IDIA03 Iditarod Race & Fairbanks Aurora Viewing

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This 10 day tour combines the highlights of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a scenic trip with the Alaska Railroad to Fairbanks and Northern Lights viewing. Witness the Iditarod ceremonial race start on the snow covered Anchorage’s 4th Avenue, the restart activities in Willow and the extremely scenic checkpoint flight to Rainy Pass within the magnificent Alaska Mountain Range. Fly up the Iditarod Trail to the 4th checkpoint at Rainy Pass Lodge. Experience the race action as the mushers and their dog teams arrive at the checkpoint and take care of their huskies. Travel on board the famous Alaska Railroad via the snow covered Alaska Mountain Range to Fairbanks. View the Alaska Aurora Borealis in all its glory as you gaze upon the Northern Lights far away from Fairbanks city lights - waving across the sky in shades of green, purple and red. Relax in natural outdoor hot springs pool, visit the ice museum, join a sled dog ride and enjoy the many winter festivities Fairbanks has to offer.

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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 Alaska seafood 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 – Fairbanks | by Alaska Railroad ( Overnight: Fairbanks )

Depart Anchorage at 8:30 AM for a scenic full-day rail tour to Fairbanks onboard the Alaska Railroad. You'll get fantastic views of the snow covered Alaska Mountain Range, a glimpse of Talkeetna and Denali National Park before arriving in Fairbanks at 8:00 PM. Transfer to your hotel near the banks of the beautiful Chena River. Known as the Golden Heart City of Alaska, Fairbanks is tucked into miles of unexplored wilderness only 120 miles from the Arctic Circle. Fairbanks offers many winter activities; from the Open North Sled Dog Race Championship to the World Ice Art Championship - Ice Alaska. Relax during your first evening and get ready for a few days of winter fun and adventure within the Last Frontier. You may watch the Aurora Borealis at night dancing on the northern sky.

Fairbanks (Chena Aurora Tour) ( Overnight: Fairbanks )

Sleep in late this morning. During the day you have time to join a sled dog tour, go ice fishing or explore the Alaska University Museum. At 5 PM you'll be picked up from your hotel for your visit to Chena Hot Springs Resort, 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks. The large heated mineral indoor pool, the outdoor rock lake and numerous hot tubs are providing a great opportunity to soak, swim or rejuvenate until the Northern Lights appear in the evening. Included is the visit to the famous Aurora Ice Museum and Stoli Ice Bar. Dine at the restaurant serving everything from hamburgers to Alaskan King crab, or choose to join the free geothermal tour. Enjoy Northern Lights viewing opportunities after darkness at Chena Hot Springs Resort. Return to Fairbanks between 3 and 4 AM.

Fairbanks (Northern Lights Viewing) ( Overnight: Fairbanks )

Join this morning the Fairbanks & area sightseeing tour - combining fun with Fairbanks history, Alaskan craftsmanship and Alaska winter activities. Your first stop is the Santa Claus House in North Pole where you can shop for Christmas decoration and visit the reindeer. Continue to the Trans Alaska Pipeline viewpoint and the Morris Thompson Cultural Center. Return to your hotel at 1 PM. Rest for the remaining afternoon. You will be picked up at 10 PM for your northern lights viewing tour. Enjoy the transfer to a prime aurora viewing lodge, located in the hills about 20 miles north of Fairbanks – far away from any city lights. Enjoy spectacular 270-degree aurora displays through large picture windows from the comfort of the lodge or outside. Return transfer to your hotel around 2 AM.

Fairbanks

This morning you have time to visit the Alaska University Museum with the States largest collection of gold nuggets, gold mining history and Alaskan heritage artifacts and the nearby Geophysical Institute - recognized as the best in the world for its Aurora Borealis research activities. You may join a Bush Mail Plane Flight to a remote native village above the Arctic Circle. Downtown Fairbanks offers a variety of excellent gift shops and art galleries such as the "Roseberry Art Gallery" with some tasteful items for your friends at home. Stroll through thedowntown court before returning to the airport for your individual return flight. Tour extension is avaiable upon request.