Jewels of Alaska Tour
July 8 – 19, 2023
This trip was three years in the making due to the pandemic and its economic recovery in Alaska. Finally, 2023 arrived and it became a reality. It was worth the wait! Alaska leaves an impression on everyone. It truly is the last frontier – vast, rugged and oh-so beautiful!
You get a first impression of the immense landscape of this land as you begin your descent into Anchorage. The snow-covered mountains, half-frozen lakes and glaciers spread out before you – there is no end in sight. Our day in Anchorage began at the Alaska Native Heritage Center – a renowned cultural center and museum. People visit this center to expand their understanding of Alaska’s indigenous cultures. We watched native dances, saw traditional games and visited the life-sized native dwellings. This center is a unique way to learn and explore 10,000 years of Alaska’s indigenous history and traditions. No visit to Anchorage is complete without a visit to Lake Hood, the largest and busiest floatplane base in the world. Here, there are parking lots of float planes instead of cars. We learned how float planes are important in the transport of supplies to remote areas. Everyone loved the fresh fish dinner at Orso Restaurant in Anchorage. I finally found a carrot cake to rival my daughter’s (who is a chef) and some enjoyed an Alaska vodka flight. Do go to Orso, if ever in Anchorage!
Talkeetna & Denali National Park
Denali is almost always shrouded in clouds. It appears only about 30% of the time. One morning we woke up and there is was in its full glory – all 20,301 feet! Denali is the tallest mountain peak in North America and deserves all the respect. It is a majestic peak surrounded by a vast, unspoiled wilderness of braided glacial rivers, massive peaks and tundra. We had our best view from the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge on a clear, blue-sky morning. A few hours later it was shrouded again under the clouds. Talkeetna is the gateway to Denali and is the town that inspired the TV show Northern Exposure. It is fun & quirky and encourages people not to take themselves too seriously. Great pizza, reindeer lunches and smoothies!
Into the Wild
Healy, Alaska north of Denali was about 10 miles from the site where Chris McCanless’ body was found in the Alaska wilderness. His story inspired the book and movie, Into The Wild. At a local brewery/restaurant in Healy, stands the exact replica of the bus he occupied in the wilderness. The real bus is currently in Anchorage being restored for exhibit in the museum. This was fascinating..
Denali Scenic Flight (with Glacier Landing)
The Denali scenic flight was an absolute thrill for guests on this trip. The bush planes depart from Talkeetna and have skis for landing on the glacier. Everyone was amazed by the scenery and one guest made a snow angel when they landed. Our guide, who is from Talkeetna, accompanied the group. Although he has been up many times, this scenery never gets old!
Hiking On Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier is 27 miles long and 4 miles wide and sits in a stunning valley north of Anchorage. Some or the group went out and hiked on the ice with a guide while others chose to stay back, enjoy the scenery and sip on coffee and eat ice cream. These tours always have the option to opt out of an activity or modify it, as possible. You can do as much or as little as you want…
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a sanctuary for injured and orphaned wildlife. They have a home for bears, reindeer, elk, foxes, porcupines, eagles, wolves, owls, moose and more. With the consent of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, these animals are given a permanent home (behind electric fence). It was an opportunity to see a grizzly up close. Grizzlies are identified by the hump on their back from foraging and a longer nose vs. black bears which do not have a hump and have more rounded noses.
Seward & Kenai Fiords National Park
Seward is the main port on the Kenai Peninsula that is a gateway for fishing boats, leisure craft and cruise ships. This is breathtaking land shaped by glaciers nestled between mountains and the ocean. It’s the place to experience abundant sea life and wildlife. A Kenai Fiords cruise is eye candy that speaks to every sense. The air is cold, the sights are grand and the pristine glacial waters are abundant with sea life, birds and whales.
Alaska Railroad is an option everyone should take when traveling in Alaska. Although much of the trip was by coach, two portions of the trip were by train. The train does not follow the main highway and offers views that cannot be seen by vehicle. We opted for the Denail to Anchorage & the Seward to Anchorage routes. Both were an opportunity to sit back, relax and watch the scenery breeze by.
A 70th Birthday Celebration
I can’t think of a better way to spend my 70th birthday than with an impromptu champagne toast on the road with new friends! We popped it, sipped and enjoyed the magnificent scenery. As I get older, these moments are the ones I will remember most and cherish for a long time!
This tour will soon be offered as a private tour – you pick the dates and travel with friends & family! Watch for details coming soon…