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babyboomerbell 05-30-2007 05:18 PM

I am taking a cruise on Royal Caribbean in July, to Alaska which ends in Seward. How does one get to Denali National Park from Seward, and how long does it take? I'd also like to know how to get around Denali?

Karen Knowlton 05-31-2007 03:17 PM

My first question is, when does your return flight leave Anchorage after the cruise? If it leaves within a day of the end of the cruise, you will not have time to get to Denali. Have you signed up for a tour through the cruise line, or do you plan to try to do this on your own?

If the former, don't worry, they'll get you there & around, primarily by bus unless you opted for rail. If you booked your trip through a travel agent, ask them for assistance with this, and do it pronto!

If the latter, you may or may not be able to make reservations this late in the game, but your best bet would probably be the Alaska RR. It should take the better part of a day, and possibly will require an overnight stay in Anchorage, to get to Denali. You will NEED reservations to stay near the park, and most likely for the train as well. Contact the Alaska RR right away for reservations, and ask them about hotels/lodges near Denali, for starters.

If you are doing this on your own, and can't get the train from Seward, then contact RCCL right away about purchasing a transfer from them to Anchorage. That will likely take you to the Anchorage airport, or possibly to a downtown hotel (ask). From Anchorage you can take the train, take an (overnight) bus tour (Gray Line comes to mind), or rent a car and drive. The drive is probably about 5-6 hours from Anchorage, one way; train will take somewhat longer due to the stops it needs to make. You will not be allowed to drive into Denali NP itself, but the National Park Service and other tour companies offer bus trips into the interior of the park to watch for wildlife (very well worth the time!!) Nearly all Denali area hotels & lodges are situated just outside the park, so you can drive to them.

cousins 06-01-2007 11:02 AM

We went to Alaska last year (flew to Anchorage/Drove)Anyway If you look on a map Anchorage is in the middle with Seward to the South and Denali to the north. By tain it was 4 hours from Anchorage to Seward. From Anchorage to Denali it is also a 4 hour drive north.
It would be a very long ride from one to the other, and you would still need to get to Anchorage or Fairbanks for a flight home. You don't go "around" Denali unless you pay for a charter plane- we did this with K-2 Aviation. Denali is beautiful and when our plane flew into Anchorage the pilot went close to Denali, tipped the right wing down and if you were fortunate enough to have a seat at the window (on the righthand side of the plane if you were looking from the cabin forward) you got an upclose and personal view of the mountain. In Seward we took a 1/2 day Resurrection Bay cruise to Fox Island for lunch.... loved it!

babyboomerbell 06-02-2007 07:56 AM

Thanks...I don't have plane reservations yet because I want to make sure of having time at Denali NP. I am thinking of taking the train to Anchorage from Seward and then to Denali. Can you offer any info on good accomodations around Denali near the train terminal? Thanks for all the help!

cousins 06-02-2007 10:04 AM

There were several beautiful hotels in Denali, Alaska. Go on line. Our problem was they were Expensive, and some were only for cruiseship passengers (which we were not)
McKinley Village (mile marker 230) and McKinley Chalet Resort (mile marker 239) are two I can recall. The park is located at mile marker 237.
There is another one called Grande Denali Princess or something like that but (I believe) its only for their cruisers.
I'm not sure exactly where the train station is, but everything there is densly populated with tourist stuff at the above mile markers.
We had a rental car and stayed at mile marker 224. (The mile marker numbers get smaller heading south from Denali/or larger heading north from Anchorage.) You'll probably get trained out...but the views are pretty. We saw a small black bear while eating dinner on the train from Seward to Anchorage. We saw tons of Dall Sheep on the mountains. In Denali we saw moose right on the side of the road. If you are interested in any of the following here are the fun things we did in Denali-
Black Diamond's (907-683-4653)
Covered Wagon Adventure- they'll pick you up at your hotel...It a covered wagon ride to a log cabin all you can eat dinner. $79 pp
Back Country ATV Rides (same company as above, they'll pick you up and bring you back to your hotel) 2 1/2 hr ATV rides $85 pp
Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre All you can eat dinner and show located at the McKinley Chalet Resort arrive 4:30 to hotel lobby to pick up your tickets, then go stand in line to the building that has the show. You can wear jeans, the kind of dinner that has no silverwear, a lot of fun. 907-276-7234
Denali National Park- the park itself hasa Wilderness Access Center and Murie Science and learning Center on Park Road, right inside the park mile 1.5)Neat stuff to see, then we drove into the park for the first 15 miles it's free. We went at dinner time so we saw several Carabou and jack rabbits. and at the furthest point you can drive in for free was a small mountain/hill you could climb up. We opted not to pay $$ to ride the school bus for 5+ hours. and we're glad we did. Here are some websites that may help- and
Also when you are in Denali no matter where you stay you can eat lunch or dinner (because it's never dark there)in any fancy hotel and get a beautiful view of the mountain.
K2 Aviation 800-764-2291 if you want to fly around/to the mountain. We were going to do a glacier landing but it was too cloudy so we did just the flight and they refunded the difference with no problem.
There is also horseback riding there if you are into that also- although I wouldn't recommend it if you have a flight the next morning from Alaska to Florida (we found that out the hard way!)

Karen Knowlton 06-02-2007 10:46 AM

Plan on at least 2 full days in Denali to be able to enjoy the wildlife tour (again, highly recommended) and other activities. If you're going next month, though, you may have difficulty getting reservations at the hotels and on the tours, and you may also find your flight choices are VERY limited. Good luck!

cousins 06-02-2007 01:23 PM

That's true Karen...we tried to book a year in advance and they wouldn't let us. We tried at 6 months in advance and then were told it was for the cruiseship passengers only. Maybe try Expedia.ccom or something if you can't get a room directly through the hotel.

babyboomerbell 06-02-2007 06:08 PM

Thanks again for all your input; it is the best!! So the only way to experience Denali is a school bus? Is it worth it, and how long? I know one can't drive in Denali...Thanks guys!!!!!

cousins 06-03-2007 06:56 AM

Go on line and pull up Denali Tours and you can probably find some local/a/c buses. also pull up National Parks Denali so you can compare what they have and compare costs.

Techboy 06-10-2007 09:58 PM

I agree with Karen, definitely allocate at least 2 days at Denali. I suggest avoiding those so-called tour buses, Denali's own shuttle buses are essentially the same. The main difference is that "tour" bus driver must provide a verbal descriptions of what you are looking at and tell stories where as park shuttle bus drivers aren't require to do so. I believe tour buses also provide a lunch box whereas you have to bring your own drinks and food on park buses.

Park's shuttle bus is better if you plan on getting off the bus and hike a bit on your own. The next bus with available sits will pick you up.

We picked parks' shuttle bus with hiking on mind, but the weather was wet, windy, and a bit cold.

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