Subject: Alaska Marine Highway vs Interior
We have been to Alaska twice. I planned both trips. The last time we took a group of 10. We were 'lucky' on both trips to have a couple days of full view of MT McKinley. It is wonderful. The first trip we had a lot of wildlife up close on our trip up through Denali, but the second trip had very few.

If I had to choose between the trip up/down the Inside Passage and a chance to see MT. McKinley/wildlife, I would choose the Inside Passage. We are campers, so we didn't mind sleeping on the deck, however, we had three cabins for the others in our group. It was nice to have a place to store luggage.

You might consider flying to Fairbanks. Take the train (or rent a car) down to Denali and onto Anchorage. The train ride is really great. We got off in Denali. You should stay overnight two nights in one of the lodges, then continue on to Anchorage the third day. The train goes north/south once a day and travels all day. Leaves Fairbanks around 8:30am and gets to Denali around 12:15pm. If you stay overnight at Denali, you must make sure you make arrangements to take the trip up Denali before you arrive. The reservations are usually sold out when you get there and it may be up to a two day wait to take a trip up Denali, where you really have the chance to see wild life.

Continue on to Anchorage and stay overnight two days in Anchorage. The train leaves around 12:30pm and arrives in Anchorage at 8:00pm. The next day, take a trip down to Whittier via the Portage Glacier area. Again you can take a train or rent a car. I would recommend the car. Take the 26 Glacier Cruise. We have gone both times and have also gone to Glacier Bay. Going to Glacier Bay, best done from Juneau by high-speed boats, is nice, but I don't think it is worth the extra money when compared to the 26 Glacier Cruise. The Alaska Railroad company has a package that will take you down via train, give you the 26 Glacier Cruise and return you to Anchorage. Leaves at 10:00am from Anchorage and arrives in Whittier at 12:30pm, where you take the cruise. You return to Whittier and catch the train back to Anchorage and arrive back at 9:30pm.

The next morning, fly to Juneau Visit with your friends. Then one day you could zoom over to Glacier Bay on the early morning fast boat, take the tour, and return in the evening.

To get the best part of the Inside Passage, from Juneau, you can then take the Ferry back down to Seattle (Bellingham). I do like the trip from Skagway to Juneau, but it is harder to get to Skagway than Juneau. You might be able to secure a reservation on the southbound trip and not go on the wait list.

If you could fly into Fairbanks in time to catch that 8:30am train, you would save an overnight. Otherwise, you would spend 1 night in Fairbanks (plenty to see including the Salmon Bake), 2 nights in Denali (if you make the tip up Denali, otherwise 1), 2 nights in Anchorage (again if you make the trip to Whittier, otherwise 1), which would leave 4 nights, possibly 1 in Juneau and 3 on the southbound trip to Bellingham, or 4 nights in Juneau. If you miss the Fairbanks Salmon Bake, catch the one in Juneau, which we like better.

I still have a lot of links if you are interested. Wil Orlando, Florida