IDIA02 Iditarod Race Checkpoints Tour

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Are you ready for a truly one-of-a-kind adventure ? This eight-day Iditarod Race vacation package covers the Iditarod Ceremonial Start on Anchorage’s 4th Avenue, a guided tour to the highly active Iditarod Race restart in Willow and two scenic ski-plane flight seeing tours to the Iditarod Checkpoints Rainy Pass and Nikolai. Fly up the Iditarod Trail to the 4th checkpoint at Rainy Pass Lodge. Experience the checkpoint action as the mushers and their dog teams arrive and take care of their huskies. The following day meet the teams again at Nikolai checkpoint, on the far side of the Alaska Range. The culturally rich Native Alaskan village sits on the Kuskokwim River and offers visitors a glimpse how rural Alaskans live and value their heritage and culture. You’ll have a great chance to see the mushing teams from the air !  Witness the “last great race on earth” where only the best can compete in this gruelling 1000 mile race across the frozen Alaskan Wilderness. On  request,  this  trip  can  be  customized.

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Itinerary

Anchorage ( Overnight: Anchorage )

Welcome to Alaska ! Transfer to your hotel in downtown Anchorage. The remaining day is at leisure and you have time to enjoy the many winter festival activities during Winter Fur Rendezvous with: Native Arts Market, Theater Show, Winter Carnival Activities, Snow & Ice Sculpture Competition, Snowshoe Softball Matches and Firework Displays - while the cities gears up for the Iditarod Race Start over the weekend. The statue of the legendary lead dog Balto, located on 4th Avenue, marks the "official" starting point of the Iditarod race. Enjoy a gourmet dinner with a breathtaking view across Cook Inlet from the Captain Cook Hotel or Simon and Seafort's Restaurant just above the shoreline of Cook Inlet.

Anchorage (Mushers Banquet) ( Overnight: Anchorage )

Spend your free morning in and around Anchorage. At 4:00 PM join the Musher's Banquet Dinner at the Dena'ina Center. Main part of the exciting evening entertainment is the annual banquet fundraiser and drawing for the official start order. The banquet celebrates the mushers who are about to take part in the “Last Great Race on Earth” – the nearly 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Attendees can help raise funds for the Iditarod via a robust live and silent auction while enjoying a 3-course meal and watching the mushers take the stage to draw for their official start order. Participants have plenty of photo opportunities, good chances to meet and talk with the Iditarod Musher personally, collect autographs and participate in the auction.  

Anchorage (City Sightseeing Tour) ( Overnight: Anchorage )

Explore the sights and highlights of Anchorage today during a guided city sightseeing tour. You'll visit the historical and scenic points of interest around Anchorage. Begin your historical tour from the heart of downtown where we'll visit the Port of Anchorage at Ship Creek, where Alaska's metropolitan was born as a tent city. Check out this year’s snow sculptures and vote for your favorite. Take a stroll amongst the towering sculptures and see if you can identify each artist’s chosen theme. Next we’ll travel through Bootleggers Cove, stopping for a walk in Earthquake Park where you’ll see signs of the 1964 earthquake. Then, we’ll take a drive around Lake Hood, home to the world's busiest seaplane airport and base! Stop at the Lakefront Hotel to see the Iditarod Headquarters, race info and gift items.

Anchorage (Iditarod Ceremonial Race Start) ( Overnight: Anchorage )

The legendary Iditarod Race starts at 10 AM on 4th. Avenue in Anchorage. Observe the start preparations, take close up pictures from about 80 Musher's, over 1000 Sled Dogs and enjoy the bustling and exciting race atmosphere before the teams are leaving from the starting line for the "1050 mile race to Nome". Anchorage parks and green belts are providing also a great alternative to observe the race activities. The Balto Statue marks the ceremonial starting point of the Iditarod. Balto was the final lead sled dog in a relay of dogsleds that brought vaccine from Anchorage to Nome just in time to stop a diphtheria epidemic in 1925. The story of the sled dog relay is a classic tale of adventure and sacrifice, as mushers risked their lives in brutal conditions to save their fellow citizens.

Anchorage (Iditarod Race Start Willow) ( Overnight: Anchorage )

After breakfast board the motorcoach for a guided tour to the official Iditarod Race Start in Willow. Leave at 10 AM and enjoy the drive along the scenic Glenn Highway with a brief stopover in Wasilla. Continue to Willow where the Iditarod restart ceremony begins at 2:00 PM. Enjoy the busy and bustling Iditarod race atmosphere and the musher's final preparation. For mushers, thousands of cheering fans at the official race restart -- following Saturday's ceremonial start in Anchorage -- now give way to remote Alaska wilderness and the promise of a finish line in Nome some 1,000 miles away, but not before crossing a trail that may prove perilous for both mushers and dogs. Return to Anchorage approximately 7:00 PM.

Anchorage (Rainy Pass Checkpoint Day Tour) ( Overnight: Anchorage )

Morning ski-plane fly-out for a breathtaking flightseeing trip along the Alaska Mountain Range to Rainy Pass Checkpoint along the Iditarod Trail. The gateway to the interior offers truly the most spectacular scenery of the entire Iditarod Trail. Many teams are taking their mandatory 24 hour layover here before venturing via the treacherous Farewell Burn area and into the flat lands of the interior. You'll spend the whole day within the incredible wilderness area along the trail observing various dog-mushing activities and teams arriving and departing. A delicious lunch is served at Rainy Pass Lodge. Return flight to Anchorage in the late afternoon. 

Anchorage (Nikolai Checkpoint Day Tour ) ( Overnight: Anchorage )

Morning flight to the native village of Nikolai for another day of up-close-and-personal race action. With a population of 125 people, Nikolai is the first of many tiny native villages along the Iditarod Trail at the South Fork of the Kuskokwim River. The site was a former trading post and roadhouse during the 1899's gold rush This is usually the preferred area were the leading Iditarod dog teams are taking their mandatory 24-hour layover. You spend the entire day within the incredible wilderness area along the trail observing various dog mushing activities and arrival or departures of the teams. Return flight to Anchorage in the late afternoon with our ski-planes. Upon arrival individual van transfer to the hotel. Remaining evening on your own. We recommend a dinner in one of Anchorage's unique brew houses or some shopping for quality Alaska Native Artwork along the 4th Avenue. 

Anchorage

Morning at leisure in/around Anchorage. Time for your last shopping activities or have a delicous seafood lunch in one of Anchorage's top restaurants. 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. Check out of your hotel and transfer to the airport.