In August 2018 I took a land-based trip to Alaska. This will be the first of many eventual posts to document that trip. Below I have posted some select photos to give a flavor of the trip. I had been on two inland passage cruises previously so I now wanted to get into the interior. Also, I have set a goal of seeing all the National Parks so I decided to get to Denali, Kenai Fjords and Katmai National Parks on this trip.
In the early stages of my planning (almost a year out) I found I would not be able to book a stay at Katmai. I wanted to spend at least a night to make sure I saw the bears but Brooks Lodge, the only hotel there, was booked solid the weeks the bears historically visit the Brooks River falls. Also, the logistics of getting to Brooks Lodge was beyond even my fairly formidable skills at scheduling (see the eventual posting for Katmai to see the steps it took to get there). I decided to make it easy on myself and book a tour with Road Scholar. They had ONE tour for a couple dozen people that went to Denali, Kenai Fjords and Katmai per year and I managed to be the first to book into it. Yeah, Me!
When I do a trip with Road Scholar I NEVER just fly in, do the trip and fly out. If I am spending the money to get there I am going to do as much as I can in the area. So, I started looking to see what I wanted to add. Below is a summary of my trip:
- Fly into Fairbanks – one night at the Golden North Motel – walk about Fairbanks, Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center (information movies)
- Chena Hot Springs Resort – 3 days/2 nights all-inclusive package including shuttle from Fairbanks and back – my major splurge
- Fairbanks – Road Scholar pre-trip – 2 nights at the River Front Resort – visit to the Trans-Atlantic pipeline, a visit with Mary Shields (musher and story teller) and her dogs, the Museum of Alaska at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and then on the 3rd day a train ride on the Alaskan Railroad from Fairbanks to Denali National Park.
- Denali with Road Scholar – 3 nights at the Denali Education Center – several hikes and bus ride into the heart of Denali
- Travel day, by bus to Anchorage, one night at The Anchorage Hotel before starting our trek to Katmai. We had some free time to see Anchorage.
- Charter plane from Anchorage to King Salmon, shuttle from King Salmon airport to Katmai Airlines to get on sea planes, sea plane to Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park. The second you get off the plane you are marched to the park headquarters for your Bear Orientation Safety Talk.
- 3 nights at Brooks Lodge – bear watching and attempted trip to Valley of 10,000 Smokes but downed trees from a storm the day before prevented this
- Travel day – Katmai back to Anchorage and then bus to Seward
- 3 nights at the Breeze Inn in Seward. While is Seward we went to the Alaska SeaLife Center, hiked to a glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, took six hour cruise around Kenai Fjords, walked around Seward’s docks.
- Travel by bus back to Anchorage – end of Road Scholar trip.
- One extra night in Anchorage to see the Anchorage Museum
I still have so much more I want to see and do in Alaska. I was disappointed I didn’t give myself time to take a tour that goes above the Arctic Circle on the pipeline haul road. I’ll get to that another trip.