Magnificent Alaska Fly Drive
Holiday Ref: 16554
Head out on the open road for spectacular views, majestic lakes and rivers, towering mountains, glaciers, wildflowers and wildlife on this Alaska driving experience and truly unforgettable holiday.
Based on June 2019 departure – other dates available daily June – August 2019 – call for details!
Upon arrival into Anchorage International Airport collect your hire car and make your way to your overnight hotel. Remainder of the day is at leisure.
This morning travel along the Seward Highway towards scenic Turnagain Arm. Turnagain Arm is a body of water featuring the world’s second highest tides at over 30 feet. Keep an eye out for Beluga whales chasing salmon in the bay or Dall sheep along the highway. A great stop for lunch is the Alyeska Ski Resort/Girdwood. Here you can take the tram up Mt. Alyeska (optional). Another interesting stop might be Portage Glacier and it’s interesting visitor centre. In Seward we suggest a visit to Exit Glacier and the SeaLife Centre.
Today we have arranged for you to take an all-day Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. Travel farther into Kenai Fjords National Park than with any other cruise and visit the magnificent Northwestern Fjord, home to three amazing tidewater glaciers and numerous alpine glaciers. Kenai Fjords National Park boasts abundant wildlife, alpine and tidewater glaciers and breathtaking scenery. This cruise is the best way to see this pristine National Park and its inhabitants. Also, visit the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, an island home to teeming seabird rookeries. Don’t miss this opportunity to see the untouched beauty of Alaska’s coastal waters. (A continental breakfast & deli-style lunch is included onboard)
Continue your self-drive journey and follow the Sterling Highway - a designated scenic highway covering miles of spectacular landscape with snow-capped mountains and its many active volcanoes known as the “Ring of Fire” with Mt. Iliamna, Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Augustine, deep ocean bluffs, excellent salmon fishing opportunities along the Kenai River and a magnificent coastline. Homer is blessed with a view to the south that is stunning in its beauty and grandeur. The rugged Kenai Mountains are spreading across the sparkling waters of Kachemak Bay.
The “Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea” and “The Halibut fishing capital of the World” - there must be something truly special about a town with so many nicknames. From the first breathtaking glimpse of the Homer Spit from the Sterling Highway coming into town, visitors to Homer are struck by the awesome natural stage on which the little city sits. The looming peaks of the Kenai Mountains, packed with ancient glaciers and brimming with abundant wildlife, stand sentry over Kachemak Bay. Few towns have the culinary variety of Homer where there are coffee bars on nearly every corner next to gourmet sandwich shops and fine restaurants so atypical of small-town Alaska. The art galleries, along with museums, a live theatre and music venues give credence to Homer being the cultural capital of south-central Alaska.
Leave Homer for a scenic drive to Ninilchik - the oldest settlement on the Kenai Peninsula. The Russian-American Company established Ninilchik in the 1820s for its elderly employees, who could not endure the long journey back to Russia. Other settlers soon congregated there, and in 1901 they constructed the community’s Russian Orthodox Church. Continue to Cooper Landing - located at the world famous Kenai and Russian River and enjoy a two-hour float trip on the Upper Kenai River. Have your camera ready as you keep a keen watch for moose, eagles, Dall sheep, salmon and bears as your guide navigates you through the snow-capped mountain scenery. The tour ends on the shores of a glacier-carved lake within the heart of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Drive east on the Sterling Highway and then north on the Seward Highway to reach Girdwood. Girdwood is the home of the only 5-star resort in Alaska - the Hotel Alyeska. In the afternoon, experience dog sledding on a glacier! Enjoy a scenic helicopter flight to the unique glacier base camp that serves as a summertime training ground for Iditarod sled dogs. Learn about mushing and hold adorable puppies while the team is prepared. Then take a scenic ride along a spectacular 3.25km glacier trail.
Continuing north towards Talkeetna you will be able to view the magnificent scenery back to the Kenai Peninsula across Turnagain Arm. If you like, there is a great walking area in Potter Point Park along the ocean. Also keep an eye out for beluga whales making their way towards the Cook Inlet or for Dall sheep combing the mountainsides. Pass through Anchorage and drive the Glenn Highway north to Wasilla and onto Talkeetna. A stop should be made at the Alaska Native Heritage Centre. Talkeetna serves as a base camp for Mt. Denali climbers; the community of 857 residents is located at the confluence of the Talkeetna and Susitna Rivers. A turn-of-the-20th-century gold-mining centre, the town has retained much of its early Alaskan flavour. Log cabins, a roadhouse and clapboard storefronts line the dirt streets, colourful locals and bush pilots stroll the wooden sidewalks, while Mount Denali looms overhead. Main Street, the only paved road in town, begins with a “Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna” sign at the town park and ends at the banks of the Susitna River, a nice place to view the big mountain when it’s out.
Drive the Parks Highway north to Denali, passing by incredible forest and mountain landscapes. Leave your vehicle at the entrance to Denali National Park and transfer by bus deep inside the park to your Lodge. Look out for different animal species such as bears, caribou, moose, sheep, wolves and a variety of birds as you travel within the park. (Dinner is included today).
Nestled in a snug valley, the Denali Backcountry Lodge is a true wilderness experience, with your own heated cabin. The lodge is located at the end of the restricted 148km/92mi Park Road with just a small bush airstrip and the vast interior of Alaska beyond. You can experience activities such as: day hikes (casual, moderate, or extreme), view and photograph Denali (Mount Denali), gold panning, botany walks, shuttle to Wonder Lake and mountain biking. You can also visit Fannie Quigley’s Cabin, home of one of the original miners from early in the twentieth century. Meals are served in the main two-story lodge and are included. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner is included today)
An early departure this morning gives you another opportunity to view the magnificent scenery along the route back to the Denali National Park Entrance. The rest of the day is yours to explore Denali Village. (Breakfast is included today).
Depart at your leisure this morning on the George Parks Highway. Enjoy more Denali-area activities, or give yourself more time to slowly make your way to Anchorage - exploring the many small villages along the way. A recommended stop is at Wasilla and visit the Iditarod Headquarters - Home of the “Last Great Race on Earth “. Arrive in Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska and visit some of the area attractions. Overnight Anchorage.
This morning your Alaska adventure comes to an end when you check out of your hotel and make your way to the Airport. Drop off your hire car and board your flight back to the UK.