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Alaska – The Vacation of a Lifetime
Alaska definitely lives up to its moniker, the Great Land. If you have been searching for an Alaska vacation that’s right for you, you may be overwhelmed by all the options.
I will share with you my idea of a great Alaska vacation. This is one I've done a number of times and have never been disappointed. It is one that will take 12 days. Start your journey in Vancouver on a northbound glacier cruise the last week of July or the first week in August when you have the greatest probability of the best weather. If your budget allows it, I highly recommend you take a balcony cabin on the aft (back) of the ship. This gives you a full view of both sides from the ship and a very comfortable windbreak to sit and take in the beautiful sights in the comfort of your own balcony without fighting the crowds. The balconies are a little bigger on the back of the ship. If a balcony on the aft won't work for you, go with a balcony or oceanview stateroom on the starboard (right) side of the ship for maximum viewing of the land side for northbound cruises or the port side for southbound cruises. Your typical ports of call for this itinerary are Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway or Sitka. You will either see Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier or Tracy Arm and the twin Sawyer Glaciers.
Once in Seward, opt to take the train across the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage if possible. It is more scenic and comfortable and opportunity for wildlife viewings may be a little greater. If you are arriving in Whittier, you won't have quite as scenic of a transfer to Anchorage but it will still be nice. Once in Anchorage, spend a bit of time at the Alaska Native Heritage Center and downtown Anchorage on 4th Street for the best shopping. A great meal at Simon & Seafort's will give you a taste of Alaskan King Crab at its best.
From Anchorage, a scenic railcar trip to Talkeetna to view the majesty of Mt McKinley (Denali - The Great One) is a must. Talkeetna is a great little town with a lot of character. For the most spectacular event of your life take the flightseeing trip to the top of McKinley from K2 Aviation in Talkeetna. The scenery is breathtaking and it gives you a real appreciation for the enormity of the glaciers and the mountain.
From Talkeetna, reboard the train for a journey to Denali National Park. A white water rafting trip will give you thrills and a view of the outback. A night at the Denali Dinner Theater is a fun way to enjoy the history and culture of Denali. We recommend you spend at least two nights at Denali so you can do the 7 hour Deep Tundra Wildlife Tour that goes 53 miles into the park instead of the Natural History Tour that only goes 15 miles in and is only 3 hours long. The deep tundra tour is where you will see the most wildlife and see the beauty of this great park.
From Denali, reboard the train and head to Fairbanks. Along the way, opt for the Prime Rib Dinner aboard the train. You will not be disappointed. After spending the night in Fairbanks, be sure to do the Riverboat Discovery on the Chena River with a visit to the Chena Village. It is a totally non-commercial village where you see firsthand the native culture, traditions, crafts and customs. It is fascinating. If time permits, a visit to El Dorado Gold Mine is fun (a little touristy but still fun.)
After you complete this journey, you will come home having really experienced Alaska and all its spectacular beauty. You will have a lifetime of great memories and probably start thinking about when you can go back. Alaska is truly the Great Land. For additional recommendations and information, click here
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