Day 1: Depart for Anchorage, Alaska We depart today for Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. Upon arrival, we check in to our centrally located hotel then have time to explore on our own. As guests’ arrival times may vary, we have no group activities or meals planned.
Day 2: Anchorage/Denali National Park This morning we meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and fellow travelers at a welcome briefing about the journey ahead. Then we depart by motorcoach for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska’s – and America’s – true Last Frontier. We first travel to Talkeetna, where we board a deluxe domed railcar that provides us with panoramic views of the passing landscape on the four-hour journey. Upon arrival in Denali late this afternoon, we enjoy a special interpretive presentation, “Welcome to Denali,” introducing us to the park. B,D
Day 3: Denali National Park It’s a day of extreme beauty as we encounter Denali National Park up close. This six-million-acre preserve, larger than the state of Massachusetts, comprises forests, alpine tundra, sub-arctic taiga, and snow-covered mountains. We begin our full day of touring as we board a Denali bus for the drive along the lone road deep into the park. We stop at the Eielson Visitor Center, where, weather permitting, we may see one of the most dramatic views of grand Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley), North America’s tallest peak standing at more than 20,000 feet. Throughout our journey, a local naturalist and our driver-guide will share stories about the park and the historic characters who found their way to this remote wilderness. After stopping for a box lunch, we set out on an easy hike through the park’s tundra, where we keep our eyes peeled for grizzly bear, moose, caribou, and the iconic Dall sheep known for their white coat and massive curled horns. B,L
Day 4: Denali National Park Today we enjoy an authentic Alaska experience as we visit a local Iditarod sled dog kennel. Covering 1,000 miles of some of the roughest terrain in the world, the grueling Iditarod, “The Last Great Race on Earth,” draws nearly 100 competitive mushers and their dog teams annually. At the kennel, we learn about the history of the race and meet the kennel’s Husky puppies, who will soon start their training to become working sled dogs. We return to the lodge for lunch followed by an afternoon at leisure, perhaps to do some hiking or take an optional rafting excursion. This evening we reconvene for dinner and a lively show at the Denali Dinner Theater housed in an authentic log cabin. B,D
Day 5: Denali National Park/Wrangell-St. Elias National Park We depart Denali by motorcoach this morning for the day-long journey to remote Chitina (pop. 126!). Here we board a prop plane for the scenic flight deep into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, at 8.3 million acres the largest national park in the United States. Our destination: the historic copper mining towns of Kennicott/McCarthy, sitting deep within the park. During our 30-minute flight, we get our first views of the park’s rugged wilderness, including 5,000 square miles of pristine glaciers, volcanoes, and mountain after mountain. Upon landing, we transfer to our lodge in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias, overlooking 25 miles of glacier and surrounded by nine of the 16 highest mountain peaks in North America. We dine tonight at our lodge, the only one in Kennicott. B,L,D
Day 6: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Home to more than 150 glaciers, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park contains the largest collection of these ice masses in North America. We see one of these glaciers up close today on our singular half-day hike to Root Glacier. After being fitted with crampons – steel shoe spikes created to traverse ice – we begin our two-mile excursion to the glacier and behold the natural beauty before us: unspoiled icefields, blue pools, cascading waterfalls, deep canyons, narrow crevasses. We eat a sack lunch in the wild then return to our lodge for an afternoon at leisure. Tonight, we enjoy dinner together at our lodge. B,L,D
Day 7: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park/Knik Valley This morning, we explore Kennicott, a National Historic Landmark District. Established in 1903, Kennicott was once a bustling mining camp, that became a ghost town after the ore was depleted in 1938. The town is now considered one of the best remaining examples of 20th-century copper mining. We see this firsthand on our tour of the 14-story concentration mill and other historic mining buildings. This afternoon we board a prop plane for the return flight to Chitina, where we then board a motorcoach for the four-hour drive to our European-style lodge in pristine wilderness just an hour from Anchorage. We dine together tonight at our lodge. B,L,D
Day 8: Knik Valley/Anchorage/Seward Late this morning we journey by coach to the coastal town of Seward. En route, we stop for a city tour of Anchorage, beginning at Lake Hood, the largest and busiest seaplane base in the world with more than 190 float planes taking off and landing daily. We also explore the city’s historic downtown, including Old City Hall; the Wendler Building, a popular women’s-only bar from the 1940s and ’50s; and 4th Avenue Market Place filled with local artisan shops. After time for lunch on our own in this city known for its fresh local salmon, halibut, and snow crab, we continue on to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality animal care and preserving Alaska’s wildlife. With 200 acres of spacious enclosures, the center offers an opportunity to see injured or orphaned bears, moose, elk, lynx, caribou, and more display their natural behavior in a safe environment. We then continue on to Seward and our hotel nestled in the Exit Glacier Valley. B,D
Day 9: Seward One of Alaska’s most scenic communities, Seward features a bustling harbor, inviting shops, and plenty of outdoor activities. The city also serves as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, a 600,000-acre preserve comprising rocky peninsulas, long fjords, primeval glaciers, and tranquil bays and coves. We explore this rugged park today on a glacier and wildlife cruise. On board, we get up close to one of Kenai’s many glaciers and keep an eye out for some of the park’s diverse array of mammals and marine life, including bears, mountain goats, moose, otters, porpoises, sea lions, harbor seals, and whales. We enjoy lunch onboard before returning to Seward, where the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration and dinner on our own. B,L
Day 10: Seward/Anchorage Today we return to Anchorage, where we visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center representing 11 of Alaska’s major native cultural groups. Here we enjoy a tour of the center and watch a dynamic Native Games demonstration. Then we have lunch on our own and the afternoon at leisure to explore the city as we wish. Tonight, we celebrate our journey through Alaska at a farewell dinner. B,D
Day 11: Depart Anchorage We transfer this morning to the Anchorage airport for our flights home. B
Please note: This trip involves considerable walking on uneven terrain and in a natural environment. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest.
B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included