Author Topic: Alaska 2023  (Read 4213 times)

Offline g8trgr8t

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Alaska 2023
« on: July 14, 2023, 11:40:52 PM »
We live in SW Florida and are fortunate to have family in Wasilla Alaska. We have been visiting every summer for the last 20+ years. It never gets old. THis year, it was my wife, my son, daughter, and her fiancee who had never been to Alaska. We always go mid -June to early July to take advantage of the sockeye run in Seward and in the Kenai on the Russian River. The run on the Russian this year was very strong and we had excellent fishing for sockeye (red) salmon.

We always book 10 - 11 months out so we were able to book RSW-ANC at saver awards on American with two stops. One of the layovers is always tight and when flights change, we always manage to get the more desirable flights from RSW - DFW - ANC and vice versa. Wife and I in first on way back for increased luggage allowance and the overnight ANC - DFW. son in economy, used amex credits to put him in exit row. Daughter and fiancee live in Orlando so they flew MCO-SEA-ANC both ways on Alaska saver awarrds. Purposefully scheduled a long layover in Seattle so they hopped the rail downtown and toured the waterfront and visited the glass museum.

For transportation, I booked a full size Tundra through Turo that had a lockable topper. It was perfect for all the driving and fishing that we did as well as the off road trek to McCarthy/Kennicott.

We used BNB for Seward, stayed with family in Wasilla and did day trips from there, and stayed at a great cabin in McCarthy.

Three days of salmon fishing one day of halibut fishing, three great hikes, road trip to McCarthy, flightseeing in McCarthy, and wife and sone did a helicopter ride to glacier and then paddleboarding/kayak play date for 4 hours before flying back.

First pics are from Russian River (in the Kenai between Anchorage and Seward). Sockeye run this year on the Russian was a great run that made it possible to get our limits two out of three times we went. First time was only 3 per day and second time the limit had increased to 6 each. Fish averaged 6 - 8 pounds each and we averaged 3 lbs of fillets per fish. Sockeye swim upstream and you drift a line with a small fly in the current until it is interrupted by a salmon and then you set the hook and hope you hit them in the mouth or you have to release them.

I think we hooked 3 or 4 for every one we landed, either they got away or were foul hooked. Fun fishing and they are amazingly strong for their size and the current helps them out too. King run was very weak again so no king fishing but I did hit one and saw him flash before he proceeded to abuse my 5000 series reel and I grabbed the spool and broke the line before he emptied my spool. Trying to net salmon in the shallows once you get them out of the main stream is a bit of a comedy show at times as they go crazy with the zoomies up and downstream and can wrap up others fishing nearby if not careful. Fish and game had to shoot one brown bear that they were trying to haze away from the river and it charged an officer. A hiker had killed another brown after it attacked him around 10 miles from where we were fishing so no shortage of brown bears but we just didn't see any this year.

We ended up with north of 250 lbs of fillets between the halibut and salmon and quit keeping salmon after day 2 of salmon fishing. Fish get vacuum sealed and deep frozen and then shipped home as luggage in insulated fish boxes. 50 lbs for my daughter in Orlando, 100 lbs for the house for the year, 40 lbs for friends, and 50 lbs for my mother-in-law in Wasilla. pro tip. friends don't let friends eat farm raised salmon.


20230617_173156 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230617_173220 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

one week after these dandelions were in full bloom, the same valley was covered in daisies. Everything was blooming, allergies were a challenge

20230629_175435 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


20230629_145254 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

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20230620_191528 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230620_195444 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

Headwaters of Bear Creek, at midnight, , the path that the hatchery salmon take to try and get back to the lake that the hatchery sits on. Here you can legally use weighted snag hooks to catch the hatchery raised reds. Those that make it past the thousands of snag hooks head upstream to a wier where they stack up until the hatchery  operators collect them and send some usptream to the lake but harvest the great majority of them for their sperm sacks and roe with the fillets being sold or distributed to local charities and indigenous people.

20230619_214253 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230619_223506 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230619_214241 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230619_221308 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr



Bear Creek Weir Videos and fishing videos. believe you ahve to click to play in flickr

GX010258 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

GX010261 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230620_191202 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230620_191528 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


« Last Edit: July 15, 2023, 12:14:05 AM by g8trgr8t »

Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2023, 12:21:58 AM »
Seward harbor and halibut fishing. Son and my halibut were same length but mine was almost 10 lbs heavier as it was just thicker.

Fish with Aurora Charters, Book the Orion for a 6 pack or they have another boat that can take up to 10 (Polaris). Both fastest in class boats and that gets you out to spots that other's don't run to. Lots of other good captains there but Orion consistently produces for us. 2.5 hour + run out fish 6 hours 2.5 hour run back in. Stunning scenery most of the boat ride mixed in with whales. No bubble net feeding this year but we had humpbacks around us and saw orca's on the way back in

20230618_063002 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230618_065507 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230618_070517 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

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20230619_152102 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230619_152508 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230619_154355 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


20230618_071156 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2023, 12:33:36 AM »
We saw a lot of moose and very few bears this year. The moose with calves seemed to be everywhere as I think they were staying near population centers to protect their young from predators. Inland grizzly love them some moose calves early summer so the mothers will keep them in the neighborhoods and around the edges of town

20230621_094304 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


20230617_191726 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230617_191742 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230617_191744 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

the young moose in this video seemed to love the water in this mud puddle for some reason. moose got down on his knees and slurped up as much as he could in this video.

20230624_115225 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2023, 12:44:19 AM »
MIL house is outside Wasilla near Hatcher Pass which is a pass that cut several miles off the route north. Former home to a gold mine and a great place to hike. The hike is to upper and lower Reed Lakes which are stunningly beautiful snow melt lakes when they are not snowed in. Sad to say, both lakes were snowed in and after we completed the boulder scramble to get high enough to see the condition of the trail it was obvious that we weren't going to make it to lower lake, let alone the one perched in the valley above it. Still a great hike but missing the money shot as those lakes are a beautiful blue on a sunny day.

20230623_105321 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

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20230623_131340 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

zoom in on the center of the image to see my son to get some sort of scale to this boulder scramble.

20230623_122534 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr




Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2023, 01:02:28 AM »
full album here. will add more posts when time permits

https://www.flickr.com/photos/85268984@N02/albums/72177720309131795



Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2023, 02:08:29 PM »
We drove out to McCarthy/Kennicott. 6 -7 solid hours driving east out of Anchorage through some incredible mountains filled with glaciers and valleys 30 miles wide. Pictures just can't capture the scale. Last 40 miles is down a dirt road up into the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias. No electricity except what you produce. Solar and batteries are popular with 20 hours of daylight during the summer and generators and wood stoves for those hearty few who winter there.

Kennecott is the company town developed around an extremely rich copper vein discovered in early 1900's way up the mountain above a glacier a long way from nowhere. JP Morgan and Guggenheim family spent today equivalent of $6B to build a railroad to transport the ore out to Cordova where it was shipped to Washington state for final smelting. When the vein was depleted, they abandoned the town and left everything there. NPS is slowly restoring the place. Main building is 15 stories tall and mine entry was up above the building.

Kennecott sits up above the Root Glacier, the town main street was probably 200' higher than the glacier that was adjacent when developed and the entry to the mine was another 300' plus up the hill from the town. Ore was mined up high, put in buckets on cables and sent to top of processing plant where it was processed to try and purify the ore as much as possible before putting it on rail to Cordova and then onward to Washington to be processed into electric lines to help build america.

NPS is slowly restoring many of the structures. The massive mill processing equipment and tanks are still in place. We didn't have time to take the tour but did see the size of the steam generators used to power the place. The company that owned and operated this mine morphed into Rio Tinto.

We took a 90 minute flightseeing tour over the park. Park is 13.2M acres, bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland combined. If you want to leave Alaska, you drive north around the park to get to Tok and start the ALcan highway down to Seattle. If you go south towards Valdez and turn west, you come to the end of the road, aka McCarthy, small town with airstrip 10 minute shuttle to Kennecott, the mine town.

While in Kennicott Post Office (restored building) we noticed people outside running to clear the street for a not so nice moose with a reputation. A few days back, apparently the same moose decided he want to clear the outdoor dining area at a local restaurant and refused to leave until he got ready. In Kennecott main street, he strolled down the main street clearing everyone out, went to the stream that bisects Kennecott and ran the family and dogs away, stood in the stream and urinated before walking further upstream and drinking from the stream. I trailed him as he left and if I got within 300' of him he would stop and give me a look that made me sure I had a bailout option if he charged. Only other moose I have been worried about were mothers with calves but this guy just had an attitude and didn't like people. I can see a stupid tourist video with him as the start one day. Not many people make it out to McCarthy but I did see a truck at the footbridge with a big gator logo in the back window.

20230625_115940 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

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20230625_192303 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

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Stayed at Currant Ridge, great set of cabinets with full electricity, very well stocked kitchen, and an herb garden that they would allow you to pick to cook with. Highly recommend if you are going to make the trek to McCarthy / Kennicott

20230625_170857 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


flightseeing with McCarthy Air


20230626_104737 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230626_105335 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230626_110642 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20230626_105846 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

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20230626_112132 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

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20230626_120217 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

videos, click to play

GX010135 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


GX010138 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

GX010136 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

GX010151 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr[ftp]][ftp][ftp][/ftp][/ftp]




Offline SSLPhD

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Offline Moshe123

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2023, 01:22:45 AM »
Hot and muggy here. I need Alaska.

Offline PBaruch

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2023, 02:19:28 PM »
Very nice. Thanks for sharing. We need to do fishing in Alaska sometime.
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Online UKinNYS

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2023, 02:37:17 PM »
Incredible!

Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2023, 08:53:15 PM »
Very nice. Thanks for sharing. We need to do fishing in Alaska sometime.

If you do not go to a lodge or charter a guide somewhere, be aware that there are only a handul of places where you can do decent fishing from shore. Russian River is one of the best but you have time the salmon run and hopefully get a good year. Typical limit is 3 per day. As the escapement (number of fish past a weir headed to lake) increases beyond the required number to sustain the run they increase the limit. This year was an exceptional run and the first time in 10 years I have seen them increase the limit beyond 3. The fishing is only one part of what makes the state great place to visit though. We've been a few places and unless you want tropical, I would place Alaska at or near the top if you like scenery and wildlife.

Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2023, 09:08:48 PM »
wife and son did a helicopter ride to the top of the Knik Glacier to a gorgeous blue pool of water where they donned dry suits and spent the afternoon paddleboarding, kayaking, and generally playing on the glacier. Trip was out of Palmer Alaska, just outside of Anchorage, pricey but present for wife and son.

GOPR0095 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

GOPR0096 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

GOPR0097 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr



videos, click to play on flickr..how to upload so they play here?

GX010092 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

GX010087 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

GX010091 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

GX010089 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

Glacier Heli 3 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

Glacier Heli 1 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr






Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2023, 09:25:25 PM »
Whittier is the second port city that cruise ships go into. It is accessed through a 2.5 mile long single lane tunnel that the train also shares. About 1.5 hours south of Anchorage on the way to Seward. On the seaside of the tunnel is my new favorite hike in Alaksa, Portage Lake Glacier. about a milelong uphill that gains around 2k feet to a pass that leads to a valley with a lake at the base of the Portage Lake Glacier. In one spot you can see Whittier and the access to the sea and turn 180 degrees to a massive valley surrounded by green, snowcapped hills with streaming waterfalls running down to a valley bottom full of beaver lakes that ultimately overflow down to the glacier lake. From that ridge you can hike down through the valley to the lake edge with the glacier about 1 mile away across the lake. This was the final resting place of my first drone. The winds blowing towards the glacier must have been stronger out over the lake and they literally blew my drone out of contact. Time for an upgrade

we are late 50's but mostly in shape and this hike was fairly easy, maybe 3.5 - 4 hours roundtrip but it is a hike on a uneven trail with uphill and downhill

20230630_121737 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

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videos, click to play

2023063013302239 (1) by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

2023063013245620 (1) by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

« Last Edit: July 16, 2023, 09:44:01 PM by g8trgr8t »

Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2023, 09:41:37 PM »
last hike was up to Harding Ice Fields above Exit Glacier outside of Seward. uphill all the way with some great views down the valley and across Exit Glacier to the Ice Fields. Much like the hatcher pass hike, we got snowed out at the top. Could have kept going but it was almost all hiking over snow to snow. some people actually hike up much further and then ski down. short ride down for a long hike up. 9 miles total, glad we saved this one until later in the trip and I had a few easier hikes under my belt. Went July 2, town of Seward is full that weekend for a race to a top of a mountain and back that started as a bar bet.

Affectionally known as the toughest 5k in the world. Winner gets a free drink at the Yukon bar and saloon. check out the video at the race link

Mount Marathon Race in Seward – The toughest 5K on the planet.

20230701_105212 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

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20230701_135306 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2023, 09:55:58 PM »
a few more moose

IMG_8391 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

IMG_8392 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

IMG_8417b by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

IMG_8416A by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


Offline TB12

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2023, 04:09:24 PM »
Thanks for sharing
You really convey how enormous and beautiful it is! 

Offline sddd

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2023, 04:18:35 PM »
Great TR, makes me want to go salmon fishing! I wonder how hard it is to clean the fish before eating?

Offline LNS

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2023, 06:51:35 PM »
wow looks beautiful
what's the average temp there this time of year?

Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2023, 10:41:51 AM »
wow looks beautiful
what's the average temp there this time of year?

in June it was between 55 and 65 but 65 and sunny is short sleeve weather. Head further inalnd from the water and it gets warmer unless you go up in elevation.

Offline g8trgr8t

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Re: Alaska 2023
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2023, 10:48:40 AM »
will share this here if interested. I did an itinerary for 2 week trip with no fishing for a friend to visit and save cash where possible. fairly active with moderate to moderately difficult hikes

hiking abilities - day hikes 2 - 10 miles, need camelback, different steepness, highly recommend good hiking poles, waterproof boots
lodging requirements. from tent to lodge with "local" hotel or BNB's in between.

dress in layers, take waterproof layer (jacket and pants) as it may rain (drizzle) a lot dependign on weather. June is sunniect month, AUgust is usually wettest

In general, for two weeks without fishing (although I would recommend one day salmon fishing depending on when you go)

Fly in/out of Anchorage - can use miles American, Delta, United, Alaska. American usually has best options for us. Fly through DFW if possible to avoid Chicago. Alaska Air offers good options direct to Seatle and then Seattle to Anchorage. Big savings opportunities here. get credit card bonuses and pay for flights with miles earned there. Either AA or Alaska usually best deal. Plane tickets can range from $700 to $1200 for us and we cover those costs with miles so taxes only. must book 300 days out to find lower level saver awards. using miles earned from cc saved around $4.5k for us this year on plane tix on this trip

Rent car/truck from Turo. use highly rated renter. get trip insurance for this in the odd event that renter has problems and you ahve to get last minute rental/Turo. rental car rates are stupid in Alaska since covid. keep shopping if you do rent something and change if you find better deal. $2k for a tundra club cab with topper for 17 days was best deal I found this year and it worked great for us with 5 people and doing fishing. You do not want a small car. gas is generally $1 more than Florida.

Buy a cooler and groceries for 3 - 4 days at a time

If budget (tent) traveling, pick up rental camping gear next am. try and find bear spray for rent if tent camping or doing hiking

buy/use a coupon book. must book in advance and note that you are using coupons. Operators allow limited number of reservations for coupon offers.
Northern Lights Coupons – Alaska's favorite coupon book
Alaska Travel Deals | Coupons for Alaska Tours | Travel Discounts (toursaver.com)

I prefer the toursaver

Night 1 - Anchorage, you will arrive late. Can use hotel points here or purchase certs from others to keep costs down. multiple chain hotels in Anchorage but they release very few reward nights so sooner the better.
Visit Native american cultural center in Anchorage, drive south with stops along the waterfront along the way. Drive to Cooper's Landing. get lodging, eat. Options for evening, hike out to Russian River Falls (via campground entrance) or drive up and around Skilak Lake Road looking for wildlife or both, depending on energy levels . It will be light outside at midnight. If mid June to mid to late July it is possible to find brown bear feeding at Russian River falls. Hit miss but a relatively easy. flat hike on a well worn trail. good warm up hike 4 miles +/- total.

Night 2 - Cooper's Landing
can do Russian River hike in the am or do a smoothwater float ride down the Kenai River.
drive south towards Homer stopping at Soldotna if you want to see Russian orthodox church. not where we would spend time but some find it interesting
Russian River Falls | Easy Hike On the Kenai Peninsula | ALASKA.ORG
Things to Do in the Cooper Landing Area | Our Guide To… | ALASKA.ORG

nights 3, 4 - Homer, tour the spit, do Kachemak Bay cruise, bear viewing flights to Katma, tidepool tours, shop for artwork, enjoy the restaurants
The 8 Best Things to Do in Homer, Alaska | Photos &… | ALASKA.ORG

drive Homer to Seward. if interested, try and schedule a tour of the hatchery between Moose Pass and Seward. free but has to be scheduled with staff

nights 5,6,7 - Seward
do longest glacier cruise you can find in coupon book you buy
depending on time of year visit bear lake weir on bear lake road (mid to late June it is usually full of sockeye salmon)
visit sea life center, visit docks around 4 - 5 when fishing charters return.
if there in July, early August, do a silver salmon fishing trip.
do glacier kayaking trip if that appeals to you. long boat ride and then some open water kayaking around glacier pieces. can see whales and other wildlife along the way, lots of same water covered in the glacier cruises
do the hike up to Harding Ice Fields if decent weather day. hike pics of that are upthread
Harding Icefield Trail - Kenai Fjords National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
small cabins right on the water if you want something cozy, out of town Angels Rest, have another out of town BNB we like for value and amenities (grill, stocked kitchen, washing machines, etc)
Romantic Waterfront Rental Cabins for Honeymoons in Seward Alaska (angelsrest.com)


leave Seward, drive north to Whittier if not raining. Hike Portage Lake Glacier trail. pics of that hike upthread
Portage Pass Trail | ALASKA.ORG

Can do a second glacier cruise here if you desire. Shorter ride than Seward, smaller glaciers, less whales/wildlife than Seward.

leave Whittier, if sunny, go to Alyeska and take cable car to top. Can hike down or take cable car down
Alyeska Aerial Tram - Alyeska Resort

night 8 Anchorage - use hotel points to save costs. if no points, stay in Wasilla or Palmer if rates are cheaper. shop expedia/orbitz but book directly with property. drive to Valdez with scenic stops along the say. Stop at Matanuska glacier and do glacier hike with MICA
MICA Guides | Matanuska Glacier Trekking, Heli Tours & Zipline.
stop at waterfalls on the way into town

night 9 Valdez, many hikes in the pass area outside of Valdez,

The Best Things to Do and See in Valdez, Alaska | ALASKA.ORG
our favorite hike so far in Valdez area
Thompson Pass/ Marshall Pass Trail | ALASKA.ORG

long drive day, Valdez to Talkeetna. visit NPS station there where all expeditions have to check in and check out. lot of good info there on Denali summit attempts, history of park
Talkeetna options - flightseeing around Denali, Mahays jetboat tours, train up into and back from Hurricane Turn. all three a good options
Guided Alaska River Adventures - Jet Boat Adventures in Talkeetna, Alaska (mahaysriverboat.com)
Flightseeing Tours in Denali, Alaska | K2 Aviation (flyk2.com)
Hurricane Turn Flagstop Train | Alaska Railroad

night 10 - Talkeetna

drive to Denali, check in, drive as far into park as you can and hike up the riverbed that is located at the parking lot or take a bus in if you arrive early enough or take back country tour and do bus the next day

night 11,12, Denali
take full day bus tour into park. sadly, half of park is closed due to landslide on road and bridge they are building. 4 x 4 tours of back country are another good option, guided or unguided, depending on what you prefer, or do both
Bus Tours - Denali National Park & Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Denali Jeep & ATV Tours | Drive Yourself Into the Denali… | ALASKA.ORG

one day extra day in there to add to whatever area appeals the most to you or to allow recovery time after long drive. longest drive is to/from Valdez so maybe add a night there. If the hatchery run of pinks is coming in, it can be a good place to try salmon fishing too. Seward would be good place to add a night. could add a night to night 8 Palmer area and go visit Hatcher Pass and hike Reed Lake trail that is upthread

return to Anchorage, return any rental gear if relevant. fly out. most flights leave late at night.

give cooler and bear spray (if you have to purchase) to Turo owner for him to offer as option to future renters. cannot legally pack bear spray on airline. I also carry a small airhorn for bears. loud sound can be used long before they get close enough to use bear spray. know that moose kill more people than bears

let me know if you have any questions. from my experience, it is about same price to rent car/rooms as it is to get camper and allows easier mobility.