After disembarking from our Alaskan cruise at Whittier, we continued our journey with a land tour (provided by Princess Cruises). Riding in a glass domed train, we sat back and enjoyed spectacular views as we made our way through Anchorage and onto our first Wilderness Lodge. Princess Cruises owns several lodges/hotels throughout Alaska, we chose a land tour which comprised of three locations.
We arrived at Talkeetna and transferred to a bus for the Mt McKinley Wilderness Lodge. The scenery is nothing short of amazing and we had wonderful view of Mt McKinley. We chose this stop to be a respite from our cruise adventures and chose not to go on any excursions or tours. We went on a few self guided hikes around the grounds and relaxed in the hot tub with those glorious mountain views. Lucky for us a mother moose had decided to give birth to twins within the lodge grounds and I was able to capture a few photos.
After a couple of relaxing days we bused off to the Denali Wilderness Lodge. There were plenty of shops and restaurants in the area and although a little cheesy we enjoyed the Music of Denali dinner theater at the Lodge. Here we treated ourselves to the Tundra tour through Denali National Park. We were rewarded with plenty of wildlife sightings including bears! This was definitely one of the highlights of the tour.
Our final stop was Fairbanks, our accommodation was on the banks of the Chena River. We did a combined tour of a Discovery River Cruise and Gold Dredge 8. The river cruise took us down the Chena River, stopping at the home of Susan Butcher’s family to see the sled dogs in action and we got off and explored the Chena Indian Village. Arriving back at the dock we were treated to a banquet lunch and tested our stamina in the 40 Below room. Being a fan of Gold Rush series it was exciting to be able to walk inside Gold Dredge 8, we panned for Gold and not surprised that we found a few flakes. Everyone’s a winner!
The last day we had to ourselves so we hired a car and went out exploring… all the way to the North Pole! That would be North Pole, Alaska. It’s just a short drive from Fairbanks. But we did find Santa and the reindeer too. Back in Fairbanks we doned our beanies and gloves and head into the ice museum, its really uncomfortable to pose for a photo sitting on a sled made of ice. I think we were a bit early in the season for Pioneer Park, there were only a handful of people around and all the little stores were closed, but the museums were still open.
After 17 days we returned home exhausted but satisfied, Alaska is amazing. If I ever get back there I’d like to do my own adventure, the tours are great but at time you feel like you’re in a mob of sheep. Alaska offers so much more than you can fit in a tour. Oh, one last thing, the food was great too!