Anchorage stands as proud gateway to the wilderness of Alaska and it is your launch pad to a rugged adventure that will take you to the Yukon and back again. This evening, you'll join your Travel Director and fellow expeditioners for a Welcome Reception at 6 p.m. at your hotel.
Today, we slice through the natural splendour of Alaska's Matanuska Susitna Valley, driving along scenic country roads and past towns bathed in sunlight all day and night in summer. Bound for the Switzerland of Alaska, we'll stop at Wrangell St. Elias and Worthington Glacier easily accessed along Thompson Pass, which holds the distinction of being Alaska's snowiest place. Arriving in Valdez, we'll enjoy an evening at leisure to explore this 'Little Switzerland' against the backdrop of the mighty Chugach Mountains.
Delve into the rich heritage of Valdez, the Copper River Valley and Prince William Sound, from the days when Native Alaskans first occupied the area to present day. Discover the city's role in the area's fur trading, salmon canning and mining eras during your morning's visit to the Valdez Museum. Then, board a glacier and wildlife cruise for your journey through the icy grips of Prince William Sound with the densest concentration of tidewater glaciers in the world. Keep a keen eye out for seals, sea lions, otters, whales and puffins as you journey past towering ice cliffs throughout your half-day exploration which includes lunch on the boat.
Contemplate a protected wilderness larger than any other in the United States. Journey into the clouds, winding along the Top of the World Highway bound for the Yukon. Stop in Chicken Alaska, an Alaskan Frontier town with a colourful Gold Rush history before crossing the border into Yukon Territory. This evening, the colourful frilly skirts of Diamond Tooth Gerties' cancan girls take centre stage as you enjoy a foot-tapping Klondike performance. (Important Note: All guests must have a valid passport to travel into Canada's Yukon Territory from Alaska.)
Spend a leisurely day exploring the Gold Rush heritage of Dawson City. Take a step back in time, walking in the footsteps of hopeful prospectors as they trudged to Discovery Claim #1, the site where Gold was first discovered marking the beginning of the Klondike Gold Rush. Tame Lady Luck and pan for gold yourself, then visit a historic gold dredge seeing first-hand how it altered the landscape in its pursuit for gold. This afternoon, you'll meet a gold miner and Local Specialist to gain insights into the past and present value of gold and its influence on the region.
We journey deep into the Yukon wilderness today, winding our way along the Dempster Highway towards the Arctic Circle and through the traditional lands of the Gwich'in First Nations. We begin our encounter with Tombstone Territorial Park in its Interpretive Center, where we'll join a Local Specialist who will reveal insights into the park's wildlife and tundra before we continue along our scenic drive past rugged peaks and landscapes forged by frost. We return to Dawson City where we'll stay overnight.
Trace the steps of famous Klondike Gold Rush prospectors, journeying south following the Klondike Highway and Yukon River. Learn about the colourful characters who embarked on a frenzied journey to seek their fortune in this unforgiving wilderness before arriving in the Yukon capital of Whitehorse where we’ll spend the next three nights surrounded by the peaks of Grey Mountain, Haeckel Hill and Golden Horn.
Immerse yourself in the intoxicating stories of the 1890s Yukon Gold Rush as you journey to the port community of Skagway Alaska. Consider joining an optional tour and ride the narrow-gauge White Pass Railroad, which once ferried prospectors into the Klondike goldfields. We return to Whitehorse later.
We'll spend a leisurely day exploring Whitehorse together. Our first stop is a visit to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center and SS Klondike Sternwheeler, one of the old ferries that used to run along the Yukon River. We'll journey to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve this afternoon to see if we can spot any of its resident moose, bison, elk and foxes. This evening, we'll enjoy a memorable BBQ Regional Meal in the midst of this wilderness before returning to Whitehorse.
Return to Alaska today, skirting the snowcapped Saint Elias peaks, along the Alcan Highway, en route to Tok, where we'll stay tonight. Driving beneath the towering peaks of the Kluane Front Range look for Dall sheep and pass by Soldier's Summit the location where the Alaska Highway was officially opened.
Admire the epic mountain and glacier backdrop of one of the world's most scenic drives as you journey along the Denali Highway en route to Denali National Park. See the snow-capped Eastern Alaska Range and Mt. Denali before arriving in a true wilderness that is home to North America's tallest peak.
Tune into your unfettered surrounds - a free day to connect with Denali on your terms. Be present amidst the sounds of Bunting and Gray Jays, hike through the wilderness or consider a whitewater rafting adventure. Today is yours to indulge in the contemplative solitude offered by this national park. This evening, we'll join our Travel Director and fellow expeditioners for a memorable Farewell Dinner.
Enjoy a morning at leisure to enjoy Denali before boarding a Deluxe Dome Rail car for a scenic Alaska Railroad journey through valley landscapes to the frontier town of Talkeetna. Transfer to your deluxe motorcoach bound for Anchorage, where we'll stay overnight.
Our epic journey through an untamed wilderness at its end, we take a transfer to the Anchorage Airport for flight connections home. Guests boarding the Holland America Ship today will transfer to the port community of Seward this afternoon to begin their cruise.