I always recommend Wrangell St. Elias over Denali.
Denali is much more developed so has more ammenities, lodges, and crowds. Not quite as bad as Yellowstone or Yosemite but far more people that I expected.
Wrangell St Elias is huge - the largest in North America - with very few lodges but more road access, more camping just about anywhere you want and more chances of seeing wildlife. You could stay at the Copper Center Princess lodge by the entrance and then drive in to McCarthy / Kennicott Mine. Or there are lodges and cabins in and around McCarthy.
The NPS website below is a good source of info.
Want a totally different experience in Alaska? If the Cruise is not your thing, try this. Take a 300 mile drive from Anchorage to Valdez (Where the pipeline ends).
Along the way you will encounter the most beautiful scenery, wildlife, and open skies.
From Rivers running through vast, vast valleys, to Mountain goats to driving through mountains just to enter Valdez port. The scenery is so beautiful you will want to stop and take pictures every step of the way. Do not miss. Summer/Spring only. Check to see when roads open up.
Take time to coordinate your trip so you can take a ferry back to Seward for the drive back to Anchorage. The Southcentral ferry service takes you through Prince William Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska and Lower Cook Inlet. You will have spectacular views of ice-blue glaciers and marine wildlife.
Chronicle of a 375 mile solo canoe trip down the Noatak River, above the Arctic Circle, Gates Of The Arctic National Park, Alaska '94.
There are many roads on the southeast islands and they are very large. You can drive on many of the "logging" roads. These roads are generally in very good condition. If you long to see back country in the southeast, then bring an auto or just rent one and get exploring. There are maps available to tell all of these roads. The picture that is shown was taken about 50km from Petersburg, Alaska. Mostly on graveled/dirt roads. On some roads a four wheel drive is recommended, but there are enough improved roads to drive all day with a standard car and never see another person. If you go to central Alaska, There are not nearly as many off track roads, but there are still amazing views to be seen. See the other photos in this series to further explain.
Brooks Lodge overlooks the world famous Brooks River in the heart of Katmai National Park. The lodge, originally conceived as a fishing camp, has been in operation since 1950. The facilities have seen continuous upgrading and have gained a world-wide reputation, attracting visitors from all continents.
Guest accommodations consist of sixteen modern rooms all with modern private facilities. Rooms accommodate two to four persons. The beautiful main lodge building boasts a spectacular view of aquamarine Naknek Lake. Its large circular fireplace is popular for evening relaxing and reminiscing about the day's adventures. Hearty Alaskan fare is served three times a day buffet style in the dining area of the lodge. Cocktails are available for purchase at the lodge bar each afternoon and evening.
The World Famous bear viewing at Brooks Falls is only a short walk from Katmailand's Brooks Lodge. As many as fifty bears live along the mile and a half long Brooks River during the salmon season. Many visitors see bears within minutes of arrival. All visitors are instructed by the National Park Service on how to conduct themselves in "Bear Country".
Superb sport fishing is available adjacent to the lodge on the Brooks River and on the Brooks and Naknek Lakes. The Brooks River is fly-fishing only. The Brooks Lodge fishing packages are for independent minded fly-fishermen who want to experience the great sport fishing of the Katmai area without the expense of a fully guided sport fishing lodge. Including fly outs in your stay will provide the means to fish other hot spots and allow you to take advantage of the variety of species of fish available in southwest Alaska.
At Brooks Lodge you are just 22 miles from the volcanic "Valley of 10,000 Smokes". The Valley is the sight of one of the most violent eruptions in modern history. Novarupta Volcano exploded in 1912 with blasts of hot winds and gas which spewed hot glowing pumice and ash, destroying all living things and burying more than 40 square miles of lush green valley under ash deposits to depths of 700 feet. Daily tours of "The Valley of 10,000 Smokes" depart from Brooks Lodge daily.
if you like to have a special experience in outside nature, maybe you will be lucky to see any bear in free nature while catching salmon, go to Brooks lodge on Katmai Nationalpark
Katmai National Monument was created in 1918 to preserve the famed Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a spectacular forty square mile, 100 to 700 foot deep ash flow deposited by Novarupta Volcano. A National Park & Preserve since 1980, today Katmai is still famous for volcanoes, but also for brown bears, pristine waterways with abundant fish, remote wilderness, and a rugged coastline.
Most people that I know that have visited the Kenai Peninsula miss this one because it is not on most of the hot spots maps. Just west of Cooper Landing off of Hwy 1 to the south is a park administered by the National Wildlife Refuge. If you enter that park and pay the fee go as far as you can to the South to a small parking lot with a left entrance. There is a trail head in that parking lot. The trail is very nice, wide crushed stone. It is an amazing hike about 2 miles. At the end of the trail, there is a viewing platform where you can see the Salmon jumping up the flowing river.
I've been here three times and it never fails to amaze me. Beware, the last time I was there a black bear was in the parking lot. No big deal as he wondered back into the woods when he heard the car but realize this is not a zoo.
We chose to rent an RV in Anchorage upon our arrival in Alaska because we wanted to do our own thing at our own pace. I highly recommend this mode of travel....you've got your vehicle and your hotel room all in one! The roads are a bit rough, but the rental companies are aware of this and offer advice on how to navigate them. The cost was around $150 per day, not including gas. And the vehicle is self-contained. It's a lovely way to see this beautiful state.
To find a rental agency, simply google RV rentals, Alaska and there's a plethora of links to follow.
Our experience was just wonderful. We stopped to capture wildlife and scenery on film at our leisure. And the best thing about the Mini-Wini (motorhome) is when you decide you've had all the fun you can have for one day.....pull over. You're home! No hotels to drive back to or hunting for restaurants. Pull up into a campsite, build a fire and enjoy a meal al fresco!
Even though it took 8 hours by bus to get to the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Driving along the unpaved roads lead to sights not seen by many tourist. i enjoyed the pipeline, tundra and unique scenery. Watch out for Mosquitos though!
The Dalton Highway, known as “The Haul” or “The Long Haul” is considered the last great highway. I suppose this depends on your idea of great highways. This one is the most desolate of all highways, certainly in Alaska & that is a high standard to have as most of our roads are desolate. It’s technically Alaska route 11, runs 414 miles north of Livengood to Deadhorse up near the Arctic Ocean. Very few sections are paved and parts of the road are in terrible condition. It’s mainly used as a way to get supplies up to the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay but almost the entire thing is pure wilderness. For 240 miles, there are no services whatsoever so bringing your own gasoline, spare tires and tools to fix your car are a must. Plus food and something to sleep in, on or with. Once you get to Deadhorse, you cannot go to the Arctic Ocean by yourself—you have to arrange a tour to get out there. While on this road, it’s important to remember that truckers have the right of way, so you have to let them pass.
There are many good & bad things about this road. Because it’s so difficult, private vehicle don’t take it very often. It’s impossible to go fast, it’s not built up at all, you cross the Arctic Circle & who knows what adventures you can have while taking this road. You need to have a lot of time and until recently, a lot faith in your own vehicle and the others on it. I say this because it’s likely rocks will crack the glass or cause other damage. You might have car trouble and you have to be able to fix it yourself or hope someone can help you. Now, there’s a place in Fairbanks that allows you to rent vehicles outfitted to make this trip and a couple other rental companies as well. We took a test drive on this road and because it was April, there wasn't much traffic at all. No gas at the 2 gas stations at mile 60 either. But after doing this, we probably will try to use our own car. The cost of the rental doesn't cover cracked glass or any other damage and our insurance does.
We stopped at Chitina on our way to McCarthy for lunch.
Fishing in the river seems to employ most people there.
Big Large A l a s k a Trains, Bears, Hiking, Kayaking, Camping and long drives is what its all about and M a j e s t i c Scenery.
Well, Denali is not the best place in Alaska if you're looking for wildlife. Head to the backcountry and you may have luck. In the higher elevations you can probably see dall sheeps (pictures 1 & 2 & 3 - Near Savage River) or mounatin goats. Along the hiking trails you can easily catch a sight of rabbits (picture 5) or different kind of birds (picture 4). The sheeps were curious and thay didn't move! First i saw just a small group then another big group appeared behind the rocks. These animals are calm and friendly but do not approach them.
The rest of the people miss it. Probably they're not interested or just have to get back to the cruise ship in time:)
Anyway i can highly recommend visiting the mountains around Skagway. You can get the best view of the bay in clear weather from here (picture 5). In addition there are lots of lakes rivers and waterfalls which are definitely worth a visit (picture 1).
I know not so much chance for sun but it's not raining head to the mountains and do not forget to watch for wild animals. Both sides have a good network of hiking trails. Cross the railway lines and chose a good hike.
On the other side you can find rather just walking paths which lead you along the shore, these are also beautiful (picture 2 & 3 & 4).
The trail is easy actually without elevation. Approximately 3 mile round trip from Kennecott to the toe of the Root Glacier or a 8 mile round trip to the Erie Mine tram cables.
This trail meanders along the lateral moraine of the Kennicott and Root Glaciers, eventually turning to the east for views of the Stairway Icefall and Eria Mine Bunkhouse. Better to do both, it's not that difficult as it seems:)
You can even camp in the surroundings along this trail at Jumbo Creek camping area which is a wide one. Boxes for food storage are available and have to be used.
This is a straightforward but strenuous hike. The distance is approximately 9 miles round trip with a 3,800 foot elevation gain between the Kennecott Mill Town and the Bonanza Mine. It takes 4 to 5 hours up and about 3 hours back down.
Follow the old Bonanza Road out of Kennecott and enjoy the scenic views (picture 4 & 5). In the higher areas especially near the mine you can find copper nuggets (main picture), pretty interesting.
On the road you'll probably meet animals, I've seen a couple of ground squirrells (picture 2) black bears (picture 3) and different kinds of birds.
Excellent amenities, with an excellent outlook. The higher the room the better the view, always ask...more
We stayed twice in the past month for a couple of days each trip and found the front desk staff...more
We stayed at Sophie Station as part of our package tour and one night before the tour. It was clean...more