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Alaska Circle Tour Rail & Car

4.3 stars(6 reviews)

Travel aboard the Alaska Railroad through interesting towns and incredible wildlife habitats and take your vacation by the reins with a legendary road trip through Alaska’s most scenic areas on this round-trip expedition through America’s Last Frontier.

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8 days From $2,535 per person
Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary
Save up to $400 pp

Save up to $400 per person on rail vacations with 2023 departures. Book by May 31st to lock in savings up to $400 per person on any 2023 departure.

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2023 Tour code: WC-ACTR-23

About the tour

Wild landscapes and iconic sites - including the tallest mountain peak in the United States - lie ahead on this rail and drive vacation through Alaska. Your journey begins in Anchorage, where you can explore the city's historical museums and gorgeous gardens and parks. Departing the city aboard the Alaska Railroad's Denali Star, enjoy a scenic route to Denali National Park. An all-day bus tour unlocks the beauty of the park and offers opportunities to see some of the animals that roam within Denali: bears, moose, mountain goats, wolves and eagles. Your adventure continues by train to Fairbanks, from which you depart on the driving part of your journey. Your route takes you along the scenic Richardson Highway on your way to Valdez, known as "Little Switzerland." Here, enjoy plenty of outdoor activities and wildlife spotting before kicking off your road trip back to the cultural epicenter that is Anchorage. Whether you crave excursions in nature or laid-back explorations of Alaskan cities, there is something for everyone on this circular adventure.

Space is limited in Denali National Park this summer. Please act fast to secure your spot on this trip.


What’s included


Day 1 - Anchorage Arrival

Arrive in Anchorage on your own and check-in at the hotel. Spend the rest of the day getting acquainted with the offerings of the city. Explore Anchorage's museums, gardens and parks or explore the restaurant scene, which is surprisingly diverse. Overnight in Anchorage. 

Day 2 - Anchorage to Denali

Embark on a journey aboard the Alaska Railroad's Denali Star, traveling on a northerly route from Anchorage to Denali National Park. Relax and enjoy the scenery as you pass through colorful fields of spruce and fireweed, sparkling salmon streams and towering mountains. In all, the journey takes approximately 8 hours to complete. Transfer to your hotel near the gates of the park upon arrival. Overnight in Denali.

Day 3 - Denali National Park/Fairbanks by Train

Take in Denali National Park's alpine tundra and snowy mountains on a 3-8 hour bus tour of the park, learning about the land and its history along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for the wildlife that inhabits the park, such as bears and moose, and look on the mountainsides for glimpses at Dall sheep. As you travel further into the park, soak in the sheer majesty of Mount Denali, North America's tallest peak. In the afternoon, your journey continues by rail, as you board the Denali Star once more for a ride to Fairbanks. Known as "Alaska's Golden Heart City," Fairbanks is beloved for its energy and warmth, as well as its beautiful displays of northern lights during the winter months. Overnight in Fairbanks. 

*Due to a landslide in Denali National Park, the Denali Park Road is closed at mile 43. The bus tour today will be 3-8 hours instead of the normal 7-8 hours.

Day 4 - Fairbanks at Leisure

Enjoy a day on your own in Fairbanks, where you can visit the Museum of the North, the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, Pioneer Park or the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. There are many wildlife tours you can embark upon, and Fairbanks has hiking trails that are suitable for hikers of all fitness levels. Perhaps take a boat ride on the Chena River or set out on one of many other outdoor adventures this city has to offer. You may also pick up your rental car today. Overnight in Fairbanks. 

Day 5 - Fairbanks to Valdez

The driving portion of your Alaska adventure begins today, taking the scenic Richardson Highway from Fairbanks to Valdez. Immense glaciers and dramatic mountain ranges come into view as you travel along the picturesque byway. The highway has two 100-mile sections designated as State Scenic Byways, so there are plenty of opportunities to pull over for photos during your drive. Overnight in Valdez. 

Day 6 - Valdez at Leisure

Surrounded by the Chugach Mountains and home to five glaciers, Valdez is known as "Little Switzerland"; in fact, this town is known to be one of the prettiest places in all of Alaska. You can enjoy the scenery at your own pace today. Perhaps embark on a boat cruise or kayaking tour. Hiking is popular in Valdez, as well, and there are many lovely trails, including one to Bridal Veil Falls. During the colder months when there is snow on the ground, snowboarding and skiing are also popular. This destination is one of Alaska's best places to spot orca whales and harbor seals, as well as brown bears and seabirds. Overnight in Valdez.

Day 7 - Valdez to Anchorage

Depart Valdez this morning and begin the 300-mile drive to Anchorage. Following the Richardson and Glenn Highways, find yourself surrounded by the tremendous natural beauty of Alaska as you travel west. You will follow along stunning rivers and past waterfalls. Soak in scenes of the towering mountains and verdant rural scapes. As you arrive in Anchorage, transfer to your hotel and settle in for the evening. Overnight in Anchorage. 

Day 8 - Tour Conclusion

Your rail and drive tour of Alaska concludes this morning. Check out of your hotel and transfer to the airport independently or via the hotel's shuttle for your return flight home.

Additional information

Pricing Plans

Moderate Accommodations
Hotels include Inlet Tower Hotel, Anchorage; Denali Bluffs Hotel, Denali; La Quinta Inn & Suites, Fairbanks; and BW Valdez Harbor Inn or Mountain Sky, Valdez.
Train accommodations are in Adventure Class. Adventure Class cars offer comfortable seating and large picture windows. Open-air vestibules between railcars provide an opportunity for fresh air and excellent photo ops. Adventure Class guests are encouraged to travel between railcars, whether to take advantage of the open seating in our Vista Dome cars or visit the Wilderness Café.

Superior Accommodations
Hotels include Sheraton Hotel, Anchorage; Grande Denali Lodge, Denali; Pike's Waterfront Hotel, Fairbanks; and Totem Hotel & Suites, Valdez.
Train accommodations are in GoldStar Class. GoldStar Class is a premium class of service offering passengers an exceptional way to travel across Alaska. Glass-dome ceilings allow for panoramic views as Alaska unfolds along the tracks, and an outdoor, upper-level viewing platform -- the only of its kind in the world -- offers fresh air and an excellent vantage point for photos. On the lower level of GoldStar railcars, passengers enjoy a full-service dining room; GoldStar tickets include meals, all soft beverages and two complimentary adult beverages per trip for passengers over 21.

Please note

Mid-size vehicle rental is included. Other vehicle options are available, contact your rail specialist for details.

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Alaska Railroad


4.3 stars4.3 / 5 · 6 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star


4 stars

Submitted 22 Sep 2022

Trip was as advertised.

Collected by Trustpilot


5 stars

Submitted 07 Aug 2022

Thanks for helping coordinate and plan this trip. This made it easier to decide what all to do for somewhere we’d never been before. Thanks!

Collected by Trustpilot


3 stars

Submitted 31 Jul 2022

The highlight of this trip was by far the two days spent on the Alaska Railroad and their Gold Star Service. Make sure to bring your camera and step out to the viewing platform! Service was excellent but food served could be improved. We especially enjoyed the coffee and drinks served in the car. We were unable to take the bus tour into Denali due to scheduling issues but that was OK, not only OK it turned out to be excellent! Our intrepid tour advisor Tiffany was able to secure us a flight tour on Denali Air. Our pilot Dan took us on an epic experience! I highly recommend this experience, either on your own or through a tour company. Those were the highlights, but there were some lowlights along the way. When buying a ‘Superior’ package (as labeled by the tour company) one expects superior accommodations. This was not the case. We were disappointed in all of our hotels, they were in fact subpar (with the exception of our final night in Anchorage which was fine). There are no choices, you get what you get and are not notified until your packet shows up approximately 2 weeks prior to travel. If you do book with this or any other tour company be sure to review all travel documents and confirm all dates and services. We also had an issue with the rental car. Rental cars in Alaska are seriously impacted by the pandemic and I knew this going in as I had tried to rent a car on my own for other explorations. The tour company put our group of four in one car rather than 2 cars as initially booked. The issue was 4 people and all our luggage in one car- we were told it would be an SUV but at the rental counter it was a Hyundai Sonata! Not going to work! So we were were saved by Hannah at Avis who put us in a large SUV for an additional cost which was worth every penny. Travel is complicated in these times so be prepared for bumps along the way. Would I book with this particular tour company again?-probably not. Would I recommend the stunning state of Alaska?-100% yes.

Collected by Trustpilot


5 stars

Submitted 02 Sep 2021

Our trip was originally scheduled for 2020, but due to Covid, had to be postponed. Vacations By Rail worked with us so that no funds were lost. When the trip came around in 2021, some of the suppliers had made changes. Once again, Vacations by Rail came thru. Our rep worked especially diligently to keep us informed. The actual trip was fantastic, and all arrangements went very smoothly. We would definitely recommend Vacations by Rail.

Collected by Trustpilot

Josephus Van Den Meydenberg, Laurel, DE

5 stars

Submitted 04 Oct 2018

great trip and would recommend you to our friends witch we already did!

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Geraldine G, Mesa, AZ

4 stars

Submitted 20 Feb 2018

We enjoyed each leg of our trip through the magnificent state of Alaska. One of the most enjoyable parts was the Alaskan Railroad, and for the most part, the accomodations were very nice.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

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