Alaska Pro tips
- If you’re planning to travel by car stop in Fairbanks and Anchorage - start in Anchorage and drive to Fairbanks. The rental car prices are WAY cheaper. Most people go from Fairbanks to Anchorage, so the car companies offer a discount if you help get cars back up to Fairbanks.
- Check out the creative Air B&B and hostel options available. There are a LOT of unique places to stay (like treehouse and teepees). If you balance it out with some nights of camping it can still be affordable
- You can use your Kroger/Harris Teeter card at the Safeway grocery store in Fairbanks
- Safeway also has great deals on souvenirs (like Alaska socks and coffee mugs)
- Have cash on hand. Most places take card, but we ran into a few places that only take cash, like locker rentals. We ran into this at the hot springs in particular, but a few other places as well.
- Bring good binoculars – there’s amazing wildlife all over the place!
- Pack clothes for all different kinds of weather – you often go from warm to snow in the same day
- If you’re driving, plan small hikes along the way. Small trips like Byron Glacier and Winner Creek (behind hotel Aleyska) really helped break up the drive and keep us sane.
- The Hoarding Marmot had some pretty good deals on used outdoor equipment
o Kenny thinks a set of cramp ons would be the most useful thing to buy (although he never buys them)
Pro Tips on Denali
- Understand how the backcountry permits work.
- Do your research and pick a zone ahead of time. When we there, you chose a zone when registering with the ranger office. Each zone could only be assigned to so many people and it was assigned on a first come first serve basis. The ranger will not assign one to you, you need to be ready to request one.
- You need to be in person at the backcountry office the day BEFORE you plan to hike. That’s where you will receive your permit and be assigned your zone.
-Spend the rest of the day checking out the hikes around the park entrance! These are some of the only hikes with actual trails in Denali but they are worth it!
- Plan to spend at least an hour at the backcountry office watching educational videos and learning from the rangers.
- Once you’ve been assigned a zone, spend some time looking at maps and figuring out where you want to go.
- The rangers will print you a paper topographic map, but if you’re planning to cover multiple zones, you’re spending more than 2-3 days, or you just feel much more comfortable with good quality maps, buy a real map.
- Take the bus! Take it all the way through if you have time. It was way cooler than we were expecting
- Be patient with the bus on your way out. The buses headed back toward the main entrance don’t pass by as often as the ones headed toward Wonder Lake.
- Be flexible with your hiking path. This was the first time we did real hiking without a trail. If you hit a blocking mountain or a deep river, find another way around. The direct path is not always the best.
- Check out our (learning) experience with this in our YouTube video [here](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTNGWNWnCw4) for the infamous Gravel Mountain
- If you’re planning to hike in a zone with lots of rivers or there has been a lot of recent rain, be prepared to get your feet wet. Gators would have been really useful at some points
- Happy Bear campground has showers and sometimes a food truck. Both of these things are amazing when you’re coming off of a few days in the middle of nowhere
- If you’re hiking with a significant other, be ready for good relationship learning opportunities This was our first backcountry experience – tension was high at times and it took a lot of teamwork. We learned a lot