SDWH02 Scenic Splendour of Yukon & Alaska – Road Trip

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This 15 day driving tour takes you to the icons of the Yukon Territory and the state of Alaska. You’ll have time to discover the charming gold-rush towns of Dawson City and Skagway, enjoy the magnificent glacier cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park, board the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry for a scenic cruise across Prince William Sound and travel deep into Denali National Park during the Denali Wilderness Bus Tour. The name ''Denali'' means ''The Great One'' in the native Athabascan language. At 20,310 feet above sea level Denali is the highest peak in North America and is surrounded by one of the world's most spectacular wildlife sanctuaries. Denali  National  Park  is  the  natural  habitat  for many types of wildlife including caribou, moose, wolves, Dall sheep, bald eagles, and the mighty grizzly bears. 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

Whitehorse ( Overnight: Whitehorse )

Arrive in Whitehorse and pick up your rental car. A day to explore the sights of Whitehorse: The McBride Museum - Covering half a city block, this log-cabin museum is crammed with relics from the gold-rush era and has a large display of Yukon wildlife and minerals, all lovingly arranged by a nonprofit society. Within the museum compound you'll find Sam McGee's Cabin (read Robert Service's poem on the cremation of same) and the old Whitehorse Telegraph Office. The SS Klondike - Take a tour of the largest of the 250 riverboats that chugged up and down the Yukon River between 1929 and 1955. Actually, the one on view was built in 1936 to replace the first Klondike, which ran aground. The SS Klondike is now permanently dry-docked beside the river and is a designated National Historic Site.

Whitehorse – Dawson City ( Driving Distance: 270 miles | Overnight: Dawson City )

The Klondike Highway often parallels the Yukon River as it winds its way to Dawson City. Water in the Yukon River travels more than 3,000 km from headwaters near the Chilkoot Pass to the mouth at the Bering Sea. As you travel you will leave country that has been glaciated many times to visit an environment, known as Beringia, which was ice free during the last major ice age. Steppe bison and woolly mammoths inhabited this cool, ice-free land that once connected the continents of North America and Asia. The highway passes through three communities on the way to Dawson City - and there is plenty to see along the way. Drive along Lake Laberge to Carmacks – a trading post established in 1890 and stopover at the 5-Finger Rapids – a navigational hazard for many stampeder on their way to the gold claims.

Dawson City ( Overnight: Dawson City )

A full day to explore the goldrush town Dawson City and the gold fields: Visit the historical buildings, Jack London and Robert Service cabins and old stores that were the pulse of the gold rush capital in its hey-days. As you walk through the heart of Dawson City, your imagination will run to the likes of Klondike Kate, Arizona Charlie Meadows and Diamond Tooth Gertie strolling down Dawson's boardwalks. Their spirit is as alive today as it was in 1898. From the one-time capital of the Yukon you'll follow history up Bonanza Creek (pan for gold) to Discovery Claim and Grand Forks once boasted a population of 10,000 where the Eldorado Creek and Upper Bonanza come together. Take a guided tour of the Gold Dredge #4 and visit the Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Hall for evening entertainment.

Dawson City – Fairbanks ( Driving Distance: 380 miles| Overnight: Fairbanks )

Cross the Yukon River by ferry (no charge) after leaving Dawson City and enjoy a scenic drive on the Top of the World Highway offering endless views into spectacular alpine valleys. Stopover in Chicken - a former mining camp and trading post on the banks of the Fortymile River. Explore some old remnants of the old frontier Alaska such as: the mercantile emporium, Chicken Creek Saloon and the historic Tisha's Schoolhouse. Continue your journey on the famous Alaska Highway #1 and drive via Tok towards Fairbanks. Stopover at Santa Clause House in North Pole where Christmas is celebrated year round. In the evening enjoy a dinner at the Pump House on the banks of the Chena River. Please Note: We can add an overnight in Tok if you wish to drive the distance in two days.

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

Known as the Golden Heart City of Alaska, Fairbanks is tucked into miles of unexplored wilderness only 120 miles from the Arctic Circle. It enjoys almost 24 hours of daylight during summer months. You are invited to explore the local gold rush history, its vibrant traditional native cultures as well as fantastic scenery. This morning you may visit the renown Alaska University Museum featuring Alaska's natural history best collection, Alaskaland or take an authentic sternwheeler on a scenic 20-mile roundtrip cruise down the Chena and Tanana Rivers. Enjoy lively narration, stop at a reconstructed Athabascan Indian Village to learn about native hunting and fishing techniques and watch a dogsled demonstration. Leisure drive to Nenana - known for its Alaska Ice Classics - 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 Transit Bus to Eielson Center

Denali National Park – Anchorage ( Driving Distance: 240 miles | Overnight: Anchorage )

Spend the morning at Denali National Park and watch a sled dog demonstration presented by the park ranger or join an exhilarating rafting trip on the Nenana River. Return to Anchorage via the Parks Highway and take a break in Wasilla - Home of the Iditarod Trail Headquarter. The museum features historical displays of the "Last Great Race on Earth", videos and a gift shop with unique souvenirs. Stopover at Eklutna Indian village which is an Athabascan Indian settlement. It houses a unique cemetery, in which each grave is surrounded by a small, decorative burial house. Alternative Routing: From the Parks Highway drive via Hatcher Pass Road to the Independence Mine Historical Park - operated from 1938 - 1941 by one of the largest gold producers in the Willow Creek Mining District.

Anchorage – Seward ( Driving Distance: 130 miles | Overnight: Seward )

Arrive in Anchorage during the day and pick up your rental car. The drive on the scenic Seward Highway offers incomparable vistas of fjords, glaciers and mountains as you follow the Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm. Arrive in Seward, a small fishing town at the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. Kenai Fjords is named for the numerous fjords carved by glaciers moving down the mountains from the ice field. The field is the source of at least 38 glaciers, the largest of which is Bear Glacier. This afternoon you have time to visit Exit Glacier. Short trails lead to the edge of the glacier where you can get a good photo in front of glacier ice. You may spend some time at the Alaska SeaLife Center – the world’s first cold water marine search institute. Enjoy a delicious seafood dinner at the harbor.

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. Kittiwakes, puffins and other seabirds nest along cliff faces just above the swells. 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.

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

Depart Seward and drive to Whittier via Portage Glacier. Enjoy the scenic cruise to Valdez onboard the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry. Prince William Sound encompasses 3,800 miles of coastline, bounded to the east and north by the Chugach Mountains and to the west by the Kenai Peninsula. Commercially important for the fishing and oil industries, the sound is also prized for its abundance of marine and coastal life, its rain forest of Sitka spruce and western hemlock, and its glacier-studded landscape. The sound contains 150 glaciers including 17 tidewater glaciers, known for dramatically calving huge ice chunks into the sea. The main attraction of Prince William Sound is Columbia Glacier, one of the largest and most magnificent of the tidewater glaciers along the Alaska coast.

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

Valdez - also known as “the Switzerland of Alaska” - is the gateway for salmon fishing trips and narrated cruises to magnificent Columbia Glacier. Leave Valdez and drive through Keystone Canyon, taking pictures at the "Bridal Veil Falls". Stopover at Worthington Glacier and take a short walk along the interpretive boardwalk to the face of the glacier. Your journey continues on the Glen Highway, offering an impressive view of the Wrangell Mountains - Mt. Deborah, Mt. Sanford and Mt. Drum. 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 - and Glenn Highway, the town has built an economy of gas stations, gift stores, cafes, and hotels to serve highway travelers.

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

Your road trip continues on the famous Alaska Highway through endless wilderness areas. Drive south along the shores of beautiful Kluane Lake. You may stopover at Sheep Mountain and look out for dall sheep gracing alongside the mountain slopes. Arrive in Haines Junction -Gateway to Kluane National Park, encompassing the largest non-polar icefield in the world. This afternoon you can go on a short hiking trip with a park ranger. 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. Kluane Park is also home to Mount Logan with 19.545 ft - Canada's highest peak. Visit the sheep mountain visitor center in Haines with its interpretive programs about the flora and fauna.

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

The Haines highway was built in 1943 and is now one of Alaska's most scenic highways. It winds from Haines Junction over the Chilkat Pass - the highest summit on this highway and past Klukshu, a native summer fishing camp. Drive through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve before arriving in Haines. Haines, situated at the upper end of the Inside Passage, is surrounded by snowcapped mountains, lush meadows and forest. 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 48,000 acre Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve which was established to protect and perpetuate the world's largest concentration of Bald Eagles and their critical habitat.

Haines - Skagway ( Overnight: Skagway )

Board the Alaska Ferry for a spectacularly scenic and relaxing ferry ride along the Lynn Canal, a fjord that is as beautiful and pristine as any in the world. Fjord walls steeply rise from sea level to 7,000 feet. Arrive in the goldrush town Skagway, home of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. Skagway has a historical district of about 100 buildings from the gold rush era. This afternoon board the historic narrow-gauge White Pass and Yukon Railway and ride along the White Pass Trail to the White Pass Summit. The entire distance between Skagway and the summit was completed in only two years in 1900's. In the evening walk around the historic townsite and check out the old buildings. You may even visit the grave of "Soapy Smith" and walk part of the famous Chilkoot Trail.

Skagway – Whitehorse ( Driving Distance: 110 miles )

This morning leave Skagway and continue your journey on the South Klondike Highway. Near the summit of the Klondike Highway Pass you'll encounter a scene that resembles a moonscape more than any earthly vista. Ancient, twisted trees cling to rocks polished smooth by prehistoric glaciers, or crumbled by years of erosion. Myriad waterfalls, several glaciers and glimpses of the White Pass Railroad and White Pass Trail are among the highlights of the drive to the summit. After crossing the Canadian border, you'll travel past the ruins of the Venus Mine on Windy Arm of Tagish Lake, visit the historic community of Carcross before arriving in Whitehorse. This afternoon visit the sights of Whitehorse: SS Klondike sternwheeler, the Yukon Beringia Center and go for a stroll at Miles Canyon.