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Welcome to Fairbanks, the “Golden Heart” of Alaska and gateway to Denali National Park. Late this evening, join your Local Guide and traveling companions and get your first glimpse of one of nature’s most magnificent shows—the colorful celestial arcs and waves of the aurora borealis (Northern Lights). When conditions are right, the aurora dances across the horizon and lights up the night sky, enchanting even Alaska’s tough ol’ “Sourdoughs” (old timers).
NOTE: Please schedule flights to arrive by 3 pm to be prepared for this evening’s late-night aurora borealis viewing opportunity.
Your morning begins at leisure. Later this afternoon, enjoy a city tour of Fairbanks that includes a visit to the MORRIS THOMPSON CULTURAL CENTER. Afterward, see the TRANS-ALASKA PIPELINE, one of the most difficult and remarkable engineering feats of modern time. This evening is another opportunity to view the amazing aurora borealis as it lights up the northern skies.
Travel from Fairbanks to Talkeetna today on the world-famous ALASKA RAILROAD. The train’s wide windows are ideal for drinking in the stunning scenery on this full-day journey that truly showcases America’s 49th state. Keep an eye out for views of Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley)—as well as wildlife along the way. Continue to Anchorage and your hotel.
Enjoy a full day at leisure in Anchorage. You may want to explore the historic downtown area or join in some of the festivities happening throughout the city, including a winter carnival, ice-sculpting contest, a melodrama, dog mushing, and more. Check at your hotel’s front desk for an up-to-date list of activities.
This morning, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions at a welcome breakfast. Then, board your motorcoach and make one of the world’s great drives as you travel along spectacularly scenic Turnagain Arm. Marvel at the dramatic views, and keep your eyes open for Dall sheep, eagles, and other wildlife. Take a break at the ALASKA WILDLIFE CONSERVATION CENTER for the chance to see moose, musk ox, caribou, lynx, and even a porcupine up close. In coastal Seward, visit the ALASKA SEALIFE CENTER for an in-depth look above and below the waters of Alaska. Arrive in the ski resort community of Girdwood, where you’ll spend the next two nights at the luxurious Hotel Alyeska.
Enjoy a full day at leisure—perfect for joining in a wide variety of optional activities. Consider flightseeing, skiing, snowshoeing, or you may choose to just relax at the hotel’s spa. An included aerial TRAM ride offers breathtaking panoramas of Turnagain Arm and seven glaciers.
Return to Anchorage and join an included tour through the historic downtown district and to Lake Hood, the world’s busiest seaplane base. Next, visit the ALASKA ZOO for a behind-the-scenes tour. This afternoon, there is time to explore Anchorage on your own. You may want to visit the Anchorage Museum. Tonight, enjoy Iditarod festivities and dinner at the LF MUSHER’S BANQUET. Enjoy Alaskan entertainment, see the mushers draw for starting positions, and have the opportunity to meet them for photos and autographs.
Travel north to Big Lake and visit the home of four-time Iditarod Champion Martin Buser at his LF HAPPY TRAILS KENNELS. Hear his fascinating personal stories, including how his sons are named after Iditarod checkpoints, while viewing the grandeur Alaska has to offer along the Iditarod Trail. Then, visit IDITAROD HEADQUARTERS to view pictures, videos, and other mementos of the Last Great Race. This evening is at leisure back in Anchorage. Maybe shop for souvenirs, try some fresh seafood, or sample a locally made brew.
This morning, head to 4th Avenue to get a great spot for the ceremonial start of the IDITAROD. Before the race starts, there’s a chance for photos and autographs with some of the mushers. Spend time cheering on mushers from all over the world, and enjoy other Iditarod festivities. Later, visit the ALASKA NATIVE HERITAGE CENTER, which shares the rich heritage of Alaska’s 11 indigenous cultural groups. Tonight, reminisce over your Alaska winter adventure at a farewell dinner.
Travel north today to the quaint community of Willow, which started as a mining camp when gold was discovered in 1897. Here, you’ll view the official RESTART of the Iditarod. Cheer your favorite musher as they head off into the Alaska wilderness on this 1,049-mile journey to Nome and the finish line. Be sure to have your camera ready for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
NOTE:In the event the Iditarod Official Start is relocated (beyond Willow) due to weather and trail conditions, a full day of activities will be substituted in Anchorage.
Your tour ends this morning with guests departing on independent schedules.
It may occasionally be necessary to use alternative hotels of a similar standard to those shown.
Along the banks of the impressive Chena River sits Pike's Waterfront Lodge. You'll rest easily in comfortable rooms, all with Aveda aromatherapy room amenities and many featuring scenic views, a steam room & sauna, riverside deck, restaurant, and a cozy lounge. The hotel is minutes from the Fairbanks Alaska airport and next door to famous Pike's Landing restaurant. It's a convenient and stunning spot for your time in Fairbanks.
This full service, luxury hotel is situated downtown near businesses, museums & historic buildings. The hotel features one restaurant (open breakfast, lunch & dinner), a full service fitness center, indoor pool, gift shop and more. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in the lobby and public areas.
Nestled in a lush valley surrounded by mountain peaks, hanging glaciers and water views, The Hotel Alyeska offers guests convenient access into the Alaskan wilderness. The hotel is situated on the Turnagain Arm only 40 miles from Anchorage International Airport. The hotel features an indoor pool, hot tub, health club, jogging trails, gift shops, business center, concierge service, restaurant, café, and sushi bar.
Our expert Tour Directors help you get the most out of every place you visit - and have a 96% customer satisfaction rating.
We’re delighted to have achieved the Good Housekeeping Reader Recommended endorsement for customer experience.
We are a member of ABTA and our flight-inclusive holidays are protected by ATOL. If your holiday is cancelled for any reason, you’ll receive a full refund.