Some things I’ve learned about Alaska in the past few weeks of research:
- Denali National Park, at 6 million acres, is 20% bigger than the state of Massachussettes and almost three times the size of Yellowstone National Park. Denali has only one road – 91 miles long, and “the public” can only drive their vehicles on the first 17 miles of it. (To see more, you need to take a shuttle bus or tour bus.)
- Fairbanks is a couple hours drive northeast of Denali, and the Arctic Circle is about 8 hours drive north of Fairbanks – on a gravel road. (Our rental agency doesn’t want us to drive the motorhome on gravel roads.)
- People catch salmon in the 60 to 90 pound range from Alaska’s rivers.
- June is mosquito month in Alaska.
- Many Alaskans make their entire year’s living on the three-month tourist season from June through August. Prices rise accordingly.
- Kenai Fjords National Park has no roads. The only practical way to see it is by boat.
- In late June it never really gets dark in Anchorage. Sunrise is about 4:20 and sunset is about 11:45. I wonder how people manage to sleep?
- Bears are everywhere. Moose, almost everywhere. People write about them as if they are not a problem.
- You can pan for gold in Alaska, and people still find some.
- Much of south-central Alaska was “transformed” by a huge earthquake in 1964.
There’s a lot more, but I don’t want to bore you.
Here’s our tentative itinerary as it now stands:
Day #1 – Fly to Anchorage. (Leave Rochester at 6:00AM and arrive at Anchorage at 7:00PM). Take a cab to the motorhome rental agency, and spend the night in the motorhome in the parking lot of the rental agency.
Day # 2 – After checking out of the rental agency, get some groceries and drive the 240 miles to Denali National Park. Camp in the Savage River Campground.
Day #3 – Spend the day exploring the Savage River area. See a ranger program. Overnight at Savage River Campground.
Day #4 – Shuttle bus from Savage River Campground to Eielson Visitors’ Center. Do some walking and exploring along the way. (Park camper at Savage River Campground parking area and move it to Riley Creek Campground on return from shuttle bus tour). See a ranger program. Overnight at Riley Creek Campground.
Day #5 – Explore the Denali Visitors’ Center at the park entrance. See a ranger program. Overnight at Riley Creek Campground.
Day #6 – Drive to somewhere just outside Anchorage. See what there is to see along the way.
Day #7 – Spend the day exploring the Seward Highway – along the road from Anchorage to Seward. Maybe take a side trip to Girdwood to see the Crow Creek Gold mine and/or take the tram to the top of Aleyeska Mountain. Check out the camping at the Waterfront Park in Seward.
Day #8 – All-day cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park – including dinner of salmon and prime rib on Fox Island. Reservations for cruise all set.
Day #9 – Explore the Seward area. Hike to Exit Glacier. Maybe see the SeaLife Center.
Day #10 – Explore the Seward area and/or the Kenai Peninsula. Maybe take a float trip on the Kenai River.
Day #11 – Drive to Anchorage and return the motorhome by 10:00 AM. Pick up rental car and explore the city of Anchorage. Overnight at Susitna Sunsets Bed and Breakfast.
Day #12 – Explore the city of Anchorage. Return rental car and take the shuttle to the airport for a 4:50 departure.