Experience True Nature Alaska Wilderness Adventure Tours beyond Imagination



 

RRMC#04 Alaska Explorer & Arctic Circle | Motorcoach & Rail Tour Combination

Visit Alaska and get an in-depth view of it's flora, fauna and wilderness areas: Cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park and get a close-up view of Orca whales, Sea Lions, and immense calving tidewater glaciers, visit Talkeetna for a breathtaking flightseeing tour of 20.320 ft. Mt. McKinley, enjoy unlimited hiking and grizzly bear viewing at Denali National Park, explore Alaska Last Frontier, Fairbanks and finally drive along the Alaska Pipeline and across the Yukon River to the Arctic Circle on one of the last great wilderness highways in North America - the magnificent "Dalton Highway".  Experience 24-hour of continuous daylight at Coldfoot - north of the Arctic Circle.

  • Tour Itinerary

  • Dates | Rates

  • Options | Extensions

  • Rail Tour Info

  • Destination Info

Day
01

Anchorage

Upon arrival in Anchorage transfer to your hotel in a prime downtown location. Get ready for a combined rail and motorcoach Alaska journey of a lifetime. Anchorage features dozens of parks and 122 miles of paved bike paths. Warmed by a maritime climate, you can spend the day with salmon fishing on Ship Creek, hiking the nearby mountains, photographing glaciers and dining at a four-star restaurant. Within a 15-minute drive from downtown on the Hillside is the tree-lined trailhead of Anchorage’s most popular hike, Flattop Mountain. A short floatplane ride opens up the possibility of almost any type adventure. That’s one reason why Anchorage’s Lake Hood is the world’s busiest floatplane base. Try some fresh Alaska seafood (Salmon, Halibut) for dinner in one of the many excellent restaurants around the hotel. Afterwards enjoy a stroll along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail with sweeping views over the inlet to Mt. McKinley and Mt. Susitna aka: "Sleeping Lady". Overnight: Anchorage


Day
02

Anchorage - Seward | Rail Tour

Morning transfer to the Anchorage railroad station. Board the legendary Alaska Railroad for a departure at 6.45 am to Seward. The tour offers incomparable vista of fjords, glaciers and mountains as you follow the Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm, then climb steeply through the coastal mountains to cross Moose Pass. Arrive in Seward at 11.05 am. Like many communities in Southcentral Alaska, Seward began a new era of history in 1964 after the Good Friday Earthquake caused fires and tidal waves that destroyed 90 percent of the town. One of the only reminders of the natural disaster is in the public library where the slide show covering the earthquake, “Waves Over Seward,” is shown. Visit the Exit Glacier just north of town. This road-accessible glacier offers an impressive up-close view of the glacier along with information and hiking trails. The more adventurous may take a guided kayak trip and spend the afternoon paddling among sea otters. Overnight: Seward


Day
03

Seward | Kenai Fjords National Park
 

The park covers an area of 669,984 acres (1,046.85 sq miles) on the Kenai Peninsula in southcentral Alaska. The park contains the Harding Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the United States. Kenai Fjords is named for the numerous fjords carved by glaciers moving down the mountains from the ice field. The field is the source of at least 38 glaciers, the largest of which is Bear Glacier. The park lies just to the west of Seward, a popular port for cruise ships. The remainder of the park is primarily accessible by boat. The fjords are glacial valleys that have been submerged below sea level by a combination of rising sea levels and land subsidence. Get ready for the full day narrated cruise from 10:00 am - 6:30 pm throughout the fascinating and beautiful Kenai Fjords National Park with abundant marine wildlife and massive tidewater glacier. The 120-mile cruise experience provides close-up views of Aialik Bay - with the largest tidewater glacier within the park which is actually a very actively "calving" glacier and often massive chunks of ancient ice will plummet into the sea below. Get your camera ready and take pictures from a close distance !  Your cruise experience continues with a visit of the Chiswell Islands National Wildlife Refuge - an important marine bird sanctuary were millions of seabirds are nestling on nearly vertical islands. Last but not least, you see a small rookery of the endangered Steller Sea Lions. During the entire journey a uniformed National Park Ranger will host this cruise and provides information about the flora, fauna, geology and history of the park. He will also point out the many spectacular sights and provides answers on any questions you may have about the parks geology and wildlife. Finally, set your feet ashore at the tranquil, remote and exclusive Fox Island Lodge in the middle of Resurrection Bay and enjoy a delicious Salmon & Prime Rib Buffet Dinner.  (Dinner on Fox Island is only available during high season). The tour provides some outstanding photo opportunities and the memories will last forever. Return to Seward and evening at leisure. Overnight: Seward.


Day
04

Seward - Talkeetna | Motorcoach Tour
 

Board a comfortable motorcoach in Seward at 10:15 am, stopover briefly in Anchorage and arrive around 5:30 pm in Talkeetna. Enjoy the views of snowcapped mountain ranges, pristine lakes, beautiful scenery and wildlife as you travel from Anchorage via Wasilla on the George Parks Highway to Talkeetna. Transfer to a downtown hotel or to a beautiful deluxe mountain lodge with breathtaking Alaska Range and Mt. McKinley vistas. Remaining day at leisure in Talkeetna. Optional Tour: Take a flightseeing trip within 6-Miles of McKinley's 20.320 ft summit and get a picture perfect view of the Kahiltna and Ruth Glacier with its Great Gorge - over 9.000 ft deep - as well as onto magnificent ice-falls. You will also see the Sheldon Amphitheatre - the largest of its kind in the world. During the tour you may catch also sights of mountain climbers attempting the "Great One". Another highlight will be an adventurous glacier landing. Overnight: Talkeetna


Day
05

Talkeetna - Denali National Park | Rail Tour
 

Board the Alaska Railroad at the Talkeetna train station at 11:20 am. Choose between the standard rail car or the glass-domed compartments with large panorama windows ensuring unobstructed views of the pristine scenery. Get the camera ready as the train crosses Hurricane Gulch Bridge, 300 feet above the creek. Arrival at Denali Village at 3:40 pm. Remaining day at leisure or for outdoor activities. Optional: Visit Jeff King’s Sled Dog Kennel - Join an intimate group for a personal tour with four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King at his Husky Homestead Kennel. Widely heralded as the most authentic and entertaining look into “bush Alaska” lifestyles, your visit includes holding Husky puppies, greeting more than sixty world-class sled dogs, and sharing twenty-five years of Alaskan tales of the trail. Enjoy the compelling stories and check out arctic survival gear, racing sleds and equipment used to traverse the 1100 mile long "Last Great Race on Earth".


Day
06

Denali National Park
 

Denali Park provides excellent wildlife viewing and spectacular sceneries. Pick up your pre-reserved tickets and get familiar with the exhibitions at the center if time allows. Options: upgrade to the Kantishna Wilderness Trails, or Tundra Wildlife Tour. Board the bus, sit back and watch out for grizzly bears, moose, caribou, wolf and fox moving along the ridges and river beds or observe one of the 150 different bird species which inherit the park area. Your driver informs you about the history of Denali National Park, its diverse wildlife and flora. Once a bear, caribou or another animal has been spotted the bus will stop that everyone can watch and take pictures. Your tour turns around at Eielson Visitor Center - a four hour drive. We can extend the bus tour to Wonder Lake or Kantishna Roadhouse. You can get off the bus anytime you wish and take a stroll, go hiking and enjoy the landscape. Return to the Denali Park entrance anytime during the day. Overnight: Denali National Park


Day
07

Denali National Park - Fairbanks | Rail Tour
 

Morning at leisure: visit a park ranger sled dog introduction, raft or float on the Nenana River or take a scenic flightseeing tour around the Alaska Range and see Mt. McKinley. Transfer to the Denali Rail Depot. Leave Denali at 4:00 pm for the scenic rail journey north towards Nenana - known for the Alaska Ice Classics. Arrival around 8:00 pm. Fairbanks, known as the Golden Heart City of Alaska, is the gateway to the interior and features almost 24 hours of daylight during the summer months. Only 120 miles from the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks offers excellent year-round outdoor recreational opportunities. Local points of interest include the Alaska University Museum with the best statewide natural history collection, the lively Alaskaland and the authentic 20-mile sternwheeler cruise on the Chena and Tanana Rivers. Overnight: Fairbanks.


Day
08

Fairbanks - Coldfoot (Arctic Circle) | Flight
 

Fly from Fairbanks to Coldfoot - north of the Arctic Circle within the mighty Brooks Mountain Range. The flight provides an aerial view of the vast Alaska wilderness and the Alaska Pipeline. As Alaska’s visitors cross the Arctic Circle, legend has it that many pilots give the plane a slight “bump” letting passengers know they’ve crossed the legendary circle. Alaska’s Arctic is home to the Inupiat Eskimos, many who still live a subsistence lifestyle and still preserve their history verbally from generation to generation. The Far North is filled with a rich history and natural wonders, from the gold rush days of yore to the Gates of the Arctic. Optional: Koyokuk River Float - The North Fork of the Koyukuk flows south through a broad, glacially carved valley beside the Endicott Mountains in the Central Brooks Range. It is a clearwater river designated as " National Wild and Scenic River" and flows through dramatic peaks and through the "Gates of the Arctic" National Park. Overnight: Coldfoot


Day
09

Coldfoot - Fairbanks | Van Tour
 

Coldfoot is located roughly 174 miles into the 414-mile Dalton Highway. The Dalton Highway is often called the “Haul Road” because it’s mostly used by truckers en route from the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks and points farther south. It has been made famous by the TV show “Ice Road Truckers,” and more people than ever are discovering its scenic beauty, wildlife and recreational opportunities. It is also one of Alaska’s most remote and challenging roads and it is mostly gravel. Cross the Arctic Circle and receive an official Arctic Circle Adventure Certificate. Explore up close the amazing arctic tundra and feel the veins of ice just beneath the surface as you travel along the Alaska Pipeline to the Yukon River and marvel at the majestic beauty of the northland's most famous waterway while learning of the river's storied past. Arrival in Fairbanks around midnight !! Overnight: Fairbanks


Day
10

Fairbanks
 

In 1902, Felix Pedro found gold in the region and thousands of prospectors swarmed to the area in search of the “Mother lode.” Nearly a century later, Fairbanks (population 30,244) is the trade and transportation center for Interior and Far North Alaska. From mid-May through July, visitors can enjoy more than 20 hours of sunlight a day. Today you have the unique chance to join an arctic flight to Alaska's vast, road-less interior. Tour ends. Optional: Extend the tour and drive along the Chena Hot Springs road (watch out for moose!), go on a hiking trip and visit Chena. Here you can relax in the large heated indoor pool or the natural outdoor rock lake. Visit the Aurora Ice Museum and grant yourself to a "Appletini" beverage served in an ice glass.



RRMC#04 Alaska Explorer | Superior Hotels
Rates in US $ / per Person Single      Double      Triple      Quad     
May 15 - May 31 $ 3020.00 $ 2050.00 $ 1870.00 $ 1690.00

June 01 - August 13 $ 3280.00 $ 2195.00 $ 1990.00 $ 1830.00

August 14 - August 31 $ 3415.00 $ 2345.00 $ 2145.00 $ 1960.00

September 01 - September 20 $ 3090.00 $ 2160.00 $ 1970.00 $ 1810.00

Optional: Upgrade to Dome Car Train $ 210.00 $ 210.00 $ 210.00 $ 210.00

 

RRMC#04 Alaska Explorer | First Class Hotels + Dome Car Train
Rates in US $ / per Person Single      Double      Triple      Quad     
May 15 - May 31 $ 3535.00 $ 2395.00 $ 2190.00 $ 2020.00

June 01 - August 13 $ 4190.00 $ 2820.00 $ 2490.00 $  2270.00

August 14 - August 31 $ 4350.00 $ 2940.00 $ 2640.00 $  2410.00

September 01 - September 20 $ 3740.00 $ 2595.00 $ 2340.00 $ 2165.00

 

Departure Days
Daily Departures from May 15 - September 20

 

Services included
  • 8 Nights Superior or First Class Hotel Accommodation
  • 1 Night Basic Accommodation (Coldfoot)
  • Hotel & State Tax
  • Railroad Tour Anchorage - Seward
  • Motorcoach Transportation Seward - Talkeetna
  • Railroad Tour Talkeetna - Denali
  • Railroad Tour Denali - Fairbanks
  • Airport & Railroad Station Transfers
  • Arctic Flight from Fairbanks to Coldfoot
  • Escorted Van Tour Coldfoot - Fairbanks
  • Denali Park Shuttle Bus Ticket to Eielson Center
  • Denali National Park Entrance Fee
  • Kenai Fjords Wildlife & Glacier Cruise incl lunch
  • Dinner on Fox Island * (high season only)
  • Seward Harbor Tax
  • Reserved Seats in Upper Level Domed Cars (First Class)
  • Priority Check-in & Boarding (First Class)
  • Use of Private Outdoor Viewing Deck (First Class)
  • Priority Dining Room Seating (First Class)
  • Enhanced & Rotating Reclining Seats (First Class)



Flexible Tour Options - Upgrades & Sightseeing
Rates in US $ | per Person Adult
Talkeetna: Mt. McKinley Flightseeing Tour + $85 Optional Glacier Landing  $ 230.00

Exchange Shuttle Bus to 8-Hour Tundra Wilderness Tour including Boxed Lunch $ 95.00

Exchange Shuttle Bus to Escorted 13-Hour Kantishna Wilderness Lodge / Backcountry Tour
with Lunch, Interpretive Program, Gold Panning, En-route Refreshments
Departure: 6:00 am / Return 7:00 pm
$160.00

Coldfoot: Koyukuk River Scenic Float $ 119.00

Coldfoot: Arctic Mountain Safari into Brooks Mountain Range $ 129.00

 

Additional Nights - Anchorage
Rates in US $ | per Person Hotel Category      Single      Double      Triple      Quad      Child     
May 15 - May 31 Superior Hotel $135.00 $68.00 $49.00 $40.00 $10.00
June 01 - August 31 Superior Hotel $160.00 $80.00 $55.00 $45.00 $10.00
September 01 - September 15 Superior Hotel $135.00 $68.00 $49.00 $40.00 $10.00

May 15 - May 31 First Class Hotel $170.00 $85.00 $65.00 $55.00 $10.00
June 01 - August 31 First Class Hotel $270.00 $135.00 $95.00 $78.00 $10.00
September 01 - September 15 First Class Hotel $170.00 $85.00 $65.00 $55.00 $10.00

 

Alaska Sightseeing Destinations

Anchorage

Fairbanks

Juneau

McCarthy

Homer

Seward

Cooper Landing

Talkeetna



Alaska Rail Tour Services

Regular Seating and Private Dome Car Choices
Our Alaska Rail Tours are available with the following classes of service: Denali Star & Coastal Classic Regular Service | Many people prefer the standard class for its single level stability, generous seating and the ability to easily walk between different cars on the train. Gold Star Dome Cars | Are the newest first-class rail cars in Alaska with large picture windows and fine dining options. Upper level dome car 360-degree viewing seating, priority check in, outdoor viewing deck. The lower level provides a restaurant, bar and gift shop. Midnight Sun Express Dome Cars | These 2-story dome cars with large multiple outside viewing platforms are operated by a private company. Enjoy the full-time 360-degree view dome seating with plenty of leg – and storage room. Additional features are: GPS assisted monitors, restaurant, bar and gift shop. The 1950’s Vintage Cars | The 1950's-era vintage railcars built by the well known Budd Company were some of the last reminders of the Golden Age of rail. A private company began acquiring Budd dome cars for passenger service on the McKinley Explorer train in Alaska. The seven cars the: Matanuska 508, Chena 509, Chulitna 510, Tanana 512, Talkeetna 513, Kashwitna 553 and Eklutna 554 were purchased and completely refurbished. These railcars were to become the most historic and elegant way to travel through America's Last Frontier. Mc.Kinley Explorer Dome Cars | Are the largest domed cars ever build with plenty of legroom, wide isles and additional luggage storage space. The seats are on the upper level – with restaurant, gift shop and bar downstairs - providing a 360-degree view through the glass windows around and the glass dome above you. All seats are wired so you may listen to music and recorded narration. GPS assisted monitors in each car are tracking the exact location. The covered outside viewing platform is a great feature for a breath of fresh air. All Alaska Rail Tours are including a pre-confirmed and assigned seat as well as on-board narration services. MAP – Modified American Plan (Breakfast & Dinner) is available upon request.

Children Rate
We provide a reduced tour rate for children up to 11 years. Please refer to each individual tour for more information. Children will be accommodated in parents room.

Dining
The Midnight Sun Express, the McKinley Explorer and the Alaska Railroad Gold Star Dome Cars are offering full service breakfast, lunch and dinner options (all custom made to order) at the on-board restaurants. You will have the opportunity to visit the dining room and order freshly prepared food from the menu. Since all of our dishes are prepared to order we will do our best to accommodate all dietary concerns. Please notify us of any special dietary requirements at the time of reservation.

Gratuities
Recommended gratuities to the on-board train staff and host guides are $3.00 to $5.00 per person and day. Gratuities for meal and bar service are entirely discretionary, but 15% is customary in most Alaskan restaurants. All tipping is a matter of your individual preference and is of course - always voluntary.

Hotel Accommodation
For additional information and addresses on hotels, lodges and resorts included in your railroad tour package, please check our „Info Center“ area.

Luggage Transfer & Access
Passengers are limited to two pieces of checked baggage, not to exceed 50 pounds, that must be checked with the Alaska Railroad without charge. Each passenger may also take one carry on bag. Please pack any medications, cameras, binoculars or valuables in your carry-on.

Pets
Are not allowed onboard (except assistance dogs)

Smoking
Is not permitted on-board the trains. Smoking is allowed outside on the platforms. Ashtrays are available on the outside viewing platform.

Sightseeing Tours
Most of our tours are including scheduled sightseeing trips. For more information please refer to each individual tour package. In addition to these scheduled tours we also provide a variety of exciting optional sightseeing trips with a great value. Please Note: Optional sightseeing tours are only available in connection with a confirmed rail tour package reservation.

Tickets & Travel Documents
You’ll receive your boarding passes, travel documents and additional tour information on the departure day at the rail station. Ticketless travel options are available upon request.

Transfers
Most scheduled transfers indicated within the itinerary are included in our rail tour packages. Optional pre/post hotel tour accommodation are including transfers from/to the airport. Private limousine and/or group coach transfers are available for an additional charge.

Wheelchair Access
Each train has at least one rail car that this fully accessible to wheelchairs. A specially designed lift makes getting on and off the train easy and safe. There are also accessible restrooms on each of the accessible rail cars.

Alaska Rail Tour Travel Destinations
Anchorage to Talkeetna | Anchorage is headquarters to the Alaska Railroad and the journey to Fairbanks begins here. Several miles into the trip, the heavy birch forests of Eagle River and Chugiak lead to the Knik and Matanuska Rivers.The expansive watershed harbors wildlife like moose, bear, the occasional wolf and abundant waterfowl. About 40 miles from Anchorage comes the Matanuska Valley, Alaska's agricultural center and home to the towns of Palmer and Wasilla. Just south of Talkeetna, 70 miles further, the first view emerges of Mt. McKinley, North America's highest peak. The train takes its first stop in Talkeetna, a small town with a mining history and now, a popular takeoff point for climbers to Mt. McKinley. Talkeetna to Denali | From Talkeetna, the track follows the serpentine banks of the Susitna River. On clear days, more views of Mt. McKinley emerge across the river presenting many chances for photos. Black and brown bear frequent the sandbars and scuttle into the brush as the train approaches. Next, the Indian River Canyon is home to many beavers and beaver lodges can be seen in the ponds along the way. The track climbs toward tree line, first crossing Hurricane Gulch, the longest bridge on the railroad just over 914 feet and 296 feet above Hurricane Creek. The train moves into Broad Pass, at 2,363 feet it's the highest point on the railroad, and where caribou migrate through during the fall. Thousands of travelers visit Denali National Park and Preserve to see wildlife like wolves, caribou, Dall sheep, moose and bear, and, of course, Mt. McKinley. Denali to Fairbanks | The coal-mining town of Healy follows after a 10-mile jaunt through Healy canyon, where the surging waters of the Nenana River cuts through the steep-sided cliffs. As the track levels out, Nenana comes into view. It is home to one of the remaining original Alaska Railroad Depots, now a museum and gift shop. The track cuts through the northern boreal forests of interior Alaska. Birch, aspen and willow fill this landscape where gold miners first came to seek their fortunes. Fifty-eight miles from Nenana, Fairbanks, the "Golden Heart City" signals the end of the line - but just the beginning for more adventure, culture and history in the Last Frontier.


Seward to Anchorage | Your journey starts in Seward, the southern terminus of the railroad. It quickly begins its climb through primeval forests of Sitka spruce. After crossing Snowy River, Kenai Lake comes into view, set off with its stunning aqua color and surrounded by soaring mountains. Moose Pass - Thirty miles into the trip, the track winds through Moose Pass, a former railroad construction camp on the shores of Trail Lake. As the rail ascends into the Kenai Mountains, it leaves behind the forests and reveals mountain meadows and streams of gin-clear glacial waters. Trail Glacier appears on the right and soon after, the summit of Grandview at 1,063 feet and the historic Loop District - named for a complex series of trestles built to handle the steep grade in the age of steam engines. In the same stretch, Bartlett Glacier crowds the track just 800 feet away. Placer River Valley - After passing through a series of short tunnels, the track descends to the Placer River Valley near Spencer Glacier. Moose, bear and wolves populate the valley among the willow and alder trees. Trumpeter swans migrate through in spring and fall and arctic terns hover above the ponds and river looking for small fish and insects. Twelve miles later Turnagain Arm appears, where 40-foot tides rush into the narrow confines of the Chugach Mountains. Beluga whales pursue salmon and other schooling fish. Next comes Girdwood, home to Alaska's premier ski resort, a 40-mile commute from Anchorage. Chugach National Forest - The Chugach National Forest borders Turnagain Arm, some six million acres, the second largest in the U.S. Bald eagles cruise the thermals above and Dall Sheep come to feed on the low plants growing on the cliffs bordering the track. Next comes Potter Marsh in the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. Anchorage is the final stop, 114 miles out of Seward.



Staff Travel Picks and Destination Roundup

Anchorage

Anchorage: Is by far Alaska's largest and most sophisticated city, Anchorage is situated in a truly spectacular location. The permanently snow-covered peaks and volcanoes of the Alaska Range lie to the west of the city, part of the craggy Chugach Range is actually within the eastern edge of the municipality, and the Talkeetna and Kenai ranges are visible to the north and south. On clear days Mt. McKinley looms on the northern horizon, and two arms of Cook Inlet embrace the town's western and southern borders. The Native Heritage Center: There are more than 200 Native tribal entities in Alaska. At the Heritage Center, experience the lifestyles and traditions of these Native cultures through art and artifact displays and activities like blanket tossing, parka sewing, and drumming. Portage Glacier: This glacier has been receding rapidly, but you can ride the tour boat Ptarmigan across the lake to view its face. Keep an eye out for office building-size chunks of ice falling into the water. Flattop Mountain: Drive to the Glen Alps parking lot in Chugach State Park and take the short walk west to a scenic overlook on a clear day the view sweeps from Denali south along the Alaska Range past several active volcanoes on the other side of Cook Inlet. Or follow the hikers to the top of the mountain for even more stunning scenery. Native Crafts: Alaska's rich Native culture is reflected in its abundance of craft traditions, from totem poles to intricate baskets and detailed carvings. Many of the native crafts you'll see across the state are results of generations of traditions passed down among tribes; the craft process is usually labor-intensive, using local resources such as rye grasses or fragrant cedar trees. Each of Alaska's native groups is noted for particular skills. Inuit art includes ivory carvings, spirit masks, dance fans, baleen baskets, and jewelry. Also be on the lookout for mukluks (seal- or reindeer-skin boots). The Tlingit peoples of Southeast Alaska are known for their totem poles, as well as for baskets and hats woven from spruce root and cedar bark. Tsimshian Indians also work with spruce root and cedar bark, and Haida Indians are noted basket makers and carvers. Athabascans specialize in birch-bark creations, decorated fur garments, and beadwork. The Aleut, a maritime people dwelling in the southwest reaches of the state, make grass basketry that is considered among the best in the world.


Talkeetna | Denali National Park

Denali National Park: is one of the most popular and most visited destinations for a reason: the most accessible of Alaska's national parks and one of only three connected to the state of Alaska highway system. This is a spectacular and scenic 6-million-acre wilderness region offering views of mountains so big they seem like a wall on the horizon, endless wildlife from cinnamon-colored Toklat grizzlies to herds of caribou, to moose with antlers the size of coffee tables and glaciers with forests growing on them. All can be experienced by saddle safari, bus trip, or flightseeing tour. Hike, bike, stroll, or raft through it. Camp out, or bundle up in a cabin. The first 15 mi of the park road are paved, but after that there's just gravel. Visitors must ride on a bus or get off and see Denali on foot. No matter how you get there or which adventure you choose, Denali is truly a wonderful experience. When planning your trip consider whether you want to strike out on your own as a backcountry traveler, or to stay at a lodge nearby and enjoy Denali on day hikes and by shuttle bus. Either option requires some individual advance planning or simply contact us and book one of our package tours with hotel or backcountry lodge overnights, railroad transportation from Anchorage and sightseeing tours.
 

Talkeetna: For the ultimate mountain sightseeing adventure, take a flight from Talkeetna and land on a glacier—if you're early enough in the summer, you can fly onto the Kahiltna Glacier, where teams attempting to summit the mountain gather. Mount McKinley: There are a dozen places between Anchorage and Fairbanks that boast the best viewing of Mt. McKinley. At 20,320 feet, McKinley is the highest peak in North America, and just about any place within 100 mi can be deemed a good viewing area. The crown jewel of Alaska is often shrouded in clouds, but even a glimpse will reveal the sheer size of the snow-covered giantess.


The Inside Passage | Juneau | Glacier Bay National Park

If you don't arrive in Alaska by cruise ship, make a point of taking a ferry trip along the longest, deepest fjord in North America. Depending on which ferry you take, the trip from Juneau to Skagway can be two or six hours long. We recommend taking your time. In the summer the tall peaks surrounding the boats release hundreds of waterfalls from snow and glacial melt. If you're lucky, you'll see pods of orcas, humpbacks, and dolphins. Mt. Roberts, Juneau: The tram takes you up the mountain and, if the weather cooperates, offers great views of the area. It's another cruise-ship favorite, but at least you can have a quick beer as you soak in the scenery. Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau: This drive-up glacier comes complete with visitor center, educational exhibits, nature trails, and, when the cruise ships are in town, lots of bused-in tourists. Don't let the crush of visitors dissuade you from stopping by, though—it's a great resource for learning about glacier dynamics and the natural forces that have shaped Alaska. Glacier Bay National Park | Gustavus: Whether you view this natural wonder by air, boat, or on foot, Glacier Bay is well worth the effort and expense it takes to get there. Gustavus is the gateway to Glacier Bay, the place that the father of the national parks system, John Muir, called "unspeakably pure and sublime" in 1879. It is considered by many to be 70 mi of the finest sea kayaking in the world. The first 24 square mi comprise the Beardslee Islands, a complex system for kayakers who glide atop flat water between tides, enveloped in silence except for the sound of water slapping paddles, the soft spray from a nearby porpoise, and the howl of a wolf in the distance. And you'll likely be enjoying these sights with no other travelers nearby. Still, kayaking in this region presents challenges. There is a lively population of moose and bears on the islands, so it is imperative to choose wisely when setting up camp. Most visitors kayak only to the top of the Beardslees, which can take three to five days round-trip. Alaska Marine Highway System: The ferry provides access twice a week to Gustavus.


The Kenai Peninsula - Alaska‘s Playground

Kenai Fjords National Park: Photogenic Seward is the gateway to the 670,000-acre Kenai Fjords National Park. This is spectacular coastal parkland incised with sheer, dark, slate cliffs rising from the sea, ribboned with white waterfalls, and tufted with deep-green spruce. Kenai Fjords presents a rare opportunity for an up-close view of blue tidewater glaciers as well as some remarkable ocean wildlife. Seward, Exit Glacier: You can take a short, easy walk to view this glacier, or if you're in the mood for a challenge, hike the steep trail onto the enormous Harding Icefield. Scan the nearby cliffs for mountain goats and watch for bears. Seward Sea-Life Center: Spend an afternoon at the Alaska SeaLife Center, with massive cold-water tanks and outdoor viewing decks as well as interactive displays of cold-water fish, seabirds, and marine mammals, including harbor seals and a 2,000-pound sea lion. A research center as well as visitor center, it also rehabilitates injured marine wildlife and provides educational experiences for the general public. Appropriately, the center was partially funded with reparations money from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Films, hands-on activities, a gift shop, and behind-the-scenes tours ($12 and up) complete the offerings. Homer: at the southern end of the Sterling Highway lies the city of Homer, at the base of a narrow spit that juts 4 mi into beautiful Kachemak Bay. Glaciers and snowcapped mountains form a dramatic backdrop across the water. Protruding into Kachemak Bay, Homer Spit provides a sandy focal point for visitors and locals. A paved path stretches most of the 4 mi and is great for biking or walking. A commercial-fishing-boat harbor at the end of the path has restaurants, hotels, charter-fishing businesses, sea-kayaking outfitters, art galleries, and on-the-beach camping spots. Fly a kite, walk the beaches, drop a line in the Fishing Hole, or just wander through the shops looking for something interesting; this is one of Alaska's favorite summertime destinations.Kachemak Bay: abounds with wildlife, including a large population of puffins and eagles. Tour operators take you past bird rookeries or across the bay to gravel beaches for clam digging. Most fishing charters include an opportunity to view whales, seals, porpoises, and birds close up. At the end of the day, walk along the docks on Homer Spit and watch commercial fishing boats and charter boats unload their catch. Halibut Cove: Directly across from the end of Homer Spit is Halibut Cove, a small artists' community. Spend a relaxing afternoon or evening meandering along the boardwalk and visiting galleries. The cove is lovely, especially during salmon runs, when fish leap and splash in the clear water. Several lodges are on this side of the bay, on pristine coves away from summer crowds. The Danny J ferries people across from Homer Spit, with a stop at the rookery at Gull Island and two or three hours to walk around Halibut Cove. The ferry makes two trips daily: the first leaves Homer at 12:00 pm and returns at 5:00 pm, and the second leaves at 5:00 pm and returns at 10:00 pm.


Sea Kayaking is big among Alaskans. It was the Aleuts who invented the kayak (or bidarka) for fishing and hunting marine mammals. When early explorers encountered the Aleuts, they compared them to sea creatures, so at home did they appear on their small ocean craft. Kayaks have the great advantage of portability. More stable than canoes, they also give you a feel for the water and a view from water level. Oceangoing kayakers will find plenty of offshore Alaska adventures, especially in the protected waters of the Southeast, Prince William Sound, and Kenai Fjords National Park. The variety of Alaska marine life that you can view from a sea kayak is astonishing. It's possible to see whales, seals, sea lions, and sea otters, as well as bird species too numerous to list. Although caution is required when dealing with large stretches of open water, the truly Alaskan experience of self-propelled boating in a pristine ocean environment can be a life-changing thrill.

The Fishing: In summer salmon fill the rivers, which you can fish with a guide, from your own boat, or from the bank. Fishing for halibut and rockfish is also possible from charter boats out of Homer or Seward.


The Winter Wonderland | Aurora Viewing | Skiing | Dog Mushing

The most popular attraction in the wintertime doesn't charge admission or have set viewing times. The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) seem to appear without rhyme or reason. There is a science to it, but explanations are still hotly debated by meteorologists, astronomers, and pretty-color enthusiasts. Seeing the northern lights requires that there be no nearby city light, very little moonlight, the cold fall and winter months, and a lot of luck. Hot springs outside Fairbanks keep the hopeful warm while they watch the skies. There is something about the incongruous number of hours of sunlight and darkness Alaska gets that makes Alaskans yearn to break the rules of time. When you arrive in Alaska you may feel inclined to do the same. In many parts of the state bars still stay open all night long, fishermen can be sitting on the ice all hours of the night, and some people ski best when the witching hour strikes. At Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood, skiers can take the lift and bite the powder under the stars. On weekends this popular ski resort offers night skiing, and afterwards, in the bar, rewards its visitors with live, high-energy, danceable music. This provides a good look at local Alaskan culture, as it caters to tourists and residents alike.


Alaska's Top Bear Viewing Destinations

Katmai National Park | Brooks River: When people come to Alaska they want to see bears. Yet most visitors never get a glimpse, because bears prefer their privacy. But at Katmai National Park, which boasts the largest brown bear population in the world, you're almost guaranteed a photograph of bears doing bear things. Remember, although they look cute, their teeth and claws are still mighty sharp.
 

Kodiak Island: The 1.9-million-acre Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge lies mostly on Kodiak Island and neighboring Afognak and Uganik islands, in the Gulf of Alaska. All are part of the Kodiak Archipelago, separated from Alaska's mainland by the stormy Shelikof Strait. Within the refuge are rugged mountains, tundra meadows and lowlands, thickly forested hills that are enough different shades of green to make a leprechaun cry, plus lakes, marshes, and hundreds of miles of pristine coastland. No place in the refuge is more than 15 mi from the ocean. The weather here is generally wet and cool, and storms born in the North Pacific often bring heavy rains. Dozens of species of birds flock to the refuge each spring and summer, including Aleutian terns, horned puffins, black oystercatchers, ravens, ptarmigan, and chickadees. At least 600 pairs of bald eagles live on the islands, building the world's largest bird nests on shoreline cliffs and in tall trees. Seeing the Kodiak brown bears alone is worth the trip to this rugged country. When they emerge from their dens in spring, the bears chow down on some skunk cabbage to wake their stomachs up, have a few extra salads of sedges and grasses, and then feast on the endless supply of fish when salmon return. About the time they start thinking about hibernating again the berries are ripe (they may eat 2,000 or more berries a day). Kodiak brown bears, the biggest brown bears anywhere, sometimes topping out at more than 1,500 pounds, share the refuge with only a few other land mammals: red foxes, river otters, short-tailed weasels, and tundra voles. Six species of Pacific salmon - chums, kings, pinks, silvers, sockeyes, and steelhead—return to Kodiak's waters from May to October. Other resident species include rainbow trout, Dolly Varden (an anadromous trout waiting for promotion to salmon), and arctic char. The abundance of fish and bears makes the refuge popular with anglers, hunters, and wildlife-watchers.
 

Lake Clark National Park | Redoubt Bay When the weather is good, an idyllic choice beyond the Mat-Su Valley is the 3.4-million-acre Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, on the Alaska Peninsula and a short flight from Anchorage or Kenai and Soldotna. The parklands stretch from the coast to the heights of two grand volcanoes: Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt (which made headlines in 2009 when it erupted, sending ash floating over the region), both topping out above 10,000 feet. The country in between holds glaciers, waterfalls, and turquoise-tinted lakes. The 50-mi-long Lake Clark, filled by runoff waters from the mountains that surround it, is an important spawning ground for thousands of red (sockeye) salmon. The river-running is superb in this park. You can make your way through dark forests of spruce and balsam poplars or hike over the high, easy-to-travel tundra. The animal life is profuse: look for bears, moose, Dall sheep, wolves, wolverines, foxes, beavers, and mink on land; seals, sea otters, and white (or beluga) whales offshore. Wildflowers embroider the meadows and tundra in spring, and wild roses bloom in the shadows of the forests. Plan your trip to Lake Clark for the end of June or early July, when the insects may be less plentiful. Or consider late August or early September, when the tundra glows with fall colors.


Wrangell St. Elias National Park

In a land of many grand and spectacularly beautiful mountains, those in the 9.2-million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve are possibly the finest of them all. This extraordinarily compact cluster of immense peaks belongs to four different mountain ranges. Rising through many ecozones, the Wrangell-St. Elias Park and Preserve is largely undeveloped wilderness parkland on a grand scale. The area is perfect mountain-biking and primitive-hiking terrain, and the rivers invite rafting for those with expedition experience. The mountains attract climbers from around the world; most of them fly in from Glennallen or Yakutat. The nearby abandoned Kennicott Mine is one of the park's main visitor attractions. The open pit mine is reminiscent of ancient Greek amphitheatres, and the abandoned structures are as impressive as the mountains they stand against.


Prince William Sound

Tucked into the east side of the Kenai Peninsula, the sound is a peaceful escape from the throngs of people congesting the towns and highways. Enhanced with steep fjords, green enshrouded waterfalls, and calving tidewater glaciers, Prince William Sound is a stunning arena. It has a convoluted coastline, in that it is riddled with islands, which makes it hard to discern just how vast the area is. The sound covers almost 15,000 square mi—more than 12 times the size of Rhode Island—and is home to more than 150 glaciers. The sound is vibrantly alive with all manner of marine life, including salmon, halibut, humpback and orca whales, sea otters, sea lions, and porpoises. Bald eagles are easily seen soaring above, and often brown and black bears, Sitka black-tailed deer, and gray wolves can be spotted on the shore.

Unfortunately, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 heavily damaged parts of the sound, and oil still washes up on shore after high tides and storms. The original spill had a devastating effect on both animal and human lives. What lasting effect this lurking oil will have on the area is still being studied and remains a topic of much debate. Bring your rain gear, Prince William Sound receives more than 150 inches of rain per year. The sound is best explored by charter boat or guided excursion out of Whittier, Cordova, or Valdez. Even though the waters are mostly protected, open stretches are common, and the fickle Alaska weather can fool even experienced boaters. From the road system, Whittier and Valdez are your best bets for finding charter outfits.


A visit to Columbia Glacier, which flows from the surrounding Chugach Mountains, should certainly be on your Valdez agenda. Its deep aquamarine face is 5 mi across, and it calves icebergs with resounding cannonades. This glacier is one of the largest and most readily accessible of Alaska's coastal glaciers. The state ferry travels past the face of the glacier, and scheduled tours of the glaciers and the rest of the sound are available by boat and aircraft from Valdez, Cordova, and Whittier.



 

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