RSAN06 Alaska Grandeurs Rail & Road Vacation

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Nestled along the Chugach Mountains, the coastal city of Anchorage is not the frozen tundra of Alaska you might imagine. You will find it’s brimming with activities for the outdoorsy and adventurous. Being the largest city in Alaska, it is rich in indigenous culture; spend your day enjoying the Alaska Native Heritage Center, visiting the Anchorage Museum, or browsing through the Saturday Market. Visit the Lake Hood Floatplane base, go for a walk along the Coastal Train and try out one of Anchorage popular seafood restaurants. With so much of variety of things, for a first time visitor to Alaska or a seasoned traveller, Anchorage has more to offer and is the perfect starting point for your journey into Alaska

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Itinerary

Anchorage ( Overnight: Anchorage )

Arrive in Anchorage during the day. Transfer to your hotel in downtown Anchorage. Nestled along the Chugach Mountains, the coastal city of Anchorage is not the frozen tundra of Alaska you might imagine. You will find it’s brimming with activities for the outdoorsy and adventurous. Being the largest city in Alaska, it is rich in indigenous culture; spend your day enjoying the Alaska Native Heritage Center, visiting the Anchorage Museum, or browsing through the Saturday Market. Visit the Lake Hood Floatplane base, go for a walk along the Coastal Train and try out one of Anchorage popular seafood restaurants. With so much of variety of things, for a first time visitor to Alaska or a seasoned traveller, Anchorage has more to offer and is the perfect starting point for your journey into Alaska

Anchorage – Talkeetna | Rail Tour ( Overnight: Talkeetna )

Morning 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 and pristine scenery. 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. Included: Mt. Denali Flightseeing Tour

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 – Fairbanks | Rail Tour ( Overnight: Fairbanks )

Join this morning the sled dog demonstration hosted by Denali Park Rangers or hike around the Denali Visitor Center. Board the Alaska Railroad this afternoon for a scenic ride to Fairbanks. Just north of the Denali park, the train winds along Healy Canyon, following the curves of the Nenana River below. The train passes through the small community of Nenana, known for the Nenana Ice Classic Lottery. It is a fundraising event in which individuals attempt to guess the exact time the Tanana River ice will break up. Arrive in Fairbanks, the largest city in the interior and gateway to Alaska's Arctic northern region. The city enjoys almost 24 hr of daylight during summer. In the evening enjoy a dinner at the Pump House on the banks of the Chena River.

Fairbanks - Valdez ( Driving Distance: 360 miles | Overnight: Valdez )

Heading south, the Richardson Highway passes through stands of white birch and black spruce, often photogenically close to the Tanana River. Soak up the raw beauty of the drive into the central Alaska Range, often paralleled by the Alaska pipeline. Visit the historic roadhouse in Copper Center before the Washington Glacier peeks into view. Stopover at Worthington Glacier with boardwalks leading to the face of the glacier. Drive through the scenic Keystone Canyon, take pictures at the "Bridal Veil Falls" and arrive in Valdez - also known as “the Switzerland of Alaska” - and the gateway for salmon fishing trips and narrated cruises to magnificent Columbia Glacier.

Valdez - Alaska Ferry Transfer to Whittier - Seward ( Driving Distance: 90 miles | Overnight: Seward )

Scenic cruise across Prince William Sound onboard the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry. Prince William Sound is an area famous for its scenery and wildlife. Dotted with islands, this 70-mile-wide gulf extends 30 miles north and west from the Gulf of Alaska to the Kenai Peninsula, bounded to the southeast by Montague and Hinchinbrook islands. To the north: a rugged, glaciated coastline and the Chugach Mountains. Watch out for whales, bald eagles, sea lions and other marine wildlife. Arrive in Whittier and drive to Portage Glacier. After a stop at the visitor center continue to Seward, a small fishing town at the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. Spend some time to visit Exit Glacier. Short trails lead to the edge of the glacier where you can take a good photo in front of glacier ice.

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: 160 miles | Overnight: Homer )

Visit the renowned Alaska SeaLife Center or spend some time at Exit Glacier. 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 – Kenai / Cooper Landing ( Driving Distance: 120 miles | Overnight: Cooper Landing )

Scenic drive to Ninilchik - the oldest settlement on the Kenai Peninsula. Settlers constructed the community’s Russian Orthodox Church. Continue to Cooper Landing - located at the world famous Kenai and Russian River. Take a 1/2 day guided fishing trip for King or Sockeye Salmon. Your fishing guide is expert in spinning and fly fishing techniques on these waters. Included is a two hour scenic float trip along the Upper Kenai River. Watch out for moose, eagles, Dall sheep, salmon, waterfowl, beavers and bears as your guide navigates you through snow-capped mountain scenery. If you are more adventurous, join the thrilling Six-Mile Creek rafting tour instead. Prepare to get wet as the river runs thru three consecutive canyons; each more beautiful and more challenging than the last. Included: Kenai River Float Trip

Cooper Landing – Anchorage ( Driving Distance: 110 miles | Overnight: Anchorage )

Drive north through the Chugach National Forest to Portage Glacier. The Portage Glacier Access Road winds about five miles from the highway and ends at the Begich Boggs Visitor Center. Portage Glacier is in retreat and not visible from the center, but it 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. To get up close to the glacier, take an hour-long sightseeing boat cruise or hike on one of a number of foot trails that lead to the glacier. Short drive to Girdwood / Alyeska Ski Resort. If time allows take the tram on top Alyeska mountain offering scenic views of Turnagain Arm. Follow the Seward Highway along salt water bays, ice blue glaciers and alpine valleys and look for bear, moose or dall sheep.

Anchorage

Spend some time at the Alaska Native Heritage Center: the Gathering Place is center stage for Alaska Native dancing, compelling Native Games demonstrations and intriguing storytelling. The Hall of Cultures features exhibits and demonstrating Alaska Native artists. Visitors discover more about each of the five major culture groups through engaging exhibits. The Theatre hosts a variety of movies all day, including the Heritage Center produced film, “Stories Given, Stories Shared.” Guests stroll through six authentic life-sized Native dwellings around beautiful Lake Tiulana and are introduced to the traditional life ways of the native people. Your vacation ends with the return of your rental car at the airport or downtown Anchorage.