SDAN15 The Great Alaskan North Road Trip

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This 18-day driving vacation offers plenty of opportunity to get out and about in Alaska’s natural beauty. This itinerary offers a relaxed pace, mostly staying two nights at one location. Then it's all about adventure, history, wildlife, untouched nature and magnificent scenery in Alaska. The tour starts in Anchorage and includes Denali National Park with 20.320 ft. Mt. Denali - the tallest mountain peak in North America, a cruise through Prince William Sound. Join a wildlife and whale watching cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park, visit Homer and experience many other highlights in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Contact us to extend the tour or customize the itinerary. 

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Itinerary

Anchorage ( Overnight: Anchorage )

Arrive in Anchorage during the day. Transfer to your hotel and pick up your rental car. Nestled along the Chugach Mountains, the coastal city of Anchorage is not the frozen tundra of Alaska you might imagine. You will find it’s brimming with activities for the outdoorsy and adventurous. Being the largest city in Alaska, it is rich in indigenous culture; spend your day enjoying the Alaska Native Heritage Center, visiting the Anchorage Museum, or browsing through the Saturday Market. Visit the Lake Hood Floatplane base, go for a walk along the Coastal Train and try out one of Anchorage popular seafood restaurants. With so much of variety of things, for a first time visitor to Alaska or a seasoned traveller, Anchorage has more to offer and is the perfect starting point for your journey into Alaska

Anchorage ( Overnight: Anchorage )

Time for your favourite activity - join a bear viewing day tour to Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park or to Silver Salmon Creek in Lake Clark, take a scenic glacier & wildlife cruise deep into Prince William Sound or explore the local attractions. A picture-perfect flightseeing trip takes you over Cook Inlet to Katmai Coast. Watch bears digging for clams, wandering the sedge grass, or nursing their young. Another option is the day trip to iconic Brooks Falls in the middle of Katmai, famous for bears swatting at Salmon making their way upstream. The Prince William Sound is one of the few places left in the world where a concentration of glaciers can be found in such abundance. View majestic alpine and tidewater glaciers covered with ancient ice and observe a large variety of marine wildlife.

Anchorage – Talkeetna ( Driving Distance: 120 miles | Overnight: Talkeetna )

It is a treat to watch the mountain peaks of the Alaska Range crowned with snow caps in the distance while traveling from Anchorage on the George Parks Highway to Talkeetna. On the way you travel across the fertile Matanuska Valley. Because of the immense amount of summer sunlight, vegetables grow to incredible sizes. Stopover at Eklutna Indian village on your way to Talkeetna which is an Athabascan Indian settlement. While at Talkeetna, the must-do activity is the flightseeing tour to the summit of Mt. Denali. Get a picture perfect view of the Kahiltna and Ruth Glacier with its Great Gorge - over 9.000 ft deep - as well as magnificent ice-falls. You'll also see the Sheldon Amphitheatre - the largest of its kind in the world. Highlight of the flight will be an adventurous glacier landing.

Talkeetna - Denali National Park ( Driving Distance: 160 miles | Overnight: Denali Village )

The journey from Talkeetna to Denali National Park offers a lot of possibilities of wildlife sightings. Even if you are not eagle eyed, a few cars stopped over somewhere means that there could be a possibility of wildlife spotting! Byers Lake on the way offers visitors the choice to rent a canoe or kayak. Once you cross Denali State Park, you'll arrive at Denali Village. The Denali Park office is your rich information chase and it provides details on ranger-naturalist programs, slide shows and sled dog demonstrations. Jeff King’s Husky Homestead Kennel is a very popular choice for a personal tour with four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King and his sled dogs. Visitors can also choose a rafting trip on the Nenana River as well as an ATV Tour in the backcountry adjacent to Denali National Park.

Denali National Park ( Overnight: Denali Village )

Denali National Park offers excellent wildlife viewing and spectacular sceneries. Pick up your tickets, board the bus and watch out for grizzly bears, moose, caribou, wolf and fox moving along the ridges and river beds. Your driver informs about the history of Denali National Park, its diverse wildlife and flora. Once an animal has been spotted the bus will stop that everyone can watch and take pictures. The bus turns around at Eielson Visitor Center - 66 miles one way/8 hours round trip. You can get off the bus anytime to go for a hike. Return to the Denali Park entrance anytime during the day. Optional: We can extend the transit bus tour to Wonder Lake or exchange to the Tundra Wilderness Tour, Kantishna Wilderness Trails or Backcountry Lodge Tour. Included: Denali Transfer Bus to Eielson Center

Denali National Park - Fairbanks ( Driving Distance: 130 miles | Overnight: Fairbanks )

Join this morning the sled dog demonstration hosted by Denali Park Rangers or hike around the Denali Visitor Center. Start your drive on the Richardson Highway and stopover at Nenana. Residents of Nenana sponsor the Nenana Ice Classic, a nature-based lottery. It is a fundraising event in which individuals attempt to guess the exact time the Tanana River ice will break up. Once you get to dig into it more interesting details emerge! Arrive in Fairbanks, the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska, which enjoys 24 hr of daylight during summer. This afternoon board the authentic Riverboat Discovery sternwheeler for a cruise along the Chena and Tanana rivers. Highlight is stopover at an Athabascan Indian Village, Susan Butcher's sled dog kennel and a floatplane take off & land.

Fairbanks ( Overnight: Fairbanks )

The allure of crossing the Arctic Circle becomes a possibility once you reach Fairbanks. Guided van tours along the Dalton Highway or flight tours to the Arctic Circle and Yukon River is a super popular choice. Join a bushplane flight to Fort Yukon to understand as well as experience how the Gwich'in Athabascan Natives live in "Bush" Alaska. As mentioned earlier Fairbanks becomes a hub for very many activities and the list keeps going on. Visiting Chena Hot Springs Resort can be added to the 'To-Do' List! Chena Hot Springs Resort offers a large indoor heated pool and a natural outdoor rock lake for relaxation. The on-site Aurora Ice Museum is a special attraction and was created from over 1,000 tons of ice and snow, all harvested at the resort.

Fairbanks - Glennallen / Copper Center ( Driving Distance: 250 miles | Overnight: Copper Center )

Travel on the Richardson Highway to Delta Junction - a telegraph station established in 1904. The intersection, marked by an oversized white milepost for Mile 1422 is known as the Triangle. Delta Junction is also home to the 90,000-acre Delta Bison Sanctuary. The area features spectacular views of the Alaska Range and the Delta River. On clear days the panoramas of Mount Hayes, Mount Moffit and other peaks are stunning. Continue to Paxson with it's many sled dog kennels and further on to Copper River area - known as a paradise for anglers and rafters searching for big fish and whitewater adventure. Gakona, Copper Center and Glenallen are great jump-off points to fish for the famed Copper River Sockeye. For trout and grayling as well as salmon, try the Gulkana River nearby.

Copper Center - Flight to Kennicott / McCarthy ( Overnight: Kennicott / McCarthy )

Short drive to Chitina and park your car at the airport. From here take a scenic bushplane flight to Kennicott/McCarthy. You will see the Kennicott Glacier as it winds its way 25 miles to the North where it tumbles off the South East face of Mt. Blackburn. The Root and Gates Glaciers flow from ridges of Mt. Regal to join the Kennicott forming one of the most spectacular vistas in the park. Check into your hotel. This afternoon join a guided glacier hike on the Root Glacier. After meeting your guide, you'll start out on the 1.8 mile hike to the "white ice" of the Root. Once on the ice you will explore other-worldly formations unlike anything else you have ever seen: blue pools, crevasses and moulin holes drilled hundreds of feet deep into the ice by the flowing meltwater. Included: Kennecott Mill Walking Tour

Kennicott / McCarthy ( Overnight: Kennicott / McCarthy )

Explore the Kennecott Mine with it's white-trimmed red buildings that stand out against the dramatic mountain-and-glacier backdrop at the actual mine site. In recent years, the National Park Service has restored many of the mine buildings and a guided tour of the huge mill building, bunkhouses and train depot is available. The entire area is for sure a photographer’s dream. Get ready today for a 1/2 day Root Glacier Hike (optional). The hike is most likely the best day hiking trip in Alaska, and almost certainly the best glacier hike! After meeting your guide, you'll start out on the 1.8 mile hike to the "white ice" of the Root. Once on the ice you will explore other-worldly formations: blue pools, crevasses and moulin holes drilled hundreds of feet deep into the ice by the flowing meltwater. Included: Root Glacier Hike

Kennicott - Flight to Chitina, Valdez ( Driving Distance: 120 miles | Overnight: Valdez )

Join this morning the tour of the historic Kennecott Mine with it's white-trimmed red buildings that stand out against the dramatic mountain-and-glacier backdrop at the actual mine site. In recent years, the National Park Service has restored many of the mine buildings and a guided tour of the huge mill building, bunkhouses and train depot is a must. Scenic return flight to Chitina. Drive south on the Richardson Highway and stopover at Worthington Glacier with boardwalks leading to the face of the glacier. Drive through the scenic Keystone Canyon and arrive in Valdez - also known as “the Switzerland of Alaska” - and the gateway for salmon fishing trips and narrated cruises to magnificent Columbia Glacier. Included: Kennecott Mill Tour

Valdez ( Overnight: Valdez )

Valdez - also known as “Little Switzerland of Alaska” - and the gateway for salmon fishing trips and narrated cruises to magnificent Columbia Glacier. Today you have plenty of time to take a scenic cruise to this tidewater glacier. Spot the Sound's marine wildlife, including Bull Head Sea Lions, Seals, Otters and Whales. You will learn about the mining, oil spill, earthquake, and fishing history and you will hear stories about the native people exploring Prince William Sound. Valdez’s darkest moment was the Good Friday Earthquake in 1964. The tsunami that followed the earthquake destroyed the entire historic town site of Valdez. The community was rebuilt on more stable bedrock four miles to the west and flourished during the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Terminal.

Valdez –- Alaska Ferry to Whittier - Seward ( Driving Distance: 90 miles | Overnight: Seward )

Scenic cruise across Prince William Sound onboard the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry. Prince William Sound is an area famous for its scenery and wildlife. Dotted with islands, this 70-mile-wide gulf extends 30 miles north and west from the Gulf of Alaska to the Kenai Peninsula, bounded to the southeast by Montague and Hinchinbrook islands. To the north: a rugged, glaciated coastline and the Chugach Mountains. Watch out for whales, bald eagles, sea lions and other marine wildlife. Arrive in Whittier and drive to Portage Glacier. After a stop at the visitor center continue to Seward, a small fishing town at the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. Spend some time to visit Exit Glacier. Short trails lead to the edge of the glacier where you can take a good photo in front of glacier ice.

Seward ( Overnight: Seward )

This morning board the stable catamaran for a spectacular cruise deep into Kenai Fjords National Park with actively "calving" glaciers and magnificent scenery. Covering 110-miles, the trip is narrated by a National Park Ranger, who is highly adept at spotting wildlife and pointing out the many sights. Kenai Fjords showcase the best of Alaska’s marine world in a compact package. Sea otters float belly-up eating mussels while Harbor seals haul out on icebergs off Aialik and Northwestern Glacier. Look out for Steller sea lions on Chiswell Island as well as Humpback and killer whales. After reaching the tidewater glacier, guests witness "glacier calving" a process by which glaciers shed giant slabs of ancient ice. Included: Kenai Fjords Glacier & Wildlife Cruise

Seward - Homer ( Driving Distance: 170 miles | Overnight: Homer )

Visit the renowned Alaska SeaLife Center or spend some time at Exit Glacier. Continue your self drive journey and follow the Sterling Highway - a designated scenic highway covering miles of spectacular landscape with snowcapped mountains and many active volcanoes known as the "Ring of Fire" with Mt. Iliamna, Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Augustine, excellent salmon fishing along the Kenai & Russian River and a magnificent coastline. Homer is blessed with a view to the south that is stunning in its beauty and grandeur. The rugged Kenai Mountains are spreading across the sparkling waters of Kachemak Bay. Homer is known as the “Halibut Capital of the World”. King Salmon are caught here from May to June, while Silver Salmon run during August. Halibut - large as a barn size door are available from May - Sept.

Homer ( Overnight: Homer )

Homer offers incredible panoramic views of mountain ranges, glaciers and famous Homer Spit - a long strip of land that stretches into pristine Kachemak Bay. Use the day to explore the area - kayak to a remote cove, go hiking or fishing. Homer is just a short flight away from Katmai National Park and Lake Clark, one of the most densely populated brown bear areas in the world. A picture-perfect flightseeing trip takes you over Cook Inlet to Katmai Coast. Watch bears digging for clams, wandering the sedge grass, or nursing their young. Another option is the day trip to iconic Brooks Falls in the middle of Katmai, famous for bears swatting at Salmon making their way upstream. In the evening join a cruise to Halibut Cove, have dinner at the "Saltry" and visit art galleries along the boardwalk.

Homer - –Girdwood / Alyeska ( Driving Distance:190 miles | Overnight: Girdwood )

Leave Homer for a scenic drive to Ninilchik - the oldest settlement on the Kenai Peninsula. In 1901 settlers constructed the Russian Orthodox Church. Drive north through the Chugach National Forest and visit Begich Boggs Visitor Center, home to Portage Glacier. The center is an interesting stop with exhibits that let visitors walk through a simulated ice cave, view live ice worms or touch an iceberg. Short drive to the Girdwood. Tucked in a glacier valley between the mountains and the sea is Alyeska Resort - Alaska's premier destination resort. Summertime recreation includes hiking in Girdwood's alpine rain forests, mountain climbing and biking on Girdwood's bike path or the many trails in the valley. Take the Alyeska Tramway to get a bird's eye view of the surrounding glaciers and Turnagain Arm.

Girdwood - Anchorage ( Driving Distance: 40 miles )

Spend the morning relaxing or doing your favorite outdoor activities. Hike the Winner Creek Trail or other trails around Alyeska Resort. Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, taking in injured and orphaned animals and providing them with a permanent home. The center is beautifully located on the shores of Turnagain Arm, surrounded by mountains and hanging glaciers. It is involved in the Wood Bison Restoration Project, where it is caring for the once thought extinct Wood Bison. Additionally, the center plays host to orphaned black and brown bears, moose, elk, lynx, caribou, muskox and more. Return to Anchorage during the day and drop off your rental car.