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Denali National Park

Alaska and the Canadian Rockies Are Your Newest Travel Obsessions

 Steve McKenna head shot
by Steve McKenna

August 23, 2017

3 minute read

Collette's brand new Alaska Discovery and Canadian Rockies tour promises a journey of a lifetime through some of North America's most awe-inspiring land and seascapes. Lasting 18 days, this epic adventure combines a mix of travel by road, rail and sea, including a week on a deluxe cruise ship and a ride on the iconic Rocky Mountaineer train. Here are the highlights of a tour that begins in Fairbanks, in the heart of Alaska, and finishes over 3000km away, as the eagle flies, in Banff, Alberta.

The Wild North West

Established a century ago, Denali National Park and Preserve spans 24,500km2 (about twice the size of Sydney, Australia) and offers visitors pulse-raising wildlife-watching opportunities against a backdrop of dreamy Alaskan scenery. Keep an eye out for grizzly bears, wolves, moose and caribou, who roam the abundant spruce forests, meadows and soaring peaks, the grandest of which is Denali. Also known as Mount McKinley, at 6190m, it's the highest summit in North America, and you'll get used to seeing it, as you'll spend three days touring the region and bedding down in quaint, woodsy lodges.

Scenic Cruising

From the port of Whittier, near Anchorage (Alaska's largest city), you'll board The Princess, a floating resort on which you'll spend seven days cruising from Alaska to British Columbia via the coastline of the other-worldly Yukon Territory. From the observation decks, you'll marvel at extraordinary natural landmarks like the Hubbard Glacier, and dock at intriguing ports of call, including Skagway - where you'll learn about the boom-and-bust Klondike Gold Rush days from the turn of the 20th century - and Ketchikan, dubbed the 'Salmon Capital of the World'. You won't go hungry on The Princess, with delectable meals catering to seafood lovers, carnivores and vegetarians alike.

Vancouver

A delightful place to end the cruise, Vancouver, BC, is one of Canada's most liveable cities. You'll get a flavour of its diverse, multicultural charm on a sightseeing tour through districts like Granville Island, where you can browse and buy hand-crafted goods and artisan produce at the popular public market, and Gastown, a buzzing, heritage filled hub of pubs, galleries and boutiques - and a world-famous steam-powered clock. Stanley Park, the city's loveliest green space, is also on the itinerary, and after a scenic ferry ride to Vancouver Island, you'll stroll through the pretty, fragrant Butchart Gardens of Victoria, the charming 'capital' of British Columbia.

Rocky Mountaineer

You'll spend two days enjoying one of the world's great rail trips. Rocky Mountaineer's SilverLeaf Service from Vancouver to Banff blends breath-taking natural landscapes with staggering feats of human ingenuity, such as the Spiral Tunnels, which were completed in 1909 to allow trains to cross the rugged Rockies. Savour gourmet, regionally-sourced food and drink at your window seat as the train snakes past verdant farmland, gushing rivers and vertiginous canyons. If you're lucky, you might spot an eagle or two (as well as moose, elk and bears). You'll break things up with an overnight stay at a hotel in the historic railroad town of Kamloops.

Banff and Jasper National Parks

The icing on the cake of your unforgettable 18-day tour are these jaw-dropping national parks, where you'll encounter a feast of snow-dusted mountains, thunderous waterfalls and turquoise-tinged lakes, and venture through evocatively-named regions like the Icefields Parkway and the Land of the Sleeping Giants. One of the biggest thrills is stepping foot on the Glacier Skywalk, a 1km glass-floored observation platform overlooking a 280m drop over the Sunwapta Valley. The views are so stunning you'll feel like you've walked into a postcard.

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