Land tours span the state in 2001

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As the Alaska tourism market grows, so does the diversity of its visitors. More people than ever are traveling independently, traveling by land and taking other alternatives to a traditional cruise.

To serve this burgeoning market, many Alaska specialists have devised a broad spectrum of itineraries that range from self-drive vacations to guided wilderness lodge packages.

Many are Alaska-based companies; some are native owned and others, while technically from the "outside," have been serving the Alaska market for many, many years.

Here's a look at what several operators will offer in 2001:

  • Alaska's Glacier Bay Tours & Cruises, owned and operated by Juneau-based Goldbelt Corp., is marketing its "five-sport adventure safari."
  • "It emulates what we do on the water on our adventure cruises, but does it on land," said Jerre Fuqua, vice president of marketing, sales and reservations. Guests of the Denali Wilderness Lodge on horseback. The lodge is a featured stop on the land portion of Cruise West's Outdoors Alaska land-sea program.
    "Each day there's an activity, such as hiking, mountain-biking, river-rafting, kayaking and helicopter glacier trekking," Fuqua said.

    The six-night program is fully escorted with a maximum of 22 guests per group. The price is $2,495 per person, double.

    The company also is the only operator to offer a package for independent travelers to Gates of the Arctic National Park, located above the Arctic Circle.

    The five-night trip is based out of Bettles Lodge and includes flightseeing; visits with Alaskan homesteaders and to an Eskimo village; a river-rafting excursion, and a day of fishing, hiking and canoeing.

    The price is $2,750 per person, double.

    For information or reservations, call the operator at (800) 451-5952.

  • Alaska Wildland Adventures is celebrating 25 years of leading fishing and ecotours to the Final Frontier state.
  • Next summer's program features a lineup of seven different "safaris," ranging from four to 10 nights, including a package designed for families.

    Activities might include rafting, hiking or horseback riding, depending on the itinerary.

    The Riversong Lodge, less than an hour's flight from Anchorage, is one of the wilderness options from Knightly Tours.
    Prices for a four-night tour begin at $1,895 per person, double, land only.

    Groups are limited to 18 participants and are led by naturalists. Trip extensions include small-ship cruising aboard eco-oriented ships for a complete land-and-sea adventure.

    Independent packages are available to backcountry lodges within Denali National Park and along the Kenai River's shores.

    Packages begin at $825 for three days of wildlife watching at the Kenai Riverside Lodge.

    For information or reservations, call (800)334-8730.

  • Native-owned and operated Alaska Heritage Tours will offer new tour packages and expanded lodging for 2001.
  • The company will add more than 100 rooms to its Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, bringing the total inventory to 202 rooms. The company also will expand its Seward Windsong Lodge from 72 rooms to 108 and will add a lobby for check-ins plus additional seating to its restaurant.

    Both properties will be incorporated into new and expanded choices for custom, independent packages and self-drive tours.

    Destinations include Anchorage, Kenai Fjords National Park, Whittier, Valdez, Denali National Park and Fairbanks.

    For information or reservations, call (877) 258-6877.

  • Clients on a budget will find economical fishing and wilderness packages from the Great Alaska Adventure Lodge.
  • The company's Outback Angler offers affordable fishing trips at a permanent "tent-lodge" on the border of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

    Travelers looking for safari-style activities such as mountain hiking, beach-combing, canoeing and rafting can opt for a tour that combines outdoor adventure on the Kenai Peninsula and within Denali National Park.

    Evening activities include free happy hour, hors d'oeuvres and fireside readings from the poems of Robert Service, the bard of the Klondike.

    For information or reservations, call (800) 544-2261.

  • Alaska Discovery, a leader in adventure travel since 1972, will add departure dates to its Premium Inn-to-Inn Active Wilderness Adventure for 2001.
  • According to John Scheerens, general manager for the company, the operator has eight dates for this trip, one departing every week in July and August.

    The seven-night tour includes such traditional highlights as the White Pass and Yukon Route in Skagway and Mount Roberts Tram in Juneau.

    Adventure aspects include river-rafting, sea kayaking, whale-watching and bear-watching. Groups are limited in size to 11.

    The price for the package is $3,495.

    For information or reservations, call (800) 586-1911.

  • Knightly Tours is a one-stop shopping source for self-drive packages, bed-and-breakfast/ferryliner tours and custom packages tailor-made for independent travelers.
  • New for 2001 are three motorhome packages that include roundtrip air from Seattle, a rental RV and a recommended itinerary. Prices begin at $1,695 per person, double.

    Also new are fly-in packages to wilderness lodges, all within an hour of Anchorage. Destinations include Riversong Lodge, Redoubt Bay Lodge and Winterlake Lodge.

    Prices start at $309 for a day-trip or $1,090 per person, double, for a two-night plan, with all meals.

    For information or reservations, call (800) 426-2123.

  • Princess Tours has a number of land-only escorted tours that feature the firm's wilderness lodges, including the renamed
  • Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge, which will have 125 new guest rooms and a rustic-style decor in 2001 after a $12 million sprucing-up.

    The lodge will be included in several land-only tours, which may also include overnight stays in the firm's Mount McKinley Lodge or Denali Lodge.

    A variety of itineraries are available: Two are escorted and 16 others are designed for independent travelers, including two fly-drive options.

    For information or reservations, call (800) 835-8907.

  • Holland America Tours is the new name for Gray Line of Alaska, which for 2001 will have more than 20 land-only packages that span the state.
  • Plans range from a nine-night All Alaska Tour to a one-night Prince William Sound Explorer tour. Clients can customize a vacation with a number of mix-and-match options. These add-ons include a choice of sportfishing; remote wilderness lodges; wildlife viewing, and local sightseeing excursions to glaciers, gold dredges and the Transalaska Pipeline.

    For information or reservations, call (800) 544-2206.

  • Cruise West has an Outdoors Alaska land-and-sea plan that links three destinations that have "never before been combined in one itinerary," according to the operator.
  • The land segment includes two nights at Denali Wilderness Lodge and two more at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. The cruise segment consists of a four-night cruise of Prince William Sound roundtrip from Whittier. The tour begins and ends in Anchorage.

    The 10-night itinerary features four modes of transportation: deluxe domed railcar, luxury motorcoach, bush plane and small-ship cruising.

    Prices begin at $3,495 per person.

    For information or reservations, call (800) 888-9378.

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