|Destination:||United States of America|
Alaska may be part of the USA, but it feels like another world. Discover incredible mountain ranges, diverse wildlife and shining glaciers on a nine-day Lonely Planet Experience in the coldest and iciest state of the USA. Go deep into the wild through the isolated Denali and Wrangell-St Elias national parks, then reunite with civilisation with stops in Anchorage and Valdez. Look out for moose, caribou and grizzly bears on an Alaskan safari and take a kayak trip past waterfalls and sea life. This active adventure takes you well off the beaten track, so escape from the world and explore the deep wilderness of Alaska.
Day 1 Anchorage
Welcome to Anchorage, the most populous city in Alaska with one of the most beautiful backdrops youve ever seen! Things kick off this evening with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, but we highly recommend arriving early to see the sights. This is a unique environment; a city in the heart of the wilderness. It’s worth spending some time in the cafes and bars and getting to know the hardy locals who have more than a few entertaining stories up their sleeves. After you meet your fellow travellers and leader in the evening, why not join them in town for an optional group dinner.
Day 2 Denali National Park
Leave the city behind this morning and venture into a world of lakes and glaciers in the epic Alaska Range. Head north along the Parks Highway to Denali National Park (approximately 5 hours), keeping an eye out for caribou as you go. Home to the highest peak in the United States known as Denali (Mount McKinley), as well as grizzly bears, wolves, moose and Dall sheep, this national park is a true wilderness with endless snowy peaks.
Day 3 Denali National Park
Buckle up for an 8-hour bus safari deep into Denali National Park, visiting the Eielson Visitor Centre as you go. This scenic tour will take you through the park’s backcountry, travelling 106 kilometres (66 miles) to the visitor centre. The journey is worth it as the rangers and interactive displays provide great insight and information about the park. The bus driver will help you spot wildlife while answering questions and, if needed, make bathroom stops along the way. Be sure to bring some food and beverages with you as there aren’t any available on the bus.
Day 4 Maclaren River
After experiencing a Denali dog sled demonstration this morning, traverse through high alpine country as you drive Alaska’s second-highest highway pass to the Maclaren River Lodge. Kick back with some music and take in the scenery, getting to know your travel buddies along the way. On arrival at the lodge, take a canoe upriver to the remote wilderness Glacier Camp, where you’ll spend the night camping out beneath the stars. Explore the frosty surrounds once the campsite is set up.
Day 5 Wrangell-St Elias National Park
Wake from your peaceful slumber and take a canoe back to the lodge in the morning. Today is a big travel day, with approximately 8 hours total driving time, but it’s also a really beautiful drive with plenty of wildlife and some great views along the way. You’ll leave the main highway and start to head deep into Wrangell-St Elias National Park: the largest national park in the USA, being almost six times the size of Yellowstone. The evening is free once you’ve arrived at the campsite, so take a hike and do some exploring, or just kick back and soak up the camp vibes.
Day 6 Wrangell-St Elias National Park
Youre free to explore Wrangell-St Elias National Park today, and there are a whole host of optional activities to take part in. Perhaps take a scenic flight over the park, venture out for a glacier walk on the spectacular Root Glacier, or maybe try your hand at some adrenaline-pumping ice climbing. Your group leader will be able to provide you with other recommendations for the day. Alternatively, spend the day hiking and exploring the park all 13 million acres of it. Keep an eye out for moose, bears and caribou and then, in the evening, return to the campsite for some much-needed (and well-earned) rest.
Day 7 Valdez
Depart Wrangell-St Elias and make tracks for Valdez, a small town on the edge of Prince William Sound. The trip should take approximately 7.5 hours, including a stop at Worthington Glacier en route. Valdez, which is surrounded by the steep, snow-capped Chugach Mountains, is best known as the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. After setting up camp, why not check out the town and grab a bite to eat?
Day 8 Valdez
Today is free to do as you please in Valdez. Kayaking is hugely popular here, so take a paddle on Prince William Sound among the glaciers and down the fjords, spotting some wildlife along the way. On land, you could visit the Valdez Museum and Historical Archive for an interesting history lesson of this important port city. Just like Anchorage, Valdez is framed with mountains, so wherever you look, theres something new to see.
Day 9 Anchorage
This morning drive back to Anchorage, which will take around 6 hours. This may be a tiring drive, but it’s also a spectacular one as you cross the snowy Thompson Pass. After the journey, there are no activities planned and no accommodation provided for the night.