The Iditarod & Northern Lights Tour
~ Alaska's Longest Running Iditarod Tour Since 1996 ~
10-Day Iditarod & Northern Lights Winter Adventure
- See Ceremonial start of the Iditarod Race.
- See the Official start of the 2018 Iditarod Race.
- Fly-out to Rainy Pass checkpoint.
- Witness the magic of the Northern Lights as they dance across the sky.
- View Ice Sculptures of the Ice Art World Championship in Fairbanks.
- Learn about dog sledding and mush your own team of dogs.
- Enjoy the thermal waters of Chena Hot Springs.
- Enjoy Alaska's winterland aboard the Alaska Railroad.
Iditarod & Northern Lights Tour Itinerary - 10 Days
~ This tour was featured in the Alaska Magazine! ~
Join us in Alaska for the 2018 Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Witness the Iditarod Race Start on Anchorage’s 4th Avenue; or also attend the Musher's Banquet*; visit an Iditarod Sled dog kennel and drive your own team of dogs; fly-out to a remote checkpoint at Rainy Pass*; or extend your visit in Alaska and watch the end of the race in Nome* which is located on the Bering Sea to witness the mushers crossing the finishing line after an exhilarating trip of 1100 Miles. All of this combined with Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis viewing will sure make the perfect Alaskan Winter Adventure!
Day 1: (Wednesday) Arrival: Arrive in Anchorage and transfer to hotel via courtesy shuttle. The rest of the day is free to wander around and explore this pleasant city and its shops. The hotel is located only ten minutes from the downtown shopping area. The hotel also offers a health club, pool and whirlpool for your convenience to help you unwind from your long flight up to Alaska. Overnight in Anchorage.
Day 2: (Thursday) Anchorage/Musher's Banquet: This morning we depart Anchorage for a scenic drive south along the edge of the Turnagain Arm on the Seward Parkway. This road is considered to be America’s most beautiful and scenic road, crossing mountain passes and majestic valleys. Along the way we will try to spot moose, caribou, eagles and other wildlife. On our way, we will make a couple of stops for photo opportunities at Beluga Point and Bird Point. Afterwards, we will travel to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Here you can safely get close, observe and photograph some of Alaska's largest land animals, including moose, bison, elk, deer, caribou, bears muskox, small mammals and birds of prey. Tonight, enjoy the Iditarod Festivities at the Musher’s Banquet. Mingle with the mushing community from near and far and bring your camera for a photo opportunity with your favorite musher. Meet mushers, collect autographs and participate in the auction. This evening the mushers will be drawing their bib number. This is a must for anyone that is seeing the Iditarod for the first time. Attire for this banquet is Alaska style (casual) Overnight in Anchorage.
Day 3: (Friday) Day in Anchorage: Today is a day at leisure and time to enjoy the many winter festival activities during Anchorage's Annual Winter Fur Rendezvous. The Fur Rendezvous winter festival, known locally as Fur Rondy or "Rondy" is a significant part of the Anchorage's history and tradition. Enjoy crowd-pleasing events such as the Native Arts Market, Theater Show, Rondy Carnival Activities, Snow Sculpturing Competition, Snowshoe Softball and Firework Displays while the cities gears up for the Iditarod Race Ceremonial Start over the weekend. Overnight in Anchorage.
Day 4: (Saturday) Anchorage: The Start of the "The Last Great Race” the Iditarod: At 8 a.m. you will meet your guide and your fellow travelers in the lobby of the hotel. We will have a pre-trip meeting before heading out. After our meeting we will board our comfortable van and head downtown for the ceremonial start of The Iditarod Race that begins on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage. Mushers can be seen on the trail along the Glenn Highway to Eagle River. The racers then pack up and head to Wasilla for the restart of the race on Sunday, an event which also draws big crowds. Later this afternoon, we will go to the Alaska Native Heritage Center and listen to fascinating stories about Alaska’s native cultures and get an insightful perspective into traditional native ways of life. Programs and exhibits demonstrate how Alaskan Natives fulfill their culture today. The Village Store provides an outlet for authentic Native arts and crafts. After the tour, you will have a free day to enjoy local Fur Rendezvous activities, shopping, or dining in Anchorage. Overnight in Anchorage.
Day 5: (Sunday) Anchorage, Willow & Talkeetna: At 7 a.m. we will board our comfortable van, and travel north to Willow, home of the Iditarod Headquarters and the official re-start of the Iditarod race. Experience the excitement of cheering for your favorite mushers as they set out for a 1050 mile race to Nome. From here, we continue north through the Chugach State Park to Talkeetna, a classic Alaskan small town with lots of history and tales about mountaineers and bush pilots. You will arrive this afternoon in Talkeetna. Accommodations feature complete bathroom and shower facilities, kitchenette, dining area and living area. From here, you can gaze at the sunset or enjoy an evening coffee. This evening we will have a family style dinner at the famous Talkeetna Roadhouse. The Roadhouse, built between 1914-17, is one of the oldest establishments still in operation on Main Street in "Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna." Overnight in Talkeetna. (D)
Day 6: (Monday) Talkeetna: The Iditarod Dog Sled Race stops at Rainy Pass Lodge using it as one of its main check points. Over 70 teams race more than eleven hundred miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Today, we will go to Rainy Pass and see all the race action. Rainy Pass Lodge is located on the historic Iditarod Trail 125 miles Northwest of Anchorage in a pristine and dramatic landscape. You can enjoy watching the dogs and mushers as they feed and tend to the needs of the dogs or you can just lounge in the main Lodge and watch the dog teams through large picture windows as they charge back into the grueling and infamous Iditarod race. Depart Talkeetna around 9am, returning around 6pm. Meals not included. Overnight in Talkeetna. (L)
Day 7: (Tuesday) Fairbanks: After breakfast we will journey north to Fairbanks to watch a splendid display of Northern Lights. We will stay at a deluxe waterfront lodge overlooking the Chena River. The resort features spacious rooms with river view, steam room and sauna and a lobby filled with original Alaskan art, slate floor and a two story fireplace. This afternoon, we will travel to view the ice sculptures of the World Ice Art Championship, which is held in Fairbanks every year. While there are other ice sculpting competitions in the northern hemisphere, none are like the World Ice Art Championships. International ice sculptors carve blocks of ice and with the mixture of pure water and cold temperatures, the ice forms quickly and densely, giving it a glacial blue tint. It is so clear that a person can read a newspaper through a four foot block of ice. The sculptors have pronounced Fairbanks’ ice as the best in the world for sculpting. At night, the carvings glow with colored theatrical lights, enticing visitors to come back at 8 or 9 pm to view the carvings a second time. The pass allows re-entry. After viewing the ice sculptures, you will have a free day to enjoy local activities and shopping around Fairbanks. Overnight in Fairbanks.
Day 8: (Wednesday) Fairbanks/Dog Sledding Tour: Today, we will go on a dog sledding tour. The tour begins by spending time meeting and getting to know the team of dogs that will take you into the frozen Alaskan wilderness. Challenge yourself to remember each of the dogs names, where each one plays an integral part of the team and you may make a new furry friend! You can experience hands on by helping your musher get the dogs ready for tour by harnessing and hooking your team up to the sled. Once on the trail, try your hand at mushing your very own team of Alaskan huskies or cocoon yourself in blankets and relax as your experienced musher guides your team through the mountains. Not only are the dogs incredible, but so too are the highly trained mushers. Ask your guide about the history, techniques, and subtleties of dogsledding – they are extremely knowledgeable and the close relationships between musher and dogs are especially engaging. Later tonight we will go outside once again and scan the skies for the northern lights. Overnight in Fairbanks. (B, L)
Day 9: (Thursday) Fairbanks/Chena Hot Springs: After breakfast, we will travel approximately 90 minutes outside Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs. Chena Hot Springs offers an Alaskan winter experience and the healing waters of Chena Hot Springs has been compared to mineral waters found in hot springs famous all over Europe. Locals will tell you that one of the best experiences one can have is sitting in the tranquil environment of the Rock Lake at Chena Hot Springs is soaking, relaxing and revitalizing your spirit in the soothing mineral water! Later, we will visit the Ice Hotel, where you can enjoy a Martini in a genuine "ice glass" Overnight in Fairbanks. (B)
Day 10: (Friday) Fairbanks to Anchorage: This morning, you will transfer from your hotel to the Fairbanks rail station for your departure at 8:15 am for a very scenic full-day rail tour to Anchorage. All seats within the comfortable train compartments are pre-reserved and the Alaska Railroad staff takes care of your entire luggage. Sit back and Enjoy the ride ! You'll get fantastic and breathtaking views of the snow covered Alaska Mountain Range with it's towering Denali at 20,310 feet high. There may be some stopovers along the way before arriving in Anchorage in the evening around 8:00 pm. Upon your arrival at the Anchorage train depot, we will be there parked by the curb for your hotel transfer. Please note that there is no dome car available in the winter train. Food is available for purchase on board the train. Overnight in Anchorage. (B)
Want More Iditarod Action? Ask us about our Iditarod Nome Finish Tour!
ABOUT THIS TOUR: Adventure travel is exactly is as its name implies, an adventure! Although every attempt is made to adhere to these itineraries, participants need to acknowledge and willingly accept the unexpected route and itinerary changes due to factors beyond our control. About Aurora viewing and moon phases: we run our tours even when there is a full moon, a new moon and at all times in between. During a full moon the foreground is brighter, allowing you to capture the foreground. During a new moon, the sky is darker so the lights may appear slightly brighter. However, since we are in a place where the lights are so bright anyway, this makes very little difference in the quality of viewing. Aurora viewing is subject to weather conditions and solar activity and its not guaranteed. Some activities are subject to change when temperatures are below -30°F. Please note that this tour begins in Anchorage and ends in Fairbanks.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THIS TOUR: (Moderate): The Iditarod & Northern Lights Tour does not require a high degree of physical fitness. However, we will be exposed to extremely cold weather, often experiencing temperatures well below freezing, which in itself can be physically challenging. We may also have to walk in deep snow. Most nights we will stay up past midnight to look for the northern lights, which typically appear later in the evening.
WHAT IS INCLUDED & WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Transportation, lodging, transfers and baggage handling and meals as indicated on the itinerary. All rates are per person in U.S. dollars based on shared occupancy. Single supplement is $900 for this tour. Tour does not include Alaska taxes, air transportation to and from Anchorage or any optional tours, liquor, items of personal nature or purchases made on-board the vessels. Airfare to/from Anchorage from your gateway city is not included . *Denotes optional activities/tours.
OTHER GENERAL INFORMATION REGARDING THIS TOUR: This itinerary is subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control including, weather, trail conditions and possible race start relocation. The last few winters have been particularly difficult for the Iditarod Race with many challenges along the race trail/route due to the warmer climate. The Iditarod Trail Committee could change the race start/restart due to changing or poor weather conditions. The final decision is made by the ITC early February and this could impact our tour itinerary and scheduled planned activities. Participants must be flexible and willing to understand that these changes are beyond our control. In the event that the race is moved north to Fairbanks for the official race start, you will be presented with options for watching the race at that time.
TRAVEL INSURANCE: We strongly suggest purchasing trip cancellation/interruption insurance to protect your travel investment at the time you sign up for one of our trips. This coverage will offset cancellation charges in the event of illness before or during your trip. Trip cancellation/interruption and baggage insurance is available at a supplemental cost. Click Here to purchase travel protection.
WINTER GEAR RENTAL: Anyone visiting Alaska in the winter time should bring a warm hat, gloves, neck scarf, and a heavy coat. Layering is the best way to keep warm in Alaska. A light weight thermal with a fleece and a loose fitting jacket is recommended. Please refer to our "What to Wear Winter Guide" by clicking the link below. In Anchorage, 6th Avenue Outfitters rents insulated snow type pants, parkas with hoods, and boots. We do not guarantee availability or sizing. There are no reservations on garments and it is first come-first serve. Please call 6th Avenue Outfitters for availability.
2018 Tour Dates
TOUR DATES: February 28 - March 9, 2018 (CALL FOR AVAILABILITY)
NOTE: This tour can be modified or shortened if needed if you don't have too much time. Please call us for more details!
TOUR COST: From $3,995 per person/double occupancy.
MEALS: (B)= Breakfast (L)=Lunch (D)=Dinner