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Posted: July 25, 2011 - 3:53 pm
Q: I am looking for good deals for lodging on the Kenai starting the 26th for a few days, including at least a half-day guided fly fishing and a bear/wildlife viewing excursion. Then we are heading to Denali for 2-3 days. We will probably take the tour bus in, but also want a flight around Mt. Mckinley with a glacier landing. We leave for our return trip home no later than Aug. 2. —Les
A: Les, Great choices on your itinerary. It's hard to find significant discounts this time of year. However, you can
Posted: May 31, 2011 - 2:25 pm
Q: I want to go to Alaska for a once in a lifetime trip. I like fishing. My wife just wants to be pampered and have a spa experience, and my 15-year old is a great athlete with energy to burn. Where can we go where we can all be together but get to do things we each want?
A: There's a company up here specializing in "multi-sport" itineraries, which would be perfect for you and your family. Tordrillo Mountain Lodge was started by big mountain heli-skiing guides, who built the lodge around their guiding mentality. You'll be able to fish, your teenager can go on big adventures and your wife can join you or enjoy the fine meals, wine cellar, massages and hot tub at the Lodge.
Posted: May 6, 2011 - 4:22 pm
Q: I would like the relaxation of seeing some of Alaska from a cruise, but don't know if I could sleep in one of the cabins - I'm a real light sleeper. Would I get sea sick on this? I get motion sickness easily.
A: This is a big concern for many travelers. I wrote a page on Alaska.org about motion sickness that has some helpful advice.
As for whether you could sleep...we just took a Disney Cruise this spring, and I slept really well. I use a sound machine at home, and found the sound of the boat and the water incredibly relaxing and somniferous!
Posted: April 26, 2011 - 4:03 pm
Q: I am considering visiting Alaska on my own, because I like to travel independently. But I also want to go on some tours. However, I don't care to spend several hours at a time on a tour, but I would be open to a few hours per day. Is this possible?
A: It’s great to travel independently in Alaska. But the same things that make this state unique and special (scale, wildness, terrain), make it hard to explore on your own. You need boats, planes, rafts, gear and expertise to see a lot of the best stuff up here. You might spot the Matanuska Glacier from the highway, but only experienced and intrepid travelers would walk on it without a guide. And your guides will make sure you do it safely, while teaching you a ton about glaciation.
Posted: April 14, 2011 - 3:46 pm
Q: I want to see bears and whales on my trip to Alaska. I'll be in Anchorage June 13-16th, and then I board a cruise ship with ports of call in Sitka, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. I was considering Redoubt Bay Lodge for bear viewing. Any other suggestions for where to go to see these animals? Thanks —Mike
A: Your best bet for bear viewing may be to depart from the Anchorage area. Redoubt Bay Lodge, which you asked about, may be the nicest bear viewing lodge in Alaska, less than an hour by floatplane from Anchorage.
Posted: March 18, 2011 - 10:57 am
Q: We are planning to visit Alaska, but we are not sure if we need visas to visit? —Kobus and Anna
A: Hi guys. Thanks for the inquiry. You need to have a tourism visa to visit the U.S (a B-2). If that is the valid USA visa you hold, you’re all set. If not, you’re going to need to start planning now. There are quite a few countries whose citizens are allowed into the U.S (and Alaska) without a visa. Unfortunately, South Africa is not on the list.
Posted: February 23, 2011 - 11:49 am
Q: Our family has made several road trips out of Anchorage in past years. We've gone south to the Kenai and north to Denali. This year, we'd like to go somewhere different, hopefully with less RV traffic and fewer tourists than the Seward or Parks Hwy. We also like hiking. Any suggestions?
A: Horace Greeley might have said "Go West, young man," but in this case, I suggest you head East out of Anchorage along the newly-designated National Scenic Byway Glenn Highway (Alaska Highway #1). Once feared for its narrow, treacherous curves, the road has seen vast improvements over the past 20 years. Originally built as a supply route for the military during the Japanese invasion of Alaska in the mid-1940’s, the Glenn Highway now serves as a major truck transportation route for goods shipped from the lower 48 to south-central Alaska.
Posted: January 28, 2011 - 6:47 pm
Q: I have been told that the northern lights in Alaska are the best, and it sounds like I need to go to Fairbanks to see the best, either in February or at the end of September. I have been looking for some sort of cruise that makes a stop close to Fairbanks to see these lights—and to propose to my girlfriend. How I can accomplish that? Thanks—George
A: Congratulations in advance! Aurora viewing is very strong here for the next few months, and your best bet is indeed out of Fairbanks.
I'm afraid you're not going to reliably pull this off on a cruise. Cruises run from late April until late September,
Posted: January 18, 2011 - 3:16 pm
Q: Can you suggest the best way for us to see Fairbanks, Denali and the don’t-miss towns? We are trying to decide where to begin our journey, and whether to cruise first or last. We can travel anytime between May and end of August. Any ideas? —Jan
A: Jan, I have lots of ideas! Let me break it down, though:
• Consider cruising first. Most people take their land tour first—their logic being that it’s nice to relax on a cruise ship after a more strenuous week of land touring. I recommend the opposite:
Posted: January 12, 2011 - 5:22 pm
Q: I am planning a trip to Alaska in 2012 for a group of 15-20 people, mostly 50 and older. We'd like to spend about one week on the Kenai Peninsula to allow some folks to fish, while others want to sightsee. Then we'd spend perhaps another week seeing Denali.
We have lots of photography buffs and wildlife enthusiasts, and we're open to cabins or other types of lodging. None of us are wealthy so we are working with a middle-class, working-stiff budget! Any suggestions? —Janice
A: For Denali, most people stay outside the Park entrance. But I would recommend Kantishna, deep inside the Park, for your group, depending on your budget.
In particular, look into staying at the Kantishna Roadhouse: It's set on a river, with lots of historic structures and it's the kind of place where everybody can do their own thing—hike, bike, relax or even get a massage. For photography, the best light is in the mornings and evenings, and if you're staying outside the Park, you can never get into the Park early enough in the morning or late at night to make the most of that light.
I'll warn you, though:
Posted: January 11, 2011 - 10:32 am
Q: I am planning a 7-day backpacking trip in Wrangell St. Elias sometime in July or August. What type of weather should I prepare for, and how do I get from Anchorage to the park? —Peter
A: Alaska gets rainier as the summer progresses, so I would vote for July. Luckily, Wrangell St Elias NP tends to be sunnier and drier than other parts of the states during summer, but it also has a lot of different weather variables—even occasional summer snow at the higher elevations.
If you were going to be hiking along the park’s Goat Trail, for instance—a historic route to the Chisana gold fields—I would bring enough layers to be warm in, worst case, 40 degree nights for the high part of the route, then dress down for the lower parts of the route.
As for getting there?
Posted: November 10, 2010 - 10:53 am
Q: My wife and I are planning on visiting Alaska with a stop at Denali in the train. We’d like to get to the Eielson Visitor Center and do some hiking, and we’d also like to do either an ATV or rafting excursion. If we are arriving at 4pm one day and departing at 4pm the next day, we're wondering if everything we want to do will be possible? —Kevin
A: Good news—even though I usually recommend people spend two nights in Denali, so that they have more leeway for activities, I think you can do this.
How? First, take your rafting excursion the evening you arrive. Then, take a reasonably
Posted: August 19, 2010 - 12:05 pm
Q: We’re planning a 2011 trip to Alaska. We want to see glaciers and spend a couple days in Denali and are thinking about booking a package that combines a cruise and a tour, so that we would only need to get our airfare separately. Any suggestions? —Paula
A: There are lots of ways to combine a cruise with a Denali land tour. First, you’ll need to choose a cruise that crosses the Gulf of Alaska and disembarks in one of the Anchorage ports, Seward or Whittier. (Inside Passage cruises, which sail round-trip from Seattle or Vancouver, don’t get near Denali.)
From there, you just need to choose whether you want an escorted or independent land tour. Check
Posted: August 11, 2010 - 4:44 pm
Q: In about 3 weeks, three of my friends and I will be flying in from Canada to do a non-guided river tour on the Killik River. I am feeling anxious that this could be a very difficult trip. I wanted to know your opinion on that particular river: Are we crazy to do this trip without a guide? We have done backcountry backpacking, but I personally have not done a trip with the raft, so any tips would be wonderful. Thanks —Carolyn
A: Good news, Carolyn. The Killik—located on the North Slope of the central Brooks Range—is pretty tame. It never gets more than Class I or Class II water, so the rafting will not be that difficult. If you want to get details on what each whitewater class entails, read our breakdown of different Alaska whitewater classes on Alaska.org.
As for doing a trip without a guide, I can’t assess your skills. Some people would say it’s not wise to do a wilderness float like this without a guide. But my first trip to Alaska was an unguided ascent of Mt. McKinley, and they certainly would have said the same thing about that.
So I think if you have some outdoor experience and are carrying some means of protection against bears, I think you’ll be fine. Since this is a river trip, I don’t see you having any route-finding problems. Just make sure you have the following:
Posted: July 13, 2010 - 2:17 pm
Q: Could you recommend some package tour companies where I could fly into Anchorage this summer and go see Denali for 5 days or so? Camping would be fine with me and I could bring my own sleeping bag. I’d like to do some hikes and maybe some river rafting. —Gary
A: Gary, if you're willing to camp, you can save a ton of money on your vacation. Lodging is typically the single biggest expense for an Alaska trip. By camping, you largely eliminate it.
Denali is great for both hiking and rafting, but of course there are other areas that are great for that, too, such as the Kenai Peninsula. (Check out this list of Alaska campgrounds).
That said, if you want to complete your trip in 5 days, and you want to see Denali, my vote is that you spend all your time in Denali—that way, you don't waste a lot of time driving to other places. Some tips:
Posted: June 2, 2010 - 3:40 pm
Q: Six of us are going to the Seward area to do some charter fishing, but we'd also like to do some bank fishing. Would you recommend a good place to do some bank fishing for halibut? It would be good if we could catch 2 halibuts every day (LOL). —Jesse
A: Great question. We asked Steve Zernia, owner of ProFish-n-Sea, a charter company in Seward, for his advice and he had some bad news: Bank fishing for halibut is a pretty difficult proposition. "Halibut occasionally venture into very shallow water in these areas—I’ve heard of them being caught from a kayak," he told us. “But honestly, the success rate from shore will be very low.” His advice:
Posted: May 27, 2010 - 2:37 pm
Q: Is it wise to hike without a guide in Alaska? We have hiked a lot as a family and want to hike Reed Lake Trail in Palmer. But since this is the wilderness, with brown bears, etc., I don't know how wise this is. If not, whom from the area do you recommend to take us out? —Janet
A: Janet, I wouldn’t worry in the least about doing this hike without a guide—plus, there are only a few places in Alaska where you can do guided hikes.
Indeed, the possibility of bears is what differentiates the Alaska wilderness from others—it changes the experience. But the reality is, the chances of a bear encounter are very slim. Bears are actually pretty shy, and will stay away from people unless they feel threatened. When you’re hiking, it always a good idea to make gentle “human” noises—talking, clapping, even singing, which tells any nearby bears
Posted: May 21, 2010 - 4:32 pm
Q: We’re planning our second trip to Alaska and we want to visit Juneau, Haines, Sitka, Ketchikan and other ports. We plan on using the Marine Highway ferry and want to miss all the crowds. What days are the cruise days? —Duane
A: Great question. The ferry is an excellent way to travel Alaska—it’s laid back, and stops at both major ports and lesser-known ports that are great for exploring. (This is a popular way for Alaskan locals to do their own vacations.) If you want to dodge the huge influxes of cruise passengers at the major ports, check out this link to the Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska web site that shows the docking calendar for each Alaska port. For more info on the ferry, check out our Alaska Marine Highway page on Alaska.org.
Posted: April 15, 2010 - 7:39 pm
Q: We have been watching Ice Road Truckers on TV and wondered if we can drive the Dalton Highway in a standard SUV. We would plan on doing the trip in June. It looks really cool on TV, but is it worth the trip? Will it be as cool without all the ice? Do they still run trucks in the summer, or is it only in winter? Can we get accommodations on route and at Prudhoe Bay? —Sean
A: Yes, it's definitely worth doing! It will give you an appreciation for the scale of Alaska, and its changing topography: forest, hills, mountains and then the vast expanse of emptiness at Deadhorse, right by Prudhoe Bay.
When I first drove the Dalton Highway back in 1988, I did it in a Subaru station wagon—and the road's improved a lot since then. So no doubt you can drive it in a standard SUV. June will be a great month, too—lots of daylight, and clear roads (though some snow in the high country) A few tips, though:
Posted: April 2, 2010 - 3:28 pm
Q: I am planning a driving trip to Alaska and want to know if I can drive to Nome in any combination of roads or ferry. I plan on visiting the Anchorage and Fairbanks areas, too. —Bob
A: I’ve got a little bad news: you cannot drive to Nome! There are no roads leading there, and no ferry service. The only way there is using an Alaska Airlines jet. The good news is that it's not that expensive from Anchorage if you take the Alaska Airlines Nome day or overnight tour (with prices ranging from $499 to $599—a good deal, since the roundtrip flights alone can cost $442).
You might find it fun, however, to spend more time in Nome, in which case you can book your own flights, stay at either stay at either the Aurora Inn or the Nome Nugget Inn. Nome has its big moment every March as the finish line of the Iditarod, but here’s what you can do there other times of year:
Advice for Lodging/Tours in Kenai and Denali - 7/25/2011 3:53 pm
Options for Family Alaska Vacation with Multiple Interests - 5/31/2011 2:25 pm
Advice for Cruises: Sleeping and Motion Sickness - 5/6/2011 4:22 pm
Options for Independent Travel in Alaska - 4/26/2011 4:03 pm
Bear and Whale Watching in June - 4/14/2011 3:46 pm
Travel Visa Requirements - 3/18/2011 10:57 am
Road Trips out of Anchorage - 2/23/2011 11:49 am
Northern Lights Timing - 1/28/2011 6:47 pm