Denali National Park
Journey into the scenic wilds of America's most northern state, through Alaska's rugged forests and wildlife. The destination: the magnificent, six-million acre Denali National Park and Reserve. Familiarize yourself with the park, walking its trails with a guide, and choose from optional excursions to personalize your adventure. Keep binoculars close at hand: this dazzling and vast wilderness is home to Dall sheep, eagles, wolves, migrating caribou, and grizzly bears—and catching sight of them is a thrill not soon forgotten. A highlight of this adventure includes traveling along the historic Alaska Railroad aboard a private Wilderness Express deluxe dome rail car, featuring spectacular 360º viewing.
Day +1: Arrive Fairbanks, Alaska
Welcome to Fairbanks! The city is also known as “The Golden Heart of Alaska,” a reference to the discovery of gold in 1902 and its location in Alaska’s interior. Meet your Orbridge Expedition Leader and traveling companions at a welcome dinner, and prepare for your upcoming Denali activities and excursions.
Overnight: Pike's Waterfront Lodge (D)
Day +2: Fairbanks / Denali National Park
Rise and shine this morning to depart for the train depot. After boarding the train, settle in for a premium rail experience and choose among breakfast options. Example dishes served may include mountain blueberry pancakes with Alaskan reindeer sausage, wilderness cream of barley with Alaskan birch syrup, and an Alaskan seafood special that combines crab, shrimp, green onions, and havarti cheese scrambled with three eggs and served with roasted potatoes and a buttermilk biscuit.
Following the Alaska Railroad route, traverse through the scenic northern boreal forests of interior Alaska—where gold miners came to seek their fortune—enjoying a rich panoply of views of America's northernmost frontier. In addition to breakfast, the train's galley will serve a box lunch to enjoy on board or during the group's first foray into the park, a five-minute walk from the Denali Rail Depot.
Upon arriving at Denali Train Depot, walk with the Expedition Leader for an orientation of the Visitor Center area, book store, and hiking trails. After some time at leisure, take the courtesy shuttle to Grande Denali Lodge and meet a lodge Impressionist to learn about lodge services and amenities, to check in, and to relax before dinner.
This evening, delight in a "Welcome to Denali" dinner and presentation before spending an evening at leisure.
Overnight: Grande Denali Lodge (B,L,D)
You may purchase the following optional excursions in advance from our Guest Services team to enjoy during your free time in Denali. We recommend you reserve early for best availability as space is limited.
• DogGoneIt Dog Sled Tour: An intimate visit to an Alaskan frontier home to learn about the lives of the world’s greatest athletes, sled dogs, and racing the Iditarod. ($56 per person)
• Denali Glacier Landing Flight: A 100-minute plane tour of Denali to view the continent's deepest gorge, glaciers, and surrounding peaks and valleys. Also land on one of Denali's pristine glaciers. ($599 per person)
• Arctic Circle Flight: Enjoy expansive views of the Brooks Range, Yukon River, and Trans-Alaska Pipeline on this six-hour plane tour. After your flight crosses the Arctic Circle, land in the Yukon-Koyakuk region and walk with a local resident guide as you tour one of only a few year-round, lived-in communities located this far north. ($519 per person)
Optional excursions are non-refundable within 90 days of departure. Not all excursions listed may be available. Availability is subject to sufficient participation and weather conditions. We recommend you reserve early for best availability as space is limited. For flight excursions, weight and minimum age requirements apply. Individual dressed weight and birthdate must be provided at time of booking.
Day +3: Denali National Park Wilderness Excursion
Today, travel 66 miles along the Denali National Park Road on a naturalist-guided, back-country adventure for incredible scenery and some of the best opportunities to view the majestic Mount Denali. This tour includes a walk inside the park, so make sure you have your binoculars ready as you watch for wildlife. Enjoy a box lunch in this special setting.
This evening is at your leisure.
Overnight: Grande Denali Lodge (B,L)
Day +4: Denali National Park
After breakfast at the lodge, participate in one of the pre-purchased optional excursions or enjoy free time to explore Denali. Take advantage of the many self-guided hiking trails or informative ranger-led talks and activities offered in the park while marveling at the scenery.
Later, reconvene for wine and hors d'oeuvres as you listen to Alaskan homesteader, Jimmie Hendricks, as he relives his journey and lifelong dream to explore Alaska and make it his home. Be amazed by his years of training, hard work, determination, and eventual summiting of North America’s tallest peak.
Overnight: Grande Denali Lodge (B,R)
Day +5: Denali National Park / Talkeetna / Anchorage
After breakfast, check out of the lodge and board a motor coach for Denali State Park. It is 325,240 acres—almost one-half the size of Rhode Island! Weather permitting, catch some of the best views of Denali at this stop. See the Veteran's Memorial, which consists of five 20-foot tall concrete panels, one each to represent the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Each panel contains a history of that branch's contribution to Alaska. A statue of two Alaska Territorial Guards, carved by Canadian sculptor George Pratt, greets guests at the entrance.
Next, head for Talkeetna. Located 115 miles north of Anchorage, this is a not-to-be-missed stop in Alaska. Said to be the inspiration behind the fictional community in the popular TV show Northern Exposure, visitors revel in Talkeetna's artistic and outdoorsy vibe. A turn-of-the-20th-century gold-mining center, Talkeetna has retained much of its early Alaska flavor. Log cabins, a roadhouse, and clapboard storefronts line the streets.
Wander through the gift shops and peruse art, jewelry and other Alaska-made treasures. Experience the rustic charm at Nagley’s General Store. Founded in 1912, it has welcomed fur trappers and gold miners and been home to many pet cats. Talk to the store clerks to learn about how Stubbs the calico cat became Talkeetna’s longest serving mayor.
Following this free time in Talkeetna, depart for Anchorage. Visit the Anchorage Museum—the largest museum in Alaska and one of the top 10 most visited attractions in the state.
Later, relish the opportunity to dine and explore independently before relaxing tonight in a luxury hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Captain Cook (B,L)
Day +6: Depart Anchorage
Prepare for an early morning departure. The group will take a complimentary transfer to the Anchorage International Airport and board the same flight to meet the Discover Southeast Alaska main program. (B)
R = Reception, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Pre-tour space is limited, so it's recommended to reserve early for best availability.
It is our expectation that guests on this program are able to walk a mile at a moderate pace, get in and out of a motor coach, and walk up a flight of stairs without assistance.
Pike’s Waterfront Lodge
Situated on the Chena River, Pike's Waterfront Lodge offers unbeatable views and warm, comfortable accommodations. Enjoy hotel amenities, including an aromatherapy steam room, fitness room, restaurant, cozy lounge, ATM, 24-hour guest laundry and gift shop.
Room Amenities: Chena River view room, air conditioning, flat-screen cable TV, complimentary Wi-Fi, phone, microwave, mini-fridge, coffee and tea maker, safe, and en suite bathroom with hair dryer and Aveda® shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and soap.
Grande Denali Lodge
The Grande Denali Lodge is located just north of the Denali National Park main entrance on the slopes of Sugarloaf Mountain with unparalleled views of the surrounding Denali wilderness and the Nenana River Canyon. Spacious guest rooms, on-site dining and dedicated staff make the Grande Denali Lodge the perfect place to launch all your adventures. Amenities include a restaurant, a bar and lounge, convenient shuttle services, a guest laundromat, complimentary Wi-Fi, and an espresso/snacks stand.
Room Amenities: View room, air conditioning, cable TV, complimentary Wi-Fi, phone, coffee and tea maker, mini-fridge and en suite bathroom with shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and hair dryer.
Hotel Captain Cook
Built by former Secretary of the Interior and two-term Alaska Governor Walter J. Hickel to help Anchorage's economy recover from the devastating 1964 earthquake, this renowned hotel boasts Alaskan history from its reclaimed teak interior features to artifacts and art illustrations from Captain Cook's 18th-century voyage. Expect exceptional Alaskan hospitality and service at its four restaurants, on-site shops, athletic club, and spa.
Room Amenities: Deluxe room, air conditioning, satellite TV, complimentary Wi-Fi, phone, coffee and tea maker, bathrobes and slippers, safe, and en suite bathroom with shampoo, conditioner, and hair dryer.
—plus $350/person internal airfare—
Optional DogGoneIt Dog Sled Tour: $56/person
Optional Denali Glacier Landing Flight: $599/person
Optional Arctic Circle Flight Tour: $519/person
Pre-tour rates are per person based on double occupancy except where noted as Single, in U.S. dollars. Single availability limited. Internal airfare from Anchorage to Main Program is an additional $350 per person. General airfare not included.
- 1 night accommodation at Pike's Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks, 3 nights accommodations at Grande Denali Lodge, and 1 night accommodation at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage
- 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners, and 1 reception
- Transport aboard the distinguished Wilderness Express traveling the Alaska Railroad route, including reserved, upper-level, dome car seating providing the widest seats of any Alaska railcar, full breakfast, and box lunch
- Hotel courtesy shuttle between Grande Denali Lodge, the Denali Park Visitor Center, town, and the rail depot
- A full-day wilderness tour into Denali National Park (including a box lunch) with your Orbridge Expedition Leader and a Murie Science and Learning Center naturalist guide
- A lively dinner event with a special presentation from a Murie Science and Learning Center educator, plus an engaging discussion with Jimmie Hendricks, a colorful local who will share his experiences of homesteading and eventual summiting of Denali
- Services of an Orbridge Expedition Leader
- Gratuities for Orbridge Expedition Leader, local guides, drivers, porters, housekeeping, and wait staff for included meals
- Transfers between the airport and hotel for guests arriving and departing during the suggested times
- Required testing and air transfer for all guests continuing onto the main Discover Southeast Alaska cruise program