Thursday, February 22, 2024

09-Days | Iditarod - Experience

Iditarod Tour Package IV: Experience Alaska and the Iditarod


The Iditarod "Experience Alaska" – Iditarod & Alaska Northern Lights 

Iditarod This nine-day Iditarod vacation package seamlessly combines the key attractions of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a scenic journey aboard the Alaska Railroad to Fairbanks, and the enchanting spectacle of the renowned Alaska Northern Lights at Chena Hot Springs Resort. You'll have the opportunity to witness the dynamic Iditarod Ceremonial Start in downtown Anchorage, the restart activities in Willow, and an optional checkpoint flight to Rainy Pass amidst the stunning Alaska Mountain Range. Your voyage unfolds aboard the renowned Alaska Railroad, offering a captivating trip through the snow-clad expanse of the Alaska Mountain Range en route to Fairbanks. Chena Hot Springs Resort, nestled in a remote wilderness setting just below the Arctic Circle, presents an ideal location for experiencing the Northern Lights, with nearly guaranteed sightings. This itinerary is tailor-made for independent and active travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the highlights of the Iditarod. Join us for an unforgettable, firsthand glimpse and valuable insights into the world's toughest and most celebrated sled dog race.
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Day 1: Anchorage - Mushers Banquet (Thursday)

Welcome to Anchorage! Check in to your hotel, which is located in downtown Anchorage. At 4:00 PM doors open for the Musher Meet & Greet at the Dena'ina Center. The program and Mushers banquet dinner begins at 6:00 PM. Main part of the exciting evening entertainment is the annual banquet fundraiser and drawing for the official start order. The banquet celebrates the mushers who are about to take part in the “Last Great Race on Earth” – the nearly 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Attendees can help raise funds for the Iditarod via a robust live and silent auction while enjoying a 3-course meal and watching the mushers take the stage to draw for their official start order. This is a must for anyone interested to observe "The Last Great Race on Earth" for the first time. Participants have plenty of photo opportunities, good chances to meet and talk with the Iditarod Musher personally, collect autographs and participate in the auction.  

Day 2: Anchorage - City Sightseeing Tour  (Friday)

Explore the sights of Anchorage today during this guided city sightseeing tour (3 hrs).  Your historical exploration begins at the Port of Anchorage, situated at Ship Creek, where the origins of Alaska's metropolis trace back to a tent city. This location also serves as the site of the Anchorage rail terminal for the historic Alaska Railroad. Be sure to admire the latest snow sculptures on display and cast your vote for your personal favorite. Subsequently, we'll journey through Bootleggers Cove, with a delightful pause for a stroll in Earthquake Park, where the remnants of the 1964 earthquake still bear witness. Afterward, our route takes us along the picturesque shores of Lake Hood, renowned as the world's busiest seaplane base. Following this stop, we'll guide you to the incomparable Turnagain Arm and Beluga Point, treating you to breathtaking vistas while keeping an eye out for Beluga whales and Dall sheep. Your journey then leads to Potter Marsh, a segment of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. If road conditions are favorable, we'll make our way to Flattop Mountain, providing a panoramic vantage point from which you can survey Anchorage, Mount Susitna, Mount Denali, and the Alaska Range from a bird's-eye perspective.

Day 3: Anchorage -  Iditarod Ceremonial Race Start (Saturday)

The iconic Iditarod Race commences at 10:00 AM on 4th Avenue in Alaska's largest city. Rise early to witness the preparations leading up to the start, capturing up-close photographs of approximately 50 mushers and over 1000 sled dogs. Immerse yourself in the lively and thrilling race atmosphere as the teams prepare to embark on their 1050-mile journey to Nome. Additionally, Anchorage's parks and green spaces offer excellent vantage points to observe the race-related activities. The ceremonial starting point of the Iditarod is marked by the Balto Statue, commemorating the courageous efforts of the lead sled dog, Balto, who played a pivotal role in a relay of dogsleds that delivered life-saving vaccines from Anchorage to Nome during the 1925 diphtheria epidemic. This remarkable saga is a timeless narrative of daring adventure and selfless sacrifice, where numerous dogs and mushers risked their lives under harsh conditions to rescue their fellow citizens. 

Day 4:  Anchorage –  Iditarod Official Race Restart in Willow  (Sunday)

After your breakfast, board the motorcoach for a guided tour to the official start of the Iditarod Race, taking place in Willow. Departure is scheduled for 9:30 AM, and as you make your way along the picturesque Glenn Highway, you'll have a brief pause in Wasilla. On this day, mushers will set out from Willow, starting at 2 PM and departing in two-minute intervals. Immerse yourself in the vibrant and bustling atmosphere of the Iditarod race, as you witness the final preparations of the mushers. For these mushers, the thousands of enthusiastic fans who were present at the official race start – following the ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday – will soon give way to the solitude of the remote Alaskan wilderness. Their ultimate goal is to reach the finish line in Nome, which lies approximately 1,000 miles away, but not before navigating a trail that can prove challenging for both mushers and their loyal dogs. Your return to Anchorage is anticipated at around 7 PM.

Day 5: Anchorage (Monday)

Day at leisure. Optional flight to the Rainy Pass checkpoint (not included). Morning ski-plane fly-out for a breathtaking flightseeing trip along the Alaska Mountain Range to the Rainy Pass Checkpoint and the nearby Puntilla Lakes. The gateway to the interior offers by far the best and most spectacular scenery of the entire Iditarod Trail. Many teams are taking their mandatory 24 hour layover here before venturing via the treacherous Farewell Burn area and into the flat lands of the interior. A deli style lunch and soft drinks are included. You'll spend the whole day within the incredible wilderness area along the trail observing various dog-mushing activities and teams arriving and departing. Return flight to Anchorage by ski-plane in the late afternoon.  

Day 6: Anchorage - Fairbanks aboard the Alaska Railroad  (Tuesday)

Depart for the Anchorage rail station and set off at 8:30 AM for a full-day rail excursion to Fairbanks, promising a delightful journey. Sit back and relish the ride as you are treated to awe-inspiring vistas of the snow-covered Alaska Mountain Range, featuring the majestic 20,320-foot-tall Mt. Denali. The train will make brief stops in Talkeetna and Denali National Park before reaching Fairbanks at 8 PM, where you will be transferred to your downtown hotel. As an optional experience, consider joining the Northern Lights Viewing Tour, available from 10:00 PM to 2:30 AM. The Fairbanks region is renowned for its exceptional Northern Lights displays, and in the evening, you will be transported from your hotel to a prime Northern Lights viewing lodge situated in the hills approximately 20 miles north of Fairbanks, far from the interference of city lights. Here, you can delight in the mesmerizing 270-degree Aurora shows, either from the comfort of a heated cabin or outdoors, through large picture windows.

Day 7: Fairbanks - Chena Hot Springs Resort  (Wednesday)

In the morning, you'll have the opportunity to explore the University of Alaska, renowned for its extensive collection of Alaska artifacts, captivating displays of gold nuggets, and informative exhibits about the Aurora Borealis. During the winter months, Fairbanks becomes a hub of activity, hosting events such as the World Ice Art Championship, thrilling sled dog races, and a variety of winter carnival festivities. Enjoy the scenic van transfer covering a distance of 60 miles, which will take you to the Chena Hot Springs Resort, strategically located in an optimal Northern Lights viewing area, far away from the glow of city lights. In the evening, you'll be part of a remarkable Snow Coach tour designed for an up-close encounter with the aurora, and this experience is included as part of your itinerary. From the resort, you'll journey for about 30 minutes to reach the crest of a ridge, perched at an elevation of 2600 feet, where the radiance of city lights does not interfere with your aurora viewing. Upon arrival, you'll have the option to take shelter inside a cozy Mongolian Yurt, providing warmth and the opportunity to savor a hot beverage. Over the next few hours, you can step outside at your leisure, relishing the breathtaking 360-degree displays of the Aurora Borealis. Your return to the resort is expected at approximately 2 AM.

Day 8: Chena Hot Springs Resort  (Thursday)

Relax in the large heated mineral indoor pool, the outdoor rock lake and in numerous hot tubs – which are providing a great opportunity to soak or swim. In the afternoon you can take a guided tour of the Aurora Ice Museum, visit a dog kennel or run your own sled dog team. Join a guided snow machine tour around the areas of the resort and have your tour guide show you the remote backcountry. Get a work out by renting cross-country skis, snowshoes or ice skates and cruise around the resort's 440 beautiful acres and scenic trails. In the evening enjoy a delicious dinner at the rustic log lodge restaurant and then join the Snow Coach Tour (optional) or take a short hike for another night of outstanding Northern Lights viewing opportunities. A prow-front heated log cabin with large plate-glass windows facing northeast is open 24 hours per day for guests staying at the resort. It sits high on a hill overlooking the Resort and outdoor rock lake.

Day 9: Chena Hot Springs Resort - Fairbanks (Friday)

After breakfast spend some time to enjoy Chena Hot Springs Resort facilities. Individual transfer to Fairbanks airport or downtown. Flight reservations to your home destination should be arranged preferably after 10:00 am. Please Note: all flights to/from or within Alaska are not included. Rest of the day on your own and tour extensions are readily available.

Tour Services Included:

  • 8 Nights Standard or Deluxe Hotel Accommodation
  • All Local Taxes
  • Mushers Banquet Ticket & Dinner
  • Anchorage City Sightseeing Tour
  • Guided Tour to the Iditarod Restart Willow
  • Alaska Winter Rail Tour 
  • Reserved Seats
  • Round Trip Van Transfer to Chena
  • Daily Hot Springs Pool Pass
  • Geothermal Energy Tour
  • Aurora Snowcoach Tour (1x)
  • Fairbanks Airport & Railroad Station Transfer
  • Anchorage Airport Transfers (Standard Hotel only)
  • Tour Documentation
  • Sightseeing Information

Rates per Person in US $ from/to Anchorage

Tour Number: IDI4 - Experience Iditarod
Single Double Triple Quad
2024 ✦ February 29 - March 08 - Standard Hotels
$ 2399.00 $ 1750.00 $ 1565.00 $ 1450.00
2024 ✦ February 29 - March 08 - Deluxe Hotels $ 3190.00 $ 2145.00 $ 1850.00 $ 1710.00
Additional Night | Standard Hotel (tax included)
$ 145.00 $ 75.00 $ 54.00 $ 43.00
Additional Night | Deluxe Hotel (tax included)
$ 235.00 $ 120.00 $ 85.00 $ 70.00

Optional Additional Tours

✦ Anchorage: Guided Matanuska Glacier Hike (Tour Guide, Round Trip Shuttle from Anchorage)  $299.00
✦ Anchorage: Alaska Snowmobile Tour (3 hrs )   -  Round Trip Shuttle add $100 per person  $225.00
✦ Anchorage: Rainy Pass Checkpoint Flight Day Tour including lunch  $1030.00
✦ Chena: Dog Sled Tour (40 minutes) $65.00
✦ Chena: Alaska Snowmobile Tour (3-6 miles)  $130.00
✦ Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise (includes transfer from Anchorage, stopover at the Wildlife Conservation Center)
$ 370.00
✦ Anchorage: Mt. Denali Flightseeing Tour $ 535.00

Please contact us for Custom Tour Packages, Group and Travel Agency Requests, Additional Overnights. Optional Iditarod Checkpoint Flights