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5 days Anchorage in April

Phoenix, Arizona
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5 days Anchorage in April

I have 5 days to spend in the Anchorage area beginning at the end of next week. I am actually taking a job for the summer near Juneau, so I'll get to explore some of that area under more ideal conditions. Nevertheless, I'm not sure if I'll get back to the Anchorage area this summer and would like to explore. I know that April isn't the best time to visit, so I'm not counting on much hiking being available or anything being open. I plan to rent a car and drive around. What would you recommend I do? Are there any glaciers I can see or any scenic trails that might be do-able? Am I better off driving to Homer or northward? I've never been to Alaska at all and I love dramatic scenery, day hikes and scenic drives. Also, where might I find relatively inexpensive accomodations?

Anchorage, Alaska
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1. Re: 5 days Anchorage in April

A couple of ideas:

I'd be tempted to rent some snow shoes (REI) & head down to Byron Glacier (about 1 hr drive south of ANC) & hike the trail into it. The drive down (along Turnagain Arm) should be very nice (in daylight hours).

You could head up to Denali (a long drive) but the main road into Savage River has been being kept up (plowed). You might be able to get some hiking (duh snow shoeing) in while up there (& see any wildlife that might be in season). I've no idea what'd be open up there for accommodations.

Denali link: www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/hours.htm

There's lots to do/see all around ANC (& nearby).

Good luck,

Scott

Chugiak, Alaska
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2. Re: 5 days Anchorage in April

Yeah, I agree with Scott, see about renting snowshoes. Pretty sure REI does it. Being here and attempting to hike a week from now with snowshoes will be better than three weeks from now when it's all a muddy, mucky mess. Look into renting (or buying - they aren't all expensive) some trekking poles with snow baskets to use with the snowshoes, though.

Good resource for hiking in the area:

http://www.alaskahikesearch.com/

Some B&Bs will have better rates right now. I like Susitna Place - their Witner rates (which includes April) are under $100/night (before 12% tax) for almost every room and includes breakfast:

http://www.susitnaplace.com/

Anchorage Alaska
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3. Re: 5 days Anchorage in April

www.angelfire.com/ak3/alaskana/anchorage.html

alaskamountaineering.com/rent-mountaineering…

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4. Re: 5 days Anchorage in April

I would definitely recommend to drive down to Seward & get a room for at least one of the nights.. The drive along the Turnagain is worldclass any time of the year. There are many stops along the way, pullouts along the inlet, Girdwood, Tern Lake, etc.

The Sealife Center will be open in Seward:

www.alaskasealife.org/New/visitors/index.php…

Get a good cup of coffee at Resurrect Art, the church turned into coffee/art shop

In Anchorage, rent snowshoes at REI or AMH to go up to the Glen Alps to snowshoe. The mountain can be seen on a clear day from the overlook..

Edited: 05 April 2012, 09:15
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5. Re: 5 days Anchorage in April

If you don't want to go all the way to Seward, take the drive along the Turnagain at least as far as Girdwood.

There are hostels if you like to stay in those- great way to meet others.

Lake Tahoe...
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6. Re: 5 days Anchorage in April

Major Marine and Kenai Fjords tours in Seward are advertising on TV whale watching tours right now.

Right now we are in breakup season and a lot of snow to deal with

Phoenix, Arizona
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7. Re: 5 days Anchorage in April

Thanks for the advice everyone... my 5 days in Anchorage came to a close this evening and I thought I'd report on my visit. I was able to accomplish more than I expected to. The first evening I checked out Earthquake Park and watched the sunset... actually, based on the advice of the locals, I watched the sunlight reflect off the city skyline, which set it aglow just before sunset. I'm told this phenomenon only occurs in April and October and there were several photographers gathered at the park to capture it.

The next day I checked out the Eagle River Nature Center and Eklutna Lake... lots of snow in both places but the trails at Eagle River were mostly traversable. Eklutna was completely frozen over and I was able to walk out on the lake. That evening I drove to Seward... I encountered some rain on the drive but not enough to obscure the scenery.

Seward was probably my favorite stop- I spent one night there. The view over Resurrection Bay was unbelievably beautiful and the town, while deserted, had a very cozy feel to it. I didn't take the whale watching tour- since it was raining- but I did check out the Alaska Sealife Center. The weather actually cleared up while I was inside. That afternoon I drove to Homer, stopping a lot to take photos as I approached the town. I found a deserted beach along the drive and some good views across the inlet.

There wasn't much going on in Homer. Again, the town felt somewhat deserted. At first the drive to it didn't impress me as much as the drive to Seward, but the panorama eventually opened up. While there I checked out the Spit and drove the Skyline Drive... the latter being highly recommended.

The next day I returned to Anchorage. I made a detour to Whittier, which was quite scenic... especially the area around Portage Lake. The town itself didn't impress me much... it seemed more like a dock with old military buildings on it than an actual town. I only stayed a short time, long enough to get some photos. Afterwards I stopped at the Glen Alps and walked the Anchorage Overlook Trail at sunset- this little walk was a definite highlight. I stayed in Anchorage that evening.

The next day I drove to Denali and spent an afternoon exploring the park. The road was only open 30 miles, but the day was exceptionally clear and the scenery breathtaking. I was practically the only person around, which was actually a bit unnerving at times. I stayed in what seemed to be a hunter's lodge south of the park, as there was nothing open at the park entrance. I walked out at about 2 AM, following the advice of the locals, and was treated to a decent display of the Northern Lights.

Today I made the drive back to Anchorage. I made a detour in Palmer up to the Independence Mine- the mine itself was closed but the parking lot there was open. The views, again, were fabulous. Most of the people I encountered there were skiers- it seems the area is having a late ski season thanks to all the snow. Not sure what it should look like this time of year, but everywhere felt very winter-like except for the temperatures.

It's true a lot of places weren't open and that the dead trees and miles of snow didn't resemble the summertime photos I've seen of the place, but I was still able to have a good experience. Maybe I got lucky with the weather- at Denali the temperatures were in the 40s- but my impressions are that April isn't such a bad time to visit after all. The car rental was cheap and the motels were around $50 a night- I even did better than that in some places. While it may not be the ideal season in some respects, I was very satisfied with my visit. I would visit again in April if conditions were similar.

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8. Re: 5 days Anchorage in April

Oh JTM, thanks for coming back with your trip report. All of that plus the northern lights! Excellent!

9. Re: 5 days Anchorage in April

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