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Alaska Wilderness Tour

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7 days From $2,371 per person
4.6 stars(61 reviews)
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Join the Denali Star in exploring Alaska’s gorgeous rail corridor, venturing through the vast wilderness and past pristine mountainscapes to the state’s best destinations, including Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks.

Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary
Up to $300 Off

In celebration of our 20th anniversary in 2024, you can save up to $300 per person on independent vacations priced $2,000 or more. Book by February 29th to lock in savings.

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2024 Tour code: WC-AWTN-24

About the tour

Alaska is a place where contrasts are written into the landscape. Lively cities sit at the cusp of pristine wilderness, and rich indigenous heritage and reminders of the past mingle with modern life. This seven-day independent rail journey is your chance to explore these elements, unveiling what makes America's Last Frontier such a beguiling destination. Sit back and relax as a showcase of quintessential Alaska unfolds from the state's rail corridor, beginning in Anchorage. Your journey aboard the Denali Star takes you from the beautiful south-central coast deep into the forested mountains of the interior by way of immense backcountry and mile upon mile of pristine wilderness. Enjoy time in historic Talkeetna, taking to the Talkeetna and Susitna Rivers by jetboat, and in Denali National Park, where a wilderness adventure presents some of the park's most scenic vistas and best wildlife viewing points. You also have a chance to experience Denali on your terms before rejoining the Alaska Railroad for a trip to Fairbanks. The Golden Heart of Alaska has a riveting mixture of culture, tradition, and wilderness, which you experience from the decks of a sternwheeler riverboat while cruising the Chena and Tanana Rivers. Find yourself inspired and delighted at each turn of this Alaskan exploration, which stands alone as a memorable trip through the state's most renowned destinations or is perfect as a pre- or post-trip extension to an Alaskan cruise.

This tour is also available in reverse from Fairbanks to Anchorage.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Anchorage

Anchorage, Alaska's largest city and a gorgeous destination at the cusp of the Knik and Turnagain Arms, welcomes you to America's Last Frontier. As you arrive, transfer on your own to your hotel, and then take the day to get accustomed to your new surroundings. If you arrive early, you may wish to take a sightseeing trolley around the city or visit the Anchorage Museum, the state's largest museum. With natural surroundings that include the Chugach Mountains, glaciers, and beautiful waterways, there are also many ways to explore Anchorage's backcountry, including flightseeing or a helicopter tour. If one night isn't enough time to accomplish all your travel goals in Anchorage, you may opt to add additional nights. Overnight Anchorage.

Day 2 - To Talkeetna Aboard the Denali Star

Make your way to Anchorage's rail station this morning to board the Denali Star to Talkeetna in the beautiful Mat-Su Valley. Picturesque views of the Knik Arm and the Chugach Mountains surround the tracks as you begin your journey, and as the train nears Talkeetna, you may even catch a glimpse of Mount Denali. The Denali Star arrives in Talkeetna after a three-hour route through remote Alaska.

Take some time to settle into your hotel, then this afternoon, enjoy a thrilling jetboat excursion on two of the three local rivers. Look upon mountain scenes framed by lush evergreen forests as you wind along the Talkeetna and Susitna Rivers. Continue your day in Talkeetna at leisure, perhaps on an optional flightseeing excursion highlighting Mount Denali and the surrounding glaciers. Overnight Talkeetna.

Day 3 - Denali Star from Talkeetna to Denali National Park

Enjoy a leisurely morning to soak in the splendors of this wilderness town. Much of Talkeetna's original charm remains from its days as a mining boomtown in the late 1800s. Venture downtown to see its wooden buildings, grab a bite to eat in one of the restaurants, or shop at the local galleries and stores. Before reboarding the Alaska Railroad's Denali Star, you could also head into nature for a quick hike.

Take in the views of Mt. Denali and the Susitna River as the train sets underway for the next leg of your journey to Denali National Park. This stretch of the track is markedly wild, weaving into the deep Alaskan wilderness after departing Talkeetna. Enjoy glimpses at the Indian River, Hurricane Gulch, and the Alaska Range as the route unfolds. Majestic views of Healy Canyon and the Nenana River below offer a glorious conclusion to your day's travels. You will arrive at Denali National Park late this afternoon with profound scenery at every angle. Overnight Denali.

Day 4 - Denali National Park Tundra Wilderness Tour

A day of marvelous panoramas, wildlife, and outback adventures lies ahead as you set into Denali National Park on a narrated bus tour. This excursion takes to the park's singular road, built atop a rock glacier. Breathtaking views of Mt. Denali, the Alaska Range, lakes, and expansive valleys mark the byway with beauty. Enjoy included photo stops at scenic overlooks throughout the route and plenty of animal-spotting opportunities. Alaska's "Big 5" - bear, moose, caribou, wolves, and Dall sheep - call these protected lands home and roam freely, so keep your camera ready. Overnight Denali. 

Day 5 - Denali to Fairbanks Aboard the Denali Star

See what makes Denali National Park such an incredible destination as you explore the park independently today. You may wish to set out on foot, hiking the park's trails alone or alongside a park ranger, or see the peaks and valleys from above on a flightseeing experience. Denali offers year-round dogsledding and thrilling seasonal adventures, such as off-roading and whitewater rafting on the Nenana River. Of course, you could always keep your adventures low-key, exploring the park's Visitors Center, picnicking, or choosing a location to post up and spot wildlife.

Late this afternoon, head to the train station once more to board the Denali Star to Fairbanks. The short train ride takes you deeper into the heart of the state, crossing through tundra and remote stretches en route. Overnight Fairbanks.

Day 6 - Discovering Fairbanks

Enjoy a memorable introduction to Fairbanks this morning as you board the sternwheeler Riverboat Discovery to cruise the Chena and Tanana Rivers. This excursion unveils fantastic scenery at a leisurely pace, allowing you to spot wildlife along the shores and admire the rugged mountain scenery. Expert narration provides insight into Alaska's history, landmarks, and ecology during the cruise. Watch floatplanes land and take off from the surrounding water, and enjoy the opportunity to visit a traditional Chena Indian Village to learn about their heritage and connection to the Alaskan wilderness. Before the cruise concludes, you will also stop at a dogsledding facility for a demonstration. The day is yours to visit the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center, or the Museum of the North once back in Fairbanks. You could also venture to Chena Hot Springs or out into the Arctic. Do not forget to get the iconic photo under Fairbank's antler arch! Overnight Fairbanks.

Day 7 - Tour Conclusion

Your Alaskan adventure concludes this morning, and you are welcome to depart for home at leisure. If you are not ready for your journey to end, speak to a Rail Specialist about extending your stay in Fairbanks with additional nights or activities.

Additional information

Pricing Plans

Moderate
Hotels include Anchorage Marriott, Anchorage; Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, Talkeetna; Denali Bluffs Hotel, Denali National Park; and SpringHill Suites, Fairbanks.
Service onboard Alaska Railroad's Denali Star is in Adventure Class.

Superior
Hotels include Hotel Captain Cook, Anchorage; Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, Talkeetna; Grande Denali Lodge, Denali National Park; and Pikes Waterfront Lodge, Fairbanks.
Service onboard Alaska Railroad's Denali Star is in GoldStar Service.

Please note

In general, Alaska hotels tend to be more dated and rustic than hotels found in the continental US. Due to the remote nature of the state, and destinations visited on this tour, access to select food items may be challenging or expensive. We recommend packing personal essentials and snacks to bring with you.

Prices are land-only, per person based on double occupancy. Prices are correct at the time of this web page going live; however are subject to confirmation at time of booking. Hotels & Accommodations are subject to change based on availability.

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.

Hotels

Hotel Captain Cook, Anchorage

Hotel Captain Cook, Anchorage

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Denali Bluffs Hotel

Denali Bluffs Hotel

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Grande Denali Lodge, Denali National Park

Grande Denali Lodge, Denali National Park

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Pike’s Waterfront Lodge

Pike’s Waterfront Lodge, Fairbanks

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Springhill Suites

Springhill Suites, Fairbanks

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Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge

Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, Talkeetna

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Train

Alaska Railroad

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Reviews

4.6 stars4.6 / 5 · 61 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (45)
  2. 4 stars
    (10)
  3. 3 stars
    (4)
  4. 2 stars
    (1)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

VICKIE GIBSON

2 stars

Submitted 15 Sep 2023

I was supposed to be reimbursed for excursions we had to pay for!!! Only received one!!

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CECILIA MARIE PHILLIPS

5 stars

Submitted 14 Sep 2023

Fabulous itinerary with plenty of leisure time to do what we wanted. Everything went smoothly and we received a prompt refund when one excursion was cancelled due to weather. This was our second trip with Vacations By Rail and very pleased; will book with them again.

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HEDLEY BATTERS

4 stars

Submitted 11 Sep 2023

A bit on the expensive side Loved alaska

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RYAN HILL

5 stars

Submitted 10 Sep 2023

We had a great time. All the reservations where there with no hassle.

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GLORIA SCHWAB

4 stars

Submitted 08 Sep 2023

It was fabulous except someone cancelled our hotel for the first night 4 nights before we arrived . They couldn’t tell us who . We had a confirmation for the first night from vacations by rail for 4 nights after and they decided to honor it and reinstate the reservation . After that it was smooth sailing .

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Vince

1 stars

Submitted 29 Aug 2023

We did not make the tour. Made it as far as Talkeetna but I was too sick to continue on to Denali. We had to go back to Anchorage to arrange a flight home. I have multiple sclerosis and can normally walk fine with a cane but it got worse and I could not stand or walk. We didn't kniw why this happened until we tested for Covid and were both positive. When we first got to Anchorage at the Hotel Captain Cook we found it was a hub for several cruise lines and there were cruise passengers constantly coming and going. We are sure this is were we caught Covid.

from Vacations By Rail
Thank you for your honest and thorough feedback. We regret to hear of your experience, and we are very sorry. We are working with our internal teams to review your tour. Our Travel Services manager will be in touch to discuss your review further. We appreciate you giving us the opportunity to make this right.
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