RSSK02 Northern Peaks - Railroad & Road Trip from Skagway

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A vacation to Alaska will be incomplete without visits to our famous national parks and encounters with the natural wonders they contain. National parks have protected some of Alaskas most beautiful and untouched places and offer opportunities to experience them as part of your Alaska and Yukon holiday. This 11-day driving and rail vacation offers a wealth of wilderness experiences you won't forget in a hurry. Arrive independent to Skagway by the Alaska Ferry or cruise ship and pick up your rental car. Skagway, with a population of just over 1100, is located at the northernmost point of the Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska. The streets are lined with wooden boardwalks and restored buildings, looking much as they did 100 years ago. Take a ride on the wild-side with the historic White Pass & Yukon Railroad steam train along the famous Chilkoot & White Pass trail before traveling on the historic gold-rush trail to Whitehorse. This driving tour takes you to Haines Junction, surrounded by the unspoiled wilderness of the Kluane National Park.  One  of  the  highlights  on  this  trip  is  the  overnight  at  the  remote  town  of  McCarthy / Kennicott, located deep in  the  Wrangell-St.  Elias  National  Park.  The Kennecott  Copper  Mine  tour  gives  you  a  great  jog  down  the  history  of  the  place  and  hardship  as  well  as  dreams  the  people  at  that  time  experienced.  Next day,  join  a guided glacier  hike  on  Root  Glacier ! Continue to Fairbanks, the bouncing-off point for trips into Alaska’s remote villages, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Gates of the Arctic National Park. Board in Fairbanks the last full-service railroad in North America and choose between the “Adventure Class” seating in the one-storey railway car or the “Deluxe Dome Railcar” on board the Alaska Railroad or with one of the privately operated trains. All train cars feature large panorama windows ensuring unobstructed views around every bend of the majestic beauty of the glaciers, mountains and Alaskan wildlife. Spend two days at Denali National Park which is the natural habitat for many types of wildlife including caribou, moose, wolves, Dall sheep, bald eagles, and the mighty grizzly bears. The name ''Denali'' means ''The Great One'' in the native Athabascan language. At 20,310 feet above sea level Denali is the highest peak in North America and is surrounded by one of the world's most spectacular wildlife sanctuaries. The leisure train ride to Anchorage provides many spectacular vistas of the Alaska Range. The finale to this tour is Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and brimming with activities for the outdoorsy and adventurous. Please read our itinerary to have more detailed day-to-day experience. On  request, this trip can be customized and can be organized in reverse order.

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Itinerary

Skagway | Start Self Drive Tour ( Overnight: Skagway )

Arrive in Skagway by Alaska Ferry or cruiseship. Pick up your rental car during the day. The famous goldrush town Skagway is home of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. Skagway has a historical district of about 100 buildings from the gold rush era. You have the opportunity to board the historic narrow-gauge White Pass and Yukon Railway and ride along the White Pass Trail to the White Pass Summit. The entire distance between Skagway and the summit was completed in only two years in 1900's. The steamer pulls the train a couple of miles, then diesels take the cars - some of them originals more than 100 years old - up steep tracks that were chipped out of the side of the mountains. Walk around the townsite, visit the grave of "Soapy Smith" or walk part of the famous Chilkoot Trail.

Skagway – Whitehorse ( Driving Distance: 110 miles | Overnight: Whitehorse )

This morning leave Skagway and continue your journey on the South Klondike Highway. Near the summit of the Klondike Highway Pass you'll encounter a scene that resembles a moonscape more than any earthly vista. Ancient, twisted trees cling to rocks polished smooth by prehistoric glaciers, or crumbled by years of erosion. Myriad waterfalls, several glaciers and glimpses of the White Pass Railroad and White Pass Trail are among the highlights of the drive to the summit. After crossing the Canadian border, you'll travel past the ruins of the Venus Mine on Windy Arm of Tagish Lake, visit the historic community of Carcross before arriving in Whitehorse. This afternoon visit the sights of Whitehorse: SS Klondike sternwheeler, the Yukon Beringia Center and go for a stroll at Miles Canyon.

Whitehorse – Haines Junction ( Driving Distance: 100 miles | Overnight: Haines Junction )

Follow the Alaska Highway towards Haines Junction. If you yearn for the wild beauty of an unspoiled Canadian landscape, Kluane National Park is for you. Explore mountains, lakes, rivers and forests that have been home to Southern Tutchone people for thousands of years and discover the heart of their traditional culture and way of life. The park covers an area of 21,980 square kilometers. It is a land of precipitous, high mountains, immense icefields and lush valleys that yield a diverse array of plant and wildlife species and provides for a host of outdoor activities. The park is also home to Mount Logan with 19.545 ft - Canada's highest peak. Visit the sheep mountain visitor center in Haines Junction with its interpretive programs about the flora and fauna.

Haines Junction - Tok ( Driving Distance: 290 miles | Overnight: Tok )

This morning go on a short hiking trip before driving north along the shores of beautiful Kluane Lake. Stopover at Sheep Mountain and look out for dall sheep gracing alongside the mountain slopes. Your journey continues on the famous Alaska Highway through endless wilderness areas with occasional wildlife spotting on the way. Feel free to stop at the designated photo stops to enjoy more panoramic views. Cross the Canadian/US border and arrive in Tok, often referred to as the "Dog Mushing Capital of Alaska". Tok was born as a construction station on the highway. With its location at the intersection of the Alaska Highway and the Glenn Highway to Anchorage and Prince William Sound, the town has built an economy of gas stations, gift stores, cafes, and hotels to serve highway travelers.

Tok – Chitina, Flight to McCarthy ( Driving Distance: 200 miles | Overnight: Kennicott / McCarthy )

Your journey continues on the Glenn Highway, offering an impressive view of the Wrangell Mountains - Mt. Deborah, Mt. Sanford and Mt. Drum. Once you have reached the Richardson Highway stopover at the historic roadhouse in Copper Center and watch native fish wheels at the nearby Copper River. The Copper River Valley is rich in Native Alaskan traditions and is the home of a vibrant Athabascan culture. Continue to Chitina and park your car at the airport. From here take a scenic bushplane flight to Kennicott/McCarthy. You will see the Kennicott Glacier as it winds its way 25 miles to the North where it tumbles off the South East face of Mt. Blackburn. The Root and Gates Glaciers flow from ridges of Mt. Regal to join the Kennicott forming one of the most spectacular vistas in the park.

Kennicott / McCarthy ( Overnight: Kennicott / McCarthy )

Explore the Kennecott Mine with its white-trimmed red buildings that stand out against the dramatic mountain-and-glacier backdrop at the actual mine site. In recent years, the National Park Service has restored many of the mine buildings and a guided tour of the huge mill building, bunkhouses and train depot is available. The entire area is for sure a photographer’s dream. Get ready today for a 1/2 day Root Glacier Hike. The hike is most likely the best day hiking trip in Alaska, and almost certainly the best glacier hike! After meeting your guide, you'll start out on the 1.8 mile hike to the "white ice" of the Root. Once on the ice you will explore other-worldly formations: blue pools, crevasses and moulin holes drilled hundreds of feet deep into the ice by the flowing meltwater. Included: Root Glacier Hike

McCarthy - Flight to Chitina, Drive to Fairbanks ( Driving Distance: 310 miles | Overnight: Fairbanks )

Morning bushplane flight to Chitina. Continue to Paxson with it's many sled dog kennels and further on to Delta Junction - a telegraph station established in 1904. The intersection, marked by an oversized white milepost for Mile 1422 of the Alaska Highway, is known as the Triangle. Delta Junction is home to the 90,000-acre Delta Bison Sanctuary, which was created to contain a free-roaming herd of more than 500 animals. The area features spectacular views of the Alaska Range and the Delta River. On clear days the panoramas of Mount Hayes, Mount Moffit and other peaks are stunning. Stopover at Santa Clause House in North Pole where Christmas is celebrated year round. Arrive in Fairbanks, the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska, which enjoys 24 hr of daylight during summer.

Fairbanks | End of Self Drive Tour ( Overnight: Fairbanks )

The allure of crossing the Arctic Circle becomes a possibility once you reach Fairbanks. Guided van tours along the Dalton Highway or flight tours to the Arctic Circle and Yukon River is a super popular choice. Join a bushplane flight to Fort Yukon to understand as well as experience how the Gwich'in Athabascan Natives live in "Bush" Alaska. As mentioned earlier Fairbanks becomes a hub for very many activities and the list keeps going on. Visiting Chena Hot Springs Resort can be added to the 'To-Do' List! Chena Hot Springs Resort offers a large indoor heated pool and a natural outdoor rock lake for relaxation. The on-site Aurora Ice Museum is a special attraction and was created from over 1,000 tons of ice and snow, all harvested at the resort. Drop off your rental car.

Fairbanks – Denali National Park | Rail Tour ( Overnight: Denali Village )

Enjoy the scenic ride onboard the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park. Choose between the standard rail car or the glass-dome compartments with large panorama windows ensuring unobstructed views of snowcapped mountain ranges, pristine scenery and abundant wildlife. The train passes through the small community of Nenana, known for the Nenana Ice Classic Lottery. Just north of the Denali park, the train winds along Healy Canyon, following the curves of the Nenana River below. Arrive at Denali Village at noon. Transfer to your hotel and check into your room. Once you settled take a stroll through Denali Village, join a flightseeing tour, wildwater rafting trip or visit Jeff King’s Husky Homestead Kennel for a personal tour with four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King and his sled dogs.

Denali National Park ( Overnight: Denali Village )

Denali National Park offers excellent wildlife viewing and spectacular sceneries. Pick up your tickets, board the bus and watch out for grizzly bears, moose, caribou, wolf and fox moving along the ridges and river beds. Your driver informs about the history of Denali National Park, its diverse wildlife and flora. Once an animal has been spotted the bus will stop that everyone can watch and take pictures. The bus turns around at Eielson Visitor Center - 66 miles one way/8 hours round trip. You can get off the bus anytime to go for a hike. Return to the Denali Park entrance anytime during the day. Optional: We can extend the transit bus tour to Wonder Lake or exchange to the Tundra Wilderness Tour, Kantishna Wilderness Trails or Backcountry Lodge Tour. Included: Denali Transit Bus to Eielson Center

Denali National Park – Anchorage | Rail Tour ( Overnight: Anchorage )

Board the Alaska Railroad and relax in your comfortable reclining seats, have a delicious lunch onboard or listen to the commentaries from an onboard interpreter. Just south of Denali you'll enter Broad Pass, offering majestic views of the Alaska Range in all directions. Your rail tour continues via Wasilla and crosses the Knik River with the Chugach Mountains as a backdrop before arriving in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city. Nestled along the Chugach Mountains, the coastal city is brimming with activities for the outdoorsy and adventurous, as well as the more relaxed. Visit the Log Cabin Visitor Center and its Crossroad, Ship Creek Viewpoint overlooking Cook Inlet and the Resolution Park with its Captain Cook Monument. Try out one of the popular seafood restaurants this evening.

Anchorage

Time for your favourite activity - join a bear viewing day tour to Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park or to Silver Salmon Creek in Lake Clark, take a scenic glacier & wildlife cruise deep into Prince William Sound or explore the local attractions. A picture-perfect flightseeing trip takes you over Cook Inlet to Katmai Coast. Watch bears digging for clams, wandering the sedge grass, or nursing their young. Another option is the day trip to iconic Brooks Falls in the middle of Katmai, famous for bears swatting at Salmon making their way upstream. The Prince William Sound is one of the few places left in the world where a concentration of glaciers can be found in such abundance. View majestic alpine and tidewater glaciers covered with ancient ice and observe a large variety of marine wildlife.