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 > Alaska RV trip loop routes/planning resources

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Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 09/21/19 10:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

^And what PA12 said.
We were in awe of the ruggedness and tried to take full advantage of taking that in vs most “tourist” activities.


"Yes Sir, Oct 10 1888, Those poor school children froze to death in their tracks. They did not even find them until Spring. Especially hard hit were the ones who had to trek uphill to school both ways, with no shoes." -Bert A.

jukes

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Posted: 09/21/19 01:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

thanks for the replies everyone, this is useful and I've read the Fodors book now too.

So, a few questions....

How realistic is it to stay in the RV in quieter locations on the Kenai Peninsula, but then be able to access the local areas/little towns if our only transport is the 30' motorhome? perhaps a couple diff stops for a few nights each. close to fishing,

We watched a video about Homer and Seward and the RV camping in town there looked like a carpark full to the brim with other RV's. that might be nice for a night to access the towns, but we'd prefer to be just away from the masses......do these towns also feel really full with cruise tourists?

fishing in the Kenai Peninsula, along with the scenery, and a boat trip (that won't cause sea sickness) to see the glaciers/calfing/wildlife (we are fortunate to have whales, otters, seals here, so especially other wildlife would be amazing) is our main goal. the Halibut trip we watched a video of made us feel sick just looking at how rough the water was ha ha. sadly we get very sea sick.

I am now wondering if we should actually not take an RV there, and perhaps rent a cottage in 2 diff areas, perhaps one near Seward (maybe in Coppers Landing) and another down nearer Homer? and if at least one of those had direct access to fishing that would be amazing. then we'd have a car to jump in + explore more easily the diff towns/rivers/lakes/ocean etc.

Plus that would give us a bit more space (we have 3 boys who will be 8, 14, 17), if we can't sit outside due to rain or mosquitoes (are they really that bad?).

Then to drive back up to Anchorage, rent the RV and drive up to Denali NP and the loop around and down to Valdez then back to Anchorage,. fly home... also, is it worth driving up to Fairbanks, and then down, or is there a shorter route back down to Valdez?

we have about 25 days total....thanks

jukes

Aptos

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Posted: 09/21/19 01:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Grit dog wrote:

^And what PA12 said.
We were in awe of the ruggedness and tried to take full advantage of taking that in vs most “tourist” activities.


Hi, you mention we could chat more about the trip, that would be wonderful,. it's kind of mind boggling trying to piece together a trip that keeps the whole family happy!

PA12DRVR

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Posted: 09/23/19 12:02pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Some at-best-quasi-organized thoughts:

- I've taken visitors on both the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier and the Kenai Fjords tour out of Seward. Can almost guarantee no seasickness on the 26 Glacier Cruise (fully heave compensated catamaran) and it's unlikely on the Kenai Fjords trip (big vessel, displacement hull, etc).
- I've taken visitors and myself on numerous saltwater fishing trips on both charter vessels and my own: My guess is that with the right medications (either OTC stuff or prescription stuff) one can entirely avoid true "chumming" seasickness..but if one is prone to being seasick, certain trips might not be enjoyable even so....but that's the nature of the beast....gotta go where the fishies are.
- Seward, Whittier, and Homer (possibly Kenai and Cooper Landing) get pretty unpleasantly full of either visitors or summer Alaskans during the ...summer. There were two instances this summer when (at Seward) I could not have launched my boat if I did not have a seasonal rental place to take the truck and trailer back to....all the public and street parking were full.
- If I was to visit Seward, Homer, or Valdez for several days during tourist season, I'd plan a long way ahead and do an AirBnB, VBRO, etc for a house...and avoid the hassle of RV'ng there; not sure how that logistically works out if one's brought an RV up from the L48.
- Can't really speak for anywhere except Seward (may be the case elsewhere, but I've not looked in to it) but there are quite a few options of parking an RV outside of "town"; i.e. paid places that range from a spot of ground to electrical only to water and electric (not many "full hookups") .... but even "outside of town" these tend to fill up pretty fast.
- One should go to great lengths to avoid Seward in or around the 4th of July or during the Silver Salmon derby <<< don't ask me how I know that one.
- Can't help you with the activities that satisfy the whole family...my wife and I tend to end up doing stuff the adult children enjoy and the grandkids tolerate or vice-versa.
- For the places that any tourist will visit, Alaska is not a remote, untamed wilderness. That being said, one must be prepared to "rough it" to one degree or the other. Roughing it might mean that one only drinks King Street (a local brewery) beer on a sightseeing cruise (one Texan loudly complained that the boat didn't stock St. Arnolds...[emoticon]) or it might mean being prepared to deal with rain and fog...or cooler temperatures..or getting up early to catch the boat or bus...or having to have more than just Nike's for footgear..or, or, or.
- In most spots that one will visit as a tourist, the bugs aren't as bad as legend has it. Nothing that a little bug dope or breeze won't cure. Off the beaten path is an entirely different story and lives up to every bit of the legend....Alaska law requires that private pilots carry mosquito headnets as part of their summer survival gear; once you're out away from civilization during summer, that requirement makes a lot of sense.


CRL
My RV is a 1946 PA-12
Back in the GWN

jukes

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Posted: 09/23/19 12:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

PA12DRVR wrote:

Some at-best-quasi-organized thoughts:

- I've taken visitors on both the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier and the Kenai Fjords tour out of Seward. Can almost guarantee no seasickness on the 26 Glacier Cruise (fully heave compensated catamaran) and it's unlikely on the Kenai Fjords trip (big vessel, displacement hull, etc).
- I've taken visitors and myself on numerous saltwater fishing trips on both charter vessels and my own: My guess is that with the right medications (either OTC stuff or prescription stuff) one can entirely avoid true "chumming" seasickness..but if one is prone to being seasick, certain trips might not be enjoyable even so....but that's the nature of the beast....gotta go where the fishies are.
- Seward, Whittier, and Homer (possibly Kenai and Cooper Landing) get pretty unpleasantly full of either visitors or summer Alaskans during the ...summer. There were two instances this summer when (at Seward) I could not have launched my boat if I did not have a seasonal rental place to take the truck and trailer back to....all the public and street parking were full.
- If I was to visit Seward, Homer, or Valdez for several days during tourist season, I'd plan a long way ahead and do an AirBnB, VBRO, etc for a house...and avoid the hassle of RV'ng there; not sure how that logistically works out if one's brought an RV up from the L48.
- Can't really speak for anywhere except Seward (may be the case elsewhere, but I've not looked in to it) but there are quite a few options of parking an RV outside of "town"; i.e. paid places that range from a spot of ground to electrical only to water and electric (not many "full hookups") .... but even "outside of town" these tend to fill up pretty fast.
- One should go to great lengths to avoid Seward in or around the 4th of July or during the Silver Salmon derby <<< don't ask me how I know that one.
- Can't help you with the activities that satisfy the whole family...my wife and I tend to end up doing stuff the adult children enjoy and the grandkids tolerate or vice-versa.
- For the places that any tourist will visit, Alaska is not a remote, untamed wilderness. That being said, one must be prepared to "rough it" to one degree or the other. Roughing it might mean that one only drinks King Street (a local brewery) beer on a sightseeing cruise (one Texan loudly complained that the boat didn't stock St. Arnolds...[emoticon]) or it might mean being prepared to deal with rain and fog...or cooler temperatures..or getting up early to catch the boat or bus...or having to have more than just Nike's for footgear..or, or, or.
- In most spots that one will visit as a tourist, the bugs aren't as bad as legend has it. Nothing that a little bug dope or breeze won't cure. Off the beaten path is an entirely different story and lives up to every bit of the legend....Alaska law requires that private pilots carry mosquito headnets as part of their summer survival gear; once you're out away from civilization during summer, that requirement makes a lot of sense.


Thanks so much for this, Yes! my worry is being in overcrowded, over touristy areas, and i think our plan to find an air bnb/cabin just outside Seward, Homer would be better, and we'd then have a car for easier exploring and traveling. then get the RV for when we head north. also we'd need fishing suitable for an 8 year old, so not the combat style i read about ha ha. i like the idea of the glaciers boat trip outside of Whittier, which i guess we can do as a day trip from the Seward area. we won't risk anything with a chance of sea sickness, last boat i went on like that i spent the whole time laying down waiting for it to end and didn't see anything!
i know it's hard to experience the wild, remote, quiet alaska, my husband would love that, but we can find some less touristy locations perhaps. we are originally from England, so a bit of rain and clouds is okay, rather that than scorching heat. really we just want to take in the natural beauty, unique to Alaska, do some simple fishing, meet some locals, soak it in., see the wildlife.

4runnerguy

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Posted: 09/23/19 01:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When we were in AK some years ago (see our signature pic) we flew up and spend four weeks. We did the tent route, and every 4th or 5th day we'd find a cabin or motel to get a good scrubbing. Now we did some backpacking and found several trails on the Kenai to do, so I think we spent over a week there. with only three weeks, I'd concentrate on the area between the Kenai and Denali. Anchorage is kind of between those two areas so you'll pass through there mid trip to restock.

If you want to camp on the Kenai, we found the Chugach NF CG's to seem less elbow to elbow than modt of the other campgrounds on the Kenai. Some of those CG's do take reservations. We also camped at a few of the State Park CG's around the state. Also check on websites for individual towns. We canped at a great little site at Hornaday Park in Homer.

We did both the 26 Glacier and Kenai Fjords cruises. The first was amazing but we had absolutely perfect weather. The seas were so rough for the Kenai cruise they couldn't even get us all the way out. Lots of green people on that cruise.

If you're looking for an intresting experience for your kids, consider renting a cabin from Alaska DNR or from Chugach NF. You might have to hoof it a short distance to the cabin, but you can really get a feeling of solitude at many of them. One place we stayed in a cabin was Kachemak Bay park. Had to take a water taxi out of Homer. We could see loads of salmon swimming right along the shore just below the cabin. Doing the cabin thing takes a bit of research and planning, plus getting reservations the second they open up, but it's a great Alaska experience that your kids will love.


Ken & Allison
2 Camping Cats (1 diabetic)
1996 4Runner, TRD Supercharger, Edelbrock headers
2007 Fleetwood Arcadia, Honda EU2000i
4 mountain bikes, 1 canoe, 4 tents, 8 sleeping bags, 2 backpacks
(You get the idea!)


PA12DRVR

Back in God's Country

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Posted: 09/23/19 02:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A few more thoughts:

- Most places on the road system are going to be pretty popular with tourists during summer;
- I think the OP mentioned in a post that they had access to the standard marine life (whales, seals, etc) at home. If so, while one can see moose caribou and bears at the strangest places and almost anywhere, perhaps the trip should focus on places other than the Kenai Peninsula, i.e. Denali, etc. for hooved mammals.
- Bears: While confessing that I don't get the fascination with bears, it seems to be a top attraction to Alaska: My strongest suggestion is to decide if bear viewing is a high priority and, if so, plan that as the keystone to your trip...that means timing of seeing bears dictates when you make the trip. Late July to August seems to be the high point for bear viewing flights...and that's the best way to see bears. One can take a drive into Denali NP and possibly see a bear on the road. More likely is "See that dark brown spot halfway up the valley? That's a bear."
- Katmai / Brooks Falls etc are the best combination of accessibility and likely change of seeing bears or lots of bears. Not the cheapest place to go.
- Fishing: lots of freshwater options; generally later in the summer is better for salmon (conversely, less active for other species). If you end up based in the Los Anchorage / Kenai Peninsula area, lots of options for river fishing for red and silver salmon...and it may vary depending on the trip / location, but it can be done with an 8-year old. Drift and powerboat (on different sections) fishing the Kenai river is popular; bank fishing for salmon is available in Seward; lots of options in the North-of-Anchorage Mat-Su area.
- In the interior (i.e. Fairbanks, Denali) probably easier for a family trip that chases grayling / trout / dolly varden...but salmon are available as well, just a bit more hit-and-miss on the timing etc.
- As mentioned by a previous poster, staying in the variety of public service cabins can be a great way to go...takes a fair amount of early selection and planning.
- If one wants to really avoid the crowds, get a good tent, a good stout rental car, and tent camp one's way around the state, doing the VBRO or something when in town. Tent camping on the road system can be the entry into 1 - 2 day side trips on the hiking trails which can be enjoyable for a wide range of ages if the mental interest is there to explore and tent out.

Grit dog

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Posted: 09/24/19 09:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Again PA12 echos the same sentiments I'd tell you (not a coincidence since he's a local).
I found the NF campgrounds (mostly no reservation) on the Kenai Pen always full during the summer, although recall mostly just weekend trips to the KP.
There's a "secret" camping spot near Cooper Landing, up at Cooper Lake. Not far from town, but good bank fishing for Dollys and rainbows for the kids and "remote."
Of course only my opinion, but I would 100% RV the whole trip. Too much to see and do and things to get side tracked with that leave you doing "something" at 9:00 at night and you remember you forgot about dinner or getting back to wherever you had planned and there's multitudes of spots to pull off and spend the night in the middle of the woods if you're self contained.
Plus everything is so far apart that back tracking to a base point uses up alot of valuable time, miles and fuel. Speaking of which, the back tracking could be even more onerous if your route doesn't go by a fuel station.
Example, we spent 3 days between the Chitna River, Klutina and Copper river and never made it all the way up to the Kennicot mine, because we got side tracked fishing (reds were running and hit a couple lakes that a friend told us about) and exploring. Hung out with a guy running a fish wheel, etc. If we had a home base to get back to, it would have been inconvenient.
Worst part about this thread is I'd give my eye teeth to take a 3 week trip around AK again......

Grit dog

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Posted: 09/24/19 09:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We did do some guided fishing out of Cooper Landing, thanks to our landlord who owns a lodge there. The owner was pretty gracious about trading work I did to his rental house for some fishin!
Unreal experience trout fishing the middle Kenai. When your 10 year old catches a 10lb rainbow, it's a good day! And the combat fishing up the Russian river was definitely something I'd do again (now I know where to go). You could do that easily without a guide, provided you have all the gear, waders, etc. It's literally follow the trail.
If you are going guided or getting a cabin, look up Drifters Lodge, Bob. Good guy.

Our close personal friends bought Anglers Lodge down in Soldotna a few years ago as well. Never been there yet, but based on the the folks I know they are, it would be awesome too. They're catering more to the $$$ crowd though so there's that.

PA12DRVR

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Posted: 09/24/19 11:23am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"we spent 3 days between the Chitna River, Klutina and Copper river and never made it all the way up to the Kennicot mine,"

My in-laws have been in the McCarthy Kennicott area since the '50's and now have an inholding in WSENP. This enabled me to get up to that area many years ago and walk through Kennicott and the mine before it was a NP and certainly before it reached the current level of development. It was really something to see things back then that were, other than a layer of dust and some inevitable pilfering, just like folks walked away in 1938.

The mine is an interesting tour now but it's fairly sanitized, cleaned-up, and just not the same as it was in the '70s.

Summer of '18, I got too busy chasing reds myself and didn't pay attention to my drift, got pushed into the sandbar, and almost spent more time on the river than was planned. Fortunately, we were able to swing the stern out to a deep channel and jet off without sucking up all the sand and gravel in the world...

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