1012
Alaska
The Best of Alaska’s National Parks: From Denali to Kenai
Come explore the national parks of Alaska with expert naturalists, discovering unique wildlife, stunning landscapes, ancient forests and one of the most unspoiled regions on earth.
Rating (4.97)
Program No. 1012RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
3,395
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11 days
10 nights
28 meals
11 B 9 L 8 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Denali National Park
D
Denali Education Center

Afternoon: Get oriented to your home-away-from-home during an introduction to Denali Education Center by your group leaders and support staff. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes. Learn about DEC's rich history with Road Scholar and take a short walk on campus to get familiarized with the landscape. Wildlife safety and emergency procedures including contact numbers for key staff will be addressed. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as soon as possible. We appreciate your flexibility and understanding.

Dinner: Enjoy your first healthy, home-cooked meal at Riverside Hall. All meals are served buffet-style. The menu varies greatly and is always healthy and balanced. Water, coffee, tea, and snacks are available at all times.

Evening: Introductions: start making connections and new friends as you learn more about your group leaders and fellow participants during this fun, informal meet-and-greet. Announcements will follow with details outlining the next day's activities.

DAY
2
Hike along the Savage River & meet the sled dogs of Denali
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Breakfast: At Riverside Hall enjoy a breakfast buffet with rotating choices such as eggs, hot and cold cereals, granola, and fresh fruit.

Morning: Get to know the landscape and history of Denali National Park on a 2-mile guided walk along the Savage River Loop trail, located 15 miles inside the park. Be sure to bring your camera, as this is a great spot to see caribou, Dall sheep, marmots, squirrels, and ptarmigan. Expect the Savage River Loop trail surface to be uneven and rugged in areas with no significant elevation change.

Lunch: Lunch will be a packed field lunch. We provide re-usable lunch sacks at Riverside Hall. Lunches are assembled after breakfast - choose your favorite sandwich fixings, snack bars, and fruit.

Afternoon: Explore Denali's renowned main visitor center complex that includes the Denali Visitor Center, the Morino Grill restaurant, and Alaska Geographic bookstore. The Denali Visitor Center features an impressive exhibit hall and regular showings of the park film, "Heartbeats of Denali," a 20-minute non-narrated film that shares with you the various seasons, landscapes and wildlife of this beautiful place.

Dinner: At Riverside Hall.

Evening: Evening presentation topics will vary depending on local speaker availability. Presentation topics range from learning about living in Denali to predator-prey relationships to climbing the mountain. The schedule for evening presenters in Denali will be announced on first day of program.

DAY
3
Explore the Subarctic & interpretive boreal forest walk
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Breakfast: At Riverside Hall.

Morning: Learn about the sometimes surprising, always extreme, conditions that shape life in Denali and define a subarctic ecosystem. This 3-hour interactive program will explore how the complex geology of Interior Alaska is connected to annual precipitation, why geographical location determines the adaptations of plants, and how the Native peoples survived for generations in one of the most formidable climates on Earth.

Lunch: At Riverside Hall.

Afternoon: Explore the world’s largest biome, the northern boreal forest, on an optional guided 2.5-mile walk on the Rock Creek trail. This quiet, forested trail is occasionally steep with 400 feet elevation change.

Dinner: At Riverside Hall.

Evening: Presentation by a local speaker.

DAY
4
Day-long journey to the heart of the Park
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Breakfast: At Riverside Hall.

Morning: Travel to the heart of Denali National Park by shuttle bus on a day-long journey to the Eielson Visitor Center. Along the way, enjoy breathtaking views of the Alaska Range and its many peaks. Have your cameras ready to take pictures of wildlife, which may include caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, moose, wolves and more!

Lunch: Lunch will be a packed field lunch. We provide re-usable lunch sacks at Riverside Hall. Lunches are assembled after breakfast - choose your favorite sandwich fixings, snack bars, and fruit.

Afternoon: Want to hike independently in this pristine wilderness? We invite you to leave the bus behind and travel cross-country. If interested in this option, you will need to catch a later bus out of the park necessitating that you get dinner on your own (your group leader will provide local suggestions that include shuttle service to the DEC campus).

Dinner: At Riverside Hall.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Wildlife of Denali class & Horseshoe Lake walk.
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Breakfast: At Riverside Hall.

Morning: Denali is home to 39 of the most iconic mammal species and an impressive 169 bird species. Join a Denali Education Center field educator as they discuss the extraordinary adaptations that allow these local wildlife to survive in the extreme subarctic climate. You will examine several fur pelts, skulls and hooves during this 3-hour hands-on educational program.

Lunch: At Riverside Hall.

Afternoon: Experience the rich and varied habitats along the popular 3.2-mile Horseshoe Lake trail. Watch for evidence of beaver as the trail descends to, and travels around the beautiful Horseshoe Lake. You can expect the trail surface to be primarily native soils and compacted gravel with 250 feet elevation change.

Dinner: At Riverside Hall.

Evening: Presentation by a local speaker.

DAY
6
Choose your hiking adventure on Oxbow or Triple Lakes Trails
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Breakfast: At Riverside Hall.

Morning: Explore the piece of the park closest to your home away from home on your choice of trails. Our guided walk along the Oxbow Trail is an easy 1.7 mile loop on a peninsula along the glacier-fed Nenana River. Hikers will travel on native soils, rock and roots with no significant elevation change. Or, opt for a more strenuous walk up the Triple Lakes Trail with approximately 800 ft. elevation gain and 1.5 miles to the second lake (3 miles round trip).

Lunch: At Riverside Hall.

Afternoon: At leisure - time to rest and relax, explore the park independently, or pursue optional activities like rafting, flightseeing, or visiting the kennels of an Iditarod champion.

Dinner: At Riverside Hall.

Evening: Presentation by a local speaker.

DAY
7
Travel through the Alaska Range and south to Seward.
Seward
B,L,D
Breeze Inn

Breakfast: Enjoy your last breakfast at Riverside Hall.

Morning: Journey 375 miles to the harbor town of Seward on the Kenai Peninsula and home of Kenai Fjords National Park. Along the way, hope for a glimpse of Denali as you pass through Denali State Park. Rest stops en route are scheduled for photographs and lunch on this 9-hour adventure.

Lunch: Lunch will be a packed field lunch. Assemble your lunch after breakfast - choose your favorite sandwich fixings, snack bars, and fruit.

Afternoon: Get oriented to you new home-away-from home at the Breeze Inn in Seward. Meet your Seward group leader, review the daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines and emergency procedures including updated contact numbers for key staff. Check into your rooms before dinner.

Dinner: Enjoy a welcome dinner at the Breeeze Inn.

Evening: Evening presentation: "Alaska ... A Global Perspective"

DAY
8
SeaLife Center Behind-the-Scenes tour and Exit Glacier walk
Seward
B,L
Breeze Inn

Breakfast: At Breeze Inn.

Morning: Enjoy a behind-the-scenes exploration at the Alaska SeaLife Center. Learn about the center’s marine wildlife research, rehabilitation projects, and life-support systems. Discover what it takes to care for seals, sea lions, octopus, seabirds, and 154 species of fish.

Lunch: At Alaska Sea Life Center.

Afternoon: Enjoy a ranger-led interpretive walk to the edge of Exit Glacier. Learn about the ecosystem that surrounds this iconic feature. The trail is considered moderately strenuous, with some steep inclines and rocky terrain. It is 1.2 miles in length and benches are available in some locations.

Dinner: On your own - enjoy choosing from Seward's many dining establishments.

Evening: Evening presentation: Glaciers & Glaciology.

DAY
9
Marine studies at the Alaska SeaLife Center
Seward
B,L
Breeze Inn

Breakfast: At the Breeze Inn.

Morning: Learn more about the rich marine world of Alaska in a class at the SeaLife Center, Alaska's only public aquarium and ocean-wildlife rescue center.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Seward.

Afternoon: Choose your own adventure. Recommended exhibits and presentations include: Qutekcak Native Tribe Culture Center; Native Alaskan Presentations & Stories from the Elders, or the Seward Museum for “The History of Seward."

Dinner: On your own - another night to explore Seward's fresh seafood and various dining establishments.

Evening: At leisure - explore the small boat harbor and watch as fishermen bring in their daily catch, weigh, and fillet fish. Species include salmon, halibut, rockfish, and cod. Or, take a walk along the paved harbor trail that connects the harbor to downtown Seward. Additionally, there is a free shuttle from the harbor to downtown.

DAY
10
Kenai Fjords National Park Marine Wildlife Cruise
Seward
B,L,D
Breeze Inn

Breakfast: At the Breeze Inn.

Morning: Explore Kenai Fjords National Park on this expert-led 7.5-hour small boat exploration in Resurrection Bay: a great opportunity to spot whales, sea otters, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, puffins, eagles, and many more species in their strikingly beautiful natural habitat. You will also spend time in front of two active tidewater glaciers: Holgate and Aialik Glaciers.

Lunch: Enjoy a delicious Alaska salmon and prime rib feast served buffet style on the Kenai Fjords boat tour.

Dinner: A farewell dinner at the Breeze Inn

Evening: The evening will conclude with a celebration of your time spent together at two national parks in Alaska. Share highlights of the week together, tell stories, sing songs, and start planning your next Road Scholar adventure!

DAY
11
Program Concludes
Seward
B

Breakfast: At the Breeze Inn.

Morning: Board a chartered motorcoach bound for the Anchorage Airport. The coach is expected to arrive at the airport at approximately 11:30 a.m. Please do not make departure flight reservations before 3:00 p.m. The coach will make drop offs at major hotels in Anchorage.