ALASKA Premier 60 Day RV Caravan
We’re heading north to Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun! Starting in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and ending 60 days later in Anacortes, Washington, Fantasy has planned an amazing itinerary for this tour, the only Alaska Caravan which begins and ends in the continental United States.
We rendezvous in beautiful Coeur d’Alene, right on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s shore. After our first day’s orientation meeting and Get Acquainted Party, we spend the next day working with Fantasy Ambassadors to make sure our rigs are properly prepared for the upcoming journey, but we also take some time to enjoy this beautiful part of the world before our Welcome Dinner.
We begin our northern-bound trip crossing into beautiful British Columbia, where we’ll have time to soak in a beautiful hot springs and enjoy the incredible scenery. And don’t be surprised to see Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep wandering through the streets!
We continue our trip into Alberta, spending the next few days in Banff, a small town located within Canada’s first national park. We enjoy a motor coach tour of the Canadian Rockies, including Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, Spiral Tracks, Natural Bridge and Banff and Yoho National Parks, stopping for a delicious lunch at the Lake Louise Ski Area.
Departing Banff, we head for Jasper for two nights, with a couple of stops along the way. First, it’s the Columbia Ice Fields, the largest ice field in North America’s Rocky Mountains, where we hop on to an Ice Explorer snowcoach for a glacier tour. Next stop – the Athabasca Falls, the most powerful waterfall in all of Canada. With two days here, we have plenty of time to explore this colorful town nestled in Jasper National Park.
Our next stop is Dawson Creek, British Columbia, where we begin our journey on the Alaska Highway. We’ll gather at Mile ‘0’ for a group photo and attend a presentation describing the sights we’ll see along the way.
Our Alaska Highway expedition begins. We travel to Fort Nelson and visit the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum, featuring the monumental efforts that went into building the Alaska Highway. There are more natural hot springs waiting for us the next day when we arrive in Muncho Lake, and the following day we enter the Yukon Territory, staying in Watson Lake to enjoy a campground cookout. Chances are, we’ll want to visit the infamous Sign Post Forest, started in 1942 when a homesick young soldier placed a road sign for his home town, Danville, Illinois. Since then, fellow travelers have placed more than 72,000 road signs on this spot. We can join the fun by bringing our own hometown sign or simply making one on the spot.
We continue our exploration of the Yukon Territory and travel to its capitol city of Whitehorse for three nights. Here, we take a city tour and visit the sternwheeler, SS Klondike. During Gold Rush days, she traveled up and down the Yukon River and is now a National Historical Monument. We amaze at the town’s Fish Ladder that salmon use to climb and return to their birthplace, the Bering Strait, 2,000 miles away.
Time for some puppy love! Our final stop before moving on is the MukTuk Sled Dog Kennel and Training Center, home to about 125 Alaskan Huskies who are born, raised, trained and retired here. Owner Frank Turner is one of Yukon’s most accomplished mushers, having run the 1,600 km Yukon Quest 24 times in 25 years, and winning it once.
On our next day’s drive, we temporarily leave the Alaska Highway to travel the scenic Klondike Loop, the route traveled by Gold Rush pioneers. We arrive in Dawson City where we spend the next three nights. We learn more about Dawson’s early days during a Gold Rush walking tour of the town. Then we head to Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall and Can-Can Show, complete with dancers and a little gambling – after all, it’s Canada’s oldest gambling hall. We stop by the Midnight Dome for photographs of the amazing views.
Alaska or bust! We arrive in our 49th state the next day after taking the short ferry ride across the Yukon River. We begin our Alaska journey by driving the magnificent Top of the World Highway far above the tree line and with views that can go on forever. We spend the night in Chicken, a small town with a rather odd name. Early settlers in the area wanted to name their town Ptarmigan to honor the wild fowl that kept them alive all winter. However, no one in town could spell Ptarmigan, so they decided on Chicken instead. We have a dredge tour scheduled here and our first chance to try some Alaska gold panning. We top the night off in Chicken with our own Welcome-to-Alaska Dessert Party.
We spend the next night in the village of Tok before traveling to the coastal town of Valdez. Here, we experience a whole new side of our 49th state as we head out on a boat tour of Prince William Sound. The Sound’s 2,700 miles of coastline is home to several coastal fishing villages and a wide variety of sea life. Here, we hope to encounter harbor seals, puffins, humpback whales, sea otters, porpoise, eagles and more.
We’ll also cruise by the Mears Glacier and delight in a delicious lunch and snack on board our boat. We spend three nights in Valdez, so there’s time to explore the town and also schedule an optional salmon charter-fishing trip.
The following two nights are spent in Palmer, right in the heart of the Matsanuka Valley. Palmer is known for its giant vegetables, resulting from long days of sunlight and extremely fertile soil. We’ll enjoy a campground cookout and there’s time for an optional visit to a reindeer farm, musk ox farm, the Palmer Visitor Center and Colony House.
The city of Seward is named after President Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward, who negotiated the purchase of Alaska in 1867 – which by now we have to agree was a really good move! We have three nights in this fishing town, taking in the Alaska Sea Life Center, meeting some adorable puffins, exploring the gradual melting path of Exit Glacier and just enjoying the ambiance. You can also choose to take a Kenai Dinner Cruise one evening, but there’s plenty of time to arrange a charter-fishing trip, too.
We carry on to Homer, where we have three nights of camping right on the infamous Homer Spit. We have another cookout scheduled, and our campground features a private lagoon for salmon fishing. Homer claims to be the ‘Halibut Fishing Capital of the World,’ and our itinerary leaves us plenty of time to prove it by choosing a charter-fishing trip in its pristine waters. If we don’t opt for fishing, there are plenty of shops and art galleries to explore in this picturesque town.
Anchorage, our next stop, is Alaska’s largest city and quite metropolitan. However, there’s still salmon fishing right in town and the occasional metro-moose can be seen on the side of the road. Here we can learn about the colorful history of the area, also visiting the Alaska Native Heritage Center that displays the art, history and crafts of the eleven different cultures that make up this area.
When you think of Alaska, you often think of the 20,310 foot Mt. Denali, situated right in the middle of our next stop, Denali National Park. We spend four nights here and take the National Park bus tour right into the park, hoping to see America’s tallest peak on a clear day. We also experience Denali in the most exciting way – on a rafting float trip on the Nenana River.
We have four nights scheduled in Fairbanks, and our long 22-hour days are jam-packed with exciting activities. We kick our time off with a delicious fresh Alaska salmon bake, followed by a dinner show portraying the traditions of Alaska. The next day, we cruise the Chena River on an authentic sternwheeler riverboat, stopping at Athabasca Village, where we learn from native Alaskans about life in the state’s northern outposts. We visit the famous Susan Butcher Sled Dog Center to enjoy interacting with champion sled dogs and getting in some puppy cuddles as well. Still cruising along, we’ll watch float planes take off and land on the river waters. After lunch, we’ll hop on board a narrow gauge train on the Tanana Valley Railroad, traveling to Gold Dredge #8 to again try our luck panning for gold.
The Fairbanks Fun continues with the University of Alaska Museum, which highlights native Alaskan artwork and represents more than 2,000 years of culture. At the Alyeska Pipeline Visitor Center, we learn more about the construction and operation of the Alyeska Pipeline – 800 miles of it connecting Valdez with Prudhoe Bay. And there’s time for an optional Arctic Circle Excursion or a visit to the North Pole Santa House, where it’s Christmas every day.
We leave Fairbanks and spend the night in Tok, continuing on to the Yukon Territory’s Destruction Bay to savor a traditional Yukon dinner and entertainment. Then it’s back to Alaska. Our destination is Skagway, the former boom town of the Gold Rush Days. Unlike the thousands of cruise ship passengers who disembark into this small town for a few hours each summer, we have more days to experience the fun and quirkiness. The next morning, we cruise to Juneau, the capitol city of Alaska and only accessible by boat or air – no roads lead to Juneau.
We have breakfast on board and sail through the beautiful Lynn Fjord, abundant with sea animals and wildlife. Once in Juneau, we get a close-up look at the 13-mile-long Mendenhall Glacier at Mendenhall Lake and also have a chance to check out the city. Look for whales on the return voyage and enjoy the complimentary seafood chowder.
Back in Skagway the next day, we board a historic train on the White Pass/Yukon Railroad, aka the ‘Scenic Railway of the World’. Our route takes us up to White Pass to see the Klondike Trail, where so many prospectors lost their lives trying to make it rich from the gold of Skagway. We also have an open day where we can choose to drive the nearby Chilkoot Trail and the original site of the town of Dyea, or we can explore the shops and galleries in Skagway.
We head back into the Yukon and stop in Teslin for the night, visiting the George Johnston Museum, honoring the self-taught photographer with a Brownie camera who captured iconic photographs of the Tinglit people he lived with. The next stop is Nugget City, and then on to Dease Lake, British Columbia, stopping on the way at Jade City to see local artisans carving Canadian nephrite jade.
Our next destination is Stewart, located right on the U.S./Canada border. From here, we can drive into Hyder, Alaska, a rather idiosyncratic town billing itself and its 87 residents as ‘The Friendliest Ghost Town in Alaska.’ Hyder has no law enforcement, uses Canadian currency and follows the Canadian time zone, even although it is part of the United States. But it’s not just about Hyder – it’s here that we see Alaska’s most infamous animals because we’re at the favorite fishing holes of grizzly and black bears. We’ve another day in Stewart and we can choose to drive 23 scenic miles to Salmon Glacier. Or we can just go watch more bears!
We continue south to Smithers/Fort Telkwa and then on to beautiful Prince George, northern British Columbia’s largest city. Next we experience more history when we stay at Hat Creek Ranch, a national historic site in Cache Creek, B.C. The park offers stagecoach rides, demonstrations, lectures, a museum and restaurant, all depicting the lifestyle of the days of the Gold Rush and those who came here to try and seek their fortunes.
Back in the USA, we arrive at our final destination, Anacortes, Washington. On the way, we stop at Hell’s Gate, part of Fraser Gorge, for lunch and a ride on the Airtram, a fully suspended tram that travels across the gorge from the Cascade Mountain Range to the Coast Pacific Mountain Range. We have several nights in beautiful Anacortes, a waterfront city located on Fidalgo Island. We can take the time to catch a ferry to the San Juan Islands or just relax and reflect on the adventures we’ve experienced together since we left Couer d’Alene 60 days ago. Our last night is capped by a traditional Fantasy Farewell Dinner, followed by a Goodbye Continental Breakfast the next morning. We travel on, but our Premier Alaska experience remains with us forever.
See the complete itinerary for the 60 Day Alaska Premier: http://bit.ly/2mKDhcs