We're planning a 2 week Alaska vacation in the summer of 2013 for our 25th anniversary. We'll be flying to Anchorage and picking up a Class C rental. When is it better to go if only 2 weeks? Would love to go for longer, but husband can't get away for longer in one time. Which places, spots are must see? Any itinerary suggestion for 2 weeks? I appreciate any help/pointers from anyone.
Thank you so very much for any help.
Me and Hubby
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The entire Kenai Peninsula would be the mainstay (Homer-Seward-Whittier areas), followed by a drive to Valdez in the class C.
If you care to sacrifice two or three days away from the Kenai Peninsula, head to Denali National Park and hope you hit a clear as a bell day to see Denali (Mt. McKinley).
Forget the interior region north of Denali as it is not as majestic, but is worth seeing in it's own part which would be ideal if you had the extra time.
June and July is best time, most daylight hours too.
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We spent July and Augustin AK 2 years ago. I agree with AKsilvereagle on what to see in just 2 weeks. We visited all the places mentioned and were very fortunate to see Denali for three days while staying at the National Park. If your time is short and you can't visit the park, go to Talkeetna. It is a wonderful small town with the best view of Denali when the conditions are right. Take one of the airplane tours from there.
There are so many areas to see but the many, many miles between, it limits what you can drive and see in two weeks. Our trip was a total of 3 months and 14,000 miles. We knew we would not be going to AK again so we wanted to see as much as possible. Since you will be flying to AK, you may want to revisit some day when time permits. Enjoy.
I'd go late June to the Anchorage area. The heavier rains start mid July or so. With just two weeks, keep to the Kenai peninsula and a quick trip to Denali if possible. There is a train you can take from Anchorage to Denali. Pricey, but it would save time and add to your vacation.
Two weeks will give you a good taste of the Alaska highway system. There is a "tourist" circle that is a beautiful drive.
I would start from Anchorage and drive north to Denali Park, then on north to Fairbanks, spend a day there ride the paddle wheeler, etc. Then over to Delta Junction or Tok and south toward Glennallen, down to Valdez and spend a day, do a two glacier boat tour in Valdez. Then back north to Glennallen, west to Palmer/Wasilla, the back south to Anchorage and on to the Kenai, first night in Seward, then head to Kenai and on to Homer and when your time is up, head back to Anchorage to turn in the RV and catch a kerosene queen south to the Lower 48.
Two weeks, 14 days will make a nice trip for you. I have often said, I would fly to Alaska for the weekend if I could afford it. LOL
I would break it up into a couple of days to get to Denali Park and to be there, 2 days to and in Fairbanks, two days to Delta and in Valdez, then a couple of days to get back to Anchorage and to the Kenai Peninsula. Should leave you with about 5 or 6 days to mess around on the Kenai and get back to Anchorage.
This would give you a good idea of where you want to spend more time on your next trip. Going to Alaska is very addictive to many of us forum members. Any amount of time is better than not going IMHO.
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If you're in a rental, you probably can't do the Denali Highway (from Cantwell to Paxson) but if you could, in my view, I'd reduce some of the Fairbanks area time and take the Denali Highway to Cantwell, then down to Valdez and so forth.
Personal preference, but for two weeks, I'd go first two weeks of September. (REAL personal preference is last two weeks of September, but most services will long since be shut down at the RV/tourist spots)
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From experience doing AK for 10 days to 3 Weeks over the past 7 years I'd concur with most of the previous posts. When friends join us for their first trip to AK we have done the Denali to Homer circuit.
How you parse your time will depend on what you enjoy doing. Is this casual sightseeing? Do you want to cover the whole territory or spend more time in one place and get to know it a little bit? Do you want to fish? If so, salmon (which species), trout, halibut, or all of the above?
Homer is our favorite place in AK. It has everything going for it. Water, ice covered mountains, halibut and other fishing, etc... We think of it as Jackson Hole on the ocean (without the price tag or attitude...). From Homer Seldovia is a fantastic day trip where the ferry often doubles as a whale watching boat.
If you like to fish trout or salmon I'd plan a day or two at Cooper Landing. If it is about King salmon, then you may want to stay around Soldotna. A day of guided fishing out of Cooper Landing can be lights out. My favorite guides are Alaska Angling Addiction (Paul) and Troutfitters.
Seward: Take a glacier cruise. You can do these out of Whitier as well, but I think the ones out of Seward are better. Everyone we've taken to AK has considered the Glacier cruise to be a highlight.
Anchorage: The Alaska Museum. Absolutely worth it.
Denali: Yes, but just do the 8 hr, Eielson bus. It may be cool to say you went to Kantishna, but it is 13 hours on a school bus and the wildlife is scarce past Eielson. Honestly, we love it when we see Denali, but haven't gotten into hiking in the park, so for the last several visits it has been arrive late, day in Park, and drive back to Anchorage or on to the Kenai the next day. Talkeetna is a great suggestion.
I hate to admit it, but we have never been inspired to go to Valdez or Fairbanks. More inclined to catching a flight to Bristol Bay or spending a week on a remote float trip for some fishing. Also, we so enjoy the Kenai that unless we have new friends along we just make a beeline for Homer, spend 3-4 days and then work our way back to Anchorage.
Yes to Joe B. and Umpqua's suggestions. As a former Alaskan, born and raised there, I would do pretty much exactly that if I were taking friends on a 2 week tour.
Personally, I would skip Valdez. Growing up there we called it the armpit of Alaska, although others clearly disagree. :-) I would spend the extra couple of days around the kenai river or copper river. If you go between mid June and mid July you are likely to hit a salmon run.
If you like to fish you should salmon fish the kenai and/or copper and take a halibut charter in homer. If you don't like to fish, you should at least take the halibut charter.
No matter when you go, take plenty of warm extra pairs of socks and rain gear. You can hope for dry weather during a couple of weeks in the summer but never count on it.
You should stop to see the portage glacier, although there isn't as much glacier to see as there used to be, the lake and view is still impressive. Easy to get to and great stop down the highway.
Thanks to everyone for all your great suggestions. I had already planned on going to Denali and maybe doing a short bus tour. Also thought about taking the train from Anchorage. The Kenai has always looked amazing whenever I've watched "Alaska State Troopers"....
I'm sure this will be the first of many trips to come as I've been in love with its beauty and scenery ever since all these TV shows started years ago and have been going strong ever since! Again, thanks a million!
Sillyme, I sure hope you plan to spend some time in Yukon! Different than Alaska despite sharing a border. There are some amazing sights in this territory and some great adventures to be had.
Hate to admit it, but everytime we visit Alaska, we feel a sense of relief returning to Canada. The air must be different! Actually, Yukon is quieter and more subtle than its neighbour, which can be hectic and busy. That is why we prefer Yukon and decided to move here.