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 visit further.  Or maybe you’re among those people who prefer not to travel in an organized group structure.  Or possibly you just want to create your own adventures 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 – without the hassle of planning.  We arrange all of your campground reservations, include a few special dinners and provide great company. Of course, our experienced WagonMasters are on board to provide help and advice.

anacortesOur Alaska adventure begins in beautiful Anacortes, Washington, located on the waterfront of Fidalgo Island.  We begin with an orientation and get -cquainted 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. 

Our travels of the Alaska Highway begin by driving to Fort Nelson, where we have the opportunity to visit the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum that features the monumental efforts that 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 that 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 signs on this spot.  Join the fun by bringing your own hometown sign 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, including 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 1,600 km Yukon Quest 24 times in 25 years.  Our Husky bonding time is complete 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 for a stay in Haines.  There’s plenty of time to take advantage of the many opportunities this coastal town offers such as 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 of 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.

We continue north to the heart of Alaska, stopping 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 originally a construction camp for the highway, and there are several stories as to how it got its name.  It may have 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 multiple 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. Find many shopping opportunities to restock bulk items and personal necessities, but don’t miss the boutique stores and eateries.  You may want to cruise the Chena River on an authentic sternwheeler riverboat, learn something new 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  time to explore and experience the many attractions the park has to offer, we think you’ll be thrilled.  Fantasy has booked a National Park bus tour for the group that ventures into the six-million-acre park.  We may not have time to explore all of Denali, but you can choose rafting on the Nenana River, hiking into the Park, (you can even schedule something led by a National Park Ranger), viewing wildlife, fishing and more.  Denali and the surrounding areas have their own special appeal, offering 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.  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 that 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 President Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward, who negotiated the purchase of Alaska in 1867.  You may wish to visit the Alaska Sea Life Center to meet 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 for a close and personal look at a glacier.  Fantasy schedules time here, making it 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, you’ll love Homer, the ‘Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.’  Our stay here includes camping along the Homer Spit (home to the famous Salty Dawg), and our campground features a private lagoon with reportedly excellent salmon fishing.  You can choose multiple charter-fishing trips to catch halibut and/or salmon. And, for those not into everything 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, hike in the trails of the lush forest, sea kayak in the bay or canoe the Swanson River.  There’s wildlife and glacier cruising as well as 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 percent wilderness along the peninsula, and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for moose, lynx, wolves, Dall sheep. This is also the 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 multiple 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 before 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.  We enjoy several nights and a chance to experience the real fun and quirkiness of this area.  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.  Once there, a visit to the 13-mile long Mendenhall Glacier is a worthy stop. 

White-Pass-TrainYou can opt for a 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 where 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. Choose to book a horseback riding tour or explore Skagway’s dining venues, 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 then 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, Stewart is a rather idiosyncratic town, billing itself and its 87 residents as ‘The Friendliest Ghost Town in Alaska.’  The town has no law enforcement, 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 holes. 

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.