Riverboat captains piloting their sternwheelers along the vast riverways of Alaska are as much a part of the 49th State’s history as the early gold-seekers and fur traders.
The Riverboat Discovery Tour is the extension of five generations of the Binkley family’s sternwheeler legacy in Alaska and one of the best ways to get an introduction to life off the highway system in the Interior.
The three-hour tour takes visitors down the Chena River where they will learn about bush pilots, dog mushing and life in a traditional Alaska village while on the sternwheeler Discovery.
This year’s tour will start, if it does, later than the originally scheduled May 11 start date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The start date has now been pushed back to Aug. 1, at the earliest.
If tours do start, they will be at 8:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. The cost of the tour is $69.65 for adults, $42.95 for age 3-12 and age 3 and under are free.
For tour updates go to www.riverboatdiscovery.com
The tour takes visitors down the Chena River, with narrated commentary about sternwheelers and Fairbanks history.
The sternwheeler pulls up to a bush plane where the pilot talks about flying to Alaska’s mostly Native villages and how transportation off the road system works. A demonstration of takeoff and landing on the river is part of the stop.
The next stop is at Trail Breaker Kennel, home of the late Susan Butcher, a four-time Iditarod champion, whose husband Dave Monson talks about sled dogs and gives a demonstration.
Near the confluence of the Chena and Tanana rivers, the boat stops and visitors disembark for a trip through the Chena Athabascan Indian Village. The stop will give visitors the chance to learn about village lifestyle and Athabascan culture as well as getting an up-close look at sled dogs.
Snacks are available on board the boat, including Captain Jim’s smoked salmon, on the return trip to Steamboat Landing.
A healthy meal can be purchased at the Discovery Dining Hall after the morning cruise or prior to the afternoon cruise for $13.95 for adults and $5.95 for children.
Also at the landing, there is a large gift shop featuring Alaska gifts. There also is a room where visitors can experience what it is like when the temperature dips to 40 below in winter.
Reservations are suggested and can be made online at www.riverboatdiscovery.com or by calling (907) 479-6673.