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Thread: Looking to organize a wilderness excursion

  1. #1
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    Question Looking to organize a wilderness excursion

    I'm looking to visit Alaska but don't want to get stuck in an organized tourist group getting bussed from spot to spot. My wife and I would like to get out into the wilderness and see the beautiful nature of Alaska.

    A lot of the guided tours are several thousand $ pp and there has to be a less pricey option. Any help is appreciated!

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    First of all, welcome to the forum

    Many others here with tons of hiking experience. My thing is float trips on remote rivers. I hear you about staying away from the crowds. What a shameful way that would be to see Alaska. Tell us what you are looking for. Namely, what is your budget and how long of a trip do you want? What time of year would you be coming? Hiking only? A float trip on a remote river? That is a great way to see the "real Alaska". My wife and I take float trips on remote rivers each summer/fall. Mostly in arctic NW Alaska, but we have done one in SW and have numerous others in N and NE Alaska planned out as well. If interested, shoot me a pm. Happy to help if I can. Below is a link to some pictures from our trips.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2114408...27567944/show/





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    Thanks for the reply and the welcome, Dan. Judging from your pictures you guys seem to have had some awesome times. We're coming in early July and would be staying around 8-9 days. Since we're flying in from the East Coast we'd probably end up in Anchorage first. I have to say we're not extremely experienced but do want to explore the more remote areas. Hiking, rafting, float trips all sound excellent. Would love to fish for some salmon and see some bears and the amazing wild life.

    Budget-wise, we could probably work with around $3500 once we're in Alaska since the flight to Anchorage is pretty steep.

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    Member moose-head's Avatar
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    The Swanson river canoe trail might be a pretty good option. It is on the Kenai Peninsula and you might be able to rent some equipment from somebody to keep costs down. You would see some true wilderness and go on a trip I have always wanrted to do. Alaskacanoe is a moderator in the canoe section who might be able to give you some advice. I haven't met him but have found his posts to be very helpful and knowledgable about canoing options.
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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Good suggestion above on the Swanson River Canoe trail. And Alaskacanoe is the guy to talk to for sure. You can find him in the member directory and shoot him a pm. Easier, go to the canoe forum. He has a sticky at the very top, "canoe pictures", click on his name and send him a pm. He rents boats and all. Really good guy too. I have a float trip that would might interest you in SW Alaska. I will shoot you a pm with details.
    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.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default North? I'd think of Talkeetna - Denali Park area

    The logistics for much of a "wilderness" experience will require considerable planning for any DIY package. Unless you're guided, which is costly, I'm not sure there's time it's a good idea to plan very much.

    There are many flightseeing, floatplane, etc type options out of Anchorage though. Make sure to ask about appropriate clothing (I've seen high heels walk the gravel toward Mahay's boats in Talkeetna), what they provide and what you need to provide. Clarify any questions about gratuities.

    Some maybe useful thoughts: Nearly 100% of places accept credit cards now. Consider bug dope and head nets if you spend much time in the woods. Pack some raingear-good for wind too- from 6th Avenue Outfitters, REI, Walmart, or Fred Meyers. Pretty good outdoor clothing store next to REI, Great Outdoors Clothing, or somthing like that, which carries Red Ledge (favored by Buck Nelson), North Face, etc... reasonable prices for capable outerwear. If you rent lodging, accomodations can be quite modest compared to most anything you'll see in the Lower-48. Expect rustic. If you or your wife are r-e-a-l particular, bring your own lightweight sleeping bag. Expect it to get cool too, 50's - possibly plus wind. Visibility can add a whole other dimension to your visit, which you might not have if it's cloudy. Not much to be done about it. I'd go fishing...or find eat good food. If you hike, it won't matter so much either. If you fish, you'll need a license, available online. If you head out on your own, don't feed animals. Fed animals become dead animals too often. In the park at Denali, dish soap, toothpaste, bar soap must be secured along with foods. For good reasons.

    One option: drive north. If you're interested in a drive up to the Denali National Park area, I think the drive has plenty to offer. At approx Parks Highway milepost (MP) 100, you could take the Talkeetna Spur Road for the night, then spend a day or two in Talkeetna (Google it). Remember to arrange lodging before leaving Anchorage. Many who drive, rent an RV, but you're not likely to get one this late. We did one year (https://res.greatalaskanholidays.com/).

    Talkeetna is small, features a beautiful view of Denali on clear days and has its own rustic charm. Although it gets a bit congested in summer, several outfitters can help you get out on a fine river for fishing, or sightseeing if that suits you.

    Chad Valentine's Denali Anglers (DA) at http://www.denalianglers.com/, can advise you about fishing options in the Talkeetna area during your Alaska stay. I believe they can help you with lodging too, if you wish.

    I've had good experiences also with Tri-River Charters (http://www.tririvercharters.com/) and Mahay's Riverboat Service (http://www.mahaysriverboat.com/). All can help with fishing (drop-off or guided) or sightseeing. Not sure if they all provide gear/tackle. Not sure if they all have links for lodging.

    As you drive on toward Denali, consider a stop at Byers Lake (approx MP 147). There's a state park there. If the weather is clear and sunny, it's worth renting kayaks at the concession. If you do this, row out across the lake for a worthwhile view. Unless you have a tent, I think you'll need to find lodging elsewhere.

    Once you get up by Denali, the national park (approx MP 240), you will probably find access only to the visitor area. Reservations for all campgrounds in the park, and the shuttle bus are usually booked way in advance. Try the Park website for better information: http://www.nps.gov/dena

    Outside the Park however, a number of private businesses cater to visitors. It won't be your cup of tea, but some private outfitters are based there or nearby and might have something you'd liike. For instance, there's rafting in the area, one mentioned in another thread by Blue Moose, was Denali Rafting Adventures, http://www.denaliraft.com/.

    When you arrive, find a copy of a very useful driving guide to Alaska (and more), The Milepost (http://milepost.com/), published annually. With it, I think as long as you figure out where you're sleeping each night, you could just wing it.

    This is a big trip for you. Reading The Milepost will be informative too. Plan as much as you can, but as long as you stay warm, dry and rested, you'll have a great time. This is a wonderful place. Tough to see in 9 days, but you'll have a whole year to plan next year's trip.

    Or you could drive south...

  7. #7
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Not enough time to do it all that is for sure. You will need to make one big decision up front. North or South! Pick a direction and really explore! If you try and see it all you will just be exhausted from all of the driving! That would be like saying you wanted to explore Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada all in 8 days total! Either go north as 6x recommended though I would go up the Glen Hwy to the Denali Hwy then come back down the parks if it was me, rather than going up and back on the Parks alone. The Glen is scenic and rugged and circuitous, I get the feeling that the Glen is about the drive the Parks is efficient, it is about the destination. The other option is to go South to the Kenai Peninsula. There you can go on Glacier tour boat, whale watching fishing (salt or fresh but you better book yesterday!) hiking, canoeing, etc.

    Regardless of which direction you choose to go the Seward highway just south of Anchorage is a must drive! The drive from Anchorage to Girdwood is spectacular. You can stop in to Indian Valley Meats and try some of their great Alaskan smoked salmon, then continue on to Alyeska and from there to Portage Glacier depending on how much time is left in the day. That short trip will let you see everything from spawning salmon in the marshes just south of town to sheep on the mountains, whales in turnigan arm, waterfalls along the cliffs and finally a glacier. You could also take a glacier tour up 20 mile river which would be a pretty wild ride and definately an experiance to write home about.

    What every you decide pick up some nice binoculars for you and your wife as well as an extra memory card for your camera!

    Do some research on line about Kenai, Homer, Seward to see if that interests you

    Then look up Tangle lakes, Paxon, Denali, Denali hwy, Hatchers pass, Talkeetna, Willow

    After researching those locations then you will be better able to decide north or south. Which ever you choose I guarantee you sill spend your entire flight back home making plans to come back and see the other 1/2. Then perhaps it will hit you that even if you come back for another 10 day trip and cover every major highway we have you will still have seen less than 1/3 of this great state!

    Welcome to the site and good luck planning your Alaskan Adventure!

  8. #8
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Fly up, rent a car, and live out of a tent. That's what we did for our honeymoon, we drove too much, 1500 miles in 6 days, but we sure saw the state. There is no reason you can't really see and enjoy the state for well under $1000, plus airfair. If you want something nicer than a tent, rent an RV and do the same. Lodging prices during the summer are quite steep, so it'll be pretty much a wash between renting a car and staying in B&B etc vs. the extra cost of an RV and higher fuel cost.

    The definition of wilderness might be different to different people. For me wilderness is seeing no people and not hearing any cars. For many people from the lower 48, simply driving our roads and stopping here and there to take pictures is wilderness.

    I'd look at two different options that will include driving a long loop, which will have plenty of opportunities to camp out, and hike well off the roads depending on how far you want to hike.

    Loop one would be fly into Anchorage, drive to Valdez, and take the ferry to Seward, then drive back to Anchorage. This is by AK standards not alot of driving, and you'll get to see Prince William Sound from the ferry. The downside is the ferry is expensive. Then you'll have the beautiful drive from Seward to Anchorage.

    The other option is drive from Anchorage to Glenn Allen, then head N on the cutoff to the Alcan, take the Alcan to Fairbanks, then return to Anchorage via the parks highway. You'll see quite a few mountains, the rolling hills of Fairbanks, and on the return stop at Denali to view Mount McKinley.

  9. #9
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Alpine Creek Lodge.

    Contact Claude aka denalihunter here on the forum. Rent a car and drive north to Cantwell. Turn east onto the Denali Highway. The lodge is at mp 68.1 about 10 miles east of the Susitna River bridge (Cantwell is mp 135). The lodge sits at the base of the Clearwater Mountains and is all the wilderness you could want.

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