Insider’s Tips: Road trip checklist

08/12/2010
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Planning on hitting the road this summer? We hope so. Let’s face it, there’s a lot to see and not enough summer to see it all in, so making the most of every weekend is not just an essential part of living here, it’s a way of life. You might not think planning for a weekend road trip is necessary — after all, no matter what part of the state you live in, you’re a stone’s throw from the wilderness — but you might benefit from a few tips when traveling to any of the five Princess properties located in some of the most popular areas of the state.

 

Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge

Be sure and pack:

  • Fishing gear – if you plan on fishing with a guide, they will supply the gear but if you already know the ropes, don’t forget to pack your pole, tackle, waders, fishing license and of course a big ice chest. Red and king salmon are running right now in the Russian and Kenai rivers and when fall hits, get ready to fish for some silver salmon.
  • Rain gear – the weather on the Kenai Peninsula can be a little rainy from time to time so if you pack raingear, it’s guaranteed not to rain (or so the saying goes).

Plan ahead for:

  • Traffic – it’s no secret that the area near Cooper Landing has some of the best fishing around so if you’re driving on a weekend, be prepared to share the road with fellow travelers. Luckily, Cooper Landing is just a short two-hour drive from Anchorage and has plenty of pull-offs to stop and enjoy the scenery.
  • Reservations – if you’re going to book a fishing charter or rafting trip at the tour desk at this time of year, plan ahead to be sure you get a reservation during peak times.

Mount McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Be sure and pack:

  • Binoculars – whether you take a flightseeing trip, go on a hike, experience a jet boat ride or take off on an ATV adventure, the views are astounding.
  • Your appetite – if you come to Talkeetna, the list of must-try eateries is long. Between the restaurants at the Princess Lodge, the bake shops, pizza joints and a brewery in town, it’s a good thing there are opportunities to walk it off.

Plan ahead for:

  • Weather – if you plan on going flightseeing, give yourself an extra day in case weather prevents the trip. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it.
  • Time to relax – with the Great One right outside the windows, take a seat once in awhile and just relax. Schedule some time to sit in the Great Room, featuring cozy sitting areas, tables and enormous floor-to-ceiling windows.

Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge

Be sure and pack:

  • Camera – it sound obvious, but when a brown bear or bull moose crosses your path, you don’t want to be kicking yourself for forgetting the camera at home.
  • Good walking/hiking shoes – I’m not suggesting you climb Denali, but when you’re staying at a location just one mile from the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve, your feet will want to explore the grounds (or shop along the promenade).

Plan ahead for:

  • Taking the train – we Alaskans are reliant upon our cars (they didn’t invent auto-start for nothing!), but once in awhile, it’s nice to sit back and enjoy the ride. Princess Rail Tours combine the thrill of traveling the Alaska Railroad with one or more nights at either the Denali or Mt. McKinley Princess lodges.
  • A trip into the park – at the tour desk, ask about the Tundra Wilderness Tour or Natural History Tour to travel into the park for opportunities to spot wildlife. A long bus trip may sound daunting, but well worth the journey.

Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge

Be sure and pack:

  • Sunglasses – with upwards of 20 hours of daylight in the summer, Fairbanks makes you want to stay up and play long into the nighttime hours. The Midnight Sun Dinner and Float trip combines dinner with a late-night float trip down the Chena River.
  • Gold mining spirit – with a rich mining history, Fairbanks is packed with opportunities to roll up the sleeves and explore. From the El Dorado Gold Mine Tour to a visit to the Museum of the North, it’s easy to embrace yourself in all that glitters.

Plan ahead for:

  • Special events – there is no shortage of things to do and see in Fairbanks, and many weekends are packed with special events like the Tanana Valley State Fair (Aug 6-14).
  • A return trip this winter – the only one of Princess’ lodges open all year round, the Fairbanks Princess is available to serve your lodging needs whether you’re coming to enjoy the midnight sun or the northern lights.

Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge

Be sure and pack:

  • An extra large cooler – located at the confluence of the Copper and Klutina rivers, this area is prime for some of the best fishing in the state, only not as many people know about it so there will be plenty of elbow room.
  • Road map – if you haven’t been to this area of the state before, there is more to do and see then you might think. Take advantage of the close proximity to Valdez, the Mat-Su Valley and Copper Center regions.

Plan ahead for:

  • A trip to McCarthy and Kennicott – one of the most treasured adventures in Alaska, this trip will reveal a location that sprang from the wilderness to support the nearby copper and gold mines. You can book a day trip by air or combine a fly/drive adventure from the Tour Desk.
  • Driving time – depending on where you’re coming from, this lodge is a true wilderness escape. It’s located at milepost 102 of the Richardson Highway, approximately two hours north of Valdez and five hours east of Anchorage.