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Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

Sydney, Australia
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Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

I'm making arrangements for my trip to Alaska in either Feb or Mar next year. Joining a sled dog adventure tour is the key activity in my trip, I'm now between joining the Yukon Quest sled dog adventure tour or the Iditarod sled dog adventure tour. I know they are activities in two different months & locations, just wondering which one is nicer to watch?

And, is Feb or Mar a better month to view aurora borealis in 2010?

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Alaska
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Manitoba, Canada
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1. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

By joining the "adventure tours", do you mean the $10,000 tours? Up to you, but you could do a lot of the same things on your own for a lot less.

Anyway, I think you'd enjoy either race. Much more hype surrounding the Iditarod, of course, but a lot of activities too that you might enjoy, though they're down in Anchorage which has less chance of seeing aurora (often due to clouds more than being a bit further south). Also don't forget the Ice Art in Fairbanks, Fur Rondy in Anchorage. Think about what other things you might like to do and see, and that should help you make your decision.

The aurora are still in a very low cycle, and not expected to improve for at least a couple of years. However, the best chances to see them are close to the equinoxes, which would mean March should be better. No guarantees, though.

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2. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

Single_Traveller, are you looking at a Yukon Quest package like this:

www.alaskatours.com/winter/yukon_quest.htm

Chena Hot Springs would raise odds of seeing northern lights, but there are no promises. We are moving closer to the peak of the cycle so each year now we have better odds of displays.

and aa Iditarod package like this:

www.adventurealaskatours.com/iditarod.htm

What I wouldn't give to be able to go out to an Iditarod checkpoint! But then most Alaskans are avid Iditarod fans.

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Chena Hot Springs Resort
Chena Hot Springs Resort
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Pleasant Valley, AK
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3. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

Yes, Manitoba & Denalicat, I was referring to the Adventure Alaska tour that costs around $4,000 - 6 nights with a mushing class included. Since I don't drive & am traveling alone, I guess joining a tour is the easiest way. thank you for giving me an heads-up on the aurora viewing, I am in the process of checking air tickets now.

My plan is to arrive at Anchorage on March 1

Join the tour on March 2, which ends on March 8

On the 9th, I will take the train from Anchorage to Fairbanks (if there's one running on the weekday, otherwise, I will have to take the plane)

From March 10-12 (3 days), I will attend the Ice Sculpting event and stay two nights at Chena Hot Springs.

Returning to Anchorage (for my international flight) on March 13.

Any comments to this itinerary? Any suggestions or tips would be very much appreciated!

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Alaska
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Chena Hot Springs Resort
Chena Hot Springs Resort
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Pleasant Valley, AK
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4. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

The tour looks interesting, and you get to visit Hope and Homer, which aren't the "usual" places people go in winter. Sounds like fun. Though I'd take this comment about day 3 with a grain of salt: "the northern lights will surely treat us to a show ". But I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that you get to see a nice display at least once during your trip! While you're in Fairbanks, I'd recommend also seeing the Museum of the North. Even a non-museum type person like me enjoyed it.

The train runs only on the weekends, so you'll have to fly--but if it's clear, you should get some great views! Keep your camera handy.

"We are moving closer to the peak of the cycle so each year now we have better odds of displays. "

I hope you're right, denalicat. And eventually you will be. BUT--sunspots are WAY down, and it might not be a "normal" 11 year cycle:

"In 2008 and 2009, the sun set Space Age records for low sunspot counts, weak solar wind, and low solar irradiance. The sun has gone more than two years without a significant solar flare. ... In our professional careers, we've never seen anything quite like it," says Pesnell. "Solar minimum has lasted far beyond the date we predicted in 2007."" …nasa.gov/headlines/…29may_noaaprediction.htm

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Homer
Homer
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5. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

Thanks, Manitoba, for your opinions on the tour. I chose this one mainly because - as you've said - it is taking me to places which aren't the "usual", also because it is a participating tour instead of mere sight-seeing. I just found out that I can include the one-way Anchorage to Fairbanks air-ticket into my international tickets, the cost of which turns out to be very reasonable! So, I am flying all the ways from Hong Kong to Anchorage and then to Fairbanks. I will then take the Sunday train from Fairbanks back to Anchorage -- just one-way train, stay in Anchorage for another two days before I return to Hong Kong.

The train worth trying, right? Even in the Winter?

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Bristol, Connecticut
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6. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

On your flight to Fairbanks choose an A window seat, on your flight from Fairbanks choose an F window. These seats will give you great vies of Denali and the Alaska Range. Last AK AIr flight I took to Fairbanks flew right past The Wickersham Wall on Denali, it was unbelievable. Some of the best Northern Lights I have see were from Hope so good luck.

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Denali
Denali
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Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
Alaska
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Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

Spacefry: this is great information/tips! Thank you very much. It is always the little but important tips that make planning of a trip fun! I surely will get a window seat for those flights. Dog mushing and aurora viewing are my main "things" in this trip, the Ice Sculpting event, hot springs, museum, etc. are the bonuses. Very excited about this trip!!

My first trip to Alaska but definitely NOT the last. I just want to get some actions and a little "hardship" while I still have the strengths to do it. I will save the beautiful Summer/Fall Alaska cruise trips for, may be, 10 years later ;=)

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Alaska
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8. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

"In 2008 and 2009, the sun set Space Age records for low sunspot counts, weak solar wind, and low solar irradiance. The sun has gone more than two years without a significant solar flare. ... In our professional careers, we've never seen anything quite like it," says Pesnell. "Solar minimum has lasted far beyond the date we predicted in 2007."

Very interesting M_M! You do great research for us. I was just sharing this with the hubby who marks down every aurora display we see on the calendar. We only had a few for 2008 & a few for winter 2009. Whereas the first 5-6 years of this decade we saw displays quite a bit. My hubby sees a lot because he is out at 4 am every morning walking the dog.

Well Single_Traveler, here's hoping 2010 displays will be better just for you!

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9. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

Single_Traveler, My husband & I have taken the train from Anchorage to Fairbanks in March & it was a delightful trip. The ice sculpture displays were remarkable. But the snow & wilderness through which we traveled was so lovely & peaceful.

You are so, so lucky to get to watch the mushers at the Skwentna checkpoint. Those mushers are our state heroes & we follow them all very closely. The ceremonial start in Anchorage is also very exciting. We never tire of it, watching our mushers go by. It is always very moving to think about how far they & their dogs are traveling and through what conditions.

Check out some of the videos to get yourself all excited:

http://www.iditarod.com/

Bring lots of warm layers: long johns, wool sweaters, very warm coat, warm hat & mittens. I put a fleece ear band under a wool hat & 2 layers of mittens. Most importantly, have extra thick, warm socks. I have seen so many people have cold, miserable feet watching the Iditarod and that is in warmer Anchorage area!

Please come back to give us a trip report, S_T!

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Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Iditarod or Yukon Quest?

Thanks again for all the help. FYI, I have decided to watch Iditarod instead of Yukon Quest because for some reasons, Yukon Quest in 2010 will be held one week earlier than usual - which is too early for me.