2515
Alaska
Tracks & Trails: Discovering Denali With Your Grandchild
Set out on an adventure as big as Alaska itself as you hike in Denali's wilderness, raft the Nenana River, visit a sled dog kennel and learn about Native Alaskan culture!
Rating (5)
Program No. 2515RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,849
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
8 days
7 nights
20 meals
7 B 6 L 7 D
DAY
1
Check-in & Program Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Fairbanks, AK
D
River's Edge Resort

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 12:00 Noon (AKDT).

Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the main 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.

Dinner: At the River's Edge Resort, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, tea, water included.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Intergenerational program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Children are never to be left unsupervised. We will be joined throughout the program by local experts who will provide commentary and help us understand what’s involved in topics such as botany, natural history, subarctic ecology, The Group Leader will also be happy to answer questions. The schedule of evening presentations by local experts at the Denali Education Center will be announced after arrival at their campus. Periods in the daily 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.

DAY
2
Train to Denali, Denali Education Center, Hike
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; on/off a railcar; on/off a bus. The train ride is about 120 miles, approximately 4 hours. The drive from Denali Depot to Denali Education Center is 10 miles. Walking 2 miles; wide, well-maintained gravel path, minimal elevation change.

Breakfast: Resort buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the resort, we will transfer to the train station via motorcoach and board the train. Enjoy sweeping views as we ride the 120 miles south to Denali National Park and Preserve. Along the way, we will hear from one of the railroad’s on-board interpreters about the history of the railroad and the area. From the depot, we will travel 10 miles by bus to the Denali Education Center (DEC), our home for the next four nights. The Center is situated on a 10-acre campus across the Nenana River from the Park.

Lunch: In DEC’s Riverside Hall, we’ll have a buffet lunch with lemonade, coffee, cold tea, water.

Afternoon: We’ll board a bus and ride 10 miles by bus to the Visitor Center Campus and the McKinley Station Trail for our first hike. This 2-mile wide gravel trail traverses the area that was at one time the Park’s original township. We’ll get oriented to Denali National Park and start learning about its rich natural history. Returning to DEC late afternoon, grandparents and grandkids can settle into their rooms to freshen up and relax, explore our 10-acre campus, or find board games and additional resources in Riverside Hall until dinner.

Dinner: In Riverside Hall, we’ll have a buffet dinner featuring healthy and balanced home-cooked foods; lemonade, coffee, cold tea, water included. Snacks such as toast, fruit, and granola bars are available at all times.

Evening: We’ll gather to hear the schedule for expert local evening presenters. The remainder of the evening is at leisure to enjoy one another’s company.

DAY
3
Hike Savage River Loop, Spirit Mask Activity
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Hiking up to 2 miles; maintained gravel trails.

Breakfast: Riverside Hall buffet. After breakfast, we will pack our own lunches to take with us in reusable lunch sacks. Choose from favorite sandwich fixings, snack bars, fruit, plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll hop aboard the bus and travel 15 miles to start the Savage River Trail. One of DEC’s field educators will lead and explain the terrain as we travel through it. This hike will highlight ecosystems found in the subarctic with a focus on alpine specific plants, wildlife, and geology.

Lunch: At a scenic spot, we’ll have the lunches we prepared this morning.

Afternoon: Returning to the Center, Grandparents and Grandkids will work together to make Yup'ik-style spirit masks with the help and assistance of a field educator. Masks have been utilized in the celebrations, prayers, and other community rituals of Alaska's diverse Native peoples for countless generations. Through this fun, hands-on activity, we will focus on one aspect of masks as a storytelling tool. Everyone is invited to tell their story through this traditional style of art. By learning how many Alaska Native stories are used to teach lessons, give thanks, or entertain, we will focus on the characters and adventures from our own Alaskan journey. Our stories will then be brought to life through the creation of a wearable mask that represents characters, events, or an even deeper element in their unfolding.

Dinner: Riverside Hall buffet.

Evening: We’ll gather with a member of the DEC year-round staff to learn about the seasonal trials and joys of life in Denali.

DAY
4
Subarctic Ecosystem, Rafting the Nenana River
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Activity note: Kids hiking 2 miles; compacted gravel surface, average grade 5% or less. Group river rafting gradually increases from Class I moving currents to Class III/IV rapids; approximately 3 hours.

Breakfast: Riverside Hall buffet.

Morning: With a DEC field educator, we will learn about the sometimes surprising, always extreme, conditions that shape life in Denali and define a subarctic ecosystem in an interactive class. The whole group will attend the first hour of class. Grandkids will then depart for a 2-mile expert-led hike on the Oxbow Trail while grandparents continue with class and delve deeper into the subarctic. Everyone will re-group for lunch.

Lunch: Riverside Hall buffet.

Afternoon: Grandparents and grandkids will go rafting together with a local expert on the glacially fed Nenana River. The rapids gradually increase from a mild Class 1 current to an exhilarating Class III/IV in the lower part of the canyon. Dry suits, rafting booties, and all necessary safety gear will be provided. Wear warm clothing under rafting gear. Group Leaders will be available to answer any additional questions.

Dinner: Riverside Hall buffet.

Evening: We’ll gather for a presentation on topics related to the program.

DAY
5
Journey to the Heart of Denali, Eielson Visitor Center
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a shuttle bus. Hiking 1/2 mile to 2 miles.

Breakfast: Riverside Hall buffet. After breakfast, we will pack our own lunches to take with us in reusable lunch sacks.

Morning: We’ll set out by shuttle bus for a full-day field trip into Denali National Park. We’ll enjoy stunning scenery and wildlife watching opportunities on our way to the Eielson Visitor Center at Mile 66 on the Denali road. The shuttle driver is a local expert who will point out interesting features of the landscape and park and answer questions. Throughout the day, be on the lookout for grizzly bear, moose, Dall sheep, caribou, and other animals in the diverse array of wildlife that can be found in Denali.

Lunch: At a scenic spot, we’ll have the lunches we prepared for ourselves this morning.

Afternoon: At the Visitor Center, we’ll have some time to check out the exhibits including a 3-dimensional map of Denali and its surrounding peaks. For those who wish to hike independently, the area surrounding the Visitor Center has several well-maintained gravel trails that range in difficulty from 1/2 mile with little elevation change to 2 miles round trip with 800 feet of elevation change. We’ll then reboard the bus and travel out of the Park. Let the Group Leader know if you would like to stay longer at the Eielson Visitor Center and take a later bus back from the Park to DEC.

Dinner: Riverside Hall buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Rest, relax, and unwind after an exciting day in the Park.

DAY
6
Denali Wildlife Class, Interpretive Hikes, Spirit Masks
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Activity note: Grandkids hiking 4.5 miles; maintained, packed gravel trail; sections of uneven footing, roots, rocks, steeper sections; elevation gain 1,800 feet. Grandparents hiking 2 miles; trail with sections of packed gravel, roots, rocks, possible wet sections; elevation change less than 100 feet.

Breakfast: Riverside Hall buffet. After breakfast, kids will pack lunches to have in the field.

Morning: Together with a field educator, we’ll learn more about the extraordinary animals that call Denali home and their marvelous adaptations to life at high latitudes. After the first hour, grandkids will set out on a 4.5 mile hike with a field educator while grandparents continue learning how Denali's creatures survive in the subarctic.

Lunch: Riverside Hall buffet for grandparents; packed lunches in the field for kids.

Afternoon: Grandparents will head out with a field educator on the Park’s Oxbow trail. This 2-mile trail follows the path of the Nenana River and does a great job of highlighting how Denali is ever changing. When everyone has returned from their hikes, grandparents and grandkids will work together with the help of our field educators to put finishing touches on their spirit masks. As the masks dry, each team will write a narrative for their mask.

Dinner: Riverside Hall buffet.

Evening: We’ll gather for a presentation by a guest speaker.

DAY
7
Interpretive Hikes, Free Time
Denali National Park
B,L,D
Denali Education Center

Activity note: Hiking; 3 miles on wide maintained trails; 700 feet of elevation change.

Breakfast: Riverside Hall buffet.

Morning: We will travel 6 miles by bus to the Horseshoe Lake Trail. Grandparents will work together with grandkids throughout this hike. By using the knowledge we have gained throughout the week, we’ll work to uncover the stories of animals that used this trail today and the processes that have helped to shape this area.

Lunch: Riverside Hall buffet.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for 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 and answer questions. You might like to see more of the Park independently or engage in activities at DEC.

Dinner: Riverside Hall buffet. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We’ll have a program wrap-up and art show featuring our spirit masks. Then prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
8
Transfer to Fairbanks, Program Concludes
Denali National Park
B

Activity note: 9:00 a.m. motorcoach transfer to Fairbanks Airport. 10:00 a.m. check-out.

Breakfast: Riverside Hall buffet.

Morning: Those who are returning will board a motorcoach and travel directly to the Fairbanks 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!






Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback