IDEA Curriculum Fair 2013: Travel to Alaska and Between Locations

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Traveling to Soldotna (Fair date Wednesday, April 24, 2013)

All flights to Soldotna go through a connection in Anchorage. Once you get to Anchorage, you can fly to Soldotna on ERA Alaska, a commuter airline that is affiliated with Alaska Airlines. ERA has many 30-minute flights from Anchorage to Kenai every day. (Kenai and Soldotna are "twin cites" about 10 minutes apart.)

If you like to drive, I highly recommend that you drive to Soldotna instead of flying! The 3-hour (145-mile) ride from Anchorage to Soldotna on the Seward and Stering Highways is nothing less than magnificent, traveling first along breath-taking Turnagain Arm with wonderful views of glacier-capped mountains across the inlet, and then through a mountain pass before you drop down into the forest to drive alongside the glacier-fed, aqua-marine Kenai River.

SIGHTSEEING TIPS: You may want to consider flying in to Alaska early and taking a day to drive (or fly) an additional 70 miles south of Soldotna to enjoy picturesque Homer, "where the road ends and the sea begins." Homer is the favorite vacation spot of Alaskans themselves, an artistic and scenic small community (pop. 4500) literally at "the end of the road."

IF YOU DRIVE: If the sky is clear, it is fun to take the tram at Alyeska Resort up to the top of the mountain at 2,300 feet, where you can enjoy the maginificent view of Cook Inlet and have lunch, if you like. Although the Visitor's Center at Portage Glacier is closed in the winter, it is a short (5 mile) pleasant drive down a side road where you can see glaciers fairly close on the sides of the mountains alongside which you drive.

Traveling from Soldotna to Anchorage (Fair dates Thursday-Friday, April 25-26, 2013)

Again, You can drive or fly back to Anchorage from Soldotna.

SIGHTSEEING TIPS: Watch for moose along the way!

Traveling from Anchorage to Fairbanks (Fair dates Monday-Tuesday, April 29-30, 2013)

This is your chance to relax and sight-see! Saturday and Sunday are free days, allowing plenty of time to sight-see in Anchorage and/or Fairbanks as well as travel between the cities. There are many flights between these two Alaska hubs on ERA Alaska or Alaska Airlines. The flight is about 60 minutes long. Should you choose to drive the scenic Parks Highway, the trip is 365 miles between Anchorage and Fairbanks. If you drive, there is time to drive back to Anchorage on Wednesday, or you can leave your rental car in Fairbanks. Another option to consider is to take the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Fairbanks on Saturday. The train leaves Anchorage at 8:30 am and arrives in Fairbanks at 8:00 pm. If you take the train, you will have to fly or drive back to Anchorage, as the train does not run on Wednesdays at that time of year. (When checking schedules on their website, be sure to look for the "Aurora Winter Train."

SIGHTSEEING TIPS: If you drive to Fairbanks, you might enjoy a side trip to Denali National Park, although the best views of Mount McKinley can actually be found from charming Talkeetna, Alaska. Once you are in Fairbanks, it is fun to drive to Chena Hot Springs (1 hour away) to soak in the hot springs, tour the Ice Museum, or take a dog sled ride!

Traveling from Fairbanks to Juneau (Fair date Thursday, May 2, 2013)

All flights between Fairbanks and Juneau make a stop in Anchorage. You can fly to Anchorage on Tuesday evening or Wednesday on ERA Alaska or Alaska Airlines. Juneau cannot be reached by car or train; the flight from Anchorage takes about 90 minutes. Alaska Airlines is the only major airline that has flights to Juneau. You may get tickets on other airlines that share flights with Alaska Airlines.

SIGHTSEEING TIPS: Visit Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, 5 miles from the Juneau airport. In addition to the glacier, there is a bear-viewing platform, and you are quite likely to see a black bear there in the spring, particularly in the early evening.

Traveling "Outside" from Juneau

Alaskans call the continental United States "Outside" - always capitalized. Alaska Airlines is the only major airline that has flights out of Juneau. You may get tickets on other airlines that share flights with Alaska Airlines. Remember, you must stay until the Exhibit Hall closes!