TA-SD11 Alaska Self Drive Tours | Fall Colors and Northern Lights

Wildlife, Scenery, Spectacular Fall Colors and Northern Lights Viewing Tour

Iditarod Iditarod Iditarod
The short fall season is a perfect time to visit Alaska - the birch trees are turning into a stunning gold and the tundra is ablaze in a sea of red. Moose and caribou have shed their antler's velvet and skies are usually clear and deep blue. Amidst this background of brilliant color you'll travel from Anchorage up the Parks Highway via Talkeetna to Denali National Park and bus through one of the best wildlife viewing areas in North America to the Eielsen Visitor Center or to the Toklat area. Moose, Dall sheep, and caribou are usually seen on this trip. Of course, if Mt. McKinley is out, the view of mountain alone is worth the trip. You'll spend a couple of days in Denali because the Park belongs also to the best destinations in the world to view and photograph Grizzly Bears during fall. The grizzly bears are in their prime from the middle of August until the end of September; their bodies are flush and fat with rich salmon from the summer, their coasts filling out for the long cold winter ahead, these bears fairly glow in the waning fall light. Enjoy your day inside the park with a hiking tour across the ridges above Eielsen Visitor Center, with grizzly bear observation, a campfire program or a exciting rafting tour on the Nenana River. Continue your journey on the Parks Highway to Fairbanks and Chena Hot Springs. September is also the best time to watch the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) The month combines both mild weather and dark skies. We can customize this tour !

This tour is also available in opposite direction.

Day 1: Anchorage – Talkeetna | Denali State Park

Pick up your rental car in Anchorage. Enjoy sweeping views of snowcapped mountain peaks in the distance while traveling from Anchorage on the George Parks Highway to Wasilla. Visit the Iditarod Headquarter in Wasilla and check out how tough "The Last Great Sled Dog Race on Earth" really is. Continue your tour to Vern Halters Iditarod "Dream a Dream" Dog Mushing Kennels. Vern is a well known veteran Iditarod musher who weaves the history of the Iditarod into his informative presentation. Meet the huskies who make up the team, enjoy a short nature walk with the newest members, the pups! Then enjoy a special ride on a multi-seat All Terrain Vehicle with the option of standing positions too. These dog limos are the coolest and most realistic way to ride with a sled dog team in the summer months. It's great training for the dogs and you'll see how they love it! Continue to Talkeetna: Talkeetna was established as a mining town and trading post before either Wasilla or Anchorage existed. Several of its old log buildings are today historical landmarks. The community is internationally recognized as the base for many of the climbing expeditions that challenge Mt. McKinley, Mt. Hunter and Mt. Foraker during the summertime, so it is not unusual to find a larger number of international visitors walking these quiet streets. The Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers join the Susitna River at Talkeetna and the town reportedly takes its name from an Indian word meaning "where the rivers join". A museum in The Little Red Schoolhouse, built in 1917. Local art, old books, and historical items are on display. (Distance 110 Miles) Overnight: Talkeetna, Denali Princess Lodge (or similar)

Day 2: Talkeetna

Travel Tip: Reserve a spectacular Denali Flightseeing Tour | Kahiltna Glacier Landing into the Alaska Mountain Range. As your flight departs Talkeetna, you begin soon to see how the last ice age has shaped the land. Moments later you enter a world of rugged high mountain peaks and wide glacier filled valleys. Listen as your pilot describes the natural wonders of Denali National Park and see the Sheldon Amphitheater, beautiful Ruth Glacier, and the Great Gorge - the world's deepest gorge, almost 2 miles from top to bottom -. Land on a glacier beneath Mt. McKinley for 15 minutes and enjoy the sun, snow and unique sounds of the glacier. No other glacier in Alaska places you right next to the greatest vertical relief on the planet. A experience you'll never forget. At night you have a chance to view the aurora right from your hotel. We suggest to request the Aurora wake-up call with the front desk. Overnight: Talkeetna, Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge (or similar)

Day 3: Talkeetna - Denali National Park

Leave Talkeetna and follow the Parks Highway through Denali State Park with good wildlife viewing, canoe rental and excellent hiking opportunities. Arrive at Denali National Park during the day and check in your hotel. Denali, the “Great One”, is the name Athabascan people gave the massive peak that crowns the 600-mile-long Alaska Range. Denali National Park and Preserve was created 1980 from the former Mt Mc.Kinley National Park. At over 6 million acres, the park is larger than the State of Massachusetts. It exemplifies interior Alaska’s character as one of the world’s last great frontiers for wilderness adventure and it remains largely wild and unspoiled, as the Athabascan knew it. Overnight: Denali National Park, Denali Bluffs Hotel (or similar)

Day 4: Denali National Park

Early (pre-reserved time) shuttle bus departure - the park road is closed for private vehicles - for a full day wildlife observation and sightseeing tour to the Eielson Visitor Center, Wonder Lake or Kantishna within the shadows of Mt. McKinley - with 20.320 ft. the highest mountain in North America. The views from here are just spectacular. Watch for grizzly bears, moose, caribou, wolf, lynx, wolverine and fox roaming throughout the park or observe one of the 150 different bird species which inherit the Denali National Park area. Many hiking trails along the ridges and throughout the valleys are easily accessible from the road. Park ranger at the visitor center are conducting interesting campfire talks, sled dog demonstations and short guided nature walks on a regular basis. Return to the Park entrance anytime during the day. (Distance 120 Miles), Overnight: Denali National Park, Denali Bluffs Hotel (or similar)

Day 5: Denali National Park - Nenana - Fairbanks

In Fairbanks you have the unique chance to go on a bush mail plane flight to Alaska's vast, roadless interior. Enjoy the scenic flight above the arctic circle and experience how the Gwich'in Athabascan Natives live in "Bush" Alaska. Put your hand into the Yukon River, travel through the wetlands and crest the rounded peaks of the Northern Edge of the Alaska Range looking out for moose and dall sheep. Another option is to book a guided Van tour on the famos Dalton Highway across the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle and along the Alaska Pipeline. Overnight Fairbanks, Rivers Edge Resort (or similar)

Day 6: Fairbanks

March and September are the best months of the year to view the aurora, for a couple of reasons. First, Earth's orbit is in a zone of maximum solar activity during these months. Secondly, the months of March and September combine sufficiently dark skies with mild temperatures for comfortable viewing. As NASA astronomer Sten Odenwald notes, observations from Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin during a 55-year period spanning five sunspot cycles confirm that March and September are the most frequent months for auroras and January and July the least likely. Most solar activity comes from regions of the sun outside the solar equatorial band plus or minus 10° to either side of the solar equator. The Earth in its orbit is inside this equatorial band during January and July, and when it is at it maximum heliographic latitudes in September and March, the Earth is in the zone of maximum solar activity. Another factor in choosing a “best time of year” has to be comfort for the viewer. The months of March and late September-October combine both mild weather and dark skies. During the summer the sky is not dark enough to see the Aurora Borealis. In the winter you can see the Aurora Borealis but in temperatures of -40°F you may freeze trying. Alaska is by far the best place in the USA to see northern lights, because they occur in the "auroral oval, which is centered on the northern geomagnetic pole, and which usually passes over Alaska. (Distance 180 Miles) Overnight: Fairbanks, Rivers Edge Resort (or similar)

Day 7: Fairbanks - Chena Hot Springs Resort

Drive along the Chena Hot Springs road (watch out for moose!), take a hiking trip along the Chena River and enjoy the Chena Hot Springs Resort. This is the favorite place up north to relax in a large heated indoor pool or in the natural outdoor rock lake. Visit the Aurora Ice Museum and grant yourself to a "Appletini" beverage served in an ice glass and last but not least stay up and watch out for the nightly Northern Lights spectacle on the sky above you. Overnight: Chena Hot Springs Resort

Day 8: Chena Hot Springs Resort

Enjoy your day at Chena Hot Springs Resort. The area is internationally recognized as one of the best places to view the Aurora Borealis in Alaska. The 440-acre resort area is also known for its healthy outdoor opportunities in the pristine wilderness of Alaska´s great Interior. Spend your day at leisure and join a guided ATV Tour, go on a hiking trip, horseback riding or biking. Throughout the sumner, snowless summer month, guests get to experience the traditional winter Alaskan sport of dog mushing during a dog cart ride - or visit the dog kennel and chat with an experienced mushers. Tonight you have the opportunity again to observe the Northern Lights dancing across the northern winter skies. Overnight: Chena Hot Springs Resort

Day 9: Chena Hot Springs - Fairbanks

Return to Fairbanks and drop off your rental car at the airport. (Distance 80 Miles) Return flight home or individual program extension. Please inquire.

Tour Includes

  • 8 Nights First-Class Accommodation
  • Hotel and State Taxes
  • 9 Day Compact Rental Car
  • One Way Car Rental Fee Anchorage - Fairbanks
  • Unlimited Free Mileage
  • Rental Car Licensing Fees
  • MOA - State Vehicle Rental Taxes
  • Denali National Park Fee
  • Denali Shuttle Bus Ticket to Eielson or Toklat
  • Chena: Geothermal Energy Tour
  • Chena Hot Springs Pool Pass
  • Tour Documentation

Rates per Person in US $ from Anchorage to Fairbanks | or VS

Tour Number | TA-SD11 | Daily Departures
Single Double Triple Quad

August 20 - August 31 | First Class Hotels

September 01 - September 23 | First Class Hotels









Optional Sightseeing Tours

Rates in US$ / per Person

Talkeetna: 1 Hour Mt. McKinley Flightseeing Tour

Talkeetna: 1.5 Hour Mt. McKinely Flightseeing Tour including Glacier Landing

Fairbanks: Full Day Dalton Highway Aurora Van Tour

Wasilla: Vern Halter Sled Dog Kennels





Tour Package | Rental Car Upgrades

Rental Car Category | Taxes + Unlimited Free Mileage Included
Upgrade Extra Day

Compact Car | Chevrolet Aveo or similar

Mid Size Car | Toyota Corolla or similar

Full Size Car | Chevrolet Malibu or similar

Mid Size SUV | Ford Escape or similar

Full Size SUV | Jeep Grand Cherokee or similar

Mini Van | Dodge Grand Caravan or similar