Family Trip to Alaska - Let’s Talk

Also keep in mind some of Alaska highways are at least partially gravel and can be dusty and can be slow travel if an RV is in front of you kicking up dust. These include the Steese, Elliot, Denali, Dalton highways.
That and they could stop anywhere and take a break. Dad didn't like driving it but said he was glad they went that way at the end.
Kicked the RV idea a bit but my uncle offered free use of his truck, which puts that option in the lead right now.
Will your uncle meet you at the airport to hand over his truck? I'll assume extended cab to fit 4 people. Hopefully it has a topper or a bed cover to guard your luggage!

If you borrow his truck at the start, I would strongly suggest not going up to Fairbanks. Lots of extra miles put on for just a couple things that can mostly be done elsewhere. For a first trip you really have to budget your time to enjoy it and not be panic driving to get to your next stop. Plus, no matter what he says, you don't want to pile on a bunch of miles on his vehicle. One trip we took there we racked up about 2500 miles!

New idea. Fly in, have a nice lunch or dinner in Anchorage. Unwind from the flight. Drive to Wasilla and check in with family. The drive there will be eye opening for the kids. Mountains right there close enough to touch. Traffic kind of sucks but they won't notice.

Spend the night in Wasilla.You'll be tired. Lots of motel choices. 2nd day drive up to Talkeetna for the flightseeing. Walk over to the river for a nice view of Denali. (if it's out) Several good places to eat there. Hopefully you'll hit a day with no tour busses. Doubt it, but it might happen! The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is a nice place to stay and the view from the deck while having lunch or dinner can't be beat!

Lots of dog kennels between Wasilla and Talkeetna. Willow is sort of like "musher central". Find one to visit now or save it for later. Wave at my old cabin as you drive by.

Next day pack a lunch for everyone. Take the Hatcher Pass drive from Willow all the way through to the other side. Then drive up to the Matanuska glacier and let the kids walk around. Not much for food, that's why packing a lunch would be helpful. Come back down to Palmer and take the kids to the muskox farm or the reindeer farm if they're interested. Kids get bored with driving too much!

The next day leave early and drive down the inlet to Girdwood. Be very traffic aware on that road! Take the kids on the tram to the top of the ski slope. Or not! Ask them. Lots of places to pull over along the way to check out the scenery and watch the tide rise or fall. In the right place it is quick! The Double Muskie is a good place to eat. Mardi Gras themed!

If there isn't much interest in that, drive down to Seward for the night. We took the Resurrection Bay cruise with a stop at Fox Island for lunch. THAT was awesome! Whales, orcas, sea lions, the lunch was great with a nice calm pond by the deck to enjoy.

Do the Sea life center after if you want, or relax and explore the town. The next day drive back up and take the tunnel into Whittier to meet your uncle. Give him back his truck and when you want to leave take the train back to Anchorage. Take a cab to the airport from there. If it's way too early for your flight rent a car for the rest of the day and explore Anchorage.

Adjust your schedule as you wish but remember that drive time is not always fun time. A beautiful drive for you and the wife may be snore time for the kids.

Food stops are an entirely separate thread!
I took my youngest son up to Alaska back in 2015 , to show him where I grew up , took him up to Denali and stopped in Talkeetna for an overnight on the way up .

There’s a Couple great restaurants there that were on the original Man vs Food show , also did the zipline there , good times he was in 5th or 6th grade I think , Roadhouse for breakfast is strongly recommend , Alaska is amazing, you’ll have fun whatever you choose

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Ice cream at Naglees is a must. I spent a couple days in Talkeetna. It's a tourist town but also staging for Denali. We took the train north a couple hours and bailed out along the Suisitna then rafted back to town. Nice peaceful beautiful trip.
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.
Do you tip the pilot after the flight? If so, what’s customary?
One can never spend enough time exploring that great state. If you are for sure going to Talkeetna, I would highly recommend flight tour with a glacier landing. On your way south, swing by Caswell for mushing with Rock On Racing. The Randall's are a great family - I am sure your daughter would a get a kick out of learning some stuff from AddieAnn.
Do you tip the pilot after the flight? If so, what’s customary?
I haven't but I've always been on climbing trips where it's much more of a collaborative effort with the pilot/air service, I'd think that it would be appropriate for a flightseeing trip? It's probably worth asking the air service.
Thanks for checking in @Dave N Turkey season got in the way of a reply.
  • 7/4 - drive to Fairbanks and maybe check out Denali and/or Talkeetna on the way
  • 7/5 - Fairbanks and North Pole - we have an outing booked with Black Spruce Dog Sledding 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. More Denali if necessary and we’ll stop in Talkeetna. We’re really looking at booking a glacier landing with Talkeetna Air but their better flight tour is already booked up and we’re debating on one of their other options but it’s still almost $2,000 for less than 2 hours and the kicker is my 9 year old might freak out the whole flight . . . We’ll over night in Wasilla on 7/6
  • 7/7 - head up to Hatcher pass and stop and do some panning along the way then back to Anchorage and consider a flight seeing tour of Denali on the way back. Hit flattop back in anchorage if there is spare time
  • 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 or Exit glacier or ?????
  • 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. @Salmonchaser @Bambistew do you know anything about catching sockeye around Coghill in PWS - supposedly the sockeye should be in there around that time . . . and how do you catch them???
  • 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 . . . If we didn’t find any color near Hatcher pass well maybe head down to Crow Creek Mine and take the tram ride at Alyeska. Hit Flattop on the last day.
Not sure if there are any openings anymore, but is $5,000 for a day at Brooks Falls on 7/13 going to be worth the money????? This looks awesome, bucket list type stuff, but again $5,000 and not sure how our daughter will handle the flight.
Techniques are pretty simple on Reds, (sockeye) basically you’re lining them. Stop at any local sporting goods store and they’ll get you lined out.
Jeepers Brooks is getting expensive, I guided around there for 20 years. Always took the opportunity to go into Brooks, but we were only 25 miles away. You’ll see lots of bears. You’ll probably have to wait getting off the plane while one walks by on the beach, you’ll have to wait to leave the lodge while a couple walk by the steps and you’ll probably see a couple on the mile walk up to the falls.
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