Alaska-Denali and other advice

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
bflood Senior Member • Posts: 2,162
Re: Alaska-Denali and other advice
2

The tours are pretty specific - the bus goes to specific spots with no flexibility in the route or stopping points.

When we took the Kantishna shuttle in August, 2008, the driver said she'd stop anytime someone sees an animal - just speak up. And she stopped for every case. The bus is a traditional school bus, with those windows where the upper half can slide down to open the window. They work quite well for shooting from inside the stopped bus. The day we went was overcast, cold, and rainy - ideal feeding weather for the animals. Stopping rather often to allow passengers to photograph bears, caribou, eagles, moose, etc made for a long day. We departed the park entrance about 8 AM and got back about 9 PM. Worth every minute of it.

Keep checking for shuttle reservations. They get cancellations, and that can create short-lived opportunities to get seats. So check often.

As a general rule, animals that survive the -20 to -50 degree winters don't like warm, sunny days. So expect the animals to be out feeding on colder, cloudy days, and to be hiding in the deepest shade they can find on warm, sunny days. It'ss the opposite effect for scenery - long distance visibility is best on days when the animals are unlikely to be out and about. That means the best chances to get photos of an animal in a great scenery setting can be expected soon after sunrise or shortly before sunset.

Private vehicles are only allowed to drive the paved part of the park road as far as the Savage River, about 15 miles. There's a guard shack there to allow folks with reservations at campgrounds farther in to go through, and everyone else has to turn around.

Seward - look into cruises into the Kenai Fjords National Park. Avoid any that last 3 hours or so - they never get out of Resurrection Bay at Seward. Look for the all-day, 8-hour variety. If motion sickness is a problem, avoid single hull boats and look for catamaran cruises - they experience less side-to-side motion. The tour offers great scenery, and lots of wildlife.

Juneau - there are a lot of whale watching tours in Juneau. They seem to cooperate very well with each other to spot where the whales happen to be coming to the surface (they talk to each other via radio pretty much constantly). Some cruises offer lunch, others do not. IMHO, none were expensive. Our experience was excellent and also included eagles, otters, and seals.

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