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Alaska Wilderness Walking and Wildlife

from £5399
Alaska - one of the last bastions of pure wilderness. Playground for grizzly bears, whales, incredible hiking and wilderness vistas.

Alaska is an American state which requires no introduction. From the moment you depart Anchorage you enter the wilderness where there are more bears than humans, and views which most people find hard to describe. Most simply put, Alaska is a nature lovers and photographer's paradise!

Alaska is one of the remaining bastions of pure wilderness, best explored on foot and small plane. Your journey begins in the frontier city of Anchorage and a hike in nearby Chugach State Park, then you leave city life behind in favour of a world where nature runs the show. Untouched national parks, electric blue glaciers, endless wildlife sightings and stunning fjords unfold daily in the 49th state.

This is the perfect place to lace up your hiking boots and walk some truly beautiful trails. Did you know in Denali National Park, rangers encourage you to break away from the trail in favour of making your own. In Wrangell-St Elias National Park you have an excellent chance of seeing bear, glaciers and wild Alaska beauty, all within the space of a day. In Seward, you’ll hike Harding Icefield Trail to Exit Glacier, a personal favourite of the Ramblers Product Manager, Iain Shiels.

Spotted on previous visits to Alaska are black bear, grizzly bear, whales, porpoise, and all manner of birdlife. It is not uncommon to see animals on the hiking trails; after all this is their playground.

In Denali you have included use of the park bus so you can navigate further spaces in the park on foot and on four wheels. These bus rides are accompanied by a ranger who will stop during animal sightings and give a commentary.

No trip to Alaska is complete without experiencing the Alaska taxi with return by small plane rides into Wrangell-St Elias for three nights. You would think that nothing could better Alaskan views, that is until you witness them from the air.

This is a holiday for the traveller and has a pioneer status to indicate the spirit of adventure, as things may not always go as expected. Hotel standards are not as fancy as the lower 48 states, roads are not as smooth, food options not as varied, but the experience is certainly larger than life.

Come explore and experience the Alaskan wilderness with Ramblers Walking Holidays!


Holiday Highlights

  • Travel in small planes into America’s largest National Park, Wrangell-St Elias for remote walks and glacier walking
  • Extensive walking in Denali National Park, Seward, Matanuska and more
  • See the Root Glacier and its bizarre glacial features
  • Scenic ferry journey through Prince William Sound

 

The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return flights from Heathrow to Anchorage via Vancouver (Air Canada)
      Airport transfers
      Transfers between centres
      En suite accommodation, on all but three nights, with breakfast throughout 
      All picnic lunches
      Four dinners in local restaurants
      Local American driver-guide throughout
      Park entrance fees
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised program, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 6

  1. Day 1

    Welcome to Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska with only 300,000 people. Not so long ago, Anchorage was the final outpost before heading into the state interior country, now it is a modern city fuelled by tourism and oil. It is common to find bears roaming the city borders and moose wandering down the main street. A welcome meeting will be held at 18:00, for you to meet you tour leader and fellow travelling companions, followed by a welcome dinner.

    Accommodation: Inlet Tower Hotel & Suites (or similar)

    Meals: Dinner

  2. Day 2

    After a hearty breakfast, you depart Anchorage and into the wilderness, starting with a walk in Chugach State Park, a nearby favourite for locals. Warm your legs up with a walk on the Rabbit Lake Trail, an 8.7-mile return trail that features a lake. The trail is rated as moderate and ends at a large lake, in the shadow of two near-sheer faces of 5,000-foot peaks before returning the same way.

    From here you continue onto the lovely town of Seward, a small fishing town with a history as a railroad port, but now a lively spot with picturesque old-time downtown area. Seward is quaint and is located on an inlet on the Kenai Peninsula. It is also gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, where glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield into coastal fjords.

    Duration: 3 hours approximately

    Distance: 8.7 miles

    Ascent / Descent: 440m

    Accommodation: Best Western Plus Edgewater or similar

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch

  3. Day 3

    This morning you’re in for a treat, but you will have to work for it. The Harding Icefields Trail to Exit Glacier is an aesthetically stunning walk, with views of deep crevasses and huge seracs on the glacier. With an elevation of 900m, you will reach the perfect lunch stop and view point with out-of-this-world vistas. Not only is it a favourite of our product manager, but also rated as one of the finest hikes in Alaska.

    The walk is strenuous and ultimately weather will dictate whether we are able to do this hike; however, views along the way and especially from the top are spectacular. If you prefer an easier option, there is an alternative trail to reach a different viewpoint of the glacier.

    Please note, this trail is above grade at grade 7 due to the altitude gain (and drop). If you wish to do this hike, you should be fit enough should you wish to continue to the top. However, as the walk returns along the same trail, you can ultimately turn back at any point.

    Duration: 6 -7 hours approximately

    Distance: 9.7 miles (return trail)

    Ascent / Descent: 930m

    Accommodation: Best Western Plus Edgewater or similar

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch

  4. Day 4

    Today is the hike up Mount Marathon for sweeping scenic views. There are two options for this hike: The Runner’s Trail and the Jeep Trail. The latter is recommended for most visitors except the marathon trail runners who ascend and descend the mountain as fast as possible every July. The Jeep Trail route will take you up to the top at varying degrees of incline, but in a relatively comfortable pace. Don’t be fooled by the initial mile which starts as a rocky, steep incline, as it eases off after that first push. You’ll travel along the tree line, through a meadow for spectacular views of the town of Seward, Gulf of Alaska and Resurrection Bay. You will encounter loose rock, a creek bed, and piles of scree and some scrambling will be involved. Commonly spotted are moose and black bear. Please note this is a grade seven trail and although it is above grade, you do not need to go to the top to enjoy the views. If you intend to reach the top, please ensure you are capable of a grade seven walk.

    Should you wish to stay in town, why not take an optional cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park to uncover the wonderful world of whales, wildlife, and glaciers. There are different durations of cruise available.

    Duration: 5-6 hours approximately

    Distance: 4.1-mile loop trail

    Ascent / Descent: 890m

    Accommodation: Best Western Plus Edgewater or similar

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch

  5. Day 5

    This morning you drive to Whittier (two hours) where you board the Alaska state ferry for Valdez; you will need to show your passport to board so please keep this free. The ferry journey takes around 6-7 hours and crosses the beautiful Prince William Sound. With well-trained eyes, commonly spotted are whales, porpoises and an array of birdlife. Views of the mountains, bays, fjords and glaciers are unforgettable. On board there is a simple café and observation deck where you can keep vigilant watch or relax in a deck chair enjoying the fresh air. You should arrive into the oil town of Valdez around 19:00 as per the 2019 schedule, where you check in to the hotel and have a late dinner (not included). Please note, you will need to buy your lunch in Seward in advance to eat on the ferry.

    If the ferry schedule should change or no longer operate on this day, then this will affect the overall schedule of the day. You will be informed prior to departure (unless the change happens after you have departed) of the new proposed schedule for the day, should this be necessary.

    Accommodation: Best Western Valdez or similar

    Meals: Breakfast

  6. Day 6

    The scenery keeps getting better and today is no different. You drive the Chitina (200km, 2.5 hours) with a short stop for a view of Worthington Glacier and potentially a short stroll depending on weather conditions.

    In the early afternoon, you board your flight (small air craft) and land in the small town of McCarthy around 30 minutes later. Please note that the baggage allowance for this flight is only 13kg, the rest of your luggage will be stored at the airport, to be collect on your return. It would therefore be useful to bring a small soft backpack to use for our three night stay in Wrangell-St-Elias.  Views from the air are not to be missed so it’s worth keeping your camera at the ready. There will be an easy orientation walk upon arrival for those who want.

    McCarthy has a population of around 50 in the summer and 17 the remainder of the year. This unique settlement is literally surrounded by mountains, glaciers and wilderness; it will be your base for the next three nights. Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve contains nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the United States, including the second highest, Mount St Elias (5,488m), and is the most glaciated region in the North American continent.

    Accommodation: Ma Johnson Hotel (shared bathrooms)

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

  7. Day 7

    Bonanza Mine Trail is an 8.3-mile return trail, a nice day hike up to the historic ruins of Kennecott Mines. In the early 1900s, Kennecott was a copper mining town and Bonanza Mine is currently the most accessible mine, requiring a lengthy, but straightforward, day hike. You follow a series of switchbacks through the trees and up to the tundra, where views open up. The Bonanza bowl is picturesque with patches of snow, a stream and small waterfalls, from here you have views over the Root Glacier and the Chugach Mountains. You will see remnants of mining operations with the trail finishing at the mine bunkhouse ruins.

    Duration: 7-8 hours

    Distance: 9 miles

    Ascent / Descent: 1125m

    Accommodation: Ma Johnson Hotel (shared bathrooms)

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch

  8. Day 8

    Today you walk the Root Glacier/Erie Mine Trail where the highlights include the chance to view glaciers, mining artefacts, views of Mt. Blackburn, Regal Mountain and Donaho Peak. The terrain is relatively level with moderate elevation gain and loss, and at times the trail can be slippery so walking poles are recommended. It is common place to see bears along this trail, however your guide will have bear spray with him in case. Bears tend to be afraid of humans and will run away when they hear noise. Please note this trail does not access the Erie Mine.

    Duration: 3 hours

    Distance: 4 miles approximately (depends on weather conditions)

    Ascent / Descent : minimal

    Accommodation: Ma Johnson Hotel (shared bathrooms)

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch

  9. Day 9

    Today you say goodbye to Wrangell-St Elias and fly (small air craft) back to Chitina early morning. From here you drive to your lodge in the Matanuska Valley (225km, 3 hours approx.). After checking into the hotel, stretch your legs with a walk to a plateau below Gunsight Mountain.

    Distance: 1 mile

    Ascent / Descent: minimal

    Accommodation: Sheep Mountain Lodge or similar

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

  10. Day 10

    Your final three nights of the tour are spent exploring Denali National Park, home to the highest mountain in North America, Mount Denali (6,194m). The park spans six million acres and houses some of the most unspoiled wilderness in Alaska. To help you navigate the park, we have included the park bus pass so you can delve deeper into the park, access further trails and see more wildlife. These include Caribou, Dall Sheep, Moose, Grizzly Bears and Wolves. Denali is one of the only national parks where you are encouraged to find your own path off the beaten trail. Your drive time today will be around 3 hours and 30 minutes (270 kms).

    There are many options for today's walk after arriving to Denali. It is likely you will walk on the Little Coal Creek trail to Kesugi Ridge. As always, walks are subject to change, however this is the most likely option.

    Duration: 4-5 hours

    Distance: 6.58 miles

    Ascent / Descent: 530m

    Accommodation: Crow’s Nest Resort (cabins)

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch

  11. Day 11

    Today is a completely free day to either use your buss pass and explore Denali National Park on foot or ride the bus to the end of the line and see what animals you can spot along the way.  You can get off the bus along the way, failing that you can ride the 6-7 round trip and listen to the commentary. Whichever option you choose, Denali will not disappoint.

    Please note, even though we have a local guide and a Ramblers tour leader, no back country guided hikes are allowed inside the boundaries of the park. That is why this is designated a free day.

    Accommodation: Crow’s Nest Resort (cabins)

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch

  12. Day 12

    Today you enjoy a front country hike in Denali National Park on Mount Healy Overlook. The Mount Healy Trail travels part-way up Mount Healy, a small mountain overlooking the entrance area of the park. The trail starts with a steady, mild uphill grade, eventually becoming quite steep near its finish. Unlike many of Denali's trails, it is not a loop and not far from the visitor’s centre.

    Duration: 3-4 hours

    Distance: 4.34 miles

    Ascent / Descent: 520m

    Accommodation: Crow’s Nest Resort (cabins)

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

  13. Day 13

    Leaving early morning, you leave the wilderness behind and make your way back to city life, stopping at Talkeetna along the way. For an early lunch, a delicious snack is reindeer sausage, but you will find vegetarian options also. From here you continue to Anchorage where you have some free time and use of day rooms (one for men/one for women) before leaving for Anchorage international airport for your overnight flight home.

    Meals: Breakfast

  14. Day 14

    Arrive back into London Heathrow around 13:25.

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Heathrow to Anchorage via Vancouver (Air Canada)
  • Arrival transfer by road c.30mins
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Most low-cost carriers also have extra legroom seats.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • Visa (ESTA) is required

Trip Map

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Our Accommodation on this holiday

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday. If you are on a multi-centre holiday, these are highlights of the places where we stay. Please refer to your Holiday Information sheet (which can be found under View Departures & Book), for your departure date and for all your accommodation details.

Denali Crow's Nest Cabins

Located just outside of Denali National Park is Denali Crow’s Nest Cabins. Each hand-built cabin features tasteful alpine furnishings, elegant décor and en-suite bath and shower. Each cabin features amenities such as high-speed internet access, flat panel TV, MP3 alarm clock radio and premium bath and toiletries.


Ma Johnson's Hotel

This a unique property located in the tiny town of McCarthy in Wrangell-St Elias National park. It is a home away from home and is in fact someone’s home…Ma Johnson. It has been dubbed a living museum for its authenticity. This is a basic hotel/guesthouse and cannot be compared with a 3-star hotel as the experience is very different, but location more than makes up for it. All 20 rooms have shared bathroom.


Sheep Mountain Lodge

Sheep Mountain Lodge has hosted visitors for over 65 years, in their quaint cabins surrounding the Matanuska area. The cabins are located along the scenic Glenn Highway and guests can enjoy spectacular mountain views, cabins with private bath and showers, delicious home cooked meals, and old-fashioned Alaskan hospitality that has made Sheep Mountain Lodge famous. The lodge has extensive decking, greenhouses and flower gardens. Although cabins are simple, they are clean and warm and a home away from home.


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