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Thread: planning trip to alaska

  1. #1
    New member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default planning trip to alaska

    Hi All,
    I'm new with this forum and new to Alaska as well!
    I'd be grateful if someone could clear some doubts I have about organizing a trip to Alaska.

    I'd like to spend three weeks in Alaska with my dad, I wanna hike a lot and take the most out this vacation.

    I'm a little bit concerned cause I read that is highly recommended to make reservations for almost everything months in advance. Even just for hiking, is this true? I wouldn't like to book everything and stick to a tight schedule. I wanna spend my time wherever I find a place that I like.

    On a 2/3 day hike, am I supposed to book a bed in a cabin in advance or may I just check it as soon as I'm on the site? What would you really recommend to book in advance?

    I'm gonna move around by car and I will skip southeast (Juneau, Haines, ecc..), I wanna keep it on the cheap side (no bush airlines, no secluded cabins). Since I'm travelling with my family too I would like enjoy 2/3 days hikes and possibly use the cabin service (do I have to book a bed? how much time in advance?)

    Thanks for the tips!!


  2. #2

    Default Tent camp

    Really, the only thing you would need to book ahead of time would be cabins. Up here, it's not just booking a bed, it's booking the entire cabin itself (just small forest service type cabins, not bunkhouses like I have seen in other places). I know the weekend dates are booked months in advance usually. I don't know how busy it gets for week-day nights though. Sometimes the people who have the cabins reserved are no-shows for whatever reason (had to book too far in advance and plans changed) and you could just show up an use it, but there would not be any way to know for sure and you might get left out in the cold if they showed up after you got there (would always bring a backup plan if you were looking at this option). The problem you are going to run into is that it sounds like you will be staying fairly close to the road system. These are the cabins that will fill up first. If you were going to try to get further back into somewhere, you might have better luck with finding openings on shorter notice.

    If you want to avoid the cabin booking issue and be able to keep a flexible schedule, you will need to plan on tent camping. There is no pre-booking required, just find a flat spot somewhere along the trail and you're good. If you are just going for one or two nights at a time, I would go with the tent camping option. You did mention traveling with family, so depending on abilities, it could make tent camping a bit more of a problem.

    Not sure if that helps any, but hope it did. What time of year are you looking at coming up?

  3. #3
    New member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008


    Thanks for your reply anchskier,

    I'm planning to fly to Anchorage around June 15th and fly out on July 5th.
    My father and mother are keen mountaineers, they both don't have problems pitching a tent but it also depends on the weather conditions (you don't wanna spend a week in a tent with pouring rain...).
    What I wanted to do is to book in advance Denali and maybe a one day cruise along the Kenai peninsula and then leave the rest to the fate.
    So my question is, do you think it would be a good idea to try my chances and go there without any kind of reservations? I mean, based on the cabin availability and weather condition decide if we wanna camp or if it is better to go just for a 8/10 hour hike. I think once you are on the site you can collect information and find out if any cabin is available along a specific trail and which trails you can pick from (visitor centers ?).
    We've got an idea of what we want to see but we really wanna enjoy hiking, there are tons of trails in Alaska and booking in advance means that you are likely to miss a good spot just because you have to rush to the next check point. I prefer sleeping in the car rather than missing something I'm gonna regret.

    Thanks for your tips!


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

    Default Make reservations...

    If you plan on being on the Kenai Peninsula in June/July, you better make reservations for anything you will need while you are there. That place is crazy in the summer. I would reserve camp sites for pitching a tent and most certainly rent any cabin/motel room. If you are not driving up, you should rent your car NOW. If you take a laid back approach, you will find yourself in a bind for sure. Anything that is important to you, make reservations soon. I would book a trip on the NW Fjord near Seward. We went the last week of June two years ago and that was a great 9 hour trip. Tons of wildlife and beautiful coastline scenery. There are many forestry service cabins you can rent that have 3-5 mile hikes in/out. Lost lake or Lower Paradise lake near Seward are tops on my list. Very scenic and good grayling fishing. Also look for cabins at Upper and Lower Russian lakes. There are some there I am believe. But remember, these are not rows of cabins. It is literally A cabin. There are lots of other forestry service cabins as well and it would offer you the day hikes you mention, cheap accomodations ($40-50/night), great scenery, and fishing of course. Most all the campgrounds will be full of RV's so if you plan on camping in the campgrounds be aware of this. But even just for that you will need reservations. Get on the ball man! You don't have much time left. Below are some links for great info on the Kenai Peninsula. If you want to see BIG mountains, drive east to Wrangel St Elias. Research this area if you have never heard of it. The biggest mountains in Alaska. Cordova and Valdez would be great to see too!
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  5. #5
    Member AK_Trekker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Eagle River & McCarthy Alaska

    Default Planning ahead

    How much you need to plan and book ahead depends on what you intend to do here. If you are wanting to do something like a guided backcountry trek or a multi-day kayak trip then you should book that ahead of time.

    Also be aware that lodgings do get booked up during the short tourist season here. If you are traveling with camping gear then it's a little easier. But if you plan to do something like I mentioned, that involves a multi-day trip, then I would suggest you book something like that way in advance, then leave yourself time before or after that to be more footloose.

    But if you need hotel rooms or rental cars then do plan ahead. As someone said, the Kenai gets a little nuts and you reeeeally don't want to be trying to find a place to stay there in July or August.


    Guided Alaskan Backpacking Adventures

    Author of Hiking Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
    published by Falcon Guides


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