Wind your way from Anchorage to glacier-carved Matanuska Valley, a region of scenic mountain vistas, spruce forests and thousands of lakes. Rustic lodges, farmsteads, and small towns unwind along wilderness highways until you arrive at Big Lake, a popular area for camping, fishing and water sports; in winter, the passion here is dog sledding, and the big annual event is the Iditarod race from Anchorage to Nome. Visit Happy Trails Kennel, where four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser breeds and trains sled dogs for the world-famous 1,000-mile marathon; you’ll have a chance to get acquainted with some of these up-and-coming champions, who are bred for speed and athleticism (and love to be petted). You’ll also learn about the special dynamics of the sport: the bond between dogs and musher, the dogs’ ability to conquer long distances in harsh weather and extreme temperatures, and the indelible role of dog sledding in Alaskan history and culture. Following lunch, drive on to the historic town of Talkeetna. With a population of less than 500 and one paved road, its rustic character offers a taste of small-town Alaska, from the general store to the roadhouse, as well as a staging area for climbing expeditions to Mt. McKinley. Arrive at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, set high on a bluff overlooking the town and distant peaks of the Alaskan Range, where you’ll attend a naturalist lecture on the feats, and challenges, of climbing America’s highest mountain.
Lodging - Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge Meals - B, L, D