6-Day Alaska Heartland

Day 1 You'll See:

Day 2 You'll See:

  • Riverboat Cruise along Tanana Rivers
  • Steese Highway

Day 3 You’ll See:

Day 4 You’ll See:

Day 5 You’ll See

  • Eklutna Historical Park
  • Nicholas Orthodox Church
  • Thunderbird Falls
  • Eagle River Nature Center

Day 6 You’ll See

  • Explore Anchorage
  • Lake Hood


mountain-climbers-603617_1280The interior of Alaska is filled with many rich opportunities for historical education, natural geography facts and experiences, and cultural insights. Explore the regions of Anchorage and Fairbanks and find out what it’s like to live in the heartland of Alaska. Surrounded by some of the most stunning sights in North America, your group will have the chance to see one of the largest national parks and preserves at Denali, fly to the top of Mt. McKinley, learn about the native mammals and wildlife, check out local cultural traditions, and experience some of the most relaxing and exciting vacation shopping and recreation this state offers! Get ready for an exciting adventure through Alaska and don’t forget to bring your camera, this tour takes sightseeing to a whole new level!




University of Alaska Museum of the North - Welcome to the only research and teaching museum in the whole state of Alaska, where your group will have the chance to marvel at a 2,000 year spectrum of ancient and modern Alaskan art. This facility is known as the leader in northern natural and cultural history, and is visited by hundreds of thousands of guests per year. With a shape in the Alaskan skyline reminiscent of the surrounding alpine ridges and glaciers, this building is a known cultural landmark for locals and tourists alike. Inside, your group will see everything from ancient ivory carvings to contemporary paintings and sculptures, as well as the largest display of gold in the nation. With over 1.4 million artifacts and specimens permanently displayed plus the seasonal rotating displays, you won’t be running out of things to look at at this museum! Make sure you check out Blue Babe, the 36,000 year old mummified steppe bison, or head over to ‘the place where you go to listen,’ a room designed to let visitors study the unique lighting in Alaska, as well as the aurora borealis. The facility also boasts a wonderful on-site cafe where you can get a delicious hot dinner, and expanded gift shop to pick up your Alaska native artwork, jewelry, or books.


Large Animal Research Station - The Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station is a part of the University of Alaska’s research department and is located in Fairbanks on an old homestead and farm. Oftentimes called the LARS station, this facility focuses on research and education of high-latitude biology. Providing expertise on maintaining colonies of large animals, LARS provides several educational opportunities as well as community outreach and receives thousands of guests per year. Your group will have the opportunity to take a guided outdoor tour to learn the natural history of this particular farm and more importantly, farming in Alaska overall. While on the farm you will see the musk oxen, caribou, and reindeer. Musk oxen are particularly important to Alaska; though they died off in the 1800s researchers brought about 400 back from Greenland and now the state populates 4,000 healthy oxen. The wool from musk ox, called qiviut, is 8 time warmer than regular wool and much softer than cashmere. Stop by the LARS gift shop to pick up your own qiviut garment, and don’t worry about the money you spend, it all goes back into animal maintenance and research!



Riverboat Cruise along Tanana Rivers - Start your day with a relaxing and informative journey down the Chena and Tanana Rivers with a Riverboat Discovery 4 hour cruise! During this enlightening tour of the Tanana River area your group will be able to take a walking tour of an Athabaskan Indian village in which the natives successfully lived off the land for 10,000 years hunting and gathering and adapting to the intense Alaskan weather. Your group will witness a bush pilot take off, as well as the Susan Butcher Kennels, home to the late 4-time winner of the Iditarod run. The Trans-Alaskan pipeline will be seen from this tour as well, with plenty of facts from the captain and crew along the way. Your group will have two chances to check out the Steamboat Landing stores for souvenirs, as well as have a nice sit-down dinner in the Discovery Dining Hall aboard the riverboat. Before or after the tour your group will have a chance to see the Gold Dredge 8, the Binkley family’s mining attraction that mixes large scale industry mining with a local mom and pop mining business. This riverboat cruise will definitely not leave your group disappointed!


Steese Highway - Just outside of Fairbanks in the interior of Alaska you will find the Steese Highway, a 161 mile road that is both historically useful and naturally beautiful. This highway ends in a culmination in Circle City and follows for roughly 50 miles along the Yukon River. On this scenic drive your group will see 3 major summits, the Cleary Summit, the Twelve Mile Summit, and Eagle Summit. The Cleary Summit view allows you to see views of Denali and Mt. McKinley on a clear day. The Eagle provides a nice view of wildflower filled valleys and mines from 3,624 feet while Twelve Mile depicts lovely frontier wilderness, dotted with frontier homes. Historically, this highway was finished in 1927, but originally this the route was used as a mail trail to the gold mines and was regularly traversed by dog sleds. Currently only 81 miles are paved, with the remainder as dirt and gravel road past Central. Quite a unique learning opportunity, this drive will take you on a driving tour of Alaska’s past, present, and future as you observe the old and new structures and landforms along the way.



Denali National Park and Preserve - The Denali National Park is home to 6 million acres of raw, mostly untouched Alaskan land situated between the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks. The southern portion of the park is covered by the majestic Alaska Range of mountains and the entire preserve is bisected by only one winding road. Within the park your group will witness a vast variety of Alaska landscape, from the low elevation taiga forest to the high alpine tundra. The unfenced land in Denali National Park gives way to abundant wildlife, including a 40 documented mammal species. When travelling through this area your group will see great examples of ‘moving landscape’ with frequent landslides, moving glaciers, and plenty of glacial fed rivers changing pace daily. Your group will also have the chance to see North America’s tallest peak Mt. McKinley at 20,320 feet. Besides all the natural wonders and photographic scenery you will see, you also have the opportunity to stop at the Denali visitors center, where you can brush up on local area facts and history. Be sure to check out the Cultural Resources Program exhibit, which tells the story of 12,000 years of the people and land of Denali.


Mount McKinley - Visitors from all around the world come to see Mount McKinley every year, whether it’s to view the majestic wonder from afar, flight-see over its peaks, or try an adventurous trek up one of its summits. Mount McKinley, often times referred to as Denali, is North America’s tallest peak at 20,237 feet. McKinley, part of the Alaska Range, will astound your group with its sheer granite walls, alpine glaciers, and amazing snow cornices. You will be able to see Mt. McKinley from Anchorage, but the best views come from the Denali National Park on a clear day. From base to peak, the rise along this mountain is 18,000 feet, the largest rise of a mountain with its base above sea level. You can learn about the first ascent to the mountain’s southern summit in 1913, or maybe take some time to go your own path as far as you can (the western buttress is the safest and easiest path)! Your group will be able to view 5 large glaciers when visiting Mt McKinley, one of which served as the native home of the Koyukon Athabascan tribes. No matter how many descriptions you read about this mountain nothing will compare to your personal visit to this breathtaking natural wonder, so make sure you bring your camera with tons of film and see for yourself!



Denali National Park - Start your 4th day of Alaskan adventure off with more time exploring Denali National Park. After all, there’s no way your group saw everything this astoundingly large and beautiful preserve has to offer in its 6 million acres the first time around!

Flight Seeing Tour - All aboard the Talkeetna Air Taxi, the leading glacier landing company, for one of the coolest (no pun intended) parts of your Alaska trip. This smooth, safe, and exciting tour of Denali lets you take in the sights from above with your own headset for tour guide information, as well as a promised window seat so you don’t miss any second of the scenery! Talkeetna Air is the number one air tour company in Alaska and has been voted the greatest flight-seeing tour in the world. On your tour, your group will see the high granite gorges of Mt. McKinley, the ancient blue glacier valleys of the Alaska Range, and the endless icy peaks surrounding Denali. Since there are very few roads around Denali, this is the absolute best way to see the most raw and untouched parts of the park and mountains, and if you’re feeling really adventurous make sure to book the tour with a glacier landing! With this opportunity you and your group will be able to sit foot atop one of the highest glaciers in the park and feel the massive ice move beneath your feet! These tours are customized to specific group needs, as well as the ever-changing Denali weather, to ensure you get in all the sights you can. This is another destination where you won’t want to forget your camera!



Eklutna Historical Park - One of the bigger parts of Alaska native history is that of the Russian culture and the impact that Russian religion has had on the area as a whole, which you will see a great example of on your next stop to Eklutna Historical Park. This small village type setting is made up of an old Orthodox Church house and cemetery, enlightening your group on the history, culture, and customs of the native tribes (Dena’ina Athabascan) mixed with the Russian Orthodox tradition. Take a tour of the old log Russian Orthodox Church, view the Spirit Houses in the cemetery, or walk around the new Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church to see how history and tradition has come together to create a new cultural promotion of religion. The colorful Spirit Houses are built after a member of the family has died and is accompanied by a Christian like grave and cross, making an eerie yet cheerful graveyard setting. Take notice also of the onion-shaped domes on all of the structures, an innovative yet ancient practice used to keep snow off of the structures in this area (taken from Russian architecture).

Nicholas Orthodox Church - As you saw in the Eklutna Park there are two Nicholas Orthodox Churches; the old St. Nicholas Orthodox Church and the new, still in use, Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church. The old church is considered to be the oldest in Anchorage and is nationally recognized as a cultural and historic site. It was built in 1860 and was first created in the city of Knik. The new church is currently in use today and offers Vespers and Matins on Saturday and regular Liturgies each Sunday. This church was built in 1962 and was created by Athabascan chief Mike Alex, a long time member and parish service member. This unique opportunity to visit an actual service or just tour the churches will really give your group a deeper understanding of the members of this community, as well as cultural traditions and history.

Thunderbird Falls -  Thunderbird Falls is another Eklutna gem that your group will delight in, holding one of the most spectacular natural wonders this area has to offer. The Thunderbird Falls are approximately 70 feet high, with an actual elevation of 100 feet. The trail, though usually very busy, is a great way to get up close and personal with these falls and experience nature in its raw form. At only 0.8 miles, this easy trek will take you 100 feet up the trail from the edge of the canyon to the viewing deck. Your group can choose to continue past the viewing deck and walk to the very base of the falls to get the best views, just make sure you bring rain gear and layers! In the winter these falls turn into a wonderful display of frozen ice sculptures, making this a year round popular destination. The area is surrounded by birch forest land and there are plenty of opportunities to stray off the beaten path and make your own adventure. Just be careful if you happen to do this by the falls, though the views may entice you closer there are several dangerously steep cliffs you will need to watch out for!

Eagle River Nature Center - End your day at the Eagle River Nature Center, a mountain valley nature learning center within the Chugach State Park. Within this nature center your group will have the chance to do one of several nature programs, hiking trails, or wildlife viewing opportunities. Only a mere 40 miles away downtown Anchorage, this location provides a wild and dramatic backdrop for your group to hike around. Choose the 3 mile hike on the Albert Loop, or take the 5 mile hike up the valley to view more scenic waterfalls. The guided nature programs will give you park information and let you know about the Eagle River Nature Group, which strives to provide connections to nature through interactive education, resource protection, and outdoor opportunities. You will even have the chance to spend the evening here, with plentiful back country cabin and yurt rentals!



Explore Anchorage - Anchorage is considered to be the gateway to wild Alaska, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole state, and will offer your group more world famous scenery, history, and outdoor adventure. In this city your group will be able to choose from the wildest outdoor activities and the coolest urban appeals to continue to create your larger-than-life Alaska memories! From the shimmering waters of Prince William Sound to the tallest peaks of the Chugach Mountains, your group can choose from water recreation sports, fishing, hiking, or any winter sports such as skiing or snowmobiling. Downtown Anchorage also offers some of the most unique and tax-free shopping experiences, such as in the local art galleries, breweries, seafood and game shops, specialty boutiques, and bookstores. Make sure you check out the Kobuk, the oldest gift and tourism shop in Anchorage, or step next door to the Qiviut shop to pick up your own warmer-than-wool garments. This city also offers Pioneer Park, Silver Gulch Brewing Company, and spectacular nightly views of the Midnight Sun (within the right season). Step foot on a glacier, fish for king salmon, or hike the intense mountain ranges in Anchorage, a city known for it’s modern amenities with a historic frontier flair!

Lake Hood - The popular Lake Hood seaplane base is actually situated between 2 different lakes, Hood to the west and Spenard to the east. in the 1970s a canal was built to allow easier seaplane takeoff and more taxi lanes. With over 200 daily operations, from supply transportation to tours of the lake, this seaplane base is the largest and busiest one in the whole world. Your group will have two options of hiking around this lake, you can take the 1 hour hike which will take you southwest on the shore around Takeoff Lane, and to the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum. The 2 hour hike will take you north on a 4.2 mile scenic loop around Lake Hood for some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities yet! If hiking isn’t what you’re looking to do on your last stop you can relax with some fishing, enjoy a fresh seafood meal at the marina restaurant, or get one last flightseeing tour of the area in on one of the famous Lake Hood seaplanes!