RSHA02 Alaskan Explorer - Self Drive & Rail Combo Tour from Haines

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Explore and enjoy some of Alaska’s unique flora, fauna and scenery on this 12 day rail and driving tour. Pick up your rental car in Haines, a city with a rich history and culture as well as breathtaking scenery. Enjoy the road trip on the Haines Highway to Haines Junction, surrounded by the unspoiled wilderness of the Kluane National Park and further on the famous Alaska Highway towards Tok. No Alaska vacation is complete without time spent in charming town of Valdez and a ride on board the Alaska Ferry across Prince William Sound. Continue to Seward where you'll enjoy a full day encounter with the unique marine life that inhabits Kenai Fjords National Park. 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. Drop off your rental car in Anchorage and board 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. Overnight 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. 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 finale to this tour is Fairbanks, the bouncing-off point for trips into Alaska’s remote villages, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Gates of the Arctic National Park. On request, this trip can be customized and can be organized in reverse order.

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Itinerary

Haines | Start Self Drive Tour ( Overnight: Haines )

Arrive in Haines by the Alaska Ferry or cruise ship and pick up your rental car. Haines is situated at the upper end of the Inside Passage, surrounded by snowcapped mountains, lush meadows and forests. Across the waters of Chilkat River is Pyramid Harbor and the start of the Dalton Trail — one of the routes to the gold fields of the Klondike. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve can be found below Klukwan on the Chilkat River flats (mile 18 to 24 on the Haines Highway). This area is called the "Council Grounds" because of its large congregation of eagles. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve was established to protect the world's largest concentration of Bald Eagles and their critical habitat. Visit the Fort William H. Seward with its officers' headquarters and barracks buildings, designated as a National Historic Site.

Haines – Haines Junction ( Driving Distance: 150 miles | Overnight: Haines Junction )

The Haines highway was built in 1943 and is one of Alaska's most scenic highways. It winds from Haines over the Chilkat Pass - the highest summit on this highway. You pass Klukshu, a native summer fishing camp offering great photo opportunities. 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. From scenic hiking on gentle trails to backcountry adventures, a variety of activities await you. The park is also home to Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak. Visit the sheep mountain visitor center in Haines Junction with its interpretive programs about the 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 - Valdez ( Driving Distance: 250 miles | Overnight: Valdez )

Your journey continues on the Glen 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, providing an excellent salmon run. Shortly afterwards the Worthington Glacier peeks into view where a boardwalk leads to the face of the glacier. Drive through scenic Keystone Canyon, take pictures at the "Bridal Veil Falls" and arrive in Valdez - also known as “the Switzerland of Alaska”. The small fishing community is the gateway for salmon fishing trips and narrated cruises to magnificent Columbia Glacier - one of the most active and largest tidewater glacier in Alaska.

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 of 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 - Anchorage | End of Self Drive Tour ( Driving Distance: 130 miles | Overnight: Anchorage )

Spend some time in the morning at the Alaska SeaLife Center – the world's largest and first cold water marine search institute with wildlife rehabilitation and public education facilities, try some outstanding halibut or salmon fishing within Resurrection Bay, book a half day kayak tour from Lowell Point to Holgate Glacier or hike the scenic Exit Glacier Trail - the choice is yours ! Take the Seward Highway north towards Anchorage. Feel free to take a break at the designated photo stops to enjoy the panoramic views over Cook Inlet. Arrive in Anchorage later in the day and drop off your rental car.

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, 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 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

You are invited to explore Fairbanks gold rush history, its vibrant traditional native cultures as well as abundant wildlife and fantastic scenery. This morning you may visit the renown Alaska University Museum featuring Alaska's natural history best collection, Alaskaland or join the authentic sternwheeler "Riverboat Discovery" on a scenic 20-mile roundtrip cruise down the Chena and Tanana Rivers. A guided van tour along the Dalton Highway or a flightseeing tour to the Arctic Circle is a super popular choice for experiencing the Arctic Circle and Yukon River. Enjoy a bush mail plane flight or a flightseeing trip to Fort Yukon to understand as well as experience how the Gwich'in Athabascan Natives live in "Bush" Alaska.