Dr. Laura and Eric discuss what makes our Alaska trip such a unique experience.
Q. Alaska is so vast - there are so many national parks and areas to explore - what parks and places does a Grand Classroom Alaska tour typically visit?
A. Our tours start and end in Anchorage with time to explore the museums and hike or bike the coastal trail to look for wildlife. We then head down to the fishing village of Seward - along the way we visit the Alaska Wildlife Center and do a cool train ride/rafting combo trip that takes you along Spencer Glacier. In Seward we spend time at Kenai Fjords National Park - we go for a kayak and also have the opportunity to hike on Exit Glacier. For the grand finale we head up to Denali, usually with stops at a dog sledding place and a gold mining spot. At Denali, you can take a guided bus ride into the park and/or hike at a variety of spots including the Savage River, Horseshoe Lake, and Mount Healy.
Q. Some schools might want to customize their itinerary and go to a different area of Alaska. Is that possible?
A. Yes, it's totally possible. We customize all trips, so we can do a variety of different activities based on the group's interest. We've had groups spend time in Homer, AK for example and visit Lake Clark National Park, as a different take on the tour. Other groups have added white water rafting to their itinerary.
Q. One of the best things about an Alaska tour is the opportunity to see wildlife. What animals can travelers expect to see? Have you seen any cool wildlife in Alaska?
A. Pretty much every group will get to see a lot of moose on this trip! You see them everywhere from Anchorage to Denali! I've also seen bear on the trip and some marine life as well. You'll also have the opportunity to see and learn about Alaska's animals at the Wildlife Conservation Center in Anchorage and the Sea Life Center in Seward.
Q. What if a group is interested in learning about geology or history on the Alaska tour? Are there any activities or areas that you'd recommend?
A. Most of the activities are perfect for an earth science tour - you get to see first hand how glaciers have carved out these massive fjords for example. And in terms of history and culture, there are great opportunities in Anchorage such as the Alaska Native Heritage Center. If you want to learn about westward expansion and gold mining, Hatcher Pass/Independence Mine State Historical Park is a great place to stop as well.
Q. You've been on the Alaska tour with our student travelers. What are some of the kids and teachers favorite activities or moments on this tour?
A. Every trip is unique, but most groups especially enjoy the stop at the dogsledding place. You are greeted by puppies and get to learn all about how they are cared for as sled dogs - you hike with them and see a really cool Iditarod demonstration. I also love the experiences that are spur of the moment - one time a group built a little rock pool in the creek next to our cabins, and we all went for a soak at 11pm at night - in the summer in Alaska, it's still light out!