Alaska: Kenai & Denali

FULL TOUR: June 2020 • 14 Days • Price TBA

You are invited to join us in the summer of 2020 as we explore our 49th state.  The area was derisively labeled “Seward’s Folly” when the U.S. government purchased it from Russia in 1867, but it is more appropriately known by the native Aleut word, “Alyeska,” meaning “the great land.”

Traveler Rewards Program: New Travelers receive a $400 discount on full Alaska tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the Alaska: Kenai & Denali main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.

Arctic Midnight Sun Extension

June 2020 • 3 Days • Price TBA

On this brief 3-day adventure, we cross the Arctic Circle at 66° 32′ N with great fanfare and interact with native Eskimos and hearty settlers in the Far North, traveling along the remote Dalton Highway and enjoying scenic flights through the Brooks Range.

Now accepting Early Bird deposits on this potential 2020 tour! If 25 Early Birds are received for this departure, we’ll add it to our official 2020 Schedule. An Early Bird for this 2-part tour is a $100 deposit that holds your spot during the planning stages of a trip, when we don’t have a set itinerary or dates. Early Birds are always refundable! 

View Daily Itinerary

Combo Package:

This is a 2-part Alaskan tour. Travelers can join us for either the Kenai Peninsula or Denali Delights, or combine both parts in their exploration of The Last Frontier.

A Look Back at the Scouting Trip

Adventure Planner Scott Isom describes one of the walks he put together for the Kenai Peninsula portion of our Alaska tour.

The program is offered in two parts—Kenai Peninsula and Denali Delights.  To maximize your time and airfare and see even more of our largest state, join us for both parts of the tour!  Also consider journeying on into the Far North on our Arctic Midnight Sun Extension, a 3-day bonus adventure from Fairbanks that will take us beyond the Arctic Circle!

Alaska—the Kenai Peninsula

At 200 miles long and 100 miles wide, the Kenai Peninsula has a slice of nearly every aspect of Alaska save for the tundra of the Far North: active volcanoes, calving glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park, a plethora of bear and moose, seemingly unlimited halibut and schools of migrating salmon in the rushing rivers, puffins and terns, and a multitude of other bird life in Kachemak Bay and in the vast Kenai wetland! We explore the Kenai with a great series of walks and activities, including a 5-hour cruise on Resurrection Bay!

Alaska—Denali Delights

This part of the Adventure starts in Anchorage with the opportunity for a two-part walk that explores the wonderful green spaces and historic core of Alaska’s largest city. The centerpiece of the trip is Denali National Park, with a nature walk in the park and a top-rated wilderness experience in search of wildlife (yes, grizzlies!). We’re also hoping for views of that enormous, yet elusive massif — Mt. McKinley, tallest peak in North America! A relaxing and nostalgic dome car train ride takes us into Fairbanks where we spend three nights and take in worthwhile attractions like the Alaska Pipeline, Gold Dredge #8, Riverboat Discovery cruise, Running Reindeer Ranch, and Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.

Arctic Midnight Sun Extension

The Arctic Circle, an imaginary line stretching around the globe about three-quarters of the way from the equator to the North Pole, has long been a bucket list destination for those who want to experience the Midnight Sun.  On this brief 3-day adventure, we cross the Arctic Circle at 66° 32′ N with great fanfare and interact with native Eskimos and hearty settlers in the Far North, traveling along the remote Dalton Highway and enjoying scenic flights through the Brooks Range.

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!

Alaska: Kenai & Denali

Including:

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Train transport from Fairbanks to Denali National Park (Alaska Railroad)
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • Porterage of luggage
  • 19 meals: 13 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 4 dinners as denoted (BLD)
  • 10 walks
  • Fees for those collecting AVA credit
  • Cultural, natural, and historical expertise of local guide throughout
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • All tipping for local guides, coach drivers, and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited amount of single rooms are available for a supplement.

Visits to/Admission fees:

  • Russian River Falls
  • Grewingk Glacier Lake Trail
  • Water taxi from Homer to Kachemak Bay State Park
  • Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and Trails
  • Exit Glacier
  • Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise with lunch
  • Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
  • Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Kahiltna Birch Works
  • Denali National Park
  • Denali Park Tundra Wilderness Tour
  • Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre
  • Alaska Pipeline
  • Gold Dredge #8 Mine
  • Riverboat Discovery River Cruise
  • Creamer’s Field
  • Running Reindeer Ranch
  • More fun and interesting stops than we can list!

Optional Excursions:

  • Byron Glacier Walk and 26-Glacier Cruise in Prince William Sound (Day 1) – Price TBA
  • Coastal Brown Bear Viewing and Flightseeing Excursion from Homer – Limit of 20 pax! (Day 4) – Price TBA

Arctic Midnight Sun Extension

Including:

  • Comfortable bus transport from Fairbanks to Coldfoot on the rugged Dalton Highway
  • Roundtrip flight from Coldfoot to Anaktuvuk Pass
  • One-way flight from Coldfoot to Fairbanks
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations in Fairbanks
  • Rustic but clean and comfortable motel accommodations at Coldfoot Camp
  • 4 meals: 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner as denoted (BLD)
  • Cultural, natural, and historical expertise of local guide throughout
  • WAI guide service throughout
  • All tipping for local guides, coach drivers and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited amount of single rooms are available for a supplement.

Visits to/Admission fees:

  • Arctic Circle Trading Post in Joy, Alaska
  • Yukon River crossing
  • Trans Alaska Pipeline
  • Arctic Circle photo stop
  • Coldfoot Camp
  • Anaktuvuk Pass Nunamiut Eskimo Village and Museum
  • Gates of the Arctic National Park
  • Wiseman Wilderness Community Visit
  • More fun and interesting stops than we can list!

Optional Excursion:

  • Mary Shields’ Alaskan Tails of the Trail in Fairbanks (Day 2) – Price TBA

Map of Full Tour

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

25-30 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Superior Tourist Class hotels or better for the most part

Meals

Breakfasts included with a selection of lunches and dinners as denoted (BLD).

Airfare

Not Included. Travelers on the full Alaska tour will fly into Anchorage and out of and Fairbanks.

Transportation

Included. We use full-size motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 40+ seats.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

Walking Adventures Guides Todd & Chris JonesTodd and Chrissy Jones guide trips mainly during the summer. They have traveled in Asia, Europe, and North and South America, and are immensely grateful for opportunities to discover and appreciate new environments and cultures. During the school year, Chrissy works as a physical therapist supporting students with physical disabilities, and Todd teaches high school history, government and economics. Todd & Chrissy will be joined by a local guide throughout the Alaska tour. They look forward to sharing the highlights of our 49th state with you!

Itinerary

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!

Click on each day for more details.

Alaska: Kenai & Denali

Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage

You arrive in Anchorage today from the “Lower 48.” Because travelers are arriving throughout the day, no group activities are planned. However, a special glacier-themed and action-packed optional excursion is available for those who arrive into Anchorage a day early. Consider joining us for the Byron Glacier Walk and 26-Glacier Cruise in Prince William Sound (Price TBA).  Driving along the Turnagin Arm, we stop for a pleasant three kilometer walk in the Portage Valley before continuing to Whittier for a 5-hour scenic cruise (which includes lunch), introducing you to one of the world’s largest concentrations of tidewater glaciers.

Day 2: Anchorage – Homer (B)

Russian Falls Walk – 8 km, rated 2B

Our first full day on the Kenai Peninsula takes us by coach to the active fishing village of Homer on Kachemak Bay, a 30-mile arm of the lower Cook Inlet. The scenic route offers chances to spot a wide variety of wildlife, including beluga whales, eagles, mountain goats, elk, and more. On our way to Homer, we stop for a scenic walk at Russian River, where it’s sometimes possible to spy on black bears fishing for salmon as they jump the falls.

Day 3: Activities in Homer (BD)

Grewingk Glacier Lake Walk – 8 km, rated 2C (with 11 km option)   

Today features an exciting walk in Kachemak Bay State Park, accessible only by water taxi. Following our bay crossing from Homer Spit, we meander through mixed cottonwood and Sitka spruce en route to a stunningly beautiful glacial lake, complete with floating chunks of ice adrift in frigid waters. Following a picnic in this picturesque setting, we hike over Saddle Trail and catch our return water taxi to Homer, where the remainder of the day is free for you to explore the town’s local charm.

Day 4: Activities from Homer (B)

Historic Homer Walk – 6 km, rated 2B   

Enjoy a free day in Homer, choosing from a variety of only-in-Alaska activities, including beach-combing, sea-kayaking, a half-day fishing charter, visiting the Alaska Islands & Oceans Visitor Center, or strolling through Homer on an historic 6 km walk.  Or choose our featured optional excursion, a once-in-a-lifetime Coastal Brown Bear Viewing & Flightseeing Adventure  to either Katmai or Lake Clark National Park, where you will safely encounter these massive and majestic animals at close range. It is an unforgettable experience!

Day 5: Homer – Seward (B)

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Walk – 5 km, rated 2B
Seward City Walk – 6 km, rated 1A

En route to Seward, today’s first stop briefly explores the former Russian village of Ninilchik with the distinctive domes of its Russian Orthodox Church.  Further up the peninsula, a walk through Kenai National Wildlife Refuge provides a good chance to view wildlife. Tonight’s hotel is located in Seward, an ice-free port on Resurrection Bay in a setting of great beauty, surrounded by lush green mountains and stark ice fields. Upon arrival, a 6 km introductory walk acquaints us with Seward. The trail winds along Seward’s boat docks, by the shore of Resurrection Bay, through older, historic parts of town, and finishes in a fun area of shops and restaurants.

Day 6: Activities in Seward (BL)

Exit Glacier Walk – 4 km, rated 2C 

Our day begins with a lovely nature walk to the edge of Exit Glacier, where dense blue ice descends from the higher Harding Ice Field. The middle part of the day is devoted to a relaxing Kenai Fjords lunch cruise on Resurrection Bay offering potential sightings of sea birds, puffins, dolphins, whales, seals, along with a plethora of Alaska coastal panoramas. Back on shore, we return to landlubber ways with free time in the lively town of Seward.

Day 7: Seward – Girdwood (B)

Winner Creek Walk – 6 km, rated 2C

We head to Girdwood today, stopping along the way at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see rescued buffalo, moose, musk ox, caribou, eagle, and bear. After lunch, we arrive in Girdwood for a nature walk along Winner Creek that features a stream-crossing on a unique, hand-drawn tram; you can pull yourself across the chasm by cable. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is free to enjoy a variety of activities among the inviting environs surrounding our resort property.

Day 8: Girdwood – Anchorage (BD)

Anchorage Coastal and Historic Walk – 10 km, rated 1A

After breakfast, we depart for the Alaska Native Heritage Center to experience First Nations culture first-hand through storytelling, Native song and dance, artist demonstrations, and Native game demonstrations. Leaving the Center, we continue through verdant Alaskan countryside to Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. Upon arrival in Anchorage, we take in the town’s green spaces and historic core during our walk; free time is available afterward to explore this bustling city on your own!

Day 9: Anchorage – Denali National Park (B)

Talkeetna Lakes Walk – 6 km, rated 2B

Boarding our motorcoach for a scenic transfer north, we depart Anchorage on our way to Kahiltna Birchworks, where we learn about birch syrup and sample some tree-tapped tasty treats. Walking at Talkeetna Lakes introduces us to quiet, forested trails in the shadow of the Alaska Range before we continue through grand Alaska landscapes to Denali National Park, where we spend the next two nights.

Day 10: Activities in Denali National Park (BLD)

Today’s main event is an early-morning Tundra Wilderness Tour through Denali. Though wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, past WAI groups have spotted numerous animals and enjoyed surprisingly frequent views of remarkable Mt. McKinley (reportedly seen by only about 20% of visitors). Later this evening, we regroup at the Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theater; a memorable and zany look at the history of Denali, presented with an all-you-can-eat, family-style meal.

Day 11: Denali – Fairbanks (B)

Denali National Park Walk – 9 km, rated 2B

Today’s full slate of activities begins with a walk in Denali National Park. Nature trails in the environs of the park visitor center take us to Horseshoe Lakes and over Riley Creek Suspension Bridge, providing wonderful hiking through stands of birch and fir with a low groundcover of colorful wild blueberry bushes. After the walk, we board the train for a nostalgic four-hour journey aboard the Alaska Railroad through the Alaska Bush to Fairbanks. An optional “Dinner on the Rails” is available.

Day 12: Activities from Fairbanks (B)

We start the day with a stop at the iconic Alaska Pipeline to learn its secrets for carrying oil across miles of frozen tundra through a mind-boggling array of challenging terrain and seemingly impossible weather conditions. The Gold Dredge #8 Mine is our next exposure to Alaskan heritage, complete with a chance to try your hand at panning for gold! Following lunch, a fun, educational, and relaxing sternwheeler cruise takes us down the Chena River aboard the Riverboat Discovery. The ship’s crew enlists the help of a colorful group of locals to teach us about bush pilots, dogsled racing, and the native peoples of Alaska.

Day 13: Activities from Fairbanks (BD)

Creamer’s Field Fairbanks Walk – 7 km, rated 1A

We kick off our last full day in Fairbanks with a delightful stroll among birds and birch trees at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. The fun continues in the afternoon in the boreal forest of the Goldstream Valley as we enjoy a one-of-a-kind walk with reindeer at a local family farm. Wrapping up this memorable day, we savor a Farewell Dinner at the historic Pumphouse Restaurant along the banks of the Chena River.

Day 14: Depart Fairbanks for Home (B)

Our Adventure “Way up North” ends in Fairbanks, just 125 miles from the Arctic Circle. We return home with fond memories of our 49th state – its fabulous scenery, the fascinating story of its settlement, and its irresistible pull to return and explore more of “The Great Land.”

Arctic Midnight Sun Extension

Day 1: Fairbanks – Coldfoot (LD)

If the Arctic Circle is on your Bucket List, it’s time to scratch it off today during a very informative and interactive northerly drive to remote Coldfoot Camp. Our early morning departure from Fairbanks by motorcoach takes us up the rugged Dalton Highway along the route of the Trans Alaska Pipeline, crossing the mighty Yukon River for a memorable stop at the actual Arctic Circle. Completing our tundra trek in Coldfoot, we settle in for a rustic but relaxing evening at the northernmost truck stop in the world. Before turning in for the night, we savor a midnight sun adventure on a roundtrip flightseeing excursion through the Brooks Range to the Nunamiut Eskimo Village of Anaktuvuk Pass, nestled along the caribou migration routes in Gates of the Arctic National Park. This group of Nunamiut Eskimo is believed to be the last nomadic group of North Americans to transition to a year-round village lifestyle, and their post office is considered the most isolated in the United States.

Day 2: Coldfoot – Fairbanks (B)

Before heading south this morning, we visit the quirky and fascinating wilderness community of Wiseman, the only village along the Dalton Highway that is occupied year-round. Learn how these hearty and resourceful residents carved out a unique lifestyle along the banks of the Middle Fork Koyukuk River. By late morning, we re-cross the Arctic Circle on a scenic flight back to Fairbanks. The afternoon is free to enjoy a number of activities in town! Or consider joining us on an optional afternoon excursion to the home of Mary Shields, the first woman to ever complete the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. After meeting her family of happy huskies, you’ll hear Mary’s incredibly inspiring stories of life in the Alaskan wilderness and learn about her amazing sled dogging exploits. Trip Advisor has routinely rated this experience with Mary as the #1 activity in Fairbanks!  Price TBA

Day 3: Depart Fairbanks for Home (B)

Our brief Arctic Extension has given us a newfound appreciation for the hearty souls who have braved the elements to forge a life in this starkly beautiful land. We return from Fairbanks to the “Lower 48” with warm memories of our fortnight in the frontier of Alaska!

More Details

Click on each day for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

Call or mail in your refundable Early Bird ($100) to save your spot on Alaska: Kenai & Denali! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted on this Adventure.

Early Bird deposits for this 2-part tour are refundable $100 deposits which serve to hold your spot on a tour until dates and pricing have been confirmed. Once all details on a tour have been finalized, travelers can then register with an additional $900 deposit to bring their total up to $1000.

Traveler Rewards Program

New Travelers receive a $400 discount on the FULL Alaska tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the Alaska: Kenai & Denali main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

Note: The New Traveler and Alumni Traveler Discounts apply only to the Alaska: Kenai & Denali main tour price. The Arctic Midnight Sun Extension is not eligible for these discounts.

How is airfare arranged?

Travelers on either the Kenai Peninsula or Denali Delights will fly into the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) to start their tour. Travelers joining us for the Kenai Peninsula only will finish in Anchorage as well. Travelers continuing on to the Denali Delights will fly out of the Fairbanks International Airport (FAI). More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be made available after this tour has been confirmed.

What about the walks?

Walks on this Adventure are guided walks and we generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. The success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1-800-779-0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

What happens next?

We are revising the itinerary for this Adventure. Once the itinerary is released, we will accept registration deposits of $1000 to save space.

If you have Early Birded with a refundable $100 deposit, your spot on the tour will be held for 2 weeks after the itinerary is published while you make a decision on whether or not you’d like to register with an additional $900 deposit, bringing your total on the tour up to $1000. If you decide not to join us for this tour, your Early Bird can be refunded or transferred to another tour.

Exploring our 49th state evokes an abiding appreciation for this land of bountiful and teeming waterways, dense forests, expansive plains of tundra, and towering mountain ranges. What an amazing slice of America, and what a great way to enjoy it—a creative program of motorcoach, train, and ship travel melded together with walks that take us to places other visitors to Alaska will never experience! Join us as we walk Alaska in 2020!