Wed, Feb 28: Depart Indianapolis, arriving in Anchorage later today. Check in to the Hilton Anchorage for five nights.
Thu, Mar 1: Anchorage. Spend the day at leisure getting to know Anchorage. Use your free time to visit Lake Hood, the world’s largest floatplane base or the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the largest museum in the state and home to the finest presentation of Alaskan history. And be sure to check out the Fur Rendezvous, a winter festival with many truly unique events! This evening, mingle with mushers and other race enthusiasts at the Iditarod gala known as the Mushers Banquet. Watch as the starting places are drawn, enjoy dinner and celebrate “The Last Great Race.” (Meals: Breakfast, Dinner)
Fri, Mar 2: Anchorage. Visit the home of official Iditarod artist, Jon Van Zyle. Jon and his wife, Jona, maintain a kennel of Siberian huskies that provide companionship, transportation, adventures, and inspiration for much of their art. Tour their art studio, view their work, meet the huskies and hear their many stories of life in Alaska and experience with the Iditarod. Return to Anchorage with the rest of the day at leisure. (B)
Sat, Mar 3: Anchorage. Mingle with race fans and mushers on 4th Avenue at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Experience the excitement as more than 60 mushers and 800 dogs begin their trip to Nome. Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn about Alaska’s indigenous cultures and traditional ways of life through interactive displays, shows and five outdoor villages that showcase the different native groups. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Sun, Mar 4: Willow. Travel north to Willow to see the official start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. A tradition since 1973, the race follows the Iditarod Trail, a dogsled highway that was designed in the 1920s to transport supplies and medicine. Visit the Iditarod Race Headquarters before returning to Anchorage. (B)
Mon, Mar 5: Talkeetna. Check out of the Hilton and travel to Talkeetna. Enjoy lunch at the Talkeetna Roadhouse then visit the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station, where every climber must check in before heading off to climb the 20,310-foot Denali. The station features historical information, climbing gear used by mountaineers years ago and a film detailing what it's like for climbers who brave the brutal conditions on the slopes of Denali. Next visit the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum, with exhibits detailing a very personal history of native peoples, aviators, gold seekers and trappers who became an important part of the town’s past. Check in to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, set on a ridge just above town and offering majestic views of the tallest peak in North America – Denali! Be sure to keep an eye to the sky for an opportunity to view the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). (B,L)
Tue, Mar 6: Talkeetna. The day is free to partake in activities available at the lodge or explore the town. Perhaps you’ll want to book a snowmobile tour, hike or simply enjoy the view as you relax next to the 46-foot river rock fireplace in the lodge. If weather conditions are right, consider an optional flightseeing day trip for a unique look at the race as teams make their way along the snow covered trails to Nome. (B)
Wed, Mar 7: Willow & Anchorage. Travel to Willow to visit an Iditarod team kennel and ride along trails that have trained multiple winning teams. Meet the dogs then learn how they are hooked up before heading out on the trail for a 5-7 mile ride, stopping for photos along the way. Enjoy a Farewell Meal before an overnight flight home. Options available upon request to extend your trip. (B,D)
Thu, Mar 8: Arrive in Indianapolis.
Hilton Anchorage, Anchorage
Located in the heart of downtown Anchorage and steps away from the Iditarod starting point, the Hilton Anchorage has an extensive Alaskan art collection and guestrooms have magnificent views of the Chugach Mountain Range, Cook Inlet or the city. Highlights: comfortable, spacious modern guestrooms • in-room coffee/tea maker • restaurant • bar • room service • lobby coffee kiosk • Wi-Fi access (fees apply) • fitness center • indoor pool.
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, Talkeetna.
Here, it's all about the view! Built atop a high bluff, the lodge overlooks the Susitna River Valley and surveys the entire Alaska Range, with Denali right in the middle. The lodge tastefully blends upscale elegance with an authentic Alaskan twist, incorporating local materials. Highlights: in-room mini refrigerator and coffee maker • satellite television • wireless internet • restaurant • lounge • local shuttle • gift shop • tour desk • hiking trails.