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Thread: Surprise camping trip

  1. #1
    New member
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    Jul 2016

    Lightbulb Surprise camping trip

    I'm planning a surprise Alaska trip for my husband and 3 companions for next year. They are going to a fishing lodge for the first part of the trip and then camping the second half. I have some questions about camping that I'm hoping to get some guidance. The travel agents I've talked to have no clue about camping of course. LOL!

    1. Is it better to buy camping equipment and then donate it or use an equipment rental service? Any rental businesses that you'd recommend? If they buy then donate, any organizations that you'd recommend to donate the equipment?
    2. Is there a list of recommended camping equipment to use?
    3. I planned to purchase the current Mile Post book to give him when I tell him about the trip. Any other books you'd recommend or is it best to visit web sites like this for information?
    4. The drive from Sterling to Denali is 5-8 hours. Where realistically should they plan to camp? Talkeetna area?
    5. Ideally, I'd like to reserve them camping spots at Wonder Lake in Denali. Is this difficult to secure? Its a long bus ride to this camping spot and I worry if they would prefer to camp elsewhere instead of the long ride but beautiful views.
    6. I've also heard that camping in Denali National Park is busy and that Denali State Park is quieter. This group has gone canoeing and fishing for a week in the Canadian boundary waters north of Minnesota without even seeing another person in the park. So, they are experienced campers and would be comfortable with a bit of roughing it. Which area would you recommend for camping?

    If there are any threads that would be helpful, please share them. Thanks - I truly appreciate the help!

  2. #2
    Member BIGAKSTUFF's Avatar
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    Jul 2009


    You are one hell of a woman!!!
    The Second Amendment.......Know it, love it, support it.

  3. #3
    Member akiceman25's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    Two Rivers, AK


    This is just one company that has rental equipment. This would be the way to go imo.
    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

  4. #4
    Member MRFISH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Rental is a good option, but if you have gear to donate, I'm sure there are a number of Boy Scout troops that could put it very good use. There's a Scout office in Anchorage that I'd bet would be happy to help find a recipient.
    Local: 907-337-9547
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    "Fishing relaxes me. It's like yoga, except I still get to kill something." --Ron Swanson

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Fairbanks, AK


    Wow, he is one lucky guy! As far as camping goes, I would recommend camping along the Denali Hwy east of Cantwell. Once you are about 20 miles east of Cantwell, it is almost all public land and there are a good assortment of 2-track roads and pullouts to camp comfortably, usually with no crowds. If your husband and friends are averse to crowds, do not camp in Denali NP. I recommend camping at least one night on the Denali Hwy.

    It's a long day but they can camp on the Denali Hwy, drive to the park, jump on a bus and go in as far as they like, come out that night, and drive back to the Denali Hwy. I have driven to Wonder Lake a few times and once you drive past Eielson Visitors Center, it tends to be more of the same, hence, not really worth the extra drive. If they go in, they should definitely go as far as the Toklat River.

    If they want to camp in the park, they will have crowds but more time to enjoy the park. The link gives you a good idea of the logistics of camping in the park. If I were camping at a campground in the park, Teklanika would be my choice. They could also pick up a back country permit and spend the night(s) away from the road and crowds.

    I hope they have a great trip.

  6. #6
    Member LindenTree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    March thru October, Alaska. I'm laid off and winter in Northern MN.


    I would second camping on the Old Danali Hwy. I just got back from there last week.

    If I had the time, I would go up the Glenn Hwy to the Richardson Hwy at Glenalen. The BLM campgrounds are more spacious than the State campgrounds. The drive from Palmer past the Matanuska Glacier is spectacular.
    Paxon Lake CG is really nice, Sourdough CG is also nice.
    Continue driving to Paxon and head east on the Old Denali Hwy.
    Last week I camped right before you get to the Susitna River. There is a two track that goes to the south, 2 miles before the bridge. I camped overlooking the river and could hardly hear what little traffic went by the road.

    The Old Denali Hwy is 140 miles long and 120 miles of gravel, 30 MPH, some rental companies will not let you take their cars on this road, but I've done it in a rental, drive slow and just don't get caught. If it is clear, the views are incredible, and you can camp about anywhere along the road.

    Can't offer any advice about camping in Denali NP, I too have canoed in the BWCAW/Quetico, and I tend to stay away from the tourist areas like Denali. Better yet, go to McCarthy in the Wrangle St, Elias NP. Pretty as Denali without the crowds.

    To me the best car camping in Ak is on the Kenai Peninsula in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Only 2 of the 13 campgrounds charge a fee/10 bucks a nite. Spacious sites and less people, especially before July and after Mid august.
    May the rivers be crooked and winding, and the portages lonesome, leading to the most "Amazing View".

  7. #7
    Member theultrarider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    I too grew up in MN and spent much of my childhood in the BWCA. If that is what they enjoy, stay away from Denali park! It's about like going to Disneyland. I much prefer the Old Denali hwy. Or like mentioned above the Mc Carthy trip is amazing! I believe your guys would much prefer that. Make the from anchorage up to Cantwell. Across the Denali. Down to Valdez with a side trip in and out of Mc Carthy. Then back to Anchorage via the Glen highway. Your husband found himself a keeper!

    Anchorage craigslist usually has camping rental stuff posted there. There's an outfit in Eagle River that rents quality gear at decent prices. We do also now have a bass pro shop and cabelas store in anchorage for their shopping convience!

  8. #8
    Member cdubbin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    KP, the dingleberry of Alaska


    Backcountry camping in Denali Park is not crowded, regulations allow only so many campers in each area, can't camp within sight of the road, etc....Wonder Lake/ Kantishna area is a stunning place to camp and hike, with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg


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