Welcome to TA.
A one-way cruise will start or end in either Seward or Whittier. It is a lot easier and less expensive to get to Denali from there than to Glacier Bay. Also, you can book a cruise that goes to Glacier Bay. I am going there independently in July but it requires a flight or boat from Juneau. Though there are some hiking possibilities, with your desire for hiking, Denali is definitely the place to go.
I would take a peek at www.nps.gov/dena. Also pick up a copy of Ike Waits' book Denali Guidebook to Hiking, Photography and Camping in Denali NP. There are very few formal trails inside Denali but some great hiking.
I agree with John - and not just because I live here. You could also include Wrangell/St. Elias National park if you have the time, and Katmai if you have the time and $$. There are several other NP in Ak, but these are the ones generally seen by most visitors . . . and Denali would offer you the most hiking and better accessibility. Good luck! :)
I third going to Denali. And don't forget Kenai Fjords National Park, especially if your cruise includes Seward. You could take a wildlife boat tour of the fjords, and several nice hikes including Harding Icefield (if the snow ever melts there this year!) Here's more info on that: http://www.naturalbornhikers.com/ExitGlacierHardingIcefield/ExitGlacierHardingIcefield.htm
Thanks, Maple!! Monday brain drain - can't believe I forgot that one - it's one of my favorites! :)
Thanks for the great advice. Because of the information you passed on to us, we are going to book a norhbound cruise and do a Denali NP vacation. We just have to call the cruiseline and figure out how they do the air if we stay after and don't take a land vacation thru them. We looked at lodging in Healy online yesterday and I think that is probably where we will stay. Thanks again.
Flights are pretty easy - check the "open jaw" section of airline and travel agent websites. You might find it cheaper to fly into Seattle than Vancouver but of course you then have the added hassle and expense of getting from Seattle to Vancouver (not to mention time). Amtrak and a bus go that route, along with a one-way car rental.
We did it!! We booked the Carnival Spirit for a northbound cruise for July of 2009. Loooong time away, but we are excited. Coalminer, since you live in Healy do you have a reccomendation on where to stay in Healy? We are not fancy people, but would like a basic, clean place to crash after hiking all day. There will be four adults, my husband, myself and our daughter and son-in-law. Maybe even a cabin?
Well yes - there are several cabins/B&B's the would work well for you. Denali Suites first comes to mind, as they are apartments, so you could all be together. Oh, the new Denali Primrose would work well, too. Valley Vista B&B, as well as Aspen Haus B&B suites would work as well. There are many other cabins in the area as well - just depends on whether you want separate sleeping area or being all together. A few places will let you book now, but many local places don't begin booking for the new year until January of that year. Hope that helps! :)
Be looking in August 2009 for a car rental. Booking early will save you a lot of money. Also be looking for hotel deals in Anchorage if you need something there for a night after the cruise or before you fly out.
And be looking for airfares early - put fare watchers on sites like travelocity.com and farecompare.com. They will EMail you when fares change. Especially be looking for good deals in the fall when the Alaskans get their rebate checks from the state. The fare sales work in both directions.
I found a fare from NY to Anchorage for $400 round trip last year with free stops in Minneapolis in both directions. That was for travel earlier this month.
I also found a 2 bedroom suite at Homewood Suites by Hilton for $72/night - a special deal available for just a few hours last fall but I had my dates already. The deal was good for the entire summer.
I routinely pay about $125/week including all taxes for an economy car pick up and drop off in Anchorage but not at the airport. Figure 20-35% more for airport pickup with the airport surcharges. But pick up in town only works if you pick up Monday am through Saturday noon. Earlier this month I got a deal for $130 all-in for pick up and drop off at the airport for the week, which is very rare. I think it was only because it was off-season.
You will want to book your shuttle bus into Denali by sometime early in 2009. Reservations start on Dec 1 (online) but don't fill up all that quickly.
Thanks, thanks, and thanks again for all your help. John, I don't know what you mean book the shuttle bus?? Can't we drive the car into the park and then take the shuttle buses along the route from there?