RSFA02 Best of the North - Rail & Drive Vacation from Fairbanks

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Let yourself be swept away by the awe-inspiring Alaska’s interior and coastal region on this unforgettable rail and drive combo tour. Immerse yourself in the culture and beauty of Alaska’s interior landscape along with the luscious coastal region of the Kenai Peninsula. This eye-opening rail’n driving itinerary will take you to Alaska’s impressive national parks and charming towns, as well as an abundance of native wildlife. 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 nights 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. It is most likely you will spot some of them while taking our full day Denali Transit Bus to Eielson Center, Wonder Lake or Kantishna Roadhouse. The leisure train ride to Anchorage provides many spectacular vistas of the Alaska Range. Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and brimming with activities for the outdoorsy and adventurous. Pick up your rental car and travel to the coast of Alaska and visit the port town of Seward, where you’ll join a spectacular cruise deep into Kenai Fjords National Park with actively "calving" glaciers, abundant wildlife and magnificent scenery. Follow the Sterling Highway offering magnificent views of the “Ring of Fire” as you drive towards Homer. Located at the gateway to Kachemak Bay, Homer is base to many incredible activities and tours - including the bear viewing day tour to Katmai Coast and Brooks Falls, kayaking tours or Halibut  & Salmon fishing trips. 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

Fairbanks ( Overnight: Fairbanks )

Welcome to Fairbanks, the "Golden Heart City" - tucked into miles of unexplored wilderness only 120 miles from the Arctic Circle and enjoying almost 24 hours of daylight during summer. You are invited to explore the local gold rush history, its vibrant traditional native cultures as well as fantastic scenery. You may visit the renown Alaska University Museum featuring Alaska's natural history best collection or take an authentic sternwheeler on a scenic cruise down the Chena and Tanana Rivers. Guided van tour along the Dalton Highway or flightseeing tour to the Arctic Circle is super popular choice for experiencing the Arctic Circle and Yukon River. Enjoy a flightseeing trip to Fort Yukon to understand as well as experience how the Gwich'in Athabascan Natives live in "Bush" Alaska.

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 – Seward | Start Driving Tour ( Driving Distance: 130 miles | Overnight: Seward )

Pick up your rental car this morning. Take the scenic Seward Highway offering incomparable vistas of fjords, glaciers and mountains as you follow the Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm. Arrive in Seward, a small fishing town at the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. 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. This afternoon you have time to visit Exit Glacier. Short trails lead to the edge of the glacier where you can get a good photo in front of glacier ice. You may spend some time at the Alaska SeaLife Center – the world’s first cold water marine search institute. Enjoy a delicious seafood dinner at the harbor.

Seward ( Overnight: Seward )

This morning board the stable catamaran for a spectacular cruise deep into Kenai Fjords National Park with actively "calving" glaciers and magnificent scenery. Covering 110-miles, the trip is narrated by a National Park Ranger, who is highly adept at spotting wildlife and pointing out the many sights. Kenai Fjords showcase the best of Alaska’s marine world in a compact package. Kittiwakes, puffins and other seabirds nest along cliff faces just above the swells. Sea otters float belly-up eating mussels while Harbor seals haul out on icebergs off Aialik Glacier. Look out for Steller sea lions on Chiswell Island as well as Humpback and killer whales. After reaching the tidewater glacier, guests witness "glacier calving" a process by which glaciers shed giant slabs of ancient ice.Included: Kenai Fjords Glacier Cruise

Seward – Homer ( Driving Distance: 170 miles | Overnight: Homer )

Spend the morning in Seward at leisure. Continue your self drive journey and follow the Sterling Highway - a designated scenic highway covering miles of spectacular landscape with snowcapped mountains and many active volcanoes known as the "Ring of Fire" with Mt. Iliamna, Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Augustine, excellent salmon fishing along the Kenai & Russian River and a magnificent coastline. Homer is blessed with a view to the south that is stunning in its beauty and grandeur. The rugged Kenai Mountains are spreading across the sparkling waters of Kachemak Bay. Homer is known as the “Halibut Capital of the World”. King Salmon are caught here from May to June, while Silver Salmon run during August. Halibut - large as a barn size door are available from May - Sept.

Homer ( Overnight: Homer )

Homer offers incredible panoramic views of mountain ranges, glaciers and famous Homer Spit - a long strip of land that stretches into pristine Kachemak Bay. Use the day to explore the area - kayak to a remote cove, go hiking or fishing. Homer is just a short flight away from Katmai National Park and Lake Clark, one of the most densely populated brown bear areas in the world. 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. In the evening join a cruise to Halibut Cove, have dinner at the "Saltry" and visit art galleries along the boardwalk.

Homer – Anchorage ( Driving Distance: 230 miles )

Leave Homer for a scenic drive to Ninilchik - the oldest settlement on the Kenai Peninsula. The Russian-American Company established Ninilchik in the 1820s for its elderly employees, who could not endure the long journey back to Russia. Drive north through the Chugach National Forest and visit Begich Boggs Visitor Center, home to Portage Glacier - one of Alaska’s most visited attractions. Portage Glacier is in retreat, and not visible from the center’s observation deck, but the center is still an interesting stop thanks to exhibits that let visitors walk through a simulated ice cave, view live ice worms or touch an iceberg. Stopover at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a home for orphaned and injured animals. Return to Anchorage during the day and drop off your rental car.