Evening: Welcome to the program by Road Scholar staff.
Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel breakfast room
Morning: Note: This itinerary was created more than a year ahead of the program departure date. It is very likely to be updated as we get closer to our start date. We will do everything that is listed here but the days and times will differ. Field trip to the University of Alaska Museum of the North. The museum is a world renowned circumpolar research center with extensive collections and information gathered from current and past scientific expeditions in Alaska, America's only arctic state. The museum offers exhibits on Native culture, post-contact history, geology, fauna, flora, the gold rush, the pipeline, the Aurora, plus rotating art and photo exhibits, all housed in a beautiful and striking architectural gem. Special emphasis on Arctic and Sub-Arctic ecology and environment and the people who inhabit this northern edge of our world.
Lunch: Lunch on campus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
Afternoon: Members of a family that have been captaining riverboats since the beginning of the last century share their knowledge of the river with their passengers. Stop on the banks of the Chena River where you will learn about traditional Native arts and crafts, food preservation, dog-mushing, aviation and life in the far north.
Dinner: We like to let you explore various restaurants in the places we stay. We tend to choose restaurants where locals eat. People usually get to choose their meal from the menu. There is sometimes a price restriction, but there are plenty of selections that are within our budget. Restaurants may include Thai, Mexican, southern barbecue, Chinese and classic Alaskan establishments.
Breakfast: Breakfast provided by Fairbanks hotel in their dining area
Morning: Barrow is the largest Native village in Alaska. It has a population of about 4,000 people and 65% of the population are Inupiat (commonly known as Eskimo by non Inupiat people). We arrive in Barrow in the late morning.
Lunch: Lunch in Barrow hotel dining area
Afternoon: Field trip around Barrow and surrounding area with a local guide who has extensive knowledge of the city, the people and the history of Barrow. The field trip includes stops at the Wiley Post/Will Rogers memorial, an archeological site containing ancient sod houses and a ride out to the end of the road near Point Barrow, where, weather permitting, we can see the northernmost point of the United States on the (roadless) spit of land that continues to the north. A big highlight is the stop at the Inupiat Heritage Center, which is managed by the Alaska North Slope Borough and is affiliated with the National Park Service and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The center has exhibits on the culture and traditions of the Inupiat people of Alaska. Sometimes there are presentations by Inupiat Elders. Topics vary, but most focus on Inupiat traditions, the collection and use of resources and the art of the people. There are often demonstrations on creating both art and functional goods that were necessary to sustain life. Sometimes there are singers and dancers who talk about their culture and the meaning of the dances they do.
Dinner: Buffet dinner at Ilisagvik College cafeteria. Return to our Barrow hotel after dinner.
Breakfast: Breakfast in the Barrow hotel dining room
Morning: Lecture presented by an Inupiat Elder who will talk about the Inupiat culture and their responses and traditions connected to the yearly cycle of life as the seasons change and different resources become available. After the lecture, we will fly back to Fairbanks.
Lunch: Lunch in the Fairbanks hotel dining area upon our return from Barrow
Afternoon: Field trip to the Alaska pipeline. The approximately 800 mile pipeline crosses three mountain ranges and is built on permanently frozen ground in the north and areas of active earthquake activity in the south. These challenges led to the creation of cutting edge technology to try to overcome these obstacles. The Alaska pipeline is one of the great engineering feats of the 20th century.
Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining area
Morning: Road Scholar is hosted in Fairbanks by Denakkanaaga. Denakkanaaga is a non-profit educational organization founded by the local Athabascan Elders of the indigenous tribe of the vast Interior of Alaska and Canada. Denakkanaaga is housed in the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor's Center. The center has exhibits and dioramas on the people of Interior Alaska and the ecosystem we live in, with a focus on Athabascan life in the past and in the present. The Alaska Public Lands Information Center, a storehouse of information and exhibits on the public lands in Alaska, is also located in the same building, as is the Fairbanks Visitors and Convention Bureau. We will have access to films and possibly presentations from their staff. Walk around downtown and check out the Ice Art Museum, featuring a video on carving the ice sculptures for the March Fairbanks Winter Carnival World Ice Art Championship. The museum includes actual ice sculptures shown in a refrigerated case. The Fairbanks City Museum is also downtown, along with statues commemorating the "first family" to cross the Bering Land Bridge from Asia into the Americas. There is another set of statues nearby commemorating the Lend Lease program, when the American government was flying planes up to Alaska and then on into Russia to support the Allies during World War II. There are also history plaques about Fairbanks and Alaska and beautiful flowers in Golden Heart Plaza on the banks of the Chena River.
Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
Afternoon: Field trip to the Large Animal Research Station. The research station is a branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology. Studies of the large ungulates of the Arctic, the musk-oxen, caribou and reindeer, have been ongoing for decades. A researcher or station guide will talk about the biology of the animals and the ecosystems they inhabit. A strong focus is on the different adaptations that the species have made to the same environment. Life cycles and survival strategies will be explained. Pelts, skulls, antlers and horns will be available for hands-on examination and study. One of the highlights of this field trip is the opportunity to see and learn about the musk-oxen. In the same way that seeing giraffes and zebras in the wild indicates you are in Africa, the musk ox is an iconic emblem of the Arctic-you could see bears, wolves and whales in their natural habitats in many other places in the world, but if you want to see musk-oxen in their natural habitat, you must travel to the Arctic. (And have a bit of luck while you're here.).
Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
Breakfast: Breakfast on the Alaska Railroad
Morning: Take the Alaska Railroad south from Fairbanks to Denali National Park
Lunch: Lunch at a cafe in Denali National Park
Afternoon: Field trip to the "Front Country" of Denali National Park. Explore the visitor's center, the Murie Science Center and the Alaska Geographic book store. Optional hikes through the woods either on your own or join in with the daily park ranger hike.
Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
Breakfast: Breakfast at our Denali Hotel
Morning: Drive 90 miles into the wilderness of Denali National Park in a school bus to Kantishna Roadhouse. Kantishna is one of only three hotels in the park and has been "grandfathered" to have the right to have guests stay there. It was part of the Kantishna mining operations in the early 20th century. The bus drivers are usually very knowledgeable guides who will teach you about the ecosystem of the park, its flora, fauna, geology, history and topography. Once at the lodge, you may sign up for various hikes, van rides, lectures, a chance to pan for gold, take a bike ride or do some fishing with info and equipment provided by the staff of the lodge.
Lunch: Sack lunch on bus
Afternoon: Continue trip to Kantishna.
Dinner: Dinner at the Kantishna resort
Breakfast: Breakfast at the resort
Morning: Free morning. Sign up for various levels of hikes with experienced guides. Or just rest and relax in beautiful surroundings.
Lunch: Lunch in the hotel dining area. Or you may pack a sack lunch if you are on a long hike.
Afternoon: Kantishna Roadhouse offers a lecture series on various topics about Alaska and her people, presented by knowledgeable local Alaskans.
Dinner: Dinner at the resort
Breakfast: Breakfast at Kantishna Lodge
Morning: This is a LOOOONG day. We leave Kantishna at 5:30 a.m. to return to the front country of the park. We take about an hour or so rest stop at the train station. Then we board a bus to drive to Anchorage. We use a bus because it's faster than the train. If we used the train, we'd get into Anchorage around 8:30 p.m. or later. Using a bus, we get in to Anchorage in the late afternoon and have time for dinner and a quiet evening. The next morning we have to leave the Anchorage hotel at 5:30 a.m. to catch the train to Seward. Whew...
Lunch: Sack lunch for bus trip
Afternoon: Drive to Anchorage, Alaska's largest city.
Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in our Anchorage hotel.
Breakfast: Breakfast on the Alaska Railroad
Morning: Take the Alaska Railroad south through spectacular scenery along the shores of Cook Inlet to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. The stunning beauty of this trip is one of the best kept secrets in Alaska.
Lunch: Sack lunch at the Alaska Sea Life Center
Afternoon: Field trip to the Alaska Sea Life Center, a cutting edge marine research facility. The center has ongoing research projects and exhibits on the marine life of the South Central northern Pacific shores of Alaska. We will have classes on ongoing research and a behind the scenes tour of the facility. The Alaska Sea Life Center is one of the few good things that came out of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Money from damages assessed by the state on Exxon was used to start up the research center. One special focus was to study the long term effects of the oil spill on the people, the animals and the land of South Central Alaska. The center has become an excellent research facility, drawing researchers from all over America and beyond.
Dinner: Dinner on your own. There are a number of excellent to very good restaurants in Seward. Many of them are in the boat harbor area where our hotel is and some are about a mile away in "downtown" Seward, where the Alaska Sea Life Center is. We will help with suggestions for where to eat.
Breakfast: Breakfast at our Seward hotel
Morning: Field trip to Exit Glacier, part of Kenai Fjords National Park. Hike with a park ranger along flat paved and gravel paths to view the glacier. The ranger will lecture on glaciers and ice ages and environmental changes. Optional hike up a fairly steep hill for more views and an overlook of the face of the glacier.
Lunch: Lunch on the Kenai Fjords National Park boat trip. Set lunch of a chicken wrap, raw carrots and celery and a cookie. Vegetarian option available.
Afternoon: Board a boat in Seward and sail out into beautiful Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Fjords National Park. Resurrection Bay was named by the Russians, who "discovered" the bay on Easter Sunday ("Resurrection" being their designation for "Easter".) On just about every trip we see seals, walruses, otters, numerous birds, including some puffin varieties and sometimes whales, set against a backdrop of magnificent glaciers. We will sail close to a glacier and hopefully will witness some calving while we're at a safe distance offshore.
Dinner: Graduation dinner at one of Seward's finest restaurants.
Breakfast: Breakfast in our Seward hotel