17292
Alaska
On the Road Alaska: Barrow, Denali and Kenai Fjords
Explore pristine landscapes and unspoiled wilderness as you journey through the Arctic, learning from Native Peoples, discovering geological wonders and spotting unique wildlife.
Rating (4.29)
Program No. 17292RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
5,599
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12 days
11 nights
31 meals
11 B 10 L 10 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orienatation, Welcome Dinner
Anchorage, Alaska
D
Hilton Garden Inn Anchorage

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously) with you.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a buffet dinner, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: 6:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless otherwise specified, transportation will be provided primarily by motorcoach, which will require ascending/descending a few steps when getting on/off. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
2
Fly to Barrow, Inupiat Heritage Center Field Trip
Barrow, Alaska
B,L,D
Top of the World Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 20 miles total; about 1 hour. Minimal walking throughout the day (less than 1 mile total) indoors and outdoors; mostly flat terrain. Flight to Barrow, AK, is approximately 3.5 hours.

Breakfast: In the dining area at the Anchorage hotel, we’ll have a buffet breakfast featuring a variety of hot and cold items, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Getting up early, we will check out of the hotel and transfer via motorcoach to the Anchorage airport for our flight to the “top of the world” in Barrow, Alaska. The largest native village in Alaska, Barrow has a population of about 4,000 people and 65% of the population are Inupiat (commonly known as Eskimo by non-Inupiat people). We’ll arrive in Barrow in the late morning and transfer to the hotel for check-in.

Lunch: In the dining area of the Barrow hotel, we’ll enjoy a buffet meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

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.

Evening: We’ll then return to our hotel in Barrow for a 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. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
3
U. Alaska’s Museum of the North, Geophysical Institute
Fairbanks, Alaska
B,L,D
Springhill Suites by Marriott

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 30 miles total; about 1 hour, with stops for field trips and transfers. Flight to Fairbanks, AK, is approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 1/2 mile total throughout the day; mostly flat terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a breakfast buffet with choices such as eggs, breakfast meats, cereals, and fresh fruit, plus milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Settling in for a lecture in the hotel meeting room, we will have a presentation given by our Group Leader about the arctic tundra, local flora and fauna, the aurora borealis, and all of the amazing wildlife we could see throughout program. Following our lecture, we will make our way to the Barrow airport for our flight to Fairbanks, Alaska.

Lunch: We will have a boxed lunch on our way to the airport.

Afternoon: After flying to and arriving in Fairbanks, AK, we will transfer to the University of Alaska's Museum of the North, 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. It also places special emphasis on Arctic and Sub-Arctic ecology and environment and the people who inhabit this northern edge of our world. Following our exploration of the museum, we will walk to the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute where we will learn from a university geologist about the effects that climate change has had on the region, the steps that are being taken to study these effects, and the different projects that are being conducted at the university.

Dinner: At a community restaurant, we’ll have a choice of hot plated meals, sandwiches, and salads, plus soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Following dinner, our Group Leader will provide a walk along the slough for those participants who would like to continue to explore the area. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
4
Cultural Center, Alaska Pipeline, Animal Research Center
Fairbanks, Alaska
B,L,D
Springhill Suites by Marriott

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 35 miles total; about 1 hour, with stops for field trips. Walking up to 1 mile total throughout the day; mostly flat indoor and outdoor terrain.

Breakfast: In the Fairbanks hotel dining room, we’ll have a buffet breakfast with milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Setting out via motorcoach, we will transfer to the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, which has exhibits and dioramas featuring the people and ecosystems of interior Alaska, focusing 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. While here, we will have access to films and a docent-led exploration of the cultural center, as well as a presentation given by a native Alaskan and a traditional dance performance. Also located downtown, the Fairbanks City Museum displays statues commemorating the "first family" to cross the Bering Land Bridge from Asia into the Americas. Another set of statues nearby commemorates the Lend Lease program, during which 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 right outside of the cultural center, and beautiful flowers in Golden Heart Plaza on the banks of the Chena River. We’ll explore the museum as a group, and if there is time then we will open the morning up to some time for independent exploration.

Lunch: At the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, our buffet meal will feature local delicacies commonly enjoyed by native Alaskans. Coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: Boarding our motorcoach, we’ll travel to see a section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) for a field trip. The approximately 800-mile pipeline crosses three mountain ranges and is built on permanently frozen ground in the north and areas of routine seismic activity in the south. Overcoming these obstacles led to the development and implementation of cutting-edge technology, making the Alaska pipeline one of the great engineering feats of the 20th century. Following our visit to the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, we will make our way to the Large Animal Research Center, which is a branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology. Studies of the large ungulates of the Arctic – such as the musk oxen, caribou and reindeer – have been ongoing for decades. While here, a researcher or station staff member will talk about the biology of the animals and the ecosystems they inhabit while emphasizing the different adaptations that the various species have made to the same environment, including life cycles and survival strategies. Pelts, skulls, antlers and horns will be available for hands-on examination and study. One particular highlight of this field trip will be the opportunity to see and learn about musk oxen. In the same way that seeing giraffes and zebras in the wild indicates one is in Africa, the musk ox is an emblem of the Arctic. Bears, wolves, and whales can be found in their natural habitats in other places in the world, but to see musk oxen in their natural habitat, one must travel to the Arctic (and have a bit of luck while here).

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Denali National Park, Murie Science Center, Dog Sleds
Denali Park Area
B,L,D
Denali Grizzly Bear Resort

Activity note: Driving approximately 130 miles throughout the day; about 2.5 hours total, with stops for field trips. Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day; paved sidewalks and some uneven surfaces.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Following breakfast, we will board our motorcoach and make our way to the entrance of Denali National Park.

Lunch: At the Denali National Park Cafeteria, we’ll have cafeteria meals with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then set out for an afternoon field trip to the "Front Country" of Denali National Park, during which we’ll explore the visitor's center, the Murie Science Center and see some Alaska Geographic books. Then, a park ranger will lead an informational hike through the woods before we join our Group Leader to see the park’s sled dog kennel where we will watch a demonstration of the process. Following our exploration of the area, we will check into our lodge.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: If you would like, you can accompany our Group Leader on a nature walk through the area. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Morning hike, Denali National Park
Kantishna, Alaska
B,L,D
Kantishna Roadhouse

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles on even surfaces. Bus ride of up to 90 miles into the heart of Denali National Park.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet featuring a variety of hot and cold items, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Gathering in the hotel meeting room with our Group Leader, we’ll listen to a morning lecture about local flora, fauna, and much more of what we may see while in Denali National Park. Following our lecture, we will set off on a group hike with our Group Leader around Horseshoe Lake, known for its bio-diversity and amazing views.

Lunch: At a cafe in Denali National Park, we’ll have plated meals with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Boarding our school bus, we will drive into the wilderness of Denali National Park to Kantishna Roadhouse, one of only three hotels in the park that has been "grandfathered in" 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 and will be happy to teach us through commentary about the ecosystem of the park, its flora, fauna, geology, history, and topography. Once at the lodge, we’ll check in. You may want to 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. All of the activities take place at various times over the next few days’ free time sessions and are included in the program cost.

Dinner: At Kantishna Roadhouse, we’ll enjoy buffet meals with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: This evening we will go over the procedures for the next two days, and the Group Leader will be providing a lecture on life in Alaska.

DAY
7
Kantishna Roadhouse, Free Time
Kantishna, Alaska
B,L,D
Kantishna Roadhouse

Activity note: Activity level will depend on what activities you choose to do.

Breakfast: At Kantishna Roadhouse, we’ll have a tasty breakfast buffet with milk, juice, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: Free time. This block of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You may wish to sign up for various levels of hikes with experienced leaders, try out some of the other available activities, or just rest and relax in beautiful surroundings.

Lunch: At Kantishna Roadhouse, we’ll have a buffet meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Or you may pack a sack lunch if you are going out for a lengthy activity.

Afternoon: Continue to explore Denali National Park through the activities of your choice.

Dinner: Kantishna Roadhouse buffet.

Evening: Kantishna Roadhouse offers a lecture series on various topics about Alaska and her people, presented by knowledgeable local Alaskans.

DAY
8
Denali National Park, Free Time
Kantishna, Alaska
B,L,D
Kantishna Roadhouse

Activity note: Activity level will depend on what activities you choose to do.

Breakfast: Kantishna Roadhouse buffet.

Morning: Free time. You may wish to sign up for various levels of hikes with experienced leaders or just rest and relax in beautiful surroundings.

Lunch: Kantishna Roadhouse buffet, or you may pack a sack lunch if you are on a long hike.

Afternoon: Continue to explore Denali National Park on your own.

Dinner: Kantishna Roadhouse buffet.

Evening: Settling in for another installment of the lecture series at Kantishna Roadhouse, we’ll listen to another presentation given by a local Alaskan speaker. Afterwards, our Group Leader will review the travel details for tomorrow. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
9
Transfer to Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Anchorage

Activity note: Getting on/off bus; driving approximately 320 miles total to Anchorage, AK; about 8 hours total, with stops.

Breakfast: Early Kantishna Roadhouse buffet.

Morning: Rising early, we’ll check out of the lodge and begin making our way to Anchorage aboard our bus. Upon our return to the front country of the park, we’ll take a rest stop at the train station. Continuing our journey, we’ll then climb back aboard a bus for more of our drive to Anchorage. (It's faster than the train.) We’ll listen to some commentary provided by our bus drivers and Group Leaders as we travel.

Lunch: Aboard the bus, we’ll have boxed lunches en route.

Afternoon: Completing our transfer to Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, in the late afternoon, we’ll check into the hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Anchorage, we’ll enjoy a tasty buffet meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Gathering with our Group Leader, we will review the procedures for our ride to Seward, AK, on the infamous Alaska Railroad tomorrow. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
10
Alaska Railroad to Seward, Alaska Sea Life Center
Seward, Alaska
B,L
Windsong Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach and train; driving approximately 20 miles total, about 1/2 hour; train ride is approximately 107 miles; about 4 hours. Walking approximately 1 mile total throughout the day; about 1 hour; paved sidewalks.

Breakfast: Aboard the Alaska Railroad, we’ll have a buffet meal with milk, juice, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: Up early again this morning, we’ll check out of the hotel before breakfast and make our way to the train station. Upon arrival, we’ll board the train and 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. In Seward, we’ll get off the train and transfer via motorcoach to the Sea Life Center.

Lunch: At the Alaska Sea Life Center, we’ll have plated meals with coffee and water included.

Afternoon: During our field trip at the Alaska Sea Life Center, a cutting-edge marine research facility, we will learn about ongoing research projects and see exhibits on the marine life of the south-central and northern Pacific shores of Alaska. Through a behind-the-scenes docent-led exploration of the facility, we will learn about the Alaska Sea Life Center’s current objectives and how the establishment of this research center came in the aftermath 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. Following our exploration of the Alaska Sea Life Center, our Group Leader will conduct a lecture in the hotel meeting room, focusing on the different type of animals we may see tomorrow, and include a lesson about the formation of glaciers.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in Seward. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Seward, Alaska
B,L,D
Windsong Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 30 miles; about 1.5 hours total, with stops for field trips. Walking approximately 1.5 miles; about 1 hour; uneven dirt surfaces, slight incline.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet breakfast with milk, juice, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: Upon arrival via motorcoach at Exit Glacier – part of Kenai Fjords National Park – for our field trip, we’ll begin our hike along flat paved and gravel paths to view the glacier. As we walk, our Group Leader will provide insight on glaciers, ice ages, and environmental changes. For those who would like to go a bit farther, our Group Leader will lead a hike up a fairly steep hill for more views and an overlook of the face of the glacier. Transferring by motorcoach to a dock in Seward, we’ll board a boat and sail out into beautiful Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. The Russians who "discovered" the bay on Easter Sunday named it Resurrection Bay; "Easter" was commonly referred to as "Resurrection." Ship staff will provide insightful commentary along our journey.

Lunch: Aboard the boat as we float through Kenai Fjords National Park, we’ll have plated lunches featuring sandwiches, vegetables, and dessert. Vegetarian selection available. Coffee and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: On just about every trip, we have been lucky enough to see seals, walruses, 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. At the end of our boat trip, we’ll disembark and transfer back to the hotel.

Dinner: At the Windsong Lodge, we’ll enjoy a tasty farewell buffet dinner featuring seasonal, regional cuisine with salad, and dessert, plus a complimentary coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Reminisce about all of the amazing sights we have seen throughout this program with new Road Scholar friends. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
Anchorage, Alaska
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 9:00 a.m. Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 126 miles back to Anchorage; about 3 hours. Drop-offs at the starting hotel and airport expected between approximately 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.

Breakfast: At the Windsong Lodge, the buffet will include menu choices such as eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, yogurt, and French toast, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: After checking out of the lodge, we will board our motorcoach and transfer back to Anchorage, with drop-offs at both the starting hotel and the airport. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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