Yukon and Alaska

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Day 1: Arrive in Juneau

Upon arrival at Juneau Airport, you are met by our representative and transferred to our hotel. Tonight we will enjoy a welcome meeting and dinner. Overnight in Juneau.

 

Day 2: To Haines via Fast Ferry, Possible Whale Watching

This morning, we visit Juneau by foot (2 to 3 hour hike), a thriving city with great hospitality, all in the heart of Alaska's majestic mountains, rivers, glaciers, and forests. We then take the Mt Robert Tramway for a magnificent view of the surrounding: Chilkat Mountains to the north, Gastineau Channel tothe south, West to Douglas Island, and East into Silver Bow Basin, where gold was discovered in 1880. At the top, you could learn more about the Tlingit culture and Native arts and walk from there on one of the many trails. At the end of the afternoon, we depart the capital of Alaska as we board our fast ferry through the northern part of the Inside Passage. Our destination is the historic town of Haines. En route, you are likely to see either Orcas, Humpbacks or perhaps even both. The steep slopes of the fjords make for a beautiful setting as we journey northward. Overnight in Haines.

 

Day 3: To Haines Junction, Yukon; Kluane National Park

This morning we explore Haines, including it's century old fort, barracks, officers home and the captains home, which happens to be our hotel in Haines. We may also have the opportunity to meet with skilled Totem carvers in town. We will enjoy a beautiful walk in the Chilkat Rainforest located in the Chilkat State Park to discover the stunning verdant Alaskan rain forest, coastal meadow and rugged beach. After lunch, we drive to Haines Junction, the gateway to Kluane National Park. We travel through beautiful mountains and passes crossing the international border from Alaska to the Yukon.

We will stop for an enjoyable walk along a short trail at one of the many trail options along the Haines Highway. There may be an additional optional walk for those who are interested. Total hiking 2 hours. Overnight in Haines Junction outside of Kluane National Park.

 

Day 4: Kluane National Park

Kluane national park is dominated by North America's highest mountain range, the Saint-Elias range; its highest peak, Mount Logan tops out at 19,550 ft. (5959m.) Amidst these giant peaks lies the world's largest non-polar ice field. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to vast ice steppes, dwarfed by immense mountains and inhabited by grizzlies.

Today we enjoy a wilderness half day hike in Kluane searching for grizzly bears, caribou, moose, mountain goats and Dall sheep. Depending on group fitness and temperature, we will walk on variable km on Cottonwood trail from Kathleen Lake (multi-day trail). We also take the time to visit the Kluane Visitor Center, to gain a better understanding  of the size and wilderness of the park. Overnight in Haines Junction just outside of Kluane National Park.

For those who are interested, you can enjoy an optional (not included) scenic flight to see glaciers, icebergs, valleys and peaks and if the weather co-operates, your flight can even fly to Mt. Logan. You can fly close enough to the mountain slopes to see search for wildlife.

Overnight in Haines Junction outside of Kluane National Park.

 

Day 5: Whitehorse - Beringia Museum, Klondike Steamship, McBride (Sam McGee) Museum

Our Destination is Yukon's capital city of Whitehorse. With 30 percent of Yukon's population, it's largest city has only 10,000 inhabitants. One of our several interesting stops in Whitehorse includes the Beringia museum, a natural history museum with superb skeletons of a Woolly mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers, and giant sloths, lions and bears. Our exploration of sites in Whitehorse includes the Yukon river steamboat, the historic Klondike and the McBride Museum, which includes Sam McGee's cabin. Overnight in Whitehorse.

 

Day 6: To Historic Dawson City

We depart Whitehorse and embark on our long drive north to the historic town of Dawson City. With a population of only 3,000, it's old wooden buildings and sidewalks and reminders of Dawson's past, it is easy to catch a little bit of Klondike fever. In 1897, the Klondike gold rush opened up the north making some prospectors vast fortunes, while many paid the ultimate price. The Klondike gold rush left a rich trail of folklore that fascinates to this day. Overnight in Dawson city.

 

Day 7: Dawson City Tour; Tombstone National Park

We explore the town of Dawson city on foot as we learn about the folklore and people who forged the rich history of the Klondike. In the afternoon, we depart for Tombstone with it's black granite peaks, idyllic alpine lakes and subarctic tundra landscapes. We return to Dawson city for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 8: To Tok, Alaska

Today, we take the fabulous "Top of the World highway" between Dawson and Tok in Alaska. Departing from Dawson, we need to cross the Yukon River on a small ferry to reach the road on the other side. We will make some stops along the road for scenic points, old abandoned gold mines and historic sites, pictures and walk. Alaska border crossing. This windy and part dirt road with some part above the treeline provides exceptional panoramic view. Overnight in Tok.

 

Day 9: Drive to Chitina, Flight-seeing to McCarthy; Wrangle - St. Elias N.P.

Enroute to Chitina, we stop on the way at the Wrangell-St Elias Visitor Center to view the park movie in the new theater, enjoy the exhibits and take a walk along the short nature trail to a spectacular view of the Wrangell Mountains, weather permitting. From Chitina, we depart for a beautiful scenic flight to McCarthy - Kennicott. Not only is this flight impressive, it is much more comfortable than the 3 hour bumpy overland journey as our alternative. We land in McCarthy and enjoy a short tour of this frontier town. We will visit the downtown (don't blink) including the Ma Johnston hotel, the McCarthy museum and an old graveyard. We continue onto Kennicott to our lodge, minutes from the historic copper mine with views of Root and Kennicott glacier. Dinner and overnight in Kennicott. Note: Your tour leader will be driving the van to Denali National Park and will rejoin the group on Day 11. They will get you checked in for your Chitnia/McCarthy flight and upon arrival in McCarthy there will be a local guide that will join you at the airport and will lead the group until you are dropped off at the airport on Day 11 for your scenic flight to McCarthy.

 

Day 10: Hike to Root Glacier; Tour Historic Kennicott Mine

This morning we hike to the foot of Root Glacier. The surrounding area is simply stunning. For those who would like, you have the opportunity to hike onto the glacier with the help of crampons accompanied by a local guide. Learn about the dynamics of a glacier as they can be quite active. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the glacier before heading back to Kennicott.

In the afternoon, take a tour through the abandoned copper mine. The mine operated from 1900 to 1938. The mine was the worlds largest copper mine but by 1938, it had become unprofitable and all workers and residents had 6 days to prepare for the last train out. McCarthy - Kennicott became ghost towns overnight. Today, there is a true frontier feel, located within the boundaries of Wrangle-St. Elias National Park. A visit to McCarthy and Kennicott is easily a highlight to any adventure to the far north. Our tour through the mine is very interesting as the 14 story high wooden structure has been altered for safety reasons but otherwise is virtually untouched from when it was abandoned in 1938. Following the tour, enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Our lodge has quirky and fascinating memorabilia from Kennicott's heyday displayed throughout the halls and lounges. Overnight in Kennicott.

 

Day 11: Scenic Flight from McCarthy to Denali National Park

In the morning, we board our small 4 seater cesnas for our 3 hour stunning scenic flight through some of Alaska's most stunning scenery including the Alaska Range and Mt Denali to Denali National Park. Denali, the "High One," is the name Athabascan native people gave the massive peak that crowns the 600-mile-long Alaska Range. Denali is also the name of an immense national park and preserve created from the former Mount McKinley National Park. In 1917 Mount McKinley National Park was established as a game refuge. The park and the massif including North America's highest peak were named for former senator - later President - William McKinley. In 1980, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) enlarged the boundary by 4 million acres and re-designated it as Denali National Park and Preserve. It exemplifies interior Alaska's character as one of the world's last great frontiers; its wilderness is largely unspoiled.

Upon arrival into Denali Airport you will rejoin the tour leader and have lunch. We spend the afternoon walking or hiking on the front country trail at Denali National Park entrance. Trails: Horseshoe Lake (5km/3 miles round-trip, 75m/246 ft., 1h30 walking), Taiga (5 km/ 3 miles -round-trip, 25m/82 ft. elevation gain, 1h30 walking). For those interested, you could join a Ranger activity and participate on a dog sledding demonstration around 5 pm every day. Overnight Denali National Park.

Please note: this 3 hour flight could easily be one of the highlights of the trip but it is somewhat weather dependant. The itinerary may be altered slightly due to weather.

 

Day 12: Denali National Park, to Seward

We take an early morning park bus tour into Denali National Park with a packed breakfast. A 91-mile road traverses the park, offering views of Wonder Lake, Savage River, Polychrome Pass, the Outer Range, Sanctuary River, Muldrow Glacier and the Kantishna mining district. Keep your eyes peeled for caribou, grizzly bears, wolves, moose, Dall sheep, lynx, marmots, fox and snowshoe hares. Many of the park's birds only visit during the summer months, but year-round residents include ravens, great horned owls and three species of ptarmigan. After this 4-5h tours, we take the road south to Seward near Kenai National Park Overnight in Seward.

 

Day 13: 9-hour Kenai Fjords National Park Boat Cruise - Exit Glacier, Whale Viewing Possible

Kenai National park is a landscape continuously shaped by glaciers, earthquakes, and storms. Orcas, otters, puffins, bear, moose and mountain goats make their home in this ever-changing place where mountains, ice and ocean meet. The Park offers a range of opportunities for visitors to explore, study and enjoy. This is a special piece of North America's natural and cultural heritage.

We embark on an unforgettable 9 hour boat journey to explore the wonders of this park including the spectacular scenery and wilderness. Wildlife can never be guaranteed but we certainly hope to see whales along with abundant wildlife on our journey. Return to Seward for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 14: Exit Glacier - Seward to Anchorage

We drive to Anchorage but we will make a stop to hike along the magnificent Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier is the only part of the park accessible by road where we can walk very close to an active glacier. It is a place where you can witness up close how glaciers re-shape a landscape and learn how plant life reclaims the barren rocky land exposed by a glacier's retreat.

Upon arrival in Anchorage, we will visit the town in the afternoon, before checking into our hotel. Anchorage was established in 1914 as a railroad construction port for the Alaska Railroad, which was built between 1915 and 1923. Ship Creek Landing, where the railroad headquarters was located, quickly became a tent city. Anchorage was incorporated on November 23, 1920,and throughout the 1920s the city's economy centered on the railroad. Between the 1930s and the 1950s, the city experienced massive growth as air transportation and the military became increasingly important. Today, Anchorage is a major port, receiving over 95% of all freight entering Alaska, as well as a hub of the Alaska Railroad. Major industries include government, military, petroleum and tourism. There are two U.S. military bases bordering Anchorage on the north: Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson. Tonight we enjoy our farewell dinner as we reflect on the truly great adventure and new friends from the last 2 weeks. Overnight Anchorage.

 

Day 15: Depart Anchorage (or fly to King Salmon for your Katmai - Grizzly bear extension)

We bid a fond farewell to the Great White North as we transfer to the airport for flights homeward.

 
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