NASA has predicted 2012-2013 to be the best time in 50 years to witness the magic of the northern lights at their best. This tour combines this spectacle with the rugged beauty and brilliant wilderness of Alaska, making it an unbeatable experience. Delve into the wintery side of the Denali area on an overnight stay in Healy, admire the snowy peaks and explore the more remote areas of Alaska as well as its cultural hubs. There is complete freedom for the optional excursions of your choice with the chance every night of seeing the famous aurora borealis dance across the sky. This Alaskan northern lights holiday will leave you in awe!
Day 1 - Anchorage
Our tour starts at 7:30 am at the Ramada Anchorage Downtown. We recommend that you book a night's pre-tour accommodation at this hotel, which can be booked at the same time you book this tour. Bordered by the shores of Cook Inlet, Anchorage stands as an enchanting metropolis surrounded by rugged wilderness. The largest city in Alaska, Anchorage is home to nearly half of the state's population. It is also one of the only places in Alaska with all the modern fixtures of city life: a performing arts centre, gourmet restaurants and numerous shopping malls. We begin today's sightseeing tour of Anchorage with a trip down to the historic downtown area before heading off to see the Ship Creek fish ladder and Lake Hood, which has the largest float plane base in North America. Your hotel is located within walking distance of downtown, Ship Creek and the various shopping and dining options. This is a wonderful start to the tour and reveals the more modern side of Alaska before you head off into the wilderness in search of the incredible northern lights.
Possibilities for evening aurora viewing.
Ramada Anchorage Downtown or similar
Day 2 - Seward
This morning after breakfast you travel south along the scenic Turnagain Arm on the Seward Highway, designated as an 'All-American Road'. The Kenai Peninsula is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, which combines amazing scenery with a variety of activities for people of all ages and abilities. Seward lies at the head of Resurrection Bay and is a year-round port surrounded by beautiful mountains. Your hotel is located near the harbour where many dining options and shops to explore on your own.
Possibilities for evening aurora viewing.
Breeze Inn or similar
Day 3 - Talkeetna
Today we depart Seward for your journey to Talkeenta, travelling north on the Seward highway and along scenic Turnagain Arm. We pass incredible jagged peaks, alpine meadows, breathtaking fjords and crystal lakes, and find a concentrated series of diverse landscapes and experiences. Once back in Anchorage we travel on to Talkeetna on the Parks Highway. You will drive through the Matanuska-Susitna Valley which is considered one of the most important agricultural areas in Alaska. The town of Talkeetna is located approximately 115 road miles north of Anchorage, about 14 miles off the Parks Highway at the end of the Talkeetna Spur Road. Upon arrival in Talkeetna you have the remainder of the day free to explore this wonderful area on your own.Why not head up to one of the mountain lodges for breath-taking views of Denali National Park? There are possibilities for an evening aurora viewing.
Swiss Alaskan Inn or similar
Day 4-5 - Healy
Today we travel north on the Parks Highway to Denali where we continue through the rest of the Mat-Su valley. The valley is rimmed by three major mountain ranges - the Alaska Range, the Talkeetna and the Chugach Mountains. The surrounding mountains include many mountain passes, as well as working and abandoned gold mines. At 6 million acres, Denali National Park is one of the world's last great frontiers for wilderness adventure. At this time of the year the park is closed so we stay 19 km (12 miles) from the entrance in Healy, where there have been some incredible sightings of the northern lights plus time for optional winter excursions.
Denali National Park encompasses the heart of the Alaska Range, a stunning chain of peaks. The crown jewel of these mountains is Mount McKinley, popularly known as Denali, meaning 'The High One' in the Athabascan language. At 6196 metres (20,327 feet), it is the highest peak in North America. Today is a free day to enjoy Healy and your remote location. The beauty of staying in this location is the remoteness and away from the bright lights. Depending on availability, options include going snow-shoeing (free snow shoes, although fairly limited and cannot be guaranteed) or dog-sledding. Both evenings offer good possibilities for aurora viewing.
Denali Bluff Hotel or similar
Day 6 - Fairbanks
Today we travel from Denali National Park to Fairbanks. As we head north leaving Denali, we can catch spectacular views of Mount McKinley on the horizon. Situated at the heart of the Tanana River Valley, Fairbanks is a city that combines modern amenities with a quintessentially Alaskan frontier spirit. Commonly known as the Gateway to the Arctic, the second largest city in Alaska has a colorful history dating back to the late 1800s and the discovery of gold in the area. Located close to the center of the state, Fairbanks has the widest temperature range of any city on Earth, with temperatures dropping below -65F (-55C) in the winters, and rising over 100F (38C) in the summers. Once we arrive in Fairbanks we enjoy a city tour which takes us to Golden Heart Park at the center of the city. The park is the site of the 18-foot bronze monument titled 'Unknown First Family'. The park and the statue were dedicated in July 1986 as a tribute to the history and heritage of Fairbanks. There will be a stop to view the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a feat of civil engineering that still carries crude oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. Following our city tour we are taken to our lodge 17.7 km (11 miles) outside of downtown Fairbanks, situated on 280 natural wooded acres. It is important to be outside the town and away from artificial lights to maximise our time for aurora sightings. Fairbanks is one of the best places to see the northern lights which are why we schedule a few nights here. The property features views of the Alaska Range Mountains, Mount McKinley (Denali) and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, in addition to the beautiful surrounding acreage. Enjoy hiking around the lodge property or sitting and relaxing by the pond. Good possibilities for an evening aurora viewing.
Springhill Suites or similar
Day 7 - Fairbanks
Today we travel 100 km (60 mile)s west of Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs. Chena Hot Springs is internationally famed for its natural mineral hot springs. You can relax and revitalise in the outdoor hot springs, hot tubs and indoor pool, whilst enjoying the wintery conditions. During your four hour visit at Chena Hot Springs, enjoy a guided Ice Museum tour, which is set up like an ice hotel, as well as a guided geothermal tour. Before you head back to Fairbanks, soak in the hot springs (bring own towels). Upon transferring back to Fairbanks the remainder of the day is free to take in a multitude of optional excursions or simply explore Fairbanks. Of course there are more chances for an evening aurora viewing.
Springhill Suites or similar
Day 8 - Fairbanks
This morning is free to explore Fairbanks. Your tour finishes at noon; however, why not stay longer to enjoy continued northern lights viewing. Additional nights in Fairbanks can be booked when booking this tour.