Mama-Grizzley-and-cub-in-Denali-National-Park

ALASKA …your way! 62-Day RV Caravan


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Perhaps you’ve traveled to Alaska in the past, but you want to go back and you have particular areas you want to visit further.  Or maybe you’re among those people who prefer not to travel in an organized group structure.  Or possibly you feel you just want to create your own adventures.  …or maybe you just want some quality time to enjoy Alaska’s bountiful rivers, streams and harbors.  On Fantasy’s Alaska Your Way 62-Day Caravan, we’ve made it possible for you to do all of the above – the only caveat is that we’ve taken the hassles out of planning — as all of your campground reservations, plus a few special dinners …along some great company — and our experienced WagonMasters to provide help and advice,  if you need it.

anacortesOur Alaska adventure begins in beautiful Anacortes, Washington, located on the waterfront of Fidalgo Island.  We begin with an orientation and get acquainted party followed by the traditional Fantasy Welcome Dinner at the Farmhouse restaurant.  All guests are provided with a Parks Canada Discover Pass, which provides entry/admission to national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites throughout Canada.  There’s a day to explore Anacortes, so you may choose to catch a local ferry to the San Juan Islands before the caravan begins the journey north!

We cross into British Columbia and spend the night in Cache Creek, a park which offers stagecoach rides, lectures, a museum and restaurant; demonstrating the lifestyle of the days of the B.C. Gold Rush.  The next day we head to Prince George, northern British Columbia’s largest city, as we make our way to where the Alaska Highway begins – Dawson Creek.

Our travels of the Alaska Highway begin by driving to Fort Nelson, where we have the opportunity to visit the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum which depicts the monumental efforts which went into building this road under the most adverse conditions.  Pushing north, our next stop is Muncho Lake, just outside Liard – home to some very inviting and relaxing natural hot springs. 

We cross into the Yukon Territory with a stop in Watson Lake.  Chances are – even if you’ve been before, you’ll want to visit the Sign Post Forest — started in 1942 when a homesick young soldier placed a lonely road sign here for his home town – Danville, Illinois.  Since then, fellow travelers have placed more than 72,000 home town, and homemade road signs on this spot.  Join the fun by bringing your own home town sign with us or simply make one on the spot.

Muktuk-Sled-DogThe highway continues, and so do our travels, on to Whitehorse, where we’ll spend a few fascinating nights.  There’s much to see and do in this area; hiking, biking, fishing, river cruise, vaudeville shows – there really is something for everyone. Fantasy has planned one exciting excursion for us – a tour of 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 1600 km Yukon Quest 24 times in 25 years.  Our Husky bonding time is completed with a delicious Taste of Yukon dinner, featuring bison and salmon appetizers, elk, bison, arctic char, sides, salad and of course dessert.

We turn off the Alaska Highway and head into southeastern Alaska with a stay in Haines.  There’s plenty of time to take advantage of the many opportunities this coastal town offers — spectacular hikes, rafting journeys on the Chilkat River, kayaking adventures on Chilkoot Lake, exhilarating jet boat rides, guided nature walks and many more activities. Plus, you’ll find time for fishing —  Alaska’s Pacific salmon could be biting! One of the interesting sites to visit in Haines is the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, created by the State of Alaska in 1982, providing a critical habitat for the world’s largest concentration of Bald Eagles.

We return to the Alaska Highway and the Yukon Territory, stopping for a night in Destruction Bay, a small community and home to approximately 43 people.  It was originally built as a construction camp for the Alaska Highway workers, and sits on Kluane Lake, an ideal spot for fishing or paddling.  The town was named after a severe windstorm which occurred in the 1940s.

Continuing north to the heart of Alaska, stopping for in the unique village of Tok, which is the trade center for several native villages.  Take some time to explore the gift shops for native arts and crafts.  The town was also originally a construction camp for the highway, and there are several stories as to how it got its name.  It may have been derived from Tokyo Camp, the road construction camp in 1943.  It may have been named after a husky pup.  But the real story can be found at the town’s Mainstreet Visitors’ Center, so be sure to check it out!

salmon-bakeWe’ve got four nights in Fairbanks, the northern most stop on our route.  There’s plenty to do during those long 22-hours of daylight.  Fantasy has planned a delicious traditional Alaska Salmon Bake for us, but the rest of the time is up to us. With many shopping opportunities to restock in bulk items and personal necessities – but don’t miss the boutique stores and eateries.  You may want to take time cruise the Chena River on an authentic sternwheeler riverboat, learn something new at from native Alaskans at Athabasca Village, visit the famous Susan Butcher Sled Dog Center, or ride a narrow gauge train on the Tanana Valley Railroad to pan for gold.  There’s the Fairbanks Ice Museum where you can watch the art of ice sculpture and, of course, the University of Alaska Museum with native Alaskan artwork exhibits.  At the Alyeska Pipeline Visitor Center, you can learn more about the construction and operation of this famous pipeline – 800 miles of it connecting Valdez with Prudhoe Bay.  And there’s time, if you’re interested, for an Arctic Circle Excursion. Or maybe just a visit to the North Pole Santa House, where it’s Christmas every day.  Remember, this is Alaska …Your Way, and it’s up to you!

Denali

Alaska is famous for many significant features, and one of the most well-known is 20,310 foot Denali, looming above our next stop, Denali National Park.  With four nights and time to explore and experience the many attractions the park has to offer – we think you will be thrilled.  Fantasy has booked a National Park bus tour for the group, venturing into the six million acre park.  We may not have time to explore all of Denali, but we can choose a raft trip on the Nenana River, some hiking into the Park, (you can even schedule something led by a National Park Ranger), wildlife viewing, fishing and more.  Denali and the surrounding area have their own special appeal… with culture, food and fun around every turn.

Anchorage-Heritage-CenterOur next stop is Anchorage, the largest of all cities in Alaska.  Explore this metropolitan city, keeping in mind that there are still fishing opportunities right in town and you may even see the occasional moose wandering through the city.  Worth a visit is the Alaska Native Heritage Center which displays art, history and crafts from the eleven different cultures which inhabit this area. With a bit of planning you can meet native artists, experience some of the traditions and cultures from around the more remote regions of Alaska and possibly participate in one of the demonstrations.

Approximately 130 miles south is the city of Seward – named after William Seward, who as President Lincoln’s Secretary of State negotiated the purchase of Alaska in 1867 – which by now we would have to agree was a really good move!  Traveling the Kenai Peninsula, we find this charming fishing town.  You may wish to visit the Alaska Sea Life Center and meet some adorable puffins, take a Kenai Dinner Cruise or explore the gradually melting path of Exit Glacier.  Airplanes, seaplanes, ski-planes and helicopters offer flightseeing tours of the spectacular scenery of Kenai Fjords National Park, Lake Clark National Park or the Chugach National Forest.  Opt for a glacier landing or drop-off for an up close and personal look at a glacier.  Fantasy scheduled time here so it would be easy to arrange a charter fishing trip and still have time to explore.

Homer-FishingIf it’s the great fishing opportunities that have drawn you to Alaska, one of our favorite stops is Homer – claiming to be the ‘Halibut Fishing Capital of the World’.  Our stay here is camping along the Homer Spit (home to the famous Salty Dawg)… plus, our campground features a private lagoon with, what has been rumored, excellent salmon fishing.  You can choose multiple charter fishing trips to catch halibut and/or salmon – with enough group interest your WagonMaster may be able to secure a chartered boat for the group who wish to fish.  And, for those not into everthing fishing, there is still plenty more to do – take a water taxi across the bay to Kachemak Bay State Park to wander across the tidal pools and hike in the trails of the lush forest; sea kayak in the bay or canoe the Swanson River.  There’s wildlife and glacier cruising and plenty of boutique shops and art galleries to explore in this charming town. If you have a passion for craft brew – be sure to stop in and the see the crew at Homer Brewing for some of the freshest beers you may ever enjoy.

We continue our journey around the Kenai Peninsula with a stop in Kenai, located in the heart of the peninsula and overlooking the famous Kenai River.  Of course there is time to explore (and fish!) and Fantasy has planned an amazing favor filled, Alaskan King Crab Feed!  It’s 90% wilderness along the peninsula, so if you’re still looking for locals, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for moose, lynx, wolves, Dall sheep and also a place to see some great nature films – or plan a ‘guided discover hike’.

Prince-William-SoundOur next stop is in the land of American Frontiersmen… Palmer, which is in the heart of the Matanuska Valley.  Palmer is known for giant vegetables, a result of long summer days filled with sunlight and some extremely fertile soil.  The more interesting area attractions are local reindeer farms, a Muskox farm, the Palmer Visitor Center and Colony House, and a great variety of You Pick Farms.  Our route takes a short detour from the Alaska Highway to spend four nights in Valdez, nestled on the coastline of Prince William Sound and offering some of the most stunning scenery in all of Alaska.  There are five accessible glaciers for cruising, hiking, trekking, exploring and even rappelling.  You can raft nearby rivers, kayak in the Sound or cruise the 2,700 miles of coastline.  And did we mention fishing?  Valdez is a premier fishing destination, with multiple species of salmon and of course halibut swimming the local waters.

We return to the Alaska Highway, spending a night in Tok and then heading south into the Yukon Territory’s Destruction Bay.  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 quick hours, we enjoy three nights and a chance to experience the real fun and quirkiness.  Some of the local activities include a cruise on the beautiful Lynn Fjord to Juneau, Alaska’s capitol city [only accessible by boat or air] – no roads lead to Juneau.   Once there, a visit to the 13-mile long Mendenhall Glacier is a worthy stop. 

White-Pass-TrainOr you can stay in the charming town of Skagway and board the historic White Pass/Yukon Railroad train, aka the ‘Scenic Railway of the World’.  The route ascends 2,865 feet to White Pass for a glimpse of the rugged Chilkoot Trail, a 33-mile trail that so many brave prospectors died trying to stake their claim to the riches of Klondike.  You can also take a drive to the historic town site of Dyea where you’ll find the trail head of the Chilkoot Trail, or book a horseback riding tour or just explore Skagway’s dinning opportunities, shops and galleries.  In the evenings, you can head downtown to relive local history at the infamous Soapy Smith Vaudeville Show and Monte Carlo Night.  Soapy was a rather shady outlaw who basically died trying to control Skagway during the Gold Rush.

Once again, our route brings us back in to the Yukon, stopping in Teslin for a night, a local point of interest is the George Johnston Museum, containing iconic photographs of the Tinglit people taken on a Brownie camera by self-taught photographer Johnston.  The next night is spent in Nugget City, and on to Dease Lake in British Columbia.  Along the way, you may want to stop at Jade City to see local artisans carving Canadian nephrite jade.

Hyder-BearOur final destination on the Alaska Your Way Caravan is Stewart, located on the U.S./Canada border.  Neighboring Hyder, Alaska is a rather idiosyncratic town billing itself and its 87 residents as ‘The Friendliest Ghost Town in Alaska’.  The town has no law enforcement and uses Canadian currency and follows the Canadian time zone, even although it’s part of the United States.  Hyder’s most frequent visitors are the bears – and chances are we’ll be able to watch them at their favorite fishing hole. 

While visiting Stewart, there is a scenic drive to Salmon Glacier.  But remember to save some time for Fantasy’s farewell dinner to recant your personal experiences with fellow travelers who also chose to see Alaska …their way.