As teams of dogs pant in anticipation and the brave mushers squeeze their sled reigns to begin their conquering journey through the frozen Alaskan wilderness, you’ll be at their side to witness the soaring mountains, hanging glaciers, crystalline rivers and vast aromatic forests that make up the most spectacular race course on the planet.
This immersive tour offers rare insights into one of the toughest races on Earth, through the world’s most spectacular and unforgiving natural landscape. The famous dog sled race extends through 1,049 miles of Alaskan wilderness en route from Anchorage to Nome, and you’ll bear witness to every thrilling twist and turn as you trace the action by land and air. Meet the mushers at a boisterous pre-race banquet; view the incredible landscape they’ll conquer from the panoramic Alyeska Resort Aerial Tramway; fly over the foothills of Denali, peer into the world’s deepest gorge and glide towards the soaring south face of Mt. McKinley as the sled teams labor below; stop in at a remote race checkpoint that’s a hive of activity; try your hand on a dog sled experience of your own in Talkeetna; and trade war stories with your fellow travelers around a wilderness bonfire.
If you’re looking for a unique experience that extends well beyond travel-brochure cliques, then don’t look past this incredible tour. This is not merely a photo-stop tour for hordes of skittish tourists, but rather an authentic taste of Alaska’s greatest event. You’ll socialize with rowdy mushers pre-race, get your hands dirty at a busy race checkpoint, go behind-the-scenes at the race communications center, and witness the incredible wilderness panoramas that are usually reserved for the tough-as-nails race participants as you build real relationships with Alaskan locals.
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Arrive in Anchorage today and transfer to your centrally located downtown hotel via taxi. Later this afternoon an information meeting will take place where you will meet your guide and your fellow travellers.
In the evening you have reservations for the Iditarod Mushers Banquet where you will have a chance to talk to the mushers. Feel the excitement build as they draw starting positions for Saturday's race start
Depart on a city tour of Anchorage this morning, including a "behind the scenes tour" of the Iditarod communications center. Your Alaskan tour continues as you travel south of Anchorage along Turnagain Arm to the mountain community of Girdwood where you will ride the Alyeska Resort Aerial Tramway. A seven-minute ride brings you to a viewing deck which provides panoramic views of majestic mountains, hanging glaciers, sparkling streams, towering spruce, and an array of wildlife. The observation deck at the 2,300 foot level of Mt. Alyeska is a perfect place to enjoy the view and take advantage of the telescopes.
After lunch (not included) your tour continues to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on the shores of Cook Inlet in Portage. After the tour, you'll return to the hotel.
Race day! Watch the start of the race in downtown Anchorage. After watching the mushers and their sled dog teams take off, you will go flightseeing towards Mt. McKinley and stop at an official Iditarod checkpoint along the way. This flight takes you within six miles of McKinley's 20,320 ft. summit. Fly over the foothills of Denali to view the entire length of the Ruth Glacier, the Great Gorge (at over 9,000 feet, the worlds deepest) and the massive south face of McKinley. Along the route you will make a landing at Yentna, the first checkpoint for Iditarod mushers when they depart Willow tomorrow. You will have an hour on the ground here to provide insider look at the activities that go on at a race checkpoint 86 miles from the race restart. This will be a beehive of activity with race volunteers positioning food bags and bales of straw for the racers. This is probably the biggest and busiest checkpoint on the trail because all of the teams hit here at once on the first night of the race. Your flights return to Lake Hood in Anchorage where you transfer to your hotel.
After a stop at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race headquarters and museum you will continue to the official Race Restart. At 2:00 pm, the mushers exit urban Alaska countryside for the great wilderness trek to Nome.
This morning you'll depart from your Anchorage hotel and travel north to the uniquely Alaskan "Northern Exposure" style town of Talkeetna.
Today experience a full day of mushing knowledge and history before returning to Anchorage. You'll have an extended private visit with Iditarod veteran Vern Halter’s kennel. The presentation includes a demonstration of survival gear, explanations of dog care, mushing requirements, and an extended sled dog ride! Following will be a wilderness bonfire. Come prepared with your questions! Lunch is included.
You'll return to Anchorage by coach for overnight.
Departure from Anchorage, transfer by taxi to meet your scheduled flights.
Located in the heart downtown Anchorage, the Hilton Anchorage (4*) stands out for its convenience and comfort. Guests will find countless recreation, shopping, dining and cultural opportunities easily accessible during their stay at this hotel. The Hilton Anchorage is just a 15 minute drive from Ted Stevens International Airport, two short blocks from the Alaska Railroad Depot and within easy walking distance of the Anchorage Convention District.
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (4*) is set on a ridge above the small community of Talkeetna on the south side of Mt. McKinley. Built atop a high bluff, the lodge overlooks the Susitna River Valley and surveys the entire Alaska Range, with Mt. McKinley right in the middle. This lodge offers unforgettable views of Mt. McKinley and the Alaska Range, yet is just minutes from adventures of a lifetime.
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