Alaska’s Northern Lights & Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race®

An Alaskan Adventure

  • Date

    February 28–March 8, 2024 | Wed / Fri – 10 Days 

  • Location

    Anchorage | Whittier | Willow | Talkeetna | Fairbanks

Ambassadair Trip #8779

Overview

It’s like no other event in the world: nearly 1,000 miles of the most extreme and beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer and you can be there at the start of the most famous sled dog race — the historic Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Then set off in search of the northern lights with exciting adventures and breathtaking views along the way. After all the excitement of the race activities, unwind in the quirky outpost of Talkeetna, where a lack of city lights and more northerly latitude enhance chances for views of the northern lights. Traverse the Alaska Range aboard the Aurora Winter Train enjoying panoramic vistas, wildlife, river valleys, and rocky gorges. See waterfalls and hanging glaciers while cruising along sheer cliff walls, wide glacier outwash streams, and deep groves scoured in the rock walls enroute to Fairbanks.  End our trip for 2 nights in Fairbanks visiting the world championship ice carving competition and take a dog sled ride along trails that have trained multiple Iditarod winning teams.

HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

  • Witness both the ceremonial and official starts of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
  • Attend the Mushers Banquet and visit the headquarters of the Iditarod
  • Dog mushing experience
  • Glacier cruise to the face of two tidewater glaciers
  • Aurora Winter Train from Talkeetna to Fairbanks
  • Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
  • Opportunities to see the Northern Lights

PACKAGE INCLUDES

  • Roundtrip commercial air from Indianapolis to Anchorage, Alaska and from Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Escorted within Alaska
  • 8 nights accommodations
  • Breakfast daily
  • 1 lunch, 2 dinners
  • Sightseeing and admissions per itinerary
  • Ground transportation
  • Hotel baggage handling

NOTE: This itinerary covers areas of higher altitudes and includes activities where moderate walking, possibly on uneven terrain and/or snow and ice, is required.

Wed, Feb 28: Depart Indianapolis for your flight to Anchorage, Alaska. Check in to the Hilton Anchorage or similar for the next four nights.

Thu, Feb 29: Spend the day at leisure getting to know Anchorage. Be sure to check out the Fur Rendezvous or “Fur Rondy” to locals, a winter festival with many truly unique events, or 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! 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 1: Travel along the scenic Turnagain Arm to the town of Whittier for an amazing glacier cruise to the face of two tidewater glaciers, Beloit and Blackstone. See the numerous waterfalls and hanging glaciers as you cruise among the sheer cliff walls, wide glacier out wash streams, and deep groves scoured in the rock walls. You may also get a glimpse of sea otters and harbor seals that make their home in this part of the sound. On your way home, stop in the Wildlife Conservation to see the animals of Alaska. Return to Anchorage for an evening at your leisure. (B)

Sat, Mar 2: 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. This afternoon watch the ‘Running of the Reindeer’ start of the 5-kilometer run with actual reindeer running in the race too! (B)

Sun, Mar 3: Check out of the hotel and travel 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. Enroute, visit the Iditarod Race Headquarters. At the end of the afternoon,  head north and 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 on the sky for an opportunity to witness the aurora borealis(northern lights). (B)

Mon, Mar 4: Today partake in amenities available at the lodge or explore the town on your own. Perhaps visit the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum with exhibits detailing the personal history of native peoples, aviators, gold seekers, and trappers who became an important part of the town’s past or 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. Also, you may want to book a snowmobile tour; do a hike; or simply enjoy the view as you relax next to the 46-foot river rock fireplace in the lodge. (B)

Tue, Mar 5: Today depart on the Aurora Winter Train all day to Fairbanks, arriving in the evening. Traverse the Alaska Range and enjoy stunning views of panoramic vistas, wildlife, river valleys, and rocky gorges. On clear days, you may even see an incredible view of Denali. Enjoy a box lunch on the train. Transfer to the Springhill Suites Fairbanks or similar for a two-night stay. (B,L)

Wed, Mar 6: In the morning take a sightseeing tour around Fairbanks, including the University of Alaska and its Museum of the North. This afternoon, experience an actual dog-sled ride and learn about the Alaskan Husky, history and the dog mushing lifestyle. This evening drive out of Fairbanks so there will be no light disturbance and spend the evening in a warm lodge as we wait for the magical northern lights to appear and dance across the skies. (B)

Thu, Mar 7: On your last day in Alaska visit the World Ice Art Championships to see an astonishing array of ice sculptures. One of the largest annual ice art competitions and exhibitions worldwide, the event involves over 70 teams from all over the world. The ice is harvested from the on-site pond which easily yields more than four million pounds of “Arctic Diamond” ice — exceptionally clear, thick ice.  Enjoy a Farewell Meal before checking out of your hotel and departing for home via an overnight flight. (B,D)

Fri, Mar 8: Arrive home to 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 guest rooms have magnificent views of the Chugach Mountain Range, Cook Inlet or the city. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • Wi-Fi Internet access (fees apply) • restaurant • bar • indoor pool • fitness center.

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 coffee/tea maker • mini refrigerator • complimentary WiFi internet access • restaurant • lounge • hiking trails.


Springhill Suites, Fairbanks. Located right in the middle of downtown Fairbanks, with dining, shopping, and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in close proximity. Highlights: in-room coffee maker, mini refrigerator, microwave • complimentary WiFi Internet access •restaurant • indoor pool • fitness center.

Pricing

  • Package with Air
  • Double P/P – $4999
  • Single – $5999

*Subject to change due to increase in exchange rate or fuel surcharge