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Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

ohio
Level Contributor
211 posts
12 reviews
Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

We are a family of 5. Three kids, 17, 13, and 10. We are starting with a week long cruise on the Sapphire Princess that ends in Whittier on June 22. Cruise stops are Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau. We will be cruising by Glacier Bay and College Fjord.

Off hand information about us. We travel hard. We really don't sit around and relax we pretty much keep moving and tend to pack a lot of activities into our schedule.

We will fly home from Anchorage on June 28th at 11:25 pm. So I have 7 full days/ 6 nights after the ship docks on the 22nd. Right now I am going to try to rent a car in Whittier to get to our long term car rental from Anchorage and head to Denali on the 22nd. I have reserved 3 nights near Denali and figured we would do the shuttle to wonder lake on the 23rd. On the 24th I figure we would check out the visitor center and dog sleds. Not sure we should stay for the 3rd night or start moving back towards Anchorage and the Kenai peninsula.

And then I'm lost. I'm overwhelmed not sure if we should head to Seward, Homer take a boat tour, go Halibut fishing, spend time in Anchorage. There is so much to pick from I just don't know which way to turn. Any guidance would be appreciated.

Iowa
Level Contributor
92 posts
7 reviews
1. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

I feel your pain. I have been doing research for over a year now for our 2013 Alaska trip and still don't have it all planned out.

I would say alaska.org was a big help to me with the scenic trips and lots of other information. I would start there and then read the trip reports here.

Good luck, there is a lot of informtaion out there and TA is a great help!

Bristol, Connecticut
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
4,780 posts
34 reviews
2. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

Have you looked at some of last years trip reports? The best way to decide where to go is to decide what you want to do. AVIS is your only choice for a OW rental from Whittier, if you know your dates nail down your car rentals as soon as possible. Car rental rates in Alaska can be very high and you should check often after you make your reservation and see if there are better deals. Rent your car away from the airport to save some of the charges.

Plan on an overnight between Denali and Seward/Homer. It is a very long drive and you won't want to do it all in one day. I think with kids you may want to check out the Hatcher Pass/Matanuska Mine area on your way south from Denali.

Day 1-drive to Denali

Day 2-Shuttle into the park

Day 3-Entrance area activities and head south

Day 4-Matanuska Glacier/Hatcher Pass

Day 5-Drive south seeing sights

Day 6-Seward/Homer

Day 7-Seward/Homer head back to Anchorage early to allow for traffic

I think Homer will make for a very long drive and busy days. If Seward suites your wants then it is closer to Anchorage and a bit more manageable. If you do Homer you should drive to Girdwood and skip Hatcher Pass/Matanuska Glacier. Bottom line is decide what you want to do and then decide where you want to go.

ohio
Level Contributor
211 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

Just got the rental car from Whittier booked. $350 ouch. But there are 5 of us so I figure to be in control for a few more dollars vs. bus would be a good plan. I'll have to check out alaska.org.

I should add the kids want to see sled dogs. Is Denali a good place to check them out?

Also they want to do the railroad in Skagway. I think we will do the railroad up to White pass and back. I had thought about renting a car and driving to Emerald Lake and maybe checking out Dyea. (it would be more affordable for the 5 of us) Any opinions on what is the best choice?

Bristol, Connecticut
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
4,780 posts
34 reviews
4. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

Denali is a great place to see the sled dogs, it's free and you can pet them and see the puppies. There is also a demonstration. Seavey's in Seward is also a good place to see sled dogs. I have no information on your southeast plans.

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
16,111 posts
33 reviews
5. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

I like the idea of a lot of activities in your schedule. But that does not mean driving from place to place just to "check off' more Alaska locations (which it does not seem like you are interested in doing, which is good!). Also, I don't like making lodging reservations until I have my itinerary firm.

Spending 2 nights at Denali is the absolute minimum to spend one full day in the park. Note that you have to plan on June 22 being a full travel day. You get off the ship, get a one-way car rental in Whittier, switch cars in Anchorage, have lunch, do some shopping for Denali, drive to Denali. All that will easily take 10 hours (1+ hours Whittier to Anchorage, 1 hour to switch cars, 1 hour for lunch, 1 hour to shop, 5 hours to Denali).

So June 22 won't give you much if any time at Denali park itself. June 23 will be full with the shuttle bus to Eielson or Wonder Lake. I like spacefry's itinerary.

Have you thought about a combination road/train in Skagway? Dyea Dave comes highly recommended and has a tour that you can take up to Emerald Lake then take the train back (or train first then he picks you up). Renting a car would definitely be less expensive than a tour or the train itself, but it is up to you what you want. I don't think Dyea itself is worth a trip (it is a ghost town with little there).

Personally I would consider Seward over Homer just because it is closer, you can do what you want there and it is a great town. Homer is nice too but unless you have a specific reason for going to Homer, with your short time I would not recommend it.

We will fly home from Anchorage on June 28th at 11:25 pm. So I have 7 full days/ 6 nights after the ship docks on the 22nd. Right now I am going to try to rent a car in Whittier to get to our long term car rental from Anchorage and head to Denali on the 22nd. I have reserved 3 nights near Denali and figured we would do the shuttle to wonder lake on the 23rd. On the 24th I figure we would check out the visitor center and dog sleds. Not sure we should stay for the 3rd night or start moving back towards Anchorage and the Kenai peninsula.

Edited: 27 December 2012, 08:41
ohio
Level Contributor
211 posts
12 reviews
6. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

Thanks for all the tips. I'm checking out Manatuska glacier something not even on my radar before. It sounds like something that would really be a neat experience. I was looking at Homer before because we were thinking of going halibut fishing and that seems to be the place to do that but maybe we just don't have the time to get there or even do the fishing for that matter. Still trying to figure this all out. The day off the ship, yep i was pretty much just planning to get to Denali that day. Thanks for all the tips so far. It really does help. And glad to here that Denali is a good place for the sled dogs.

USA
Level Contributor
9,465 posts
44 reviews
7. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

Some of our family visitors have gone halibut fishing out of Seward with good success.

Seward has the sea life center, Exit glacier, great hikes in the area, etc.

New Braunfels, Texas
Level Contributor
283 posts
66 reviews
8. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

Have you checked on taking a train from Whittier to Anchorage? it may be cheaper and an adventure. Also, the third night in Denali may be too much. You might head back towards Anchorage and stay one night in Talkeetna. It's certainly worth a visit and a quick over night stay is a good way. If you have limited time, Seward makes more sense then going all the way to Homer. It's tough to choose and you have limited time. You'll enjoy every moment, whichever way you go...

ohio
Level Contributor
211 posts
12 reviews
9. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

My husband travels a lot for work and has frequent traveler points so the one week rental is no charge to us (or minimal) also we can stay at Embassy Suites in Anchorage with points as well.

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
Level Contributor
13,122 posts
233 reviews
10. Re: Family of 5. Mom is overwhelmed trying to plan Alaska trip.

I highly recommend a guided hike on the Matanuska Glacier. I like it as late in the day as possible for the effect from the lower sun.