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24135
Alaska

Choose Your Pace: Exploring Alaska's Pristine Kenai Peninsula

Explore the stunning Kenai Peninsula with naturalists as you choose how you want to learn about Alaska’s wilderness, from hiking untouched landscapes to paddling glacier-carved lakes.
Program No. 24135RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
5,999
Alaska

Choose Your Pace: Exploring Alaska's Pristine Kenai Peninsula

Explore the stunning Kenai Peninsula with naturalists as you choose how you want to learn about Alaska’s wilderness, from hiking untouched landscapes to paddling glacier-carved lakes.
Length
10 days
Starts at
5,999
Program No. 24135 RJ
climate
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At a Glance

Join experts in the “Last Frontier,” where glaciers sparkle under the golden sun, sea lions and otters play in pristine waters and lush green landscapes make for the perfect classroom. Choose how you want to explore the wilds of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula based on your desired level of challenge, from kayak and canoe excursions on the glittering Skilak Lake to learning about local ecosystems along Cottonwood Creek Trail. Whichever pace you prefer, you’ll learn about local wildlife on boating adventures, stand in awe of massive glaciers and hike through a protected forest canopy as you experience the wonders of this otherworldly land seeped in Native Alaskan ancestral history.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Hike through the northernmost rainforest areas of Alaska to get an intimate look at its flora and fauna, and enjoy the breathtaking glacial views as you explore nature preserves and wildlife refuges.
  • Kayak, hike, canoe while exploring in Native Alaskan ancestral lands inside Kenai Fjords National Park, and spend two nights at the only wilderness lodge within the 700,000 acre National Park.
  • Experience the diversity of Alaska’s majestic landscape on a Alaska Railroad train trek and sail past glaciers on a catamaran in Kenai Fjords National Park while searching for local wildlife.
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10 days
9 nights
25 meals
9 B 7 L 9 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Anchorage, AK
D
Hilton Garden Inn Anchorage

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

Afternoon: Program Registration: 5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the hotel lobby to register with program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Remember to bring your name-tag that was sent to you in advance of the program.

Dinner: In our hotel meeting space, we’ll have a plated dinner including dessert, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: 7:00 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 any questions you may have. 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 or 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.

DAY
2
Anchorage Museum, Native Heritage Center
Anchorage, AK
B,D
Hilton Garden Inn Anchorage

Activity note: Activity level at the Heritage Center is dependent on what you choose to do. There is a half mile loop trail on flat, paved paths to see the Native dwellings. There may be some long periods of standing at field trip sites.

Breakfast: In the hotel’s restaurant, we'll enjoy breakfast items such as eggs, the daily special, a waffle bar, fresh fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, pastries, plus coffee, tea, juice, and water.

Morning: After a quick ride via motorcoach, our day begins with a docent-led visit to the Anchorage Museum. Enjoy the large variety of exhibits that explain pre-historic, historic and present Anchorage and Alaska. A main exhibition contains over 600 objects from the Smithsonian collections and is one of the finest presentations of Alaskan history and ethnology in the state. Full-scale and miniature dioramas provide a look at the early lifestyles of Alaska’s native peoples. Exhibits also cover the exploration and settlement by the Russians, the gold rush era, World War II and statehood. Following our docent-led exploration, we'll have some time to wander through the exhibits on our own.

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

Afternoon: At a predetermined time, we'll reconvene at the museum and hop on our motorcoach for a short transfer to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the largest cultural institution in Alaska, to learn about the unique indigenous cultures that have shaped Alaska's history. Journey through 10,000 years of Alaska Native history and culture through art, dance, Native Games demonstrations, exhibits, and walk through traditional Native dwellings.

Dinner: Enjoy a family style dinner at a local restaurant with salad, dessert, coffee, tea, water.Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: In our hotel meeting space, we'll enjoy a presentation led by our Group Leader that will introduce us to the spectacular nature preserves and wildlife refuges that will be our classroom throughout the program. Afterwards, get a good night's rest for the day ahead, and prepare for check-out tomorrow morning.

DAY
3
Forest Hike, Alyeska Tram, to Cooper Landing
Cooper Landing
B,L,D
Kenai Riverside Lodge

Activity note: The drive to Cooper Landing is 102 miles, approximately 2 hours, with stops in between. Opportunities for Choose Your Pace will include one more casual hiking group and one more moderate hiking group.

Breakfast: En-route to Girdwood.

Morning: Bid farewell to the city of Anchorage and travel south via motorcoach along the majestic Turnagain Arm to the small mountain community of Girdwood. Today’s adventure takes us through the northernmost rainforest areas of Alaska on a guided hike through a protected forest canopy. Scenic views of a local gorge and a variety of flora and plant life abound. After the hike, more amazing views can be captured as we ride the resort tram to the top of Mt. Alyeska for spectacular views of the seven surrounding glaciers. During the 8-minute tram ride, we’ll gain more than 2000 feet of elevation, with a bird’s eye view of winter ski routes and flower-covered valleys.

Lunch: Boxed lunch.

Afternoon: We will continue south to Kenai Riverside Lodge, situated in scenic Cooper Landing. Cooper Landing is surrounded by the forested, lower slopes and glacier covered summits of the Chugach National Forest, with local mountain peaks ranging in elevation from 4000 ft. to 10,000 ft. and higher. Upon arrival at the lodge, take in the amazing sights on the riverfront. Kenai Riverside Lodge features a large riverside deck with fire pit, self-guided nature paths, a wood-fired sauna and more.

Dinner: Appetizers and dinner will be served in the main lodge. All meals served at lodges are homemade and feature locally-sourced, fresh Alaskan ingredients. Dinners are served family style and include coffee, tea, water. Other beverages are available purchase.

Evening: At leisure to enjoy the lodge amenities.

DAY
4
Kenai River Rafting Adventure, to Backcountry Lodge
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, AK
B,L,D
Kenai Backcountry Lodge

Activity note: Opportunities for Choose Your Pace will include a 6-hour Kenai River Canyon trip en route to Kenai Backcountry Lodge or a shorter 2-hour Kenai River Float option following a more relaxed morning at Kenai Riverside Lodge. All participants will arrive at Kenai Backcountry Lodge by late afternoon to reconvene and gather for appetizers and dinner together. No experience needed for rafting.

Breakfast: All breakfasts served at lodges will be in the main lodge dining room, where we'll enjoy breakfast buffets with milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Rafting guides will outfit you in river gear for a full-day rafting adventure on the Kenai River. Explore the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge while your raft guide offers natural history interpretation and stories behind the sights. Scan for eagles and birds, salmon and trout swimming in the turquoise water and possibly moose or bears on the banks of the Kenai River.

Lunch: We will enjoy a delicious pack lunch on the banks of the Kenai River.

Afternoon: We'll continue downriver enjoying the exquisite scenery, arriving at Kenai Backcountry Lodge in the afternoon. Nestled on the shores of the glacially-carved Skilak Lake and inside Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, this backcountry retreat is the perfect location to relax near the lake and listen to the loon calls (Alaska is home to all 5 species of loons, and Skilak Lake is home to many of them!).

Dinner: Family style in the main lodge.

Evening: After dinner we'll settle in for a lecture by our Group Leader to gain further insight into this fascinating and unique region.

DAY
5
Hike Cottonwood Creek, Explore Skilak Lake, Evening Kayak
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, AK
B,L,D
Kenai Backcountry Lodge

Activity note: Opportunities for Choose Your Pace will include both a casual/moderate hike (3-4 hours in the field), along with a full-day more challenging hike (5-7 hours in the field) which gains more elevation.

Breakfast: In the main lodge.

Morning: Spend a full day exploring the remote wilderness of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge during your choice of activity. Choose to do an amazing hike through three different ecosystems on the Cottonwood Creek Trail to learn about Alaska’s diverse flora. The trail starts in plush hemlock forests, making your way to highland tundra. At the top of the trail, explore the tundra and summer snow pack, with splendid views of the lake and surrounding wilderness. Or, choose to take a motorized skiff tour around Skilak Lake, making short stops to hike to scenic vistas and hidden coves and channels for photo opportunities at this glacier-fed lake.

Lunch: Enjoy a sack sandwich lunch outdoors during your hike, or a picnic lunch on the boat depending on the activity you choose.

Afternoon: Continue to explore Kenai National Wildlife Refuge through the activities of your choice. Lodge staff and your Group Leader will always be available to help you choose what activities you may enjoy most.

Dinner: We'll meet as a group to enjoy a family style dinner in the main lodge and share the day's adventures with each other.

Evening: If lake conditions permit, enjoy a serene sunset kayak paddle, or choose to relax around the campfire.

DAY
6
Scenic Watercraft Transfer to Riverside Lodge, Hike
Cooper Landing
B,L,D
Kenai Riverside Lodge

Activity note: Opportunities for Choose Your Pace will include either the afternoon hike option or a short afternoon scenic drive to Tern Lake to enjoy local birding opportunities and a natural history talk.

Breakfast: In the main lodge.

Morning: We'll leave the Backcountry Lodge and cross the lake on a scenic watercraft transfer, keeping an eye out for wildlife as we go. At the boat landing, we'll have a short van shuttle back to Kenai Riverside Lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Enjoy a casual afternoon hike on a trail in the Chugach National Forest or Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure. Relax on the expansive riverside deck while scoping for bald eagles or watching salmon swim by in the turquoise waters of the Kenai.

DAY
7
Seward, Glacier & Wildlife Cruise to Glacier Lodge
Kenai Fjords National Park, Kenai Peninsula
B,L,D
Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge

Breakfast: In the main lodge.

Morning: After breakfast, we’ll transfer to the stunning seacoast town of Seward and board a small ship bound for Kenai Fjords National Park – home to an array of glaciers and marine wildlife such as whales, Steller sea lions, sea otters, puffins and more! A half-day marine wildlife cruise will allow us to explore the rugged coastlines.

Lunch: Enjoy a boxed lunch onboard, in view of majestic glaciers.

Afternoon: We'll arrive at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge this afternoon. The only wilderness lodge within Kenai Fjords National Park, our retreat for the next two nights is nestled in a protected tidal lagoon area with miles of pristine beachfront for exploring and views of the stunning Pedersen Glacier. The Lodge is located in a Native-owned wildlife sanctuary and is seeped in the traditions of ancestral people of the area. During our stay, we'll learn how subsistence hunters would use kayaks as a main form of transportation, and our guides will share how local plants and flowers were used medicinally for remote communities in Alaska.

Dinner: Family style in the main lodge. All meals at lodges utilize the freshest ingredients and are sourced locally. You will have plenty of opportunities to sample local Alaskan fare.

Evening: After dinner we'll settle in for another lecture by our Group Leader. to expand on all we've learned so far.

DAY
8
Hike, Kayak, Canoe in Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park, Kenai Peninsula
B,L,D
Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge

Activity note: Opportunities for Choose Your Pace involve various levels of guided options for both kayaking and hiking day trips, or mix-and-match half-day kayak/half-day hike options. Or, choose to opt for a casual morning at the Lodge to sleep in, enjoy coffee on your private porch or read inside the Lodge lounge near the natural history library.

Breakfast: In the main lodge.

Morning: Explore the wild delights of Kenai Fjords National Park for a full day. Choose from a wide array of activities best suited to your energy level and interest. Guided options include naturalist walks, sea kayaking, group canoe paddles and more. During all activities, gain insights into traditional Native Alaskan subsistence lifestyles in the area that span more than 7000 years, as well as present-day Native life. In the spirit of adventure and to take advantage of tidal and weather patterns, guides will discuss specific nature outings and options with our group this morning. All activities are suitable for beginners and require no previous experience. For those seeking a more relaxed approach, the main lodge offers ideal comfort with direct views of nature. Curious sea otters and seals frequent the lagoon, just steps from the main lodge deck. In a nearby meadow, we can sometimes glimpse bears and other wildlife from a safe distance. The natural history library offers amazing resources and interesting reads – cozy up with a good book and let your worries drift out with the tide.

Lunch: Depending on the activities you choose, enjoy a sack sandwich lunch outdoors on a hike or a picnic lunch on the kayak or boat excursion.

Afternoon: Continue to explore Kenai Fjords National Park through the activities of your choice. Lodge staff and your Group Leader will always be available to help you choose what activities you may enjoy most.

Dinner: As always, we'll meet as a group to enjoy a family style dinner in the main lodge and share the day's adventures with each other.

Evening: A natural history presentation by our group leader or a guest speaker will enhance our understanding and appreciation of the wilderness surrounding us.

DAY
9
Kayak or Canoe, Glacier & Wildlife Cruise, AK Railroad
Anchorage, AK
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Anchorage

Breakfast: In the main lodge.

Morning: This morning allows another opportunity to kayak, canoe or beachcomb for a half-day before boarding our boat for the return wildlife cruise to Seward. We'll have one more opportunity to keep an eye out for whales, Steller sea lions, and local birds as we cruise the majestic fjords and take in the jaw-dropping landscapes.

Lunch: In the main lodge.

Afternoon: Board the historic Alaska Railroad for a scenic backcountry train journey back to Anchorage. The Alaska Railroad is one of the best ways to travel throughout Southcentral Alaska, as it traverses almost 500 miles of remote and wild landscapes and boasts stunning scenery at every turn. Relax, enjoy the views, and don't forget to keep an eye out for moose, bald eagles, and even mountain goats.

Dinner: Aboard the Alaska Railroad, we’ll have a plated meal in the train dining car with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Don't forget to keep an eye out for wildlife as you dine! We'll also take this opportunity for a program wrap up, reminiscing about all of the unforgettable sights we have seen throughout this program and all we've learned with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: We arrive in Anchorage at night and will have a short transfer from the train depot to our original hotel.

DAY
10
Program Concludes in Anchorage
Anchorage, AK
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: In the hotel’s restaurant, enjoy breakfast items such as eggs, the daily special, a waffle bar, fresh fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, pastries, plus coffee, tea, juice, and water.

Morning: This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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