north to alaska--need advice

i have 2 weeks to explore the greater anchorage denali area–i will be by myself—safty and great views r my priorities—i want to hike, paddle,raft,and drive–to see and do the best—this trip is at the end of a 7 day cruise so there wont be alot of money left over for guided trips–i will be bringing backpacking camping gear for the hikes and paddling—i am a beginner paddler— paddling calm and slight chop on lake mich-huron-and superior–i woule like to do 2 day paddles in safe and protect waters of pws and kenai fiords–i feel somewhat intimidated by the vastness of what alaska has to offer --i need your advice as to what to see and do—my range will be from denali-anchorage-seward -homer-valdez

1-car rental at the airport is really expensive–can u rernt cheaper in town

2water taxi–is there a couple great spot to go to for kayaking a couple days that would be fairly safe and be able to camp

3denali–is the bus ride through the park worth the 8-10 ride through it

what areas of denali r must see and dos

4-what outfitters would u recomend for the paddling

5do u know of great hiking spots to 2 day backing

6-r the train rides worth the price—which ones

7-scenic car drives–do u have any favorites

thanks -sorry this is so long just things on my mind—take care -phil

One idea
If you’re based out of Anchorage, hop the train to Whittier, and contact Lazy Otter Charters ahead of time. Capt Mike is a great guy, and knows the area well. He should be able to help you out.

thanks wayne—the more people i can talk to the better trip i will have

some local advice

– Last Updated: Jan-24-08 12:42 AM EST –

I live on the Kenai Peninsula; I haven't gone inside Denali though, so can't help you out with that one. Basically, yes, car rentals will be cheaping in Anchorage rather than the airport, but not by much. In the summer, everything tourist oriented is expensive.

2water taxi--is there a couple great spot to go to for kayaking a couple days that would be fairly safe and be able to camp

Yes. There's a water taxi out of Homer called Mako's that will run you across the bay and back for $75. Not sure what's in Seward for that.

3denali--is the bus ride through the park worth the 8-10 ride through it.

I don't think so, but I'm probably in the minority here.

4-what outfitters would u recomend for the paddling

Check online, they should all have a presence there. Find what sounds good to you. They will all be similar in price and what is offered.

5do u know of great hiking spots to 2 day backing

Too many to list. Definitely hike up Exit Glacier out of Seward. About 3500 feet to the Harding Ice Field. You walk on a good trail all the way. Resurrection Trail runs through the peninsula, lots of options for hiking there. Skyline trail out of Cooper Landing. Carter Lake trail out of Moose Pass.... You get the idea.

6-r the train rides worth the price---which ones

Heard great things about the trip from Seward to Anchorage. I've been on just a short trip up near Denali. Not my thing.

7-scenic car drives--do u have any favorites

Drive from Anchorage to Homer or Seward. From Anchorage to Valdez. Pretty much all the main hwys are the only scenic routes. Not much for backroads up here.

Alaska in Summer
If you must go to Anchorage, leave as soon as you can by getting on the train to Denali. Take the bus trip. A cheap car rental is still way too much – I rent cars pretty much every month in Anchorage and Fairbanks and the price climbs and falls with the coming and going of the tourists-- last week it was $21 a day at the airport, in August its $150. If you do rent a car don’t wait until summer to book. Cars are cheaper at FAI, but you still have to get there. Alternatively, forget about Denali and stay in Juneau (yes, I am prejudiced). We have mountains, glaciers and a kayak rental place all on the bus route. You can be on an island within an hour of setting off from shore.


thankyou orca—that was very helpfull—there is so much to see and do—

Take the train
I lived in Alaska during the pipeline construction (mid-late 1970s) during which time I worked for the Alaska Railroad, first as a brakeman and later as a fireman/hostler. In that time I think I traveled just about every inch of track on the system. There are beautiful places to see that can only be seen on foot or by train. Take your eyes off the road for a bit and enjoy the ride. If they still run the dining car like they used to the menu will knock your socks off.

Check with Denali Park about the bus. It used to be that they ran buses back and forth on the hour all day. You could ride out a ways, get off at wherever, and hop the next one farther in or out. You might not have to spend the whole day bouncing around in a bus.

This is really old information, but the tracks haven’t changed much and the scenery should still be incredible.

the rush is on
SOme thoughts to add to the list.

PWS is not a begginers paddle area. Are you expereinced with tides and how to read tidal charts? DO you have the proper paddleing gear to deal with the elements. They got over 300 inches of rain in that area so you MUST stay dry.

Lots of griz and bears…so you question asking “is it safe” thats up to you what you call “safe” Its THEIR home…meaning the bears, you are the visitor. Have you delt with griz before and know the proper means for a clean camp, hanging food etc etc??

The bus through denali even through LONG is well worth it- afterall there is no other way to get in there!!! YOu most likely will see MANY bear, dall sheep, Moose, …on and on etc.

The views of Mt. Mckinley may be shouded in clouds. The view is sometimes covered all but one day a month, so dont expect to see it.

As far as backpacking goes, there is not a lot of people that backpack as say compared to other National Parks due to the terrain. Its muskeg!!! Uneven broken ground, mound and holes and ridges to step in over through, soggy wet etc etc. Your routes will be limited. Google “TOTAL YELLOWSTONE PAGE” and there is a website with a FORUM For EVERY National Park in the country, with message boards, trail info, things to see etc etc. I had a friend do a 90-day unsupported backpack trip up there and he averaged 1 mile a day!!!(and lost 45 lbs doing it)

With such a short time in AK, you may want to do the scenic tour and take advantage of that such as the train to Fairbanks for example.


Interior resident advice (Fairbanks)
Okay, after that Juneau comment, I have to get in this :slight_smile:

  1. Car rental is expensive, no matter where, especially in the summer.

  2. Water taxis are avail in Valdez and Whittier, but as paddletothesea points out, PWS is not for beginners on their own, ALL kinds of safety warning flags waving here. Your best bet would be to go out on a guided trip, the rental places in Whittier will take you out and camp and show you the sites while being safe.

  3. The train from Anchorage-Denali-Fairbanks is quite scenic, but it is a long trip. Take the train to Denali, camp in the campgrounds, take the busride into the park. GO to the website NOW and make reservations. You must realize that Denali is a MAJOR tourist attraction, and the park will be FULL, and is very heavily managed so that the wildlife, and area are not over abused. With that in mind, it is a spectacular place.

  4. Homer, Kayak Academy is a good place for kayak rentals and guided trips.

  5. Hiking happens EVERYWHERE

  6. Here’s an all round ittinerary:

    Train =Anchorage/Denali Take the bus into the park, and take a guided raft ride on the Nenana River

    Train =Denali/Fairbanks University of Alaska has a great museum, and take a trip to see the “Pipeline”.

    Get a bus ride to Valdez, Take a guided overnight Kayak trip with Pangeea.

    Get on the Alaska State Ferry from Valdez to Whitter…fun and scenic

    Take the train in Whittier to Anchorage…also fun and scenic.

    Back in Anchorage to catch your flight home.

    All of these resources are on the web:

    Hey, if I am home, I’ll pick you up at the train station. :slight_smile:


In case you don’t recognize the title (came out in '07) it is Sean Penn’s movie about the challenges of roughing it alone in Alaska. A good movie, a look back at the 70’s, and it shows the resourcefulness of the main character and how good intentions don’t always pan out.

That said, I read Going to Extremes and wanted to walk around Alaska too. Didn’t make it. Recently I read a book about the Yukon River and how all those “back to nature” homesteaders of the 60’s and 70’s have all but disappeared leaving nothing but simple cabins and ruins along the river.

What’s my point… guess I’m a little envious of your upcoming adventure. Many have dreamed such a dream and I hope it all works out for you. When you get back be sure and let lower 48er’s know how it went!

Good Luck!

u guys r the best—this is the only forum i read on a regular basis—u have wowed me with your generous responses----thanks—take care----phil