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America's Arctic and Fairbanks' Winter Carnival

Program Number: 7340RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/7/2013 - 3/18/2013;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Price starting at: $2,295.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Festivals, Misc.; Winter Sports; Natural History Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 32; 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Discover America’s starkly beautiful Arctic and enjoy the famous Fairbanks Winter Carnival’s championship sled-dog races and larger-than-life ice sculptures. As the spring equinox nears, temperatures are moderate and the northern lights may be seen. Venture to Coldfoot to grasp the enormity and beauty of the pristine Arctic by seeing it with your own eyes.


• Attend the Fairbanks Winter Carnival, a tradition since 1934, and view the spectacular ice sculptures entered in the World Ice Art Championship.
• Journey north above the Arctic Circle, cross the legendary Yukon River and continue into the magnificent Brooks Range where you can ride on a dog sled and take a snowshoe hike.
• Learn the science behind the fantastic displays of the aurora borealis.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to a half-mile a day on flat, potentially icy paths. Driving in vans up to 10 hours with breaks every 60-90 minutes. Expert-led snowshoeing excursion in Coldfoot.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Fairbanks, 4 nights; van to Coldfoot, 5 nights; van to Fairbanks, 2 nights; departure.

Coordinated by Denakkanaaga.


Coldfoot is a place to find warm hospitality north of the Arctic Circle. At this spot near the midpoint of the Dalton Highway, Iditarod champion Dick Mackey established a truck stop where he sold hamburgers out of a converted school bus. Coldfoot welcomes a stream of visitors who pass through as they explore Alaska’s remote Brooks mountain range.


The indigenous Athabaskan tribe had fished in the local area for centuries before it was settled in 1903 as a trading post for riverboats and gold prospectors. Fairbanks today is an important player in interior Alaska’s oil fields and pipelines.

Fairbanks: Centrally located hotel. Coldfoot: Rustic motel upgraded from a pipeline construction camp.
Meals and Lodgings
  Fairbanks, AK 4 nights
   Slate Creek Inn
  Coldfoot, AK 5 nights
  Fairbanks, AK 2 nights
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 813 Noble Street
Fairbanks, AK 99701-4977 USA
phone: 907-456-7722
  Room amenities: Microwave, mini-fridge, hair dryer, television, free internet access
  Facility amenities: In house restaurant and bar, free internet, continental breakfast
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $75 Participants must make their own reservations
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $75 Participants must make their own reservations
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

 Slate Creek Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: Located in a beautiful setting in the Brooks Range, the northernmost mountain range in the United States. The only hotel/restaurant between the Yukon River and the Arctic Ocean.
  Contact info: PO Box 9041
Coldfoot, AK 99701 USA
phone: 907-678-5201
  Room amenities: Very small room, expect to live out of your suitcase. No telephones in room, pay phone at desk. (So no wake-up calls-bring your alarm clock). No TVs. Small bathroom in room with shower and commode. Small closet, hooks on the walls for hanging clothes.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar in one facility. Motel type rooms across the gravel pad. There is a small lounge in the housing facility with a couch and chairs. Cable television (but not many channels). Book exchange and board games available.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in after 3 PM. You will be staying at Westmark that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast. Checkout at 11 a.m. You will be staying at Westmark the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Participants will have to sign a release from Denakkanaaga to participate in this program.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free in hotel lot. Permit REQUIRED. Get permit from reception desk.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Fairbanks, AK
  Nearest city or town:  Nenana (50 miles south)
  Nearest highway: Parks, Steese, Elliot, Alaska Highway
  Nearest airport:  Fairbanks International
  From End of Program
  Location: Fairbanks, AK
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


$25 plus or minus per cab, plus $1 per extra person
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15-20 minutes 




4 miles


There is also a commercial van service, named Airlink Shuttle. The shuttle runs from about 7:00am to late evening. They are often busy with charter services in the winter but give them a call them when you get into the airport and see if they are available. Their phone number is 907-452-3336. The cost is $10.50 for up to three people GOING TO THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME. Not per person--this is the total cost for three and then it's another $3.50 per person for extra people beyond three.

Driving Directions
  Airport Leave airport on Airport Road. Drive east about 5 miles on Airport Road. Turn left unto Noble street. Drive about 4 blocks north on Noble. The hotel address is 813 Noble Street, near the corner of Noble and Tenth Avenue.
Elevation Note: Only summiting the Brooks Range. Atigun Pass is at 4643 feet. We do not spend a lot of time there.

Equipment Requirements: There will be snow and ice on the ground. You will need to have warm, well-fitting boots with good traction to fully participate in this program. Warm clothing is also very important.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Welcoming dinner and orientation
(Thursday, March 7)
 Afternoon: Check into hotel after 3 p.m. Earlier check in may be possible at this time of year. Call hotel the first day of the program to find out if rooms are available for early check in. Meet in the hotel lobby at 6:00pm for dinner, followed by orientation at the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner in restaurant.
Accommodations: Westmark
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: International Arctic Research Center/North American Dog Sled Races/Ice Art Park
(Friday, March 8)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel breakfast room.
 Morning: NOTE: This itinerary has been crafted a year ahead of time, using the best information currently available. Everything on this schedule will be covered but the sequences may change by next year. Also, as we get closer to the starting date, events in Fairbanks may be announced which we may want to participate in and these will be added to our program if possible. We begin with a Field trip to the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Class on the Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights) by Geophysical Institute professor. Class on the history of Fairbanks.
 Lunch: Lunch on campus at UAF
 Afternoon: Overview of North American Championship Dog Sled Race. Field trip to watch the race. For more information, look here:
 Dinner: Dinner in restaurant in hotel.
 Evening: Field trip to the Ice Art Park to view the sculptures created for the World Ice Art Championship. For a preview, look here:
Accommodations: Westmark
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Arctic Trip Orientation, field trip to Museum Of The North
(Saturday, March 9)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel breakfast room
 Morning: Field trip to the University of Alaska Museum of the North. The museum is a superb facility for a city the size of Fairbanks. Extensive collections on all facets of Alaska, with a special emphasis on America's arctic and the sub-arctic Alaskan Interior. Exhibits, films and artwork will help you learn about America's most northern part of her most northern state.
 Lunch: Lunch in local restaurant
 Afternoon: "Life in Fairbanks", discussion of economy, demographics, wages, costs, schools, health care, police and fire protection, and the logistics of daily living in a place with a temperature range from 99 above to 68 below.
 Dinner: Dinner in restaurant
 Evening: Orientation for the trip to the Arctic.
Accommodations: Westmark
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Large Animal Research Station
(Sunday, March 10)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel breakfast room.
 Morning: Field trip to Large Animal Research Station on UAF campus. Researchers and/or guides will lecture on musk oxen, caribou and reindeer that live at the station.
 Lunch: Lunch on campus at UAF
 Afternoon: Informal visit with Native Elder(s) talking about their life.
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: There are usually theater, symphony or winter sports events held during the Fairbanks Winter Carnival. We plan to attend one of these events one evening.
Accommodations: Westmark
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Travel to Coldfoot, Alaska
(Monday, March 11)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel breakfast room.
 Morning: Leave for Coldfoot, Alaska, 250 miles north of Fairbanks and 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. We travel slowly and take a number of breaks to use outhouses and stretch our legs. It takes us approximately 9-10 hours to get from Fairbanks to Coldfoot.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch on the road.
 Afternoon: Continue driving.
 Dinner: Dinner in restaurant in Coldfoot.
 Evening: Coldfoot is a premier place for watching the aurora. We will have sign up sheets every evening for people who want to be woken up to see the northern lights if they are present and the night is clear.
Accommodations: Slate Creek Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Historic Town of Wiseman
(Tuesday, March 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Coldfoot.
 Morning: NOTE: Coldfoot exists because there was a need for a restaurant/hotel in the 400 mile pipeline road stretch between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay. The lecturers for this portion of the program are all locals who have jobs that must be worked around to create time to talk with us. We therefore have to be prepared to be very flexible with the scheduling in Coldfoot. It is not unusual for the schedule to change daily as some people show up in Coldfoot unexpectedly, and some people, like the Alaska state trooper or the national park ranger, may be suddenly called away to do some work in another area. We will try our best to have the content we propose here, but we cannot guarantee it. In Coldfoot, we have always had a variety of lecturers. We like to give everyone who has some expertise a chance to speak with our participants. We actually now have more lecturers than we can fit into one program. So while we may not have exactly what we list here, we will have a very locally oriented program offering diversified information and interests. The vast bulk of our Coldfoot surprises have been pleasant ones. Class on the history of Coldfoot, when it was a gold rush town, then a pipeline construction camp and then the truck stop it is today.
 Lunch: Lunch at Coldfoot.
 Afternoon: Trip to the historic town of Wiseman, 15 miles away. Wiseman was a former gold rush town. It currently has a population of about 10 people. Visit with some of the people of Wiseman.
 Dinner: Dinner at Coldfoot
Accommodations: Slate Creek Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Dog Sled Ride & Snow Shoe Hikes
(Wednesday, March 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in Coldfoot.
 Morning: Discussion on the ins and outs of running a hotel/restaurant when the closest supplier is 250 miles away. And it's 40 below. And always night time. (NOTE: WE will not be experiencing these conditions--but it's fascinating to hear about how it is up there in winter.) The Ecology of the Brooks Range.
 Lunch: Lunch in coldfoot.
 Afternoon: During our stay in Coldfoot, you will have a chance to ride on a dog sled. A local musher will ride with you as his dogs pull their sled along a trail. Locals will also take you on a guided hike on snow shoes through the surrounding Boreal Forest.
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: Various possibilities depending upon who's in "town" that day: perhaps discussions with a state trooper, a park ranger, a truck driver, an Alaska Department of Transportation crew boss, etc.
Accommodations: Slate Creek Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Arctic Safari - Brooks Range
(Thursday, March 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Coldfoot.
 Morning: All day Arctic Safari with experienced guides into the heart of the Brooks Range, the northernmost mountain range in Alaska. Summit Atigun Pass, the only pass through the range to allow access to the North Slope for the Dalton Highway and the Alaska oil pipeline. This is a rare opportunity to drive through and enjoy the majesty of the Arctic mountain terrain when it's wearing its beautiful, awe-inspiring, brilliantly white winter "clothes".
 Lunch: Lunch included.
 Afternoon: Continue Arctic Safari, return to Coldfoot.
 Dinner: Dinner at Coldfoot.
Accommodations: Slate Creek Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Excursions in Coldfoot
(Friday, March 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Coldfoot
 Morning: Lectures and discussions on various topics.
 Lunch: Lunch at Coldfoot.
 Afternoon: Walk to the site of the gold rush town of Coldfoot. There are no remains, since the buildings were "cannibalized" when the gold rush boom moved to Wiseman and Nolan. But various activity areas will be pointed out and discussed. Continue walk to site of the Coldfoot pipeline construction camp. The only thing left of the camp is the airfield which is still in use and which has a small air carrier office and airplanes on site. The "barracks" for the pipeline workers were moved to the present day Coldfoot truck stop. They have been modified and spruced up some and these are the facilities we live in while we are up there.
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: Discussion on various topics. And of course, searching the skies for the aurora.
Accommodations: Slate Creek Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Return to Fairbanks
(Saturday, March 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in Coldfoot.
 Morning: Depart for all day drive back to Fairbanks.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch on the road.
 Afternoon: Continue trip to Fairbanks.
 Dinner: Since our arrival time is variable, we will plan on a pizza and salad dinner in the hotel breakfast area about 45 minutes after we arrive in town.
Accommodations: Westmark
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11:
(Sunday, March 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast
 Morning: Field trip to the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, a small museum devoted to the life and culture of the Athabascan people, the natives of the vast Alaskan Interior. The Alaska Public Lands Information Center is located in the facility and offers films and presentations on Alaska's public lands.
 Lunch: Lunch on own at the Fairbanks Winter Carnival. Get money from Road Scholar coordinator.
 Afternoon: Free time. Suggestions: The Fairbanks Winter Carnival is on this weekend, taking place right outside the back door of the hotel. Fur sales, food booths and the downtown start of the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Race are all part of the Carnival. Join the people of Fairbanks as we celebrate Spring Equinox and the return of the sun to us.
 Dinner: Dinner in hotel restaurant.
 Evening: Closing ceremony and fond farewells.
Accommodations: Westmark
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Program ends after breakfast
(Monday, March 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast runs from 6:00 am to 9:00 am weekdays, 7:00 am to 10:00 am Saturday and Sunday. The program ends after breakfast. Check out time is noon.
 Morning: The program ends after breakfast. Check out time is noon.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Fairbanks, AK Fairbanks Visitors and Convention Bureau
Phone: 800-327-5774 For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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