Trip to Alaska

Hunter&Huntress

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My wife and I are planning a trip to Alaska in June. We are planning on flying into Anchorage and renting a car. Right now we are planning on driving to Denali National Park. After we are done exploring there, we will drive south to Ninilchik to do some Halibut fishing. We were wondering if there is anything you guys would suggest to go and see while we are there? We would really like to see as much wildlife as we can, but only have a week to see as much as possible.
 

nidahunter

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Sounds like a great trip. A few years ago we fished with Afishunt out of Ninilchik, was a great trip. Show us some pictures!
 

POk3s

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The only thing I would suggest is finding access to a freezer. I did a DIY caribou trip last August. That's all a story for another time but we ended up scoring big time with a guy who just bought a new chest freezer and didn't have anything in it yet. They don't want any kind of ice/dry ice on the plane but if everything is frozen solid you can bring back more fish. You may already have all of this figured out already but it's something we kind of overlooked in our planning because we just planned on dry ice.

Have a great trip!
 

Dave N

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We're doing the same thing in late May. Will be our 3rd trip to Alaska. First, it will be a LOT cheaper to fly with your fish. IF, and I speak from experience here, IF you can get your wife to keep your luggage to a minimum you can fly home with a 50 pound box of fish as a piece of checked luggage. Normally $50. Keep your gear down to basics and shoot for one checked bag. You can still have two carry-ons that way. This will give you room for 3 boxes of fish if you get that much! Total cost for that will only be $150 which will be about what shipping one box home may cost!

Denali is beautiful. Plan to stay up there overnight to make the most of it. 2 nights are even better. The Tundra Wilderness Tour put on by the park is great. I think that was the name of it. This one is the longer tour that goes deeper into the park. You will ride a bus and go WAYYYY out there. Having a driver and all the extra eyes looking for critters is a plus. If you are like me, you will spot moose, sheep, bear and whatnot a whole lot faster than "city" people. Make sure you bring binoculars for both of you.

Talkeetna is a nice little tourist town that comes alive for the summer. Food at the Roadhouse is good. Not that the other joints aren't. They all have something for everyone. If your budget allows it, we took a flightseeing tour with K2 Aviation. They will fly you from Talkeetna up into Denali and the tour we took included a glacier landing. WELL worth the money! It was like being on an entirely different planet. I'm a pretty hard nut to crack, but this made the old eyes start to get a bit moist soaking it all in.

Out past Palmer is the Matanuska Glacier. It's on our to-do list this trip. There is a Muskox farm there as well. The road heading North past Palmer is pretty scenic. Watch out for rockslides. The road is fairly narrow.

Wasilla is a good place to make a home base and explore from there. Not a lot exciting there, but centrally located. Everything you need for shopping is there.

Headed South from Anchorage is nice. You will be amazed at how much the tide rises and falls! Girdwood has a resort with a tram going to the top for skiers. Haven't been up there but the view should be great. Burgers at the Silvertip Grill are tasty! We haven't been too much beyond that but will be doing it this time. Fishing out of Ninilchik ourselves for Halibut and Kings. Staying in Homer for 3 nights and plan on exploring Katchemak Bay a bit. We're sort of in the house hunting mode, looking for a place to retire to whenever I can swing it.

If you want to check out the pics I took of our first trip let me know. I'll give you a link to the site. Part of it is from the cruise, but then our land tour part covers everything we saw from Seward up to Fairbanks.

Have a ball and hope the weather is great! Denali was visible for us both times we went. They say only 20% of the tourists ever get to see it due to weather.
 

Bambistew

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Ifn it was me... I'd drive to Valdez, and take the ferry back to Whittier, then head to Nanilchik. No tourists, or much fewer. Better views. You could do a side trip to McCarthy and go to St. Elias Wrangell NP. Denali is mobbed with tourists, and it's really over commercialized, IMO. The village has the same feel as a ski town in CO.

The drive from Anchorage to Denali is really boring until you get up there a few hours. If it's cloudy, which it well could be... it will be a long ass car ride to look at clouds up and back.

Talkeetna is a 95% tourist, 5% locals. 20 min you can see all there is to see. The rest is trinket shops.

If you're dead set on Denali, drive the Delnali highway back instead of up and back on the Parks highway. Some neat country, about 130 miles of dirt road. You'll have a good of a chance to see moose, caribou and maybe sheep If you stop and look.

Also check on fishing out of Seward instead of Nanilchick. More fish, better views, a bit more money but way worth it. Nanilchik is a "meat" trip. With the new regs don't expect much more than 15 lbs of fish per person 95% of the halibut are under 30 lbs, one of the two you can keep will be under 15... out of Seward you can catch more than halibut... salmon and rock fish That time of th e year. Double your meat haul.

Have fun!
 

Kaitum

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New Mexico
I'll second what Bambi suggested. If you do want to go to Denali and see wildlife, you'll want to take a bus trip. You can drive the first 13 miles of the park road with your car but its mostly moose habitat in that area, better bear and caribou habitat is beyond that point. If you're more the DIY type person, I would avoid taking a bus as you'll be stuck on it with 50 of your closest tourist friends ALL DAY LONG. Not much to see or do in Talkeetna really, its just a hub for tourists going to and from Denali by bus or train.

The Parks Highway between Anchorage and about an hour north of Talkeeta is one of the most boring in Alaska. Low probability of seeing wildlife in this stretch. It gets better up around Broad Pass and Cantwell. If you want a more relaxed, self-paced tour of AK, take the Denali Hwy (the gravel road) across from Cantwell to Paxson. Do this route west to east and get the boring section of the Parks Hwy over with first. Once in Paxson, take a short detour north on the Richardson Hwy up to Black Rapids. Neat area and you'll likely see bison with their newborn calves out on the Delta River gravel bars. Then go south to Valdez, stopping at the Chitina / Copper River area to see subsistence fish wheels in action. You won't see this anywhere else in AK on the road system. You'll also see personal use dipnetting for sockeye in this area.

The ferry ride from Valdez to Whittier is 3 hours. You'll likely see whales, Dall porpoises, and sea otters. As Bambi suggested, Seward offers a better fishing option over Ninilchik if you're looking to bring home more meat. Wildlife viewing out of Seward is far better than Ninilchik. Seward will offer whales, orcas, sea lions, sea otters, sea birds, Dall porpoises, and mt. goats. About all Ninilchik will offer is some sea birds and maybe a beluga whale if you're really lucky. Farther down in Cook Inlet the wildlife viewing gets better (from Homer south).

If you need to kill some time, stop by Cooper Landing and check out the combat fishing at the Russian / Kenai River confluence. Not an aspect of AK fishing you'll see on the Outdoor Channel. A good 2 hr side trip out of Seward is to hike up to Exit Glacier, look for mt. goats and black bears on the slopes. Stop along Turnagain Arm to see Dall sheep.

Good luck,

Jeff
 

the nikster

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I have been to Denali several times and have ridden the bus probably 6 times. I do not need to do it again but, as a nonresident, I think it is a must. You WILL see sheep and moose and caribou and bears and maybe Wolves and various others as well. It is with 50 friends some of whom will likely never shut up but I still think it is worth the price for the ride to Kantishna.
If you have a salmon rod you can stop at several salmon streams along the first half of the drive heading north from ANC to Denal. Montana creek and others come to mind. The drive from Cantwell to Paxson is incredible. Take a couple of sleeping bags and spend the night in your car. If it is clear you'll see the northern lights like nobody's business probably. Binoculars and a quality camera are a must.
Heading south outta ANC you need to keep your eyes open on the hills above Turnagin because I always see sheep and bears before I make the turn at the end of the inlet. You may see people dip netting for the little wiggly fish in one of the icy silty rivers in this area as well. We usually take the time to drive thru the wildlife park down there just to get more pics and see muskox. Take a look at the combat fishing at the Russian at least once...unbelievable!!! We went for a walk up the river to the fish ladder as well but the time it takes is probably not worth it although there are some pretty pics to be had, might want a firearm as well....
We have fished the Kenai several times, kasilof twice , out of ninilchik twice and homer once. Always catch fish, hard to quantify that, I better check to the locals as far as which is better. Lot of moose near the roads early morning and late evening, be careful. Fishing for pinks can be fun for a while if you just want to land salmon. Then you get tired of the damn things. The hotels I stay at usually have freezer space if needed
 
B

big28hunter

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On my dall sheep trip last year I really enjoyed visiting the Cabelas in Anchorage, Alyeska Sky Resort, and eating at the Dog Shack in Denali. Hope you have a wonderful trip!
 

Dave N

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http://s876.photobucket.com/user/4bobux/library/Alaska?sort=2&page=1

LOTS of pictures for whenever you have a couple hours to waste! You can skip ahead to about page 19 to skip the cruise portion. 19 is where we hit Seward and began our land tour part of the trip. Started right off with the Sealife Center then on to a Resurrection Bay cruise and lunch. THAT was cool! Orcas, walruses, etc. We also stopped at the Wildlife Conservation Center. Kind of like a huge zoo setting but lots of critters to get a good look at in case you miss out somewhere else.

I always wanted to go to Alaska and told the wife I would go even if it meant flying in, looking around the airport parking lot and flying home. Well, things happened, and I talked her into a cruise/tour. Got her on a ship to make her happy and extended that with a land tour to "see" the state away from the shoreline. Took about 2 days and she was talking about going back for more! Went last February to meet up with our tour guide and a guy from this site as well as drive around on our own for a week. Saw the start of the Iditarod and started our search for a home to move to. Yep, it's beautiful. At least to someone who isn't USED to it anyway! We put about 1400 miles on our rental in 7 days. When we didn't have something specific to go see we picked a direction and went that way until it seemed like we should head back. Always SOMETHING to look at. You may as well start planning your NEXT trip right now.

Denali in winter from Talkeetna

IMG_1843_zps763a5e8c.jpg
 

Gellar

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Flat Top is worth going to in Anchorage if you have a couple hours to spend and want to get a hike in the mountains in. I would also recommend doing a sightseeing flight, the amount of land that you cannot see from the road is pretty unreal.
 

Muskeez

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We did a honeymoon cruise/land tour to AK last August. Amazing trip, you will love it! I will just comment on the Denali park tour. Yes, it will be with some interesting folks on the bus possibly, but I think everyone should do it once, especially if they haven't been to AK before. If I remember correctly there were 3 different lengths of bus tours. We took the middle length one, not the shortest, not the longest. I would recommend that again, or the longest one. We stopped multiple times and there are restrooms along the way. It is a long FULL day, but it was worth it to us. My eyes were glued to the hillsides spotting dall sheep. We also saw some impressive Caribou bulls, one moose, and a couple grizzlies. What really made the trip for a guy like me that wanted to learn more about the habitat and animals was that our tour guide was like a walking encyclopedia! Tall, thin, dark hair guy, who hikes in the park a lot when not doing tours. Polychrome (?) valley was breathtaking as we had about a 2 minute shower and then a rainbow across the valley. Breathtaking! Yes, it's a tourist "trap", but that's what you are, and we were, and we realized we had to just embrace it, ask a lot of questions, try to soak it all in, and allow ourselves to be tourists :) Enjoy! I know I found myself standing and staring and feeling how blessed I was just to be there!!
 

Muskeez

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If you end up in Talkeetna we ate at a little place along the road at the south end of town called a Bistro... The halibut sandwich was incredible! If you go to Fairbanks I recommend the "Salmon Bake" for supper. I don't like salmon, but it was all you can eat, picnic style, of salmon, steamed crab legs, prime rib, and a TON of other foods. Wear loose pants!!
 

Dave N

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If you end up in Talkeetna we ate at a little place along the road at the south end of town called a Bistro... The halibut sandwich was incredible! If you go to Fairbanks I recommend the "Salmon Bake" for supper. I don't like salmon, but it was all you can eat, picnic style, of salmon, steamed crab legs, prime rib, and a TON of other foods. Wear loose pants!!

We did the Salmon Bake thing as well. The show was kind of hokey, but the food was great!
 

moosegut

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One thing I might recommend that has not is a scenic flight out of Soldatna, Seward, or even Anc. A glacier flight or trip through Lake Clark Pass are worth every dollar and only take a couple of hours.
 

Mike Karkalla

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Sewickley Pa.
Don't forget South East Alaska on your Trip!! Glacier National Park, Misty Fiord, Tongass Forest, and the Wragell Narrows....Best fishing spot.
 

Dave N

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So, how as the trip? Hope the fires didn't interfere. We ended up with enough Halibut and King Salmon to pack a full box to bring home, plus we ate a little while we were there. Put just shy of 2200 miles on the rental in 8 days and 2 of those we didn't do much driving around. Found a few potential homes, but never pulled the trigger on any. Not just yet anyway. We DID narrow down the locations quite a bit though. Met up with Bambistew for a nice long chat one morning and learned quite a bit about different things. While down in Homer we managed to spot Otto Kilcher at his place. We went to see the old family homestead and he lives right next door. Of course, we had planned on not spending a whole lot on stuff to take home but that went right out the window! 2 chainsaw carvings, more t-shirts and clothes than we needed, plus a set of antler handle scrimshawed knives. Oh well. Planning the next trip yet?
 

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