Alaska is one intimidatingly enormous and stunning. It is a nature lover’s paradise, an outdoorsman’s oasis, a photographer’s dream and for road-trippers like us, it’s a marvel. Our journey began within Anchorage with a welcome dinner hosted for the group by Visit Anchorage, the local tourism authority of Alaska. Next day, we were introduced to our Jeep Cherokees, a powerhouse vehicle that we would be driving for the next two weeks. With hands behind the steering wheels, we were on our way to Denali National Park.
Located approx. 240 miles north of Anchorage, Denali National Park encompasses more than 6 million acres of breath-taking wilderness. We enjoyed awe-inspiring views of Mount Denali, the highest mountain in North America. On an excursion through the park, we spotted grizzly bears, caribou, moose and more wildlife, unique to this part of the world. Next day, we drove from Denali to Fairbanks, where we boarded an authentic Alaskan sternwheeler boat for a half-day cruise. Onboard the cruise, we witnessed a bush pilot take off and land from a riverbank landing strip, a sledge-dog demonstration and a guided tour through a replica of an Athabascan Indian Village where we learned about native Alaskan village life like how they store food, survived winters, made fur coats etc.
The most challenging part of our road trip began the day we started driving on the haul road aka the iconic Dalton Highway to reach the remote town of Coldfoot where we witnessed the shimmering green Northern Lights, also known as “Aurora Borealis” in the night sky.
Crossing the Arctic Circle, we were getting closer and closer to Deadhorse. The only manmade thing we had for company was the Trans Alaskan pipeline that runs parallel to the highway. For 240 miles, there were no services, gas stations, cafes or even medical assistance. Once we reached Deadhorse, which marks the end of the Dalton Highway, everyone was beaming with joy as they completed the drive that most only dream of.
The following morning, we left for a guided tour of Prudhoe Bay Oil fields where we all got a chance to dip our feet in the ice-cold waters of the Arctic Ocean. We were informed that none of the workers live there. Workers generally work on two weeks on and two weeks off schedule. After the tour, we started our return journey and reached Fairbanks, where we dropped our vehicles to board the iconic Alaska Railroad. A one of its kind train with windowed domes that offer the best possible views of the incredible Alaskan countryside. The 12-hour train ride through the Alaskan tundra and Denali National Park ended before we could realise, but we will always cherish this wonderful experience.
On the last day, we enjoyed a farewell dinner with the group in Anchorage. With silent tears, tighter hugs and million memories, we bid goodbye to each other with a promise to exploring new countries and continents together in the future.