May Wildlife Babies & Late August Fall Colors
8-Days of rugged beauty, planned to pamper you, at a restful pace sightseeing Alaska! From Native Culture, Glacier Trekking, Riverboat Adventures, Ice Berg Photo Ops, Rail Ride, Whale Watching & Unique Alaskan towns, this pre-season economical tour has it ALL!
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ANCHORAGE: NATIVE HISTORY: Begin your Alaskan adventure with a visit to the spectacular Native Heritage Center, a renowned cultural center and museum, an exciting place where all people can come to expand their understanding of Alaska’s first people. AAU will provide a boxed lunch today at the Heritage Center.
Here, you will share the rich heritage of Alaska’s eleven cultural groups drawing upon the life ways of long ago, the wisdom of our elders, and the traditions that endure. The Welcome House is a celebration of contemporary Alaska Native cultures while the outdoor facilities and sites allow the exploration of ancient tradition and the presentation of stories from the past. The Center provides a unique opportunity to experience Alaska’s many diverse Native cultures at one location. In facilitating the transmission of Alaska Native knowledge, heritage and tradition, the Center promotes self-esteem and pride among Alaska Natives.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center improves understanding among all Alaskans and encourages appreciation of Alaska Native people and their traditions, history, and contributions to Alaska. Use your first hour to eat your lunch at the picnic tables, and then enjoy dances, young people’s sports, informative films, as well as a museum area. Finally, be sure to walk the trail to each local “dwelling” representing each native culture such as Aleut, Athabascan, Tlinquit etc. Continuing north, we will pass the “Palmer Hay Flats”, and the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet. This tundra-covered lowland is home to wildlife and several species of birds. Upon arrival in Wasilla, a Meet & Greet Dinner will be provided at a local area restaurant. Overnight in comfortable lodging adding a remote feel to your adventure.
PALMER: Today enjoy the Palmer Musk Ox Conservation Center, a private non-profit organization dedicated to the development and domestication of the musk ox, Ovibos moschatus for the purpose of providing additional subsistence income opportunities for Alaska’s first people. The Musk Ox Project began to introduce a gentle, non-intrusive form of agriculture to the Arctic in 1954. Our musk oxen are the foundation of an Alaskan cottage industry for natives living in remote coastal villages. The soft under-wool of the musk ox, qiviut, is harvested once a year and delivered to Oomingmak, an Alaskan native knitter’s co-operative. The knitters work at home in Eskimo villages throughout Alaska creating scarves, nachaqs (Eskimo smoke rings) and luxurious caps. Each village has it’s own signature pattern derived from traditional designs. Come to view the animals, learn about the project and take advantage of this unique opportunity to see and photograph one of the Arctic’s oldest living species and take an informative tour led by a knowledgeable guide. See tame cows, powerful bulls, and newborn calves that will make your heart melt.
Next, it’s off to grab some lunch that you can order by menu (not included). Remote eateries offer spectacular homemade soups, halibut tacos or chili with sourdough rolls. Desserts tempt with triple berry pie, and glacier cookies!! This area is also a great viewing spot for Dall sheep. So, keep your cameras handy.
After your lunch, discover the true beauty of glaciers up close. Ice cramp-ons and walking sticks are your first step to enjoying your glacier trek adventure. You’ll experience glacier walking as well as the natural history of the Matanuska Glacier. Enjoy the splendor of the “frozen river” as you walk out to a glacial lake at the face of an ice fall. No experience is necessary to join in the fun; however, the terrain presents shale rocks, muddy silt, slippery ice, and small ice fissures. Intermittently placed picnic benches allow guests to choose their own participation level. Great photo ops from all picnic benches. Or ask about our upgrade to a Helicopter Glacier Landing. This is a 45-minute scenic helicopter ride for 3 to a glacier pool on the Matanuska River that is only accessible by air. You have the chance to see wildlife and experience the glacier in a spot few have ever stepped foot on.
After the day’s fun, guests are ready to rest this evening, so a local favorite eatery will regale you with flavorful eats, so you can take it back to your comfy accommodations. Rest up for a second night at the same accommodations, as tomorrow brings another day of high adventure.
TALKEETNA: Rise & Shine, enjoy your continental breakfast. It’s off to visit the home of Mt. Denali. Today will present one of many highlights of your adventure. Talkeetna is a local town sporting the most photographed scenes in our state, the towering peaks of Mt. Denali & the Alaska mountain range, a hub of international mountain climbers. Here you will have time to enjoy lunch on your own. Consider “Mountain High Pizza Pie”, for wonderful hummus & vegetable pita sandwiches, the “West Rib” for Musk Ox burgers. Here, you will be able to enjoy of the Talkeetna, Susitna & Chulitna rivers:
TALKEETNA RIVERBOAT: Your exciting 2-hr tour will begin aboard a covered river jetboat as it whisks you into the heart of the wilderness in comfort designed to safely navigate rivers that were previously inaccessible. You will visit an authentic trapper’s cabin and view how trappers lived in “Bush” Alaska at the turn of the century.
Your experienced guide will display furs from the local area and demonstrate trapping methods. Naturalists will acquaint you with the wildflowers and plants that grow in abundance along the river system and you will learn about the edible plants that were used by the First Peoples for cooking and medicines. As you travel ten miles of river you will have opportunities to view nesting bald eagles, beaver activity, and moose and you just might see black bear and grizzly bear roaming the shore. Wildlife, folklore, artifacts and a panoramic view of Denali in the Alaska Range combine to make this an unforgettable Alaskan river adventure.
Mt. Denali Flightsee Upgrade: $250 Per Person
ADD A GLACIER LANDING: $100.00 Per Person. Landing on the Sheldon Amphitheatre glacier beneath Denali is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to breathe crisp clean air, view aqua blue ancient ice and hear the echo of hundreds of years of glaciers in the making. The aircraft is equipped with skis, floats, and voice activated headphones. Glacier Landing is approx. 20 min.
This evening, enjoy dinner on your own at one of many restaurants. Overnight at your Talkeetna accommodations.
DENALI: This morning, enjoy continuing our adventure north to Denali National Park. An optional stop at the Kahiltna Birchworks will share the workings of birch syrup making and more. Crossing over Hurricane Gulch, have your cameras ready. The vistas are breathtaking. Upon arrival in Denali National Park, lunch is available for purchase at the Morino Grille. Everything about Denali National Park is big: the scenery, the mountains, the incredible beauty, and the animals. Your guide will escort you to the Wilderness Access Center to embark on the Denali Park Shuttle Tour, an excellent way to spot the wildlife for which Alaska is so famous: moose, bear, wolves, caribou, Dall sheep.
The park shuttle stops every 1 hr. 10 min. for restrooms and whenever wildlife is sighted as you travel. In 2022, the road into Denali National Park is limited due to the “Pretty Rocks” Landslide creating a road restriction, and a slightly shorter tour. The shuttle time is approximately 5 hours roundtrip, including all stops. AAU arranges for and includes a boxed lunch and beverage for the trip. So bring your camera and binoculars.
Mount McKinley National Park was established in 1917 to protect its large mammals, not because of majestic Mt. McKinley. In 1980, the boundary was expanded to include both the Denali caribou herds wintering and calving ground and the entire Mt. Denali massif. This more than tripled the size of the park and was renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. It was also designated an International Biosphere Reserve significant for the potential for sub-arctic ecosystem research.
Denali is an Athabascan word meaning “The High One”. The mountain is officially named Denali and is the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet and creates its own weather system which is often covered in clouds. Denali is only visible about 1/3 of the time, so visitors to the park only have about a 30% chance of viewing Denali.
Denali is one of the greatest wildlife viewing areas in the world. Visitors have a chance of seeing grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, foxes, and wolves. Many smaller animals also inhabit the park such as arctic ground squirrels, hoary marmots, pikas, snowshoe hares, and beavers. For those interested in bird watching, there are a variety of birds that migrate to the park for the summer. The list includes arctic tern, American golden plover, long tailed jaegers, the surfbird, arctic warbler, the wheatear, willow ptarmigan, golden eagles, and ravens. Approximately 150 species live in and around the Denali area during the summer months. Your guide will meet you, and whisk you away to your Denali accommodations for an evening of relaxation.
Today is at your leisure in the Grand Denali National Park area. Many guests love the Visitor’s Center and all it has to offer. From Alaskan movies, hikes, ranger talks, dog sled demonstrations, the park has much to enjoy. Or choose to visit “Glitter Gulch”, the locals nick name for the boardwalk of shops with trinkets. Another option for the more active, is to get out there and enjoy the great trail system in the park, starting at the Visitors Center. A great beginning to moderate trail is “Horseshoe Trail” a 2 mile round trip hike that overlooks the Nenana river. Ask your guide for more information.
Discover the Muir Science Center and the great geology and wildlife of the park. A café is available right next to the Park Visitor Center as well as theater, bookstore and more. These are all included in your package. Your guide is available to help take you to your choice of above events or shops. After all your morning adventure, a lunch stop is provided before returning to Wasilla.
(Consider adding one of the optional adventures listed below:)
ATV 4-Wheeler Adventure:
$250.00 Double Covered Unit (2 people)
$350 Triple Covered Unit (3 People)
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Get ready for some adventure! Whether a novice or expert ATVer, this tour will be a memorable ride in the scenic Alaskan wilderness on your own Single or Side by Side ATV. Ride on several terrain types – coal mining tails, rocky creek beds, hill climbing, water and mud crossings. Total tour covers about 10 miles, with approx. 1 ½ hours on the trails.
Midnight Sun Golf: $124.00 Per Person
Tee Times 7 AM – Sunset (Includes clubs, balls & hand-cart)Black Diamond is a Challenging Course with Alaskan Hazards, such as a tundra marsh or the occasional moose hoof print.
It’s a relatively short course which makes it accessible and fun for any style of play and the course design makes for a quick round, which can fit into almost any travel schedule. See you on the greens!
Denali Zip Line: $160.00 Per Person
Experience life above the trees ziplining just outside of Denali National Park! Your adventure begins with a three-mile trail rides through the scenic Alaskan wilderness. After gearing up, certified guides will lead you along 6 sky bridges and 7 thrilling zip lines, including the dual racer finale! The built-in, hands-free braking system allows you to relax and enjoy the breathtaking mountain views. Challenge yourself by traversing to the top of the boreal forest on the uniquely designed Ascending Bridge Tower. Soar through the trees and over the tundra on over half a mile of ziplines. Complete this once in a lifetime experience by racing to the finish zipping along side your friends and family! All safety gear provided – full body harness, helmet, and gloves. Plan on around 3 hours.
• Must be at least 8 years of age.
• Minimum weight is 70 lbs. Maximum weight is 280 lbs.
• Pregnant women or guests with injuries, seizure disorders, back or neck problems, or hearing or vision impairments are not allowed to participate.
• Waiver must be signed and medical conditions disclosed
• Wear closed-toe shoes, long pants and layered clothing.
Upon your return, there will still be time to clean up and then have some leisure time in Denali National Park on your own, for lunch, hikes, or shopping. Depart the park this afternoon, arriving in Wasilla, where a dinner stop will be provided at a local area restaurant. Then it is back to your comfy accommodations for a relaxing evening.
PALMER: Rise & Shine, as the midnight sun never sets! Continental breakfast is included for you to begin your day. Begin your day with a visit to the Iditarod headquarters. Featuring puppies to pet, films to learn about the last great race, and an option to add an express dog sled ride.
This afternoon, you will travel to Knik Glacier through the Butte. Your adventure will take you aboard an airboat ride to Lake George, the base of Knik Glacier. Lake George, an ice dammed lake was once responsible for floods of cataclysmic proportions. Knik Glacier, 28 miles long, 6 miles wide and over 1000 feet thick, is one of Alaska’s grandest natural attractions. Knik Glacier, born in the Pleistocene Glaciation period (the beginning of the Ice Age) 600,000 years ago, covered the Anchorage bowl and the entire Cook Inlet. While it remains active, with motion imperceptible to the naked eye, this glacier is in a constant state of change.
Participants should be able to step in and out of a Jet Boat or Air Boat window, which requires some agility. Participants should also be able to navigate a loose gravel trail with a slight incline. Participants must have the ability to walk unassisted. After traveling all over the state of Alaska, the Knik Glacier always turns out to be a trip highlight. We consider ourselves very fortunate to live in such a magnificent landscape. Enjoy watching icebergs float by.
ANCHORAGE: Late-afternoon, your guide will begin the return to Anchorage, located in Southcentral Alaska on the shores of Cook Inlet, the Municipality of Anchorage is a unique urban environment situated in the heart of the wilderness. There’s a special mystique to Alaska. The name conjures up adventure, raw natural beauty — glaciers, mountains and seas, unmatched the world around — fascinating wildlife, a unique cultural heritage, and independent, pioneering people. Here you will find an outstanding Museum of History and Art and a multitude of other fun activities.
Enjoy downtown shopping at any of the artist hot spots, or relax and enjoy the nightlife of Anchorage, “the city of lights”. Delicious restaurants dot the downtown area and offer wonderful opportunities to enjoy fresh salmon to prime rib. A moderate hotel property is included. Be sure to get to sleep early, as tomorrow is early to rise. Later this evening, you will say good-bye to your AAU Guide and begin your AAU choreographed 2-Day Kenai Peninsula adventure featuring the Alaska Railroad & the Kenai Fjords.
SEWARD: Early this morning, you will board the Adventure Class Alaska Railroad.
AAU Adventure Class passengers are seated on the first level of the train, with access to a vista dome car for about 20 minutes at a time, to allow other passengers to view from the dome as well. Adventure class passengers have access to walk through all of the Adventure cars. AAU Guests will have already enjoyed breakfast provided by your hotel before boarding.
Here all will experience a unique and scenic area of Alaska, the Kenai Peninsula! Ride the famous Alaska Railroad, LISTED AMONG THE MOST SPECTACULAR RAIL TRIPS IN THE WORLD, as you travel through mountain passes full of wonder, south to the port city of Seward. The train winds along the magnificent Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, over gorges, and within a mile of three majestic glaciers – Spencer, Bartlett and Trail.
RESURRECTION BAY: Upon arrival in Seward, begin an all-inclusive adventure, a cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park, “Alaska’s # 1 Wildlife and Glacier Cruise”. These custom vessels have walk around viewing decks and inside seating with large picture windows for great viewing of the close-up glacier experience. Wildlife and marine life is abundant through out. Listen to narration provided by our experienced Captains and Crew.
Kenai Fjords Tours’ wildlife and glacier cruises take you deep into the heart of Kenai Fjords National Park and an incredible abundance of marine and land-based wildlife –whales, porpoise, Steller sea lion, along with more than 80 different species of birds make Kenai Fjords National Park their home. Enjoy a diverse array of sights, from rugged coastline to emerging rainforests and calving glaciers. Lunch is included with your cruise. This is either a chicken wrap, or a vegetarian option. (Ask your tour advisor)
Upon disembarking this evening, you have leisure time to visit local shops & restaurants. A restaurant “Rays on the Waterfront”, has wonderful seafood and King Crab, and there are other restaurant options as well. You can call for a courtesy shuttle to take you back to relax at your Seward accommodations.
Today begins a day of fun and adventure. You have a choice of activities today. Read the options below and choose to enjoy a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center or select an activity UPGRADE. You will have time to enjoy the Center in the morning and add an afternoon activity upgrade if you desire.
ALASKA SEALIFE CENTER:
The Alaska SeaLife Center is one of the only non-profit organizations in the world that has both a public aquarium and fully supported research facility in the same building. With state-of-the-art laboratories, aquarium animals that participate in research and our extensive field work, the Alaska SeaLife Center has quickly become the cold-water research facility in the United States. Affiliated with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, they collaborate with numerous state, federal and international agencies and universities—which can mean only one thing—their research is conducted by some of the top marine scientists in the world!
For nearly a decade, the ASLC has been studying the marine ecosystems of Alaska and the species who call it home. This includes species of marine mammals, sea birds, fish and invertebrates—some of which have been listed as threatened or endangered species. But the Alaska SeaLife Center is perhaps best known for specializing in marine mammal and sea bird research. Since 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center has helped pioneer research on Steller sea lions, eiders, harbor seals, sea otters, fur seals and other species experiencing population declines in Alaska. In all these efforts, they strive to develop cutting-edge technology and techniques, while minimizing impact on the species and environment studied.
Here you can choose to enjoy the downtown area with shops, museums and eateries or add an optional upgrade.
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CHOICE ONE: I-Did-A-Ride Dog Sled Tour: $105.00 Per Person
Today, your tour begins with a two-mile dog sled ride. Feel the power, excitement, and energy of the amazing sled dogs as they are harnessed to the comfortable wheeled sleds. The intrigue of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, also known as Alaska’s Superbowl, comes alive as you mush through the Alaskan wilderness to the base of Resurrection Mountain and along Box Canyon Creek. Your Iditarod veteran guide will thrill and excite you with stories from the trail as you experience the raw power of 13 Iditarod sled dogs. Upon return to the kennel, tour the beautiful kennel facilities, laugh as a guest is dressed up as an Iditarod musher, and cuddle adorable husky puppies. The guides are all Iditarod racers, and offer a delightfully humorous, behind-the-scenes look at the Seavey family’s training for the most demanding race on earth. Guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your vacation, this tour was chosen as one of Alaska’s Top Twenty Attractions, and is a must-do for all visitors to the Greatland.
CHOICE TWO: Kayak Tonsina Point: $105.00 Per Person
At Bridal Veil beach, you will beach the kayaks, stretch your legs, and share snacks and hydration. The guides will provide you with information on the salmon stream and the types of salmon that spawn here and we try to answer your questions for a bit.
After this break you will paddle back to Lowell Point. This is a great trip for persons wanting to do a multi-adventure day, this trip provides time to combine this experience with yet another adventure during the same day, such as the Iditarod or Zip Line! (Min. 2 people required. Ask your tour coordinator for details.) Kayaking tour location subject to change due to time of year, weather and ability levels. Trips depart 9:00 am. You will be met at your local hotel lobby and head out to Lowell Point Recreation area just south of Seward. The group will go over the very basics of sea kayaking. Dry bags and zip lock bags are provided to keep gear and cameras dry, please let the guide know of your needs. Due to safety reason, all kayaks are tandem.
CHOICE THREE: Halibut/Rockfish Day Fishing Charters
$435.00 pp Full Day Combo Halibut/Rockfish Fishing (requires post-night Seward hotel)
ALL fishing has annual fish & game week-day closures. Generally, Wednesday, but we cannot know until announced in the year of travel. $25 Fishing License is required, paid in CASH at arrival or online in advance – ask your tour advisor)
Welcome aboard. A trip aboard one of these charter vessels will provide you with the chance to experience world class Alaska fishing. We offer many options for fishing fun, and are happy to accommodate your schedule and desires. All trips include all fishing gear & bait your fishing guide will be right beside you to help you to understand how to land these fish when the exciting moment arises! The Pacific Halibut is the most sought after and prized sport-fish in Alaska waters. Capable of powerful, high-speed runs, they are the heavyweight of all bottom-fish species. These fish have been known to exceed 500 pounds and are considered the hardest fighting bottom-fish in the world. Although our primary target is Alaska halibut fishing, we fish in areas where all species of bottom-fish tend to congregate. It is not uncommon to land trophy lingcod, rockfish and salmon. A full day, be sure to bring a sack lunch and drinks. Hats and sun glasses recommended.
CHOICE FOUR: Zipline Canopy Adventure: $160.00 Per Person
The first zip line traverse is a short 65 feet across the fall line, running fairly close to ground level and allowing riders a chance to become comfortable with the process. Still high along the valley wall, the third zip line travels 190 feet and lands 50 feet up the trunk of a huge Sitka spruce. The fifth traverse soars above the trees 1,100 feet back across the valley wall, sails over a reflecting pond, and comes to a stop at platform 75 feet up another Sitka spruce. From this point onward the tour path descends into the ever deeper and darker rain forest with its dense vegetation and sparkling creeks. A 600-foot zip line into an enormous mountain hemlock is followed by a shorter line at mid-level in the forest and a spot where bald eagles have often been sighted. From the landing platform each group member rappels 60 feet down to the platform entrance of an aerial walkway that begins just above the ground but ends 120 feet later at point 60 feet up another Sitka spruce. The route now takes a 90-degree turn and crosses a long bridge to a hemlock where zip line riding resumes. A 280-foot line travels toward the valley floor, ending in a spruce close to the entry road. The final traverse then crosses over the tour parking lot and past the Welcome Center yurt to land in a group of Sitka Spruce where a 40-foot rappel brings the group back to earth at last. Harnesses and helmets are shed, and group members return to the Welcome Center to collect any belongings stowed there and to view and select photos of themselves taken during the tour. Restrictions: Must be at least 10 yrs. old. Must be at least 70 pounds and not over 270 pounds. Limited to 8 guests per departure time.
This evening, depart Seward by Adventure Class rail. Arrive in Anchorage where you can fly home or add a post-night of your choice.