For Part 1 of this travel blogpost click below:
For Part 2 of this travel blogpost click below:
Part 3 is all about Mainland Alaska and the land tour package we took with Princess Cruises.
IV. After Cruise – Land Experience
1. Princess Alaska Rail-Road Service (Whittier to Denali)
This scenic train ride was my favorite part of land trip. The train is designed very well for their passengers, especially in built glass-dome gives an illusion that you are sitting in the lap of nature. Literally! It also has on-the wheel full-service restaurant, and yes we found amazing vegetarian burger option. The entire train from Whittier to Denali was for almost 8 hours, but I didn’t nap even for a minute. The scenic views, the wild life personnel on-board kept us wide awake with his interesting talks. We spotted few bears and other famous Alaskan animals. I highly recommend this train ride to everyone.
In the end of the train ride we reached Denali and the Princess bus took us to the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge in Denali. They do have several on-site restaurants and gift shops. Moreover, it is well planned campus with decks overlooking the Nenana River and Denali National Park views.
Cabin Interiors: The interiors of our cabin had rustic interiors with extreme wood work. Frankly speaking, I wish the cabin was little more cozy and warm. We really had to wait for an hour or so for the heater to do some magic around.
There are several dine-in restaurants on the campus and we chose Base Camp Bar and Grill for a fun and casual dinner. Yes, upon our request they served us a vegetarian burger.
The Retro Red Trolley – On our way back to the cabin we enjoyed the retro trolley ride. The entire campus is spread on acres of land and therefore they have arranged this for on-campus transportation.
Next day we got up really early and got ready for Denali National Park’s Tundra Wilderness Tour. Before checking out of our cabin, we left our luggage (with name tags on) outside the door for the crew members to collect it for the next destination.
So before rushing out to catch our Tundra Wilderness Tour bus, we had warm and comforting Alaskan breakfast buffet at one of the on-site restaurant. We were fortunate enough to find good vegetarian options.
Denali National Park –
Excursion – Tundra Wilderness Tour:
It is a full-day (approximately 9 hours) tour with boxed lunch (less vegetarian options) served. The expert guide/bus driver narrates the entire journey and helps spot the animals around. Moreover, there are video screens inside the bus, so people can have a closer look at the animal activities. We spotted groups of caribous, Dall sheep, black bear, wolf, moose, and some birds.
We also visited Visitors Center on our bus tour, where the National Park Service (NPS) associates shared more information on animals and ways to have a safer hiking tour in Denali National Park.
Recommendation for Hikers/Campers: People who want to hike or camp by themselves should definitely stop by at the Visitors Center and gather some useful information. In past few years I have heard so much about brown grizzly bears attacks, so the tips from the experts can be really beneficial.
Later on, our bus dropped us outside the Visitors center of Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. As we were supposed to catch next Princess Bus to Mc. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.
3. Mount McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge
Mt. McKinley which is also known as Denali (Means “The High One”) is the highest mountain peak in North America.
After the two hour bus ride from Denali Princes Lodge we reached Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. This lodge campus was similar as the Denali Princess Lodge campus; with a rustic vibe and incredible views of Mt. McKinley summit. Moreover, the hotel guests can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, walking trails, wagon rides, and also rafting.
For dine-in, there are several onsite restaurants and cafe in the same campus. We had dinner at 20320 Restaurant and good vegetarian options we found were Veggie Press Sandwich, Veggie Pizza, and amazing Alaskan Wild-berry Pie which was pretty delicious.
The main building (visitors center) has a deck overlooking majestic views of Mt. McKinley and surrounded mountains.
After the long day of travelling around, we called it a night little early. Next day we had few hours before leaving for Anchorage, so in the morning we took a paid shuttle to Talkeetna which is nearly 50 miles from the lodge.
Talkeetna is a beautiful town of Alaska and has unique local town characteristics. Local shops, brewery, restaurants, friendly people, outdoor river activities, dog-sledge ride, and so much made our short visit very memorable. The fun part was re-uniting with my college friend and his wife who were also visiting Alaska. They said their bed and breakfast was lovely house with all water views.
During our visit we got a change to visit the very famous Denali Brewing Co.’s Twister Creek Restaurant. We were instantly hooked as soon as we read their menu; they had awesome vegetarian lunch options. For all my vegetarian buddies, I highly recommend their veggie burger and Thai vegetarian curry. The outdoor patio seating arrangement was like cherry on the cake for me. I highly recommend visiting Talkeetna on a road trip from Denali to Anchorage.
We rode the shuttle back to Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge and in couple of hours we started our journey to Anchorage which was our last and final destination.
5. Anchorage –
Anchorage is a large Alaskan city and a famous tourist location. Visitors who are doing a road/land trip can explore a lot of outdoor activities like bear viewing, biking, flight-seeing, glacier walk, dog sledding, scenic hikes, 1 day cruise tour, explore wildlife, and viewing Northern Lights in winter.
Anchorage Visitors Center was just half a mile walk from our Downtown hotel Captain Cook. So we walked around, visited the Visitors Center, had dinner at Orso Restaurant, and shopped a few souvenirs. Next evening, we rode the airport shuttle (provided by Princess Cruises) to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). It was the best trip of our life and we loved every bit of it.