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Late October Honeymoon - Denali or Banff or Glacier?

Hi, everyone! This is my first post, and I am excited to be a part of this community! My fiancee and I are getting married on October 17th this year and we will be honeymooning October 18-25th. We have narrowed down our destinations to three areas: Denali, Banff, and Glacier.

We know that going this late in October means our activities will be limited, but this is the only time we can travel. Based on weather averages alone, it seems like either Banff or Glacier will possibly have more to do during this time. Neither of us have ever done any form of snow sports, so that's not a requirement for us. We will probably stay at an Airbnb near one of these parks and just go into the park for hiking and sightseeing. Any thoughts on which of these parks/surrounding areas will have the most to do during this time frame?

I appreciate any opinions you have. Stay safe and healthy!

-Matt

12 Replies

@MattDiGi Thanks for reaching out and welcome to the community!

I have lived in Fairbanks, Alaska for the last six years and while I encourage everyone to visit the Interior of Alaska (Denali being the crown jewel), October would be a very challenging time to do so. To start, Denali National Park has only one road in and out of the park, known as the 'park road'. That road closes at the end of September and does not re-open typically until April or May. The main visitor center also closes for the winter, however, there is a smaller interpretive science center that remains open year round. So not only are you not really able to get very far into the park, your options are limited even for what you can do. Additionally, the small 'town' of businesses, restaurants, and hotels that exists during the summer right outside the park also closes down when they close the park road in the fall.

Lastly, you have the weather to consider. Fall is a wonderful time in the Interior of Alaska, however, it can also be surprisingly cold, with temperatures dropping well below zero and snow and ice almost guaranteed. If you are planning on hiking anywhere around Denali you will most certainly encounter what would be considered 'winter conditions' almost anywhere else in the U.S., and most of the trails take you up above tree-line where you will be exposed to the elements.

My recommendation would follow your thought process and go for Banff or Glacier National Park for this trip and come enjoy Alaska earlier in the summer (winter is amazing too!). 

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and have a wonderful trip! Come back and let us know where you chose to go and share some photos! Thanks!

John

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I have not been to Alaska (high on the bucket list) but I wanted to say that you’re getting married on my anniversary. My husband and I got married 10/17/15. It was just the perfect time of year to get married. We spent this anniversary in Acadia and it was amazing!! If you haven’t been, we highly recommend. So beautiful up there. This year marks the big 5 for us and we thought about Alaska but leaning more towards Iceland. We’ve both wanted to go there and see the Northern Lights for a long time. Maybe next big vacay we’ll hit up Alaska. Whatever you end up doing, have a blast! Congratulations! And yay us for October 17th weddings! Take care and be safe. 

Bekah

@thehinchhikerslife

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Hi @MattDiGi Congratulations! 

I agree with @REI-JohnJ , I've been to Fairbanks several times and it seems...to...have....lost....the , ahem, 'frontier charm', that it once had many years ago. 

The train ride into Denali is about 4hrs from Fairbanks and 8 from Anchorage, but you're not going to see much.

My daughter is planning a wedding, or was, this spring, now in limbo, but IMO

I'd vote for Banff,  Fly into Calgary, with many things to actually see and do, then plan a drive up and along the Icefields Parkway to see the hanging glaciers and many lakes, lots of hiking choices.

Maybe get a little cabin in between Calgary and Banff, so you can go out to eat/dinner, clubs, museums, a pro hockey game, etc.

And then turn around and head back up towards Banff/Jasper during hiking days.

hard choice...but good luck and again, congratulations.

 

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes

I would bring up that the american Southwest in October is a wonderful period.  Temperatures are typically moderate, fall colors are present, and crowds are diminished.  You can see a lot or a little, depending on your preferences.  Grand Canyon, Zion, Saguaro, Death Valley all are in the loop, even my personal favorite - Channel islands ...

I should mention, in the interest of fairness, that there are worthwhile attractions in California, Arizona, and New Mexico that are not National Parks, or so it is rumored...

Hi @MattDiGi and congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!  

While I've not been to Alaska, nor to Glacier, I have been to Banff, and I highly recommend it for your honeymoon. The scenery is spectacular, and there is enough variety of activities available to suit anyone's interests.

And one place I can strongly endorse for a meal and a beverage (or several) is the Grizzly Paw Pub & Brewery in nearby Canmore, AB.  Great food, great beer!

https://www.thegrizzlypaw.com/

Again, Congrats!  And wherever you choose to go, I hope you have an amazing trip!

Thank you all so much for the thoughtful input! We ended up deciding on Glacier National Park. We are staying at an Airbnb well off the beaten path near Kalispell. She and I are so excited to explore GNP and the surrounding areas, especially since the summer crowds will be gone. Next step is to start planning the activities (and making several backup ideas in case of crazy weather) and condition/train ourselves for some good hiking.

Cheers!

-Matt

@REI-JohnJ @Philreedshikes @hikermor @Rob6 

Hi @MattDiGi,

Wanted to chime in here as well...I lived in the Kalispell/Glacier area for a year and have also traveled up to Banff. 

Something that might be really cool and doable, would be to fly into the Flathead/Glacier International Airport and rent a car.  From there, you could spend a day or two exploring West Glacier and then drive up to Banff. 

In the West Glacier area, some things that you should be able to do at that time of year would be:

From Kalispell/Whitefish, it's roughly a 5-6 hour drive to get to Banff, and it's beautiful! 

Once you enter Canada, there are a few places that you can stop on the way up to Banff where there are some natural hot springs.  I'd highly recommend Lussier Hot Springs, it's completely worth the 12 mi detour from the highway!

Other things in or around the Banff area I would suggest:

Then your options would be to either drive over to Calgary and fly out of there, or drive back to Kalispell/Glacier and fly from that location. 

Congrats to you and cheers to an awesome adventure wherever you decide to travel to! 

 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks, @REI-MollyM for the suggestions! We hadn't thought of doing a road trip while we were near Glacier, but this looks fun! Hopefully we can make it work. Thanks!