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If you live by the motto, "Go big or go home," it doesn’t get any bigger than this grand tour of Alaska and the Yukon Territory. Where else can you see bears the size of buffalo, glaciers the size of states, and national parks the size of nations? In this great expanse of pure wilderness, the majestic mountains, never-ending landscapes, and supersize wildlife of the 49th state are waiting to transport you to another state of mind. Big sights are accented by even bigger experiences as you board the Alaska Railroad to the tallest peak in North America, the sternwheeler Discovery for a Fairbanks river cruise, and a small ship to witness the dominating glaciers and playful whales of Prince William Sound. You’ll also follow the tracks of caribou and moose in the 6-million-acre Denali National Park, trace the trail of gold seekers during the Klondike Gold Rush, and follow in the paw steps of Alaska’s famous dogsledding huskies.
Located at the upper end of Cook Inlet in the Gulf of Alaska, Anchorage is Alaska's largest community. This popular tourist destination and crossroads for global air travel is only minutes away from the recreational areas bordering the Gulf of Alaska.
Valdez is known as the "Switzerland of Alaska," a tribute to the splendid snow-capped mountains that surround this prosperous port. Once the gateway to the gold country, Valdez is now the southern terminus of the famous Alaskan Pipeline that carries "black gold" from the Arctic Ocean to an oil-thirsty world.
Fairbanks is the focal point for tiny villages scattered throughout the surrounding wilderness and a staging point for North Slope villages such as Barrow and the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay. Fairbanks is called "The Golden Heart of Alaska," a reference to the character of her people as much as to the location of Fairbanks in Alaska's interior, or to the discovery of gold in 1902. The Interior has temperatures ranging from 65 degrees below zero in the winter to 90 degrees above in the summer. Gardening is big in the Interior. Alaska Gardens abound. Fairbanks also has very long summer days. The shortest winter day of the year has less than three hours of sunlight, the longest never really ends, though officially it has over 21 hours.
Dawson City is a buzz of activity during the summer months. Tourists from all over the world make it a destination or pass through on the way over the Top of The World Highway to Alaska. The town, which was established on the banks of the Yukon River in 1897, exploded to forty thousand inhabitants the next year when news of the gold strike on Bonanza Creek reached the outside world, making it the largest city west of Winnipeg and north of Seattle. It was the capital of the Yukon Territory until 1953 and today is a national historic site. Many of the buildings have been restored to their original grandeur, and new structures are built to reflect the historical theme, adding to the charm and appeal of this community one hundred and fifty miles south of the Arctic Circle.
One hundred years ago 30,000 reckless adventurers fought their way up the Yukon River, by boat, on their voyage to Gold fields. Many struggled through the choppy Whitehorse Rapids. Fearless men and women traversed great distances to arrive at their goal, the Klondike. Whitehorse, Capital of the Yukon, is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Canada. Named by some "the Wilderness City", Whitehorse nestles on the banks of the famed Yukon River surrounded by mountains and clear mountain lakes. Whitehorse takes its name from the frothing waves of the river rapids, thought by stampeders to resemble manes of White Horses. While the turn of the Century aura still hovers and vestiges of proud history remain, Whitehorse is now a thoroughly contemporary city of 24,000 people. Whitehorse boasts a healthy arts and cultural community; festivals, events, fishing, shopping, attractions, restaurants and quality visitor services are here to enjoy. Long warm summer days and evenings provide the perfect background to explore this city.
Denali National Park
Denali National Park and Preserve defines the Alaskan Experience. Towering above it all is Mt. McKinley, the highest point in North America. At 20,320 feet, its summit beckons more than 1,000 climbers each year who brave the elements for the chance to scale its majestic face. Denali encompasses 6 million acres of forests, tundra, glaciers and mountains. Moose, caribou, sheep and bears free to roam a wide area of land untouched by man. There are ample opportunities for animal watching, whether it is a grizzly foraging for berries or a golden eagle soaring through the crisp, clean Alaskan air. Denali is one of the few places where visitors come in contact with the Alaskan tundra - a "vast, rolling, treeless plain." The tundra starts at 2,500 feet and extends up along the massive Alaska Range. Muldrow Glacier, which descends 16,000 feet from the upper slopes of Mt. McKinley, comes within one mile of the road.
To discover how Tok got its name, stop by the Mainstreet Visitors Center. Tok was designated a Presidential Townsite in 1946, the same year the Alcan was open to civilians, and a roadhouse was opened in the community. Tanacross Indian village is where the Eagle Trail crossed the Tanana River. Sternwheelers once plied the river. The large paved airstrip was built during WWII to handle aircraft being ferried to Russia. It remains a base for summer fire fighting crews. The Tok Race of Champions Sled Dog Race, one of the oldest in the state, is held each March. Tok is one of the centers of dog breeding, training and mushing. Tok is a winter playground for snowmachiners, with many snowmobile activities.
** This departure has been designated a guaranteed departure by the operator, meaning that the minimum number of guests has been met, although still subject to weather and other conditions.
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