Day 1 – Fairbanks
We land in Fairbanks after taking a red-eye flight from Los Angeles. Although we got no sleep on our flight, we were excited to be in Alaska. After picking up our Kia Forte, we got breakfast at The Cookie Jar Restaurant. Breakfasts there are large and tasty, and made it on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network. Our waitress was so excited because the temperature was a high of 15 degrees Fahrenheit. We from California thought that comment was very funny.
After checking into our hotel, the Regency Fairbanks Hotel, we went to the popular ice sculptures. Since it was in early April, they were beginning to melt, but still very impressive. We got a discount on the entrance fee to the ice sculpture displays due to the melting, and the crowds were gone!
Sign welcoming you to the Ice Sculptures.
Jill by a melting polar bear.
Check out the cute town of Fairbanks!
The sidewalks and roads were very icy and slippery. I fell down three times in a row playing in the ice. Next time I will wear my show boots. Fairbanks is a relatively small town, but the entryway to Alaska’s Arctic: the Dalton Highway going to Prudhoe Bay and Barrow (Utqiagvik) which is reached mainly by plane. You are about 2 hours away from Denali National Park and 4 hours away from Talkeetna. It is also the city where you have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights (September thru April).
Make sure to return in the evening to see the ice sculptures in lights!
Day 2 –Denali National Park
We got up early in the morning, enjoyed our breakfast that was included at the Regency Fairbanks Hotel, and drove to Denali National Park. We went on Easter so the park was practically empty. We visited the dog kennels where the sled dogs live. We were allowed to pet an play with the very friendly dogs.
We took an afternoon hike into the mountains looking for wildlife. We saw beautiful scenery, moose tracks, but no wildlife. It was very serene and peaceful.
While exploring the park, we were on the lookout for Mount Denali. According to the park rangers, Mount Denali is usually shrouded in clouds, so most who come to Denali Park leave without a peek at the elusive mountain. As we stopped at all the lookout points, we thought we saw Mount Denali. We studied the maps and stared in the distance where the mountain is supposed to be. Who cares what the park rangers told us, we saw Mt. Denali!! Another visitor at one of the lookout points was also sure she saw Mt. Denali. It was a successful day (even though we didn’t see a moose).
Moose tracks in the snow.
We drove over 200 miles in a snowstorm to Talkeetna with no brakes. It was quite scary, but we finally made it to our bed and breakfast around 2:00 am. We got stuck in a snow bank and left it there until morning. Luckily it was off the road. We had quite an adventure! Next time we visit Alaska, we will rent an AWD of 4WD. Live and learn.
Day 3 – Talkeetna
We were supposed to take a plane ride to see Mt. Denali and land on a glacier, but it was raining profusely and it was too dangerous to travel back to Fairbanks. So we went to the main town of Talkeetna. The owner of the bed and breakfast lent us his Subaru.
The town is famous for having a cat as acting mayor. The town is very quaint, with nice eating establishments. It is more of a summer town, but we enjoyed having the place practically all to ourselves. We even got to hold the mayor.
We drove back to Fairbanks. Luckily the rain stopped. The snow plows were clearing the snow off the streets. Our journey took approximately 4 hours. The mountains were covered in snow. The countryside was beautiful.
We got up very early in the morning, around 3:30 am to see the Northern Lights. We saw the Northern Lights and met a very nice State Trooper, who wanted to know how we were enjoying Alaska. Apparently I did not have my head lights on. Got off with a warning. Oops!
Day 5 – Delta Junction
We drove south to Delta Junction (the end of the Alaska Highway). We flew down the Richardson Highway on this sunny, snow free day. Delta Junction is used to be a mining and then a farming town. If you are lucky, you may see a wild bison! South of Delta Junction is the Alaska highway. We drove a little ways on the famous Alaska Highway, so we can say we drove on it. The scenery was breathtaking. We drove as far south as we could before we needed to turn around and return to Fairbanks. We ended our day with a delicious sushi and tempura meal at Tokyo Express.
Jill in Delta Junction.
Mosquitoes at Delta Junction (the unofficial state “bird”).
Day 6 – Barrow
We got up before the sun came up to take a plane to Barrow, now known as Utqiaġvik . Utqiaġvik is the most northern city in the United States. We first landed in Prudhoe Bay, where many passengers disembarked. We got to look at Prudhoe Bay from the plane. We were told that anyone that wants to visit needs to make prior arrangements. Not much for tourists to do there, but the food in the cafeteria is fabulous.
Prudhoe Bay from the plane.
After a short layover, we landed in Utqiaġvik and had no plans about what to we were to do. We were hungry and decided to go to lunch. Our cell phones had no cell service, but we were able to find a taxi. Surprisingly, the cab driver was from Thailand. We wondered how he got here. We wanted to go to the famous Pepe’s North of the Border Mexican Restaurant, and have arctic tacos. But the cab driver told us that it had burned down, which was sad to hear. He dropped us off at Arctic Pizza, a restaurant that serves all