SDHA01 Heritage Trails of Alaska - Haines Self Drive Tour

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Explore and enjoy some of Alaska’s unique flora, fauna and scenery on this 8 day ‘Heritage Trails of Alaska’ driving tour. Pick up your rental car in Haines, a city with a rich history and culture as well as breathtaking scenery. Home to a decommissioned army post that was built in 1902, the white buildings of the post still stand in Haines and provide a distinctive landmark for the community. The unique landscape of Haines also acts as a landmark as is surrounded by mountains in every direction. For more breathtaking views, the Rainbow and Davidson Glaciers can be seen from Mud Bay Road in Chilkat State Park. To the northwest is the Lynn Fjord, was carved by a glacier and one the world's longest and deepest fjords. Enjoy the road trip on the Haines Highway to Haines Junction, surrounded by the unspoiled wilderness of the Kluane National Park and further on the famous Alaska Highway towards Tok. No Alaska vacation is complete without time spent in charming town of Valdez and a ride onboard the Alaska Ferry across Prince William Sound. Continue to Seward where you'll enjoy a full day encounter with the unique marine life that inhabits Kenai Fjords National Park. 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. Your vacation ends in Anchorage  - or better board the Alaska Railroad train north to Denali National Park ! Please  read  our  itinerary  to  have  more  detailed  day-to-day  experience.  On  request,  this  trip  can  be  customized  and  can  be  organized  in  reverse  order.

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Itinerary

Haines ( Overnight: Haines )

Arrive in Haines and pick up your rental car. Haines is situated at the upper end of the Inside Passage, surrounded by snowcapped mountains, lush meadows and forests. Across the waters of the Chilkat River is Pyramid Harbor and the start of the Dalton Trail — one of the routes to the gold fields of the Klondike. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve can be found below Klukwan on the Chilkat River flats (mile 18 to 24 on the Haines Highway). This area is called the "Council Grounds" because of its large congregation of eagles. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve was established to protect the world's largest concentration of Bald Eagles and their critical habitat. Visit the Fort William H. Seward with its old officers' headquarters and barracks buildings, designated as a National Historic Site.

Haines – Haines Junction ( Driving Distance: 150 miles | Overnight: Haines Junction )

The Haines highway was built in 1943 and is one of Alaska's most scenic highways. It winds from Haines over the Chilkat Pass - the highest summit on this highway. You pass Klukshu, a native summer fishing camp offering great photo opportunities. If you yearn for the wild beauty of an unspoiled Canadian landscape, Kluane National Park is for you. Explore mountains, lakes, rivers and forests that have been home to Southern Tutchone people for thousands of years and discover the heart of their traditional culture and way of life. From scenic hiking on gentle trails to backcountry adventures, a variety of activities await you. The park is also home to Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak. Visit the sheep mountain visitor center in Haines Junction with its interpretive programs.

Haines Junction – Tok ( Driving Distance: 290 miles | Overnight: Tok )

This morning go on a short hiking trip before driving north along the shores of beautiful Kluane Lake. Stopover at Sheep Mountain and look out for dall sheep gracing alongside the mountain slopes. Your journey continues on the famous Alaska Highway through endless wilderness areas with occasional wildlife spotting on the way. Feel free to stop at the designated photo stops to enjoy more panoramic views. Cross the Canadian/US border and arrive in Tok, often referred to as the "Dog Mushing Capital of Alaska". Tok was born as a construction station on the highway. With its location at the intersection of the Alaska Highway and the Glenn Highway to Anchorage and Prince William Sound, the town has built an economy of gas stations, gift stores, cafes, and hotels to serve highway travelers.

Tok - Valdez ( Driving Distance: 250 miles | Overnight: Valdez )

Your journey continues on the Glen Highway, offering an impressive view of the Wrangell Mountains - Mt. Deborah, Mt. Sanford and Mt. Drum. Once you have reached the Richardson Highway stopover at the historic roadhouse in Copper Center and watch native fish wheels at the nearby Copper River, providing an excellent salmon run. Shortly afterwards the Worthington Glacier peeks into view where a boardwalk leads to the face of the glacier. Drive through scenic Keystone Canyon, take pictures at the "Bridal Veil Falls" and arrive in Valdez - also known as “the Switzerland of Alaska”. The small fishing community is the gateway for salmon fishing trips and narrated cruises to magnificent Columbia Glacier - one of the most active and largest tidewater glacier in Alaska.

Valdez - Alaska Ferry Transfer 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 - Anchorage ( Driving Distance: 130 miles | Overnight: Anchorage )

Spend some time in the morning at the Alaska SeaLife Center – the world's largest and first cold water marine search institute with wildlife rehabilitation and public education facilities, try some outstanding halibut or salmon fishing within Resurrection Bay, book a half day kayak tour from Lowell Point to Holgate Glacier or hike the scenic Exit Glacier Trail - the choice is yours ! Take the Seward Highway north towards Anchorage. 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. Tthe center is a great host to orphaned black and brown bears, moose, elk, lynx, caribou and muskox. Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city.

Anchorage

Spend some time at the Alaska Native Heritage Center: the Gathering Place is center stage for Alaska Native dancing, compelling Native Games demonstrations and intriguing storytelling. The Hall of Cultures features exhibits and demonstrating Alaska Native artists. Visitors discover more about each of the five major culture groups through engaging exhibits. The Theatre hosts a variety of movies all day, including the Heritage Center produced film, “Stories Given, Stories Shared.” Guests stroll through six authentic life-sized Native dwellings around beautiful Lake Tiulana and are introduced to the traditional life ways of the native people. Your vacation ends with the return of your rental car at the airport or downtown Anchorage.