Fairbanks, Alaska — River Boat Cruise Aboard the Discovery

Champion sled dogs and native Alaskan villages — A venture to see

In May 2018, our family ventured to Fairbanks, Alaska. If you love to travel and the breathtaking excitement of the outdoors, Alaska should be on your list to experience. During our stay, we experienced a riverboat cruise on a vessel called the Discovery. Not only were we ready for serene views and a walk-through of native Alaskan history, we were also aboard a piece of history. We know the vessel pictured above as a sternwheeler or paddlewheel boat. The vessel is propelled by the paddles rotating forward or back and pushing water in the opposite direction.

The Discovery tour lasts about three hours as you peacefully make your way along the Chena river. The Discovery glides you through living history and the unique environment that Alaska offers. The tour was fully narrated as you come face to face with natural history, even going as far as involving long-time residents along the shore.

Along the tour there was a tremendous amount of natural beauty. The river itself has a long history with sea planes and sled dogs. Both are some primary methods to navigate the rural villages throughout much of the state even today, especially during the coldest parts of the year.

The boat allowed patrons to venture off and experience the real living history of the Chena Indian Village. The visit included a narrated tour on the ground from local Alaska natives. We learned how log homes were made by hand, hunting and fishing techniques used, and basic village survival. Pictured above is a fishing wheel, or salmon wheel, that scoops salmon from the moving river and tosses them in a basket for later salting, drying, and smoking. Delicious and amazing!

The salmon wheel was very effective for the Indian village. Most river wheels today are banned due to the effectiveness and limited, or evolving quantities of salmon seen each year. Some fishing wheels are thought to have originated more than 10,000 years ago!

The river cruise narrators have said some log cabins are elevated due to the village sitting along a riverbank (flooding) and for storage means. Real animal pelts are seen hanging along the log cabin. The Indian communities used virtually every part of an animal, leaving no waste with respect for the animal’s life.

Above are handmade baby carriers or cradle board, and a basket. The natives would use wood from native trees, weaving branches and vines to create the baby carrier. For additional warmth and comfort, animal pelts lined the carriers.

Finally, the Discovery passed very close to a real training site of one of Alaska’s champion sled dog groups located at Trail Breaker Kennel. The family owned practice has deep history and is a must see. Since the visit took place in May, you can still see the snow on the ground. Without snow, the Alaskan huskies will continue to train using four wheelers and other methods. They were happy and eager to train, even during the warmer months in Alaska.

The Alaskan river boat cruise aboard the Discovery was an incredible experience. One for the memory book! On your planned trip to Alaska, be sure to look up this adventure.

Explore More. Worry Less

Thank you for reading.

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