Yeti GOBOX Collection

Family Trip to Alaska - Let’s Talk

NEWHunter

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Location
Brookfield, WI
Well folks, the tickets are bought. We’re making this trip primarily because my Uncle has lived there for many years and my wife would like to go. So, we’ll be arriving in Anchorage very early on 7/4 and leaving late on 7/14. This is a OIL trip for our family. For those of you that live there, have visited, or have items on your to do list up there, I’m looking for your thoughts. We’ve put some stuff together based on our research and talking with my Uncle. Here’s our tentative itinerary:
  • 7/4 - drive to Fairbanks and maybe check out Denali and/or Talkeetna on the way
  • 7/5 - rent a car and drive to the arctic circle. I know it’s a lot of driving, but for some reason my wife wants to go . . . Is this a dumb idea for a younger family in a rental car? Looking for experience here.
  • 7/6 - check out Fairbanks and North Pole. Maybe find a kennel where we could see some sled dogs and go for a ride
  • 7/7 - head back to Anchorage and consider a flight seeing tour of Denali on the way back
  • 7/8 - take the train down to Seward and back in style. Check out the Sea Life Center or a kennel if it didn’t work out on the Fairbanks leg
  • 7/9-12 - drive to Whittier and spend 4ish days and 3 nights on my Uncle’s boat cruising around PWS. We hope to get up close to a glacier, see some whales and other wildlife, and catch a fish or two. This is the primary reason for the trip. My parents did it pre-Covid and said it’s an opportunity we can’t pass up.
  • 7/13-14 - check out a gold mine/claim and do some panning and hopefully find some color. See Anchorage, head up to Hatcher Pass, visit my cousin in Wasilla, and . . .
For reference, my daughter will be 10 and my son will be 12. The wife wants to see some whales, which we should be able to check off on the boat trip. Daughter wants to go for a dog “sled ride” - I’m looking for recommendations. My son’s highlight will be the train ride. Something I might want to fit in is a half day of guided fishing. My Unlce can catch fish but I don’t think he’s a fisherman per se. I’d like a barn door but if there’s a run on with good action that would be fine too. Would the Denali flight seeing tour be worth it? Any recommendations there? Anything that I missed that I have to find time for?
 
We did a land and sea cruise a few years ago. Denali is impressive, if good weather. One thing we did, with sled dogs, is we got to go to a camp and learn about it, and play with puppies. They use this to get the puppies used to people
 
Well folks, the tickets are bought. We’re making this trip primarily because my Uncle has lived there for many years and my wife would like to go. So, we’ll be arriving in Anchorage very early on 7/4 and leaving late on 7/14. This is a OIL trip for our family. For those of you that live there, have visited, or have items on your to do list up there, I’m looking for your thoughts. We’ve put some stuff together based on our research and talking with my Uncle. Here’s our tentative itinerary:
  • 7/4 - drive to Fairbanks and maybe check out Denali and/or Talkeetna on the way
  • 7/5 - rent a car and drive to the arctic circle. I know it’s a lot of driving, but for some reason my wife wants to go . . . Is this a dumb idea for a younger family in a rental car? Looking for experience here.
  • 7/6 - check out Fairbanks and North Pole. Maybe find a kennel where we could see some sled dogs and go for a ride
  • 7/7 - head back to Anchorage and consider a flight seeing tour of Denali on the way back
  • 7/8 - take the train down to Seward and back in style. Check out the Sea Life Center or a kennel if it didn’t work out on the Fairbanks leg
  • 7/9-12 - drive to Whittier and spend 4ish days and 3 nights on my Uncle’s boat cruising around PWS. We hope to get up close to a glacier, see some whales and other wildlife, and catch a fish or two. This is the primary reason for the trip. My parents did it pre-Covid and said it’s an opportunity we can’t pass up.
  • 7/13-14 - check out a gold mine/claim and do some panning and hopefully find some color. See Anchorage, head up to Hatcher Pass, visit my cousin in Wasilla, and . . .
For reference, my daughter will be 10 and my son will be 12. The wife wants to see some whales, which we should be able to check off on the boat trip. Daughter wants to go for a dog “sled ride” - I’m looking for recommendations. My son’s highlight will be the train ride. Something I might want to fit in is a half day of guided fishing. My Unlce can catch fish but I don’t think he’s a fisherman per se. I’d like a barn door but if there’s a run on with good action that would be fine too. Would the Denali flight seeing tour be worth it? Any recommendations there? Anything that I missed that I have to find time for?
Most places won't let you take a rental in the Dalton highway to the artic circle, so be mindful of that and check beforehand

On your flight tour of Denali see if you can go land on a glacier and do sled dog ride on the snow vs bare land.


Sea life center is dang expensive, so just know that a head of time. While in Seward recommend going up to see exit glacier. About a mile hike to be able to see the glacier due to it receding.


While in Anchorage recommend eating at mooses tooth. Plan for a long wait and no reservations. Get Diablo sticks for an app, order a beer and get the kids their fresh brewed root beer.


In fairbanks check out Chena hot springs. Not ideal in the summer time, but still a cool place. Take the kids to Santa's village in the north pole. Eat at pagoda Chinese restaurant in north pole, get the Mongolian beef, Anthony Bourdain said it was the best he's ever had, and I know it's the best I've ever had

If you like river fishing you might catch a few fish still in the Russian, or can snag them in Seward but it's kinda a slack time of river fish. Should be good out in the boat for silvers tho.



If you like adventure go rafting down six mile. Gets up to class five rapid at the last canyon
 
Your schedule is way too tight to do what you have planned. LOTS of driving between the stops. Never did the arctic circle but as far as I know it's a sign. LOTS of kennels scattered around for tours and rides. Flights from Talkeetna to Denali are great. We popped for the glacier landing. Holy crap, that was awesome! Family of 4 will be fairly pricey. Sea life center was ok but not impressive. Pretty much the only thing in Seward that I remember. We liked the Wildlife center in Girdwood. Going over Hatcher Pass is a nice drive. Taking the Glenn highway past Palmer is beautiful. Stop at the Matanuska glacier for a walk-around. Gold panning will be the typical tourist trap stuff that makes them money.

Depending on what time you arrive in Anchorage I would suggest taking the drive to Talkeetna and spend the night there. The lodge has an incredible view of Denali from the deck. The next day you can do the flight or a jet boat tour. Or both. Fairbanks is close to a 5 hour drive from there.

I would find a kennel online near Fairbanks and do it there. North Pole is right down the road and the Santa Claus House is popular with reindeer for the kids while mom looks at Christmas stuff. The fudge is very good!

Leaving Fairbanks you can drop down to Wasilla and visit. The next morning drive back up to Willow and take Hatcher Pass road all the way through to Glenn highway and then go north to the glacier then back down to where you want to stay.

Not much worth doing in Anchorage itself so the train is an option but I don't know about the return. Maybe take the train for your visit to Whittier. He'll like going through the tunnel.

Do some googling for distances and driving times. Don't forget to add in picture stops. Good ice cream at Miller's in Houston. Just saying. Don't try to get too many things into your schedule. You're going to spend too much time driving to enjoy it. Alaska is huge!
 
AK is amazing! AK is also huge, sounds like way too much driving to me especially with kids. I’ve driven the haul road from Fairbanks to Coldfoot and it’s not as majestic as some other areas I have been. Fairbanks is also nothing special. I would recommend the Denali highway loop ( Paxson - Cantwell is the best part), way less driving and gorgeous country with the Alaska range as a backdrop. We saw moose, bears, caribou, fox, and caught grayling when we did that loop in July of 2016. Not sure on places to stay though, we were in a camper van and spent a full week doing the loop.
If you do go to Fairbanks creamers field and the gardens at the university are nice, maze at the gardens is a hit for kids.
Do check with rental car companies/read the contract. Several have rules about roads you can’t drive, would ruin a trip real quick if something happened and insurance wouldn’t cover.
Enjoy!
 
I’ve driven the haul road from Fairbanks to Coldfoot and it’s not as majestic as some other areas I have been. Fairbanks is also nothing special.
Echo this. I did the Haul Rd drive last August as part of caribou hunt...I suspect there are other more impressive drives all around AK your family would enjoy more. Arctic Circle is going to eat up a full day out and back, and it's literally just a sign on the side of the road. Cool if you're passing by, but probably not worth it as a destination in itself, especially with everything else AK has to offer.
 
I've been lucky enough to do a handful of flights into the Alaska range out of Talkeetna, I'd put that as a life list experience, worth doing a glacier landing as well...
Talkeetna air Taxi has always been exceptional for me.
I'd probably skip Talkeetna if you're not flying though? Or make it a short trip, there's not a ton to see/do in town.
 
If you take the bus trip into Denali, do not, I repeat do not let your seats go on the bus you go in on. You may not get onto another bus. When in Anchorage eat at Moose's Tooth pizza. There is a park in Anchorage and you hike to the top and can see all over the city, I forget the name.
 
If you take the bus trip into Denali, do not, I repeat do not let your seats go on the bus you go in on. You may not get onto another bus. When in Anchorage eat at Moose's Tooth pizza. There is a park in Anchorage and you hike to the top and can see all over the city, I forget the name.
Flattop?

I agree with most others, your timeline is off. It’s a push to make anchorage-Fairbanks in a day without a stop. The last half in Seward and Whittier seems more appropriate time wise.

During that time the reds should be running on the Kenai and the Russian river. But that also means the people will be there.
 
Id skip the haul rd drive with the family...
Alot could go wrong on that road and leave you broke down and take alot more time.
Drive South instead. Go to Seward on whale watch trip. Or go Valdez.. both pretty drive. Nice towns..

IMO I would also skip Fairbanks. Was a waste of day for us unless you like big cities.
 
I would leave the kids at home and go with just your wife. I mean this with the most respect to your kids as possible as well. I am sure they are just wonderful.

Kids ruin perfectly good vacations....Seen it happen at least 20 times.....
 
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We did a land and sea cruise a few years ago. Denali is impressive, if good weather. One thing we did, with sled dogs, is we got to go to a camp and learn about it, and play with puppies. They use this to get the puppies used to people
Yes, definitely planning on doing the sled dog thing. It will be the highlight for my daughter most likely. Happen to remember the name of the outfit you visited? Would you recommend them?
 
Your schedule is way too tight to do what you have planned. LOTS of driving between the stops. Never did the arctic circle but as far as I know it's a sign. LOTS of kennels scattered around for tours and rides. Flights from Talkeetna to Denali are great. We popped for the glacier landing. Holy crap, that was awesome! Family of 4 will be fairly pricey. Sea life center was ok but not impressive. Pretty much the only thing in Seward that I remember. We liked the Wildlife center in Girdwood. Going over Hatcher Pass is a nice drive. Taking the Glenn highway past Palmer is beautiful. Stop at the Matanuska glacier for a walk-around. Gold panning will be the typical tourist trap stuff that makes them money.

Depending on what time you arrive in Anchorage I would suggest taking the drive to Talkeetna and spend the night there. The lodge has an incredible view of Denali from the deck. The next day you can do the flight or a jet boat tour. Or both. Fairbanks is close to a 5 hour drive from there.

I would find a kennel online near Fairbanks and do it there. North Pole is right down the road and the Santa Claus House is popular with reindeer for the kids while mom looks at Christmas stuff. The fudge is very good!

Leaving Fairbanks you can drop down to Wasilla and visit. The next morning drive back up to Willow and take Hatcher Pass road all the way through to Glenn highway and then go north to the glacier then back down to where you want to stay.

Not much worth doing in Anchorage itself so the train is an option but I don't know about the return. Maybe take the train for your visit to Whittier. He'll like going through the tunnel.

Do some googling for distances and driving times. Don't forget to add in picture stops. Good ice cream at Miller's in Houston. Just saying. Don't try to get too many things into your schedule. You're going to spend too much time driving to enjoy it. Alaska is huge!
Thanks @Dave N my uncle had the same concerns on that initial timeline. The wife seems to really want a picture in front of that Arctic Circle sign, so we’ll see. My uncle suggested photoshop. We’re still thinking about that. We had a similarly aggressive timeline a few years ago from Milwaukee to the Black Hills to Yellowstone so we think it’s possible. Whether or not it’s a good idea remains to be seen. The North Pole stop and the arctic circle photo op are pretty much the whole reason for the Fairbanks leg at this point.

We are giving serious thought to the glacier landing in Denali. Do you happen to remember the service you used? Spendy is right - it’s $2,000 give or take for the family. That crash up there
several years ago has me thinking I might be too afraid of dying the whole time to really enjoy spending that much money. Of course the odds of that happening are probably only slightly worse than getting sucked out of any of the Alaska airplanes we’ll be flying.

Still trying to figure out if the Sea Life center is worth it or if we can get a similar experience at a nice zoo or aquarium.

I wasn’t sure Matanuska was still a thing. Went there with my parents when I was about five. I had a poster in my room of that glacier for a decade or two.
 
If you go to Katmai, every body goes to the main falls. It can get crowded, lots of places you can see bears on the lower river.
 

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