Alaska Grand Explorer Tour 2020 – 10 Day Escorted Tour Itinerary
July 12, 2020 to July 21, 2020
SMALL GROUP ALASKA LAND TOUR. Maximum 13 passengers traveling with 1 Alaska resident guide in one of our deluxe small coaches. Designated for travelers of age 13 and above.
DAILY ITINERARY: Your escorted vacation is spent fully discovering Alaska and meeting Alaskans. Trip days generally begin 8-9 am and end 8-9 pm, give or take an hour if the day warrants. Travel is at a comfortable pace with time out of the vehicle experiencing many things along the way. Custom and Optional activities can be arranged for an even more personal experience.. Travelers should be able to walk unassisted (at least a block and up a few stairs), and in good medical condition in order to participate in this small group tour. Times listed are approximate and if needed ATG may alter the schedule as needed to suit the situation. Our tours are meant to experience Alaska in a more personal way with more time away from the crowded larger coach destinations. We focus on showing you some of the real Alaska where you’re one in 13 rather than one in 100 or 1000.
Day 1 – Arrival Day: Sunday, July 12, 2020- Anchorage, Alaska
Arrive Anchorage, Alaska. Explore Anchorage on your own as time allows.
We’re happy to assist with any information for individual plans this day. **Unguided. (Meals and activities for this day are at your own expense. The hotel room and tax is included in the tour rate).
Hotel: Clarion Suites Downtown: All two-room suites are nicely furnished and feature refrigerators, microwaves, sofa sleepers and coffee makers. This hotel offers a wide range of amenities, including: * Free hot breakfast buffet * Free Wi-Fi * Free 24-hour airport shuttle service * Exercise room. Be sure to take a dip in the indoor heated pool or relax in the accompanying hot tub.
Day 2 – Escort Pickup: Monday, July 13, 2020 – Escorted Tour Begins / National Scenic Byway / Portage Glacier Visitor Center / Spencer Glacier Iceberg Float / Seward, Alaska
Hotel Breakfast room provided.
9:00 am meet and greet your Alaskan Tour guide in the hotel lobby, ready to begin your exciting adventure. Travel with a small group, in a comfortable executive shuttle and with an Alaska resident as your driver -guide.
Depart Anchorage to travel south along the Seward Highway. This National Scenic Byway passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. The landscape varies from the muddy waters of Turnagain Arm to the icy blue glaciers that hang almost to the sea. Wildflowers and waterfalls brighten every corner of the road as it glides below rough mountains that pierce thick, heavy clouds. Only Alaska’s Seward Highway can offer this particular mix created by climate, geography, and geology.
The Begich, Boggs Visitor Center is built upon the terminal moraine left behind by Portage Glacier in 1914. The visitor center offers an unique opportunity to learn about the Chugach National Forest, America’s second largest national forest. Award-winning exhibits and presentations highlight the unique features of the region.
Lunch at Portage Lodge, a delicious choice of homemade soups, salads or sandwiches – included.
1:00 pm check in to Spencer Glacier Iceberg Float: Take the Alaska Railroad Glacier Discovery Train to the beautiful Spencer Glacier and enjoy an easy raft tour floating amongst icebergs in Alaska wilderness. 1:00 pm check in for 1:25 pm departing train trip south down the Placer Valley leaving the highway behind and into country only accessible by train. Several hanging glaciers appear before the stop at Spencer Glacier. Get up close and personal to the icebergs on this scenic float suitable for all ages. Experienced guides will row you right up to picturesque icebergs on Spencer Lake. The panoramic views of the Spencer Glacier and surrounding mountains are beautiful. From Spencer Lake, Raft 7 river miles down the pristine Placer River, where the river meets back up with the train tracks the Glacier Discovery train will stop to pick us up. Return to the Portage depot where you continue travel with your ATG guide and coach to Seward.
Dinner as a group included.
Seward Windsong Lodge is nestled in a spectacular glacier river valley. Guest rooms are spread out in a wooded setting, surrounded by spruce trees and wildflowers. Furnished and well-appointed with comfortable, Alaskan-style décor. Deck Rooms are second floor with 2 Queen beds.
MEALS: B, L DRIVE TIME: 2.5 hours
Day 3: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 – Kenai Fjords Wildlife and Glacier Cruise
Breakfast at a local diner included.
10:30 am check in to Kenai Fjords 6 hour National Park Tour. 11:30 am to 5:30 p.m. Experience Alaska’s most popular wildlife and glacier cruise! Kenai Fjords National Park boasts abundant wildlife, alpine and tidewater glaciers. Smaller vessels that seat up to 150 passengers get closer to than the larger cruise ships. Heated cabins have bench and table seating with large windows. Outside decks allow you closer up views. This 6 hour tours depart from Seward, Alaska, and provide in- depth experience within pristine Kenai Fjords National Park. Tours are fully narrated by an accredited wildlife interpreter and include a visit to the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge – home to a large variety of whales, sea lions, sea otters and more. The tour travels out to the face of one of the glaciers where the boat will stop and quietly wait as you watch and listen for the glacier to calve. A small deli style lunch is included. A caesar chicken wrap, apple and cookie. A concession stand is on board for purchases and your guide will have a small soft side cooler that you can stock extras and take. The tour returns 5:30 pm.
Dinner as a group tonight is included.
Spend your second night at the Seward Windsong Lodge.
MEALS: B, L, D DRIVE TIME: 15 minutes CRUISE TIME: 6 hours
Day 4: Wednesday, July 15, 2020 – Exit Glacier Walk /Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center / Alyeska Tram Ride and Lunch / Wasilla, Alaska
Hotel Breakfast voucher for full buffet is provided.
A short drive along the Resurrection River toward Exit Glacier to observe the topography, vegetation and natural habitats surrounding a glacial environment. Walking routes vary from easy trails depicting the timeline of the retreating glacier to more moderate hiking trails leading up to the face of the glacier and great photo opportunities. Travel day north returns along the Seward Highway allowing a second opportunity for magical views and potential wildlife sightings in their natural habitat. As well as time to explore some other special points of interest.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a non profit organization that cares for rescued wildlife, injured and orphans. They promote better awareness of Alaska Wildlife conservation methods through public education and they provide a fantastic opportunity to photograph Alaska wildlife up close. See moose, brown and black bear, wood bison, musk ox and many more rescued animals.
The Alyeska Resort Aerial Tramway is a seven-minute ride bringing you to a viewing deck which provides breath taking panoramic views of majestic mountains, hanging glaciers, sparkling streams, towering spruce, and an array of wildlife. Lunch included at the top of mountain in the Bore Tide Deli.
Continue travel north of Anchorage to the “Mat Su Valley.” Wasilla, Alaska is located in the heart of the Matanuska Susitna Borough and the sixth largest city in Alaska. Established at the intersection of the Alaska Railroad and Old Carle Wagon Road, the city prospered at the expense of the nearby mining town of Knik. Wasilla is named after Chief Wasilla, a local Dena’ina chief. Wasilla is also home of Iditarod founders, Joe Reddington and Dorothy Page.
Dinner as a group included at a local restaurant.
Lake Lucille Inn guests enjoy beautiful mountain and lake views along with comfortable accommodations. Guest laundry and wireless internet available. An Full hot breakfast buffet is provided each morning. Deluxe rooms feature a lake view.
MEALS: B, L, D DRIVE TIME: 3.5 hours
Day 5: Thursday, July 16, 2020 – Scenic Byway to Matanuska Glacier / NOVA – Glacier Hike / Hatcher Pass / Independence Gold Mine
Hot Breakfast Buffet provided by Hotel.
Travel today takes us along a Scenic Byway that offers panoramic mountain views, magnificent blue ice glaciers and wildlife viewing opportunities. Travel follows the Matanuska River as it carves it’s way down from higher country through mountains and valleys and up to it’s headwaters at the face of the majestic Matanuska Glacier, a 27 mile long, 4 mile wide blue-ice glacier.
The Guided Glacier Hike is a popular hike, featuring close-up views of crevasses, seracs and unique ice formations. With the use of crampons, you’ll enjoy trekking to a high point on the glacier which overlooks the ice fall as well as getting up close. The glacier is in a constant state of change, and your guide can point out various features as you navigate the intense surface. This is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Enjoy a homemade picnic lunch.
Hatcher Pass is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s granite mountain peaks jutting up from the wildflower covered tundra, and pristine mountain streams meander through the valley below. Panoramic views and short nature walks are pleasing for outdoor lovers. Excellent hiking opportunities exist for those who are looking to fully stretch their legs.
At the top of Hatcher Pass is the historic Independence Mine, which is protected by the Alaska State Parks, offers a preserved experience of what life was like back in the Gold Rush. Paved interpretive trails, historic buildings and exhibits can all be explored. An ideal experience for someone looking for the slower pace of absorbing some history.
Dinner as a group included at a local favorite restaurant.
Spend your second night at the Lake Lucille Inn.
MEALS: B, L, D DRIVE TIME: 2.5 hours
Day 6: Friday, July 17, 2020 – Dream a Dream sled dog kennel tour and ride /Talkeetna, Alaska / Optional: Flight tour / Denali, Alaska
Hot Breakfast buffet provided by hotel.
9:00 am In route stop in Willow, Alaska the heart of mushing country to tour Dream a Dream kennels and meet the team of Vern Halter, a veteran Iditarod musher. Presentations weave the history of the Iditarod into an informative and interactive experience. Meet with the huskies who make up this incredible team of athletes. Enjoy a short nature walk with the newest members, cute puppies abound! Then take a ride on a multi-seat All Terrain Vehicle with the option of standing positions too. These dog limos are the coolest and most realistic way to ride with a sled dog team in the summer months. It’s great training for the dogs and you’ll see how they love it! End with lunch and time to interact with mushers while enjoying delicious deli meats & cheeses, salad and dessert.
Talkeetna, Alaska is a historical frontier town with lots of Alaskan flavor! The rustic and charming community is popular with visitors and offers a lot of hospitality with a choice of delicious eateries, quaint shops featuring local artists and even it’s quirky museums. Some of the best views of the Alaska range and Mt. Denali are seen from this location if weather permits. There’s also a bit of adventure in the town if time or budget allows.
OPTIONAL: Talkeetna Air Taxi take a Southside Explorer flight tour with a glacier landing. This #1 highlight is a robust introduction to Denali and the Alaska Range. Follow the river systems of Talkeetna across the Susitna Valley into an incredible landscape of icefalls, glaciers and snowy peaks. Land on a glacier on Mt. Denali and experience the awe of standing among great peaks, the immense scale will astound you. Added cost.
Continue the drive to Denali park with dinner as group included inroute.
Denali Lakeview Inn sits on a quiet lake and each room has lake and tundra views. These accommodations are clean and comfortable with numerous amenities. Each room has it’s own breakfast corner with continental breakfast choices, a table and chairs, a private deck the overlooks the lake. Watch for wild life across the peaceful lake.
MEALS: B, L, D DRIVE TIME: 4.5 hours
Day 7: Saturday, July 18, 2020 – Denali – Custom Day / Denali Park Visitor Center
In room Breakfast corner with extended continental choices.
Explore Denali your way. Choose from a variety of no-cost to low-cost to added expense adventures and experience this National Park at your own pace.
Leisure and no cost is the Denali Visitor Center, front country trails, shopping, relaxing at your lodging. Free shuttle to Savage River for trail hikes. Low cost includes National Park Shuttles, recommend 8 hour bus to Eielson Visitor Center for best sights and wildlife viewing. Longer shuttles or upgraded tour are available with advance reservations.
Moderate to higher cost adventures include river rafting, a choice of easier floats or exciting whitewater ; ATV tours driving single seats or riding double to quad; unguided lake kayak rentals; Denali Park Ziplines. Check for current prices.
The Denali National Park Visitor center offers Denali’s visitors a chance to learn more about the park by interacting with rangers, viewing the award winning film “Heartbeats of Denali,” and exploring the exhibit area. The building boasts a number of environmentally sustainable features . The Denali Bookstore offers an extensive collection of educational materials on the natural and cultural heritage of Denali.
Lunch and dinner meals today are on your own and not included in the tour rate.
Spend your second night at the Denali Lakeview Inn.
MEALS: B DRIVE TIME: minimal to/from activities.
Day 8: Sunday, July 19, 2020 – Denali National Park Shuttle – Eielson Visitor Center
In room Breakfast corner with extended continental choices.
7:45 am Depart for Denali Park entrance.
8:30 am to 4:30 pm Denali Park Shuttle to Eielson Visitor Center. Denali National Park and Preserve, located in Interior Alaska, centered on Denali (Mt. McKinley), the highest mountain in north America, encompasses more than 6 million acres and provides visitors with the experience of a lifetime. 92 miles long, the Denali Park Road parallels the Alaska Range and travels through low valleys and high mountain passes. It is the only road in the park. Along its route, beautiful landscapes can be seen at every turn, and there are to view Mt McKinley – if weather permits. Wildlife can often be seen, too, though sightings are not guaranteed – they are, after all, wild animals roaming an unfenced land. The Eielson Visitor Center is the turnaround point for your park trip. It features interpretive exhibits and has a ranger led walk program. This also a good place for anyone who wishes hike to do so, it is easier to sign up for open seats on a return bus later. This shuttle travels 65 miles one way, 8 hours round trip if you stay with the same bus. It stops every hour and 15 minutes for view points and restroom stops. It also stops anytime wildlife is sighted.
Your ATG guide will arrange for a boxed lunch for you to take along.
Spend your third night at the Denali Lakeview Inn.
MEALS: B, L DRIVE TIME: 15 minutes PARK SHUTTLE: 8 hours – not all drive time
Day 9: Monday, July 20, 2020 – Alaska Railroad Goldstar – Denali to Talkeetna / ATG coach to Anchorage / Tour End
In room Breakfast corner with extended continental choices.
11:20 am check in to board The Denali Star, the Alaska Railroad’s flagship train, GoldStar Service from Denali to Talkeetna. On this route, sparkling salmon streams and stands of birch and spruce come into view, while carpets of fireweed add dramatic purple to the landscape. Enjoy first-class service aboard double-deck dome cars. Luxury rail travel has never been better. Reserved upper-level dome car seating, upper-level outdoor viewing deck, exclusive lower-level dining room, lunch and beverages included. Two adult beverages included. Order from the menu of Alaskan cuisine including choices that vary from seafood to reindeer sausage. Adult beverage menu includes award winning Alaskan brewery selections.
The train departs at 12:20 and your guide will drive with luggage and meet you in Talkeetna at 4:40 pm 5:00 pm
Travel continues onboard your ATG coach for the final segment into Anchorage.
8:00 – 8:30 pm Your tour ends with check in at the Anchorage Lakefront Hotel.
Tomorrow is unguided departure day. The hotel offers complimentary shuttle service to the airport.
Hotel: The Lakefront Anchorage, formerly Millennium Alaskan Hotel Anchorage, offers modern, lodge-like accommodations on the shores of Lake Spenard and Lake Hood. The lobby is rich with displays of animals indigenous to Alaska, including a Kodiak brown bear, polar and black bears. Numerous king salmon, moose and caribou mounts also adorn the spacious lobby. From a lakeside deck, guests can watch over 800 floatplanes land every day at Lake Hood, the largest and busiest floatplane base in the world.
MEALS: B, L RAIL TIME: 4.25 hours DRIVE TIME: 2 hours
Day 10 – Departure Day: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 – Depart Anchorage. Alaska
Unguided departure day. Hotel provides complimentary shuttle to airport. (Meals included: none)
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