Four Weeks In Real Alaska

The Question:


Hi, I desperately need help for the 4 week Alaska itinerary I am arranging for my later 60’s parents this June/July. They were high country farmers in New Zealand and are very fit, active and young at heart. So far I have them arriving in Juneau for a 7 day cruise with Lindblad Adventures, then flying up to Anchorage – which is where I get real stuck. Dad is fascinated with the Yukon area and river and watches all those crazy shows on the Discover/Living Channel about gold mining etc. He wants and authentic Alaskan adventure (off the Tourist Trail). I have looked at Canoeing trips on the Yukon (unsure if it would be too much for Mum who is no that keen on camping) – does anyone know of any river adventures that include lodge stays???, a flight to Nome to meet real Alaskans, flight-seeing somewhere???, a lodge stay where they can explore wildlife and hopefully see Grizzlies (but not the kid of place with tourist viewing platform – but out in the wild) then there is Denali and Kenai – I am so confused how to put it all together! Any help would be much appreciated.


My Answer:



I’m going to agree to the Nome suggestion. I went there my first summer in Alaska (2010) and rented a car. There are about 150 miles of roads leading out of Nome, and it is an awesome drive. There are lots of places to see along the way. I believe Nome is the filming location for the reality show “Bering Sea Gold,” if your parents have seen that one.

The canoe ride on the Yukon would be neat, but it it is very remote! If your canoe tips in the icy waters there will be no one to help you. It is good for the right person, but if you don’t like camping I wouldn’t suggest it.

There are tons of flight seeing options and they all are awesome in their own way. I think one that includes a glacier landing would be my top choice. You can take glacier landing flights from Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Denali.

Staying at Kantishna or Wonder Lake in Denali National Park is a good way to escape the crowds. You can take the bus one way, about 6 hours, and fly the other way. The flight is very scenic and you have a good chance of seeing bears on the bus ride.

With three weeks on land after the cruise, the itinerary could look something like this:

Day 1-3: Anchorage, flight seeing tour.

Day 4: Rent a car and go to Girdwood for the night.

Day 5-7: Seward, consider getting a kayak company to take you out to some glaciers to kayak around.

Day 8-10: Ferry from Whittier to Valdez (You will have to make this a day that the ferry is going that way)

Day 11-14: McCarthy & Wrangell- St. Elias National Park, beautiful nature and good gold mining history.

Day 15: Palmer, this is where most of the agriculture is in the state. You can also visit Independence Mine in Hatcher’s Pass.

Day 16: Anchorage, drop off the car.

Day 17-19: Train to Denali (buy tickets in Gold Star class for the best views). You can make it to Kantishna/Wonder Lake that afternoon if you fly.

Day 20-21: Train to Fairbanks and fly home.

If you didn’t want to go to Wrangell National Park, you could do this:

Day 8-10: Homer

Day 11: Seldovia for the day, one hour ferry, a town with no road access.

Day 12: Anchorage, drop off the car

Day 13-16: Fly to Nome, rent a car for the stay.

Day 16: Return to Anchorage, continue the itinerary above.

I wish your parents happy travels!


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