RSAN02 Alaska Trailblazer - Rail & Drive Tour from Anchorage

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Explore the natural wonders of Alaska during our 9-day train & highway combo tour to the most scenic destinations central Alaska has to offer. This tour starts and ends in Anchorage and is easily combined with a breathtaking Inside Passage cruise. Board in Anchorage 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. An elk or moose could graze on a river. The blue of a glacier peeps out from a mountain under the melting snow in summer. Visit one of the dining carriages and, over a meal of Alaskan salmon served on fine porcelain, relive the experience. Stopover in Talkeetna, the base for all mountaineering activities and flightseeing tours to Mt. Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley). Get a once in a lifetime view of some of the world’s largest and most incredible glaciers, glacial ice falls and sheer vertical cliffs. Board the train and continue to 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. Return to Anchorage where you’ll pick up your rental car. 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. 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

Anchorage – Talkeetna | Rail Tour ( Overnight: Talkeetna )

Individual transfer to the railroad station where you'll board the train to Talkeetna. 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. Enjoy the comfortable ride as the train takes you via the Matanuska Valley towards the Alaska Range. Arrive in Talkeetna and transfer to your downtown hotel or to a beautiful mountain lodge with breathtaking views of Mt. Denali. Join the flightseeing trip within 6-Miles of Denali'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. Add an adventurous glacier landing on Ruth Glacier.

Talkeetna - Denali National Park | Rail Tour ( Overnight: Denali Village )

This morning you have the option to join a jet boat safari on the Susitna, Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers. Transfer to the Talkeetna Train Station where you will board the train to Denali. North of Talkeetna, the tracks veer away from the road system and into the backcountry Hurricane area; this region offers views of the snaking Indian River and the occasional remote cabin. Have your camera ready as the train crosses Hurricane Gulch Bridge, 300 feet above the creek. Arrive at Denali Village late afternoon. Transfer to your hotel and check into your room. Once you settled take a stroll through Denali Village, join a wildwater rafting/float trip on Nenana River 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 National Park you will be passing the small community of Cantwell and then enter Broad Pass, offering majestic views of the Alaska Range in all directions. Your rail tour continues via Wasilla - home of the Alaska Iditarod Sled Dog Race - and crosses the Knik River with the Chugach Mountains as a backdrop before arriving in Anchorage. Transfer to your hotel in downtown Anchorage.

Anchorage - Seward | Start Self Drive Tour ( Driving Distance: 130 miles | Overnight: Seward )

Pick up your rental car. The drive on the scenic Seward Highway offers 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 )

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 and Northwestern 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: 160 miles | Overnight: Homer )

Spend the morning 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 - September.

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 | End Self Drive Tour ( 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.