elias Guides. Also near Seward is the Harding Icefield hike (6 to 8 hrs., strenuous, great views even part-way to the top).

Exact dates/times of arrival & departure would help. Some activities start closing down by the end of August.

"What are the pros/cons of each?"

That would take a book. Figure out the activities you want to do, and that will tell you where to go. Perhaps the loop from Anchorage-McCarthy-Valdez-ferry to Whittier-Seward. Spending a couple of days in each place plus driving/ferry would take up your 10 days. Fishing can be done out of Seward and Valdez. Kayaking out of the same two ports. Were you interested in kayaking near glaciers or icebergs?

I gather you're not interested in a bear viewing tour ($600+)? If not, then don't bother going to Homer. It adds 6 more hours of driving and the drive there is not scenic until you get close to Homer.

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chicago,IL
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2. Re: Need itinerary advice- Just beginning to plan!

Thanks as your reply was very helpful. I will check ferry times and would love to be able to do:

Anchorage-McCarthy-Valdez-Whittier-Seward. Do you think 10 days is enough time for all that?

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Winnipeg, Canada
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3. Re: Need itinerary advice- Just beginning to plan!

Sample itinerary with no long drives (depends on availability of the ferry & various tours, check those before making final plans--depending on dates you might have to reverse the itinerary), and assuming you won't have a rental car permitted on the gravel McCarthy Rd.:

Day 1 – arrive ANC. bike coastal trail if time. Overnight.

Day 2 – biking if you didn’t do it yesterday. Drive to Matanuska Glacier (2+ hrs) with stop at Eagle River Nature Center, Musk Ox Farm, maybe short detour to scenic Hatcher Pass/Independence Mine to hike or explore, maybe maybe 5 pm zipline with MICA. Overnight nearby (Sheep Mt. Lodge, Homestead Cabins, Tundra Rose Cabins).

Day 3 – either rafting or ice climbing/hiking or ATV with MICA or Nova. Maybe Lions Head hike ( quietwanderings.com/2013/… ). Drive to somewhere between Copper Center and Chitina (2.5 to 3.5 hrs) to overnight with stop at Copper Center visitor center (film, displays, views, short hike). If you go to Chitina, see the fishing wheels, maybe part of Liberty Falls trail: trailsunblazed.com/liberty-falls-chitina-ala… .

Day 4 – Short drive to Chitina( if not already there--or you might be able to be picked up where you are depending where you stay) to be picked up by Kennicott shuttle around 8:30 a.m. arrives McCarthy 11 a.m. Or, you can do the scenic flight into the park from Chitina with Wrangell Mt. Air, and return tomorrow via shuttle or flight. Afternoon half-day Root Glacier hike with St. Elias Guides (might have to be a private tour depending on the date). Explore & overnight McCarthy.

Day 5 – morning Ice Cave exploration if available, other hiking/exploring if not. 4:30 pm Kennicott shuttle arrives Chitina 6:30 pm. Drive to Valdez (2.5 hrs) with stops at waterfalls, Worthington Glacier, Solomon Gulch fish hatchery (if you spend some time there, might see bears or sea lions catching the returning salmon). Overnight Valdez.

Day 6 – kayaking (check Anadyr or Pangaea). Hiking/exploring. Overnight Valdez.

Day 7 (**must be a day the ferry runs this route**) – 7:30 a.m. ferry to Whittier arrives 1:15 pm. Drive to Seward (2 hrs) with stop at Wildlife Conservation Center. Maybe SeaLife Center and Tonsina hike or kayak/hike.

Day 8 – full day fishing charter.

Day 9 – full day Aialik Glacier kayaking (water taxi there and back doubles as a Kenai Fjords wildlife cruise).

Day 10 – Harding Icefield hike (6 to 8 hrs). Drive back to Anchorage (3 hrs) with scenic stops between Girdwood & Anchorage.

Have fun planning!

Edited: 08 June 2018, 03:55
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