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Alaska Winterland and Northern Lights

9 days Sold out
5.0 stars(1 reviews)

Gaze upon the Northern Lights, ride aboard the Alaska Railroad, warm up in natural hot springs, and immerse yourself in the best of Alaska’s winter wonderland.

Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary

2024 Tour code: WC-AKWR-24

About the tour

Alaska is an exciting place to visit at any time of year, but in the winter months, there is a distinct change in the atmosphere that turns America's Last Frontier into a true winter wonderland. Snow covers the untamed landscape and, somehow, the mountainscapes become even more dramatic. Though the days are shorter, the nights bring a magnificent show of rainbow colors across the sky. Experience all of this and more on this 9-day winter wonderland expedition. Begin in Anchorage, where you pick up your rental car and begin the road trip portion of this independent journey through Alaska. Your destination is the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, which you reach by following a scenic highway along the coast of Alaska, passing Turnagain Arm in the Cook Inlet en route. Spend two days here enjoying the resort's amenities, which range from skiing and snowmobiling to snowshoeing and winter hikes. You return to Anchorage by car before boarding the iconic Alaska Railroad for a journey north to Fairbanks, where you spend the evening. From Fairbanks, enjoy an included transfer to Chena Hot Springs Resort - a place of relaxation, immense natural beauty, and a chance to view the magical Aurora Borealis. Spend two days soaking up the offerings of this Alaskan hot spot before transferring back to Fairbanks and subsequently flying to Anchorage, where your vacation concludes. Seeing the untamed beauty of Alaska in the winter is something you will fondly recall for years to come.


What’s included


Day 1 - Arrive in Anchorage

Arrive in Anchorage today and make your way to your downtown hotel. Take the rest of the day at leisure to settle into this waterside destination. You may wish to begin sightseeing or explore Anchorage's culinary scene, which is surprisingly diverse, thanks to its large population of immigrants and indigenous people. Overnight Anchorage. 

Day 2 - Anchorage to Girdwood

An epic road trip beckons today, as you pick up your rental car and set out on the Seward Highway bound for Girdwood. This route is wonderfully scenic, offering incredible views of Turnagain Arm for much of the journey. Girdwood is located less than an hour from Anchorage, and on arrival in the town, make your way to the Alyeska Resort - your home for the next two days. Tucked between the ocean and the mountains, this resort is a year-round hub of excitement and a place where upscale accommodations and high-end amenities meet great wilderness adventures. Alyeska is Alaska's number 1 ski resort, so if the weather permits, feel free to hit the slopes of Mt. Alyeska. The mountain is home to over 1,600 skiable acres and nearly 80 trails for skiers of all abilities. Because this region sees over 660 inches of snow annually, Mt. Alyeska has earned a reputation for being steep and deep. You may also wish to take a dip in the saltwater pool or whirlpool. Overnight Girdwood.

Day 3 - Alyeska Resort

The day is yours to continue your explorations at the Alyeska Resort. On the slopes or within the hotel, there is always something to do at the resort. Perhaps enjoy a massage or treatment at the onsite spa or peruse the shops within the hotel. There is also a special events calendar that provides additional opportunities for excitement. Venturing just outside the resort campus, you could visit the Roundhouse at Alyeska Resort, perched upon a mountain peak and home to a vast collection of photos and artifacts that bring the region's history to life. The Girdwood Center for Visual Arts is a wonderful place to see artwork, whereas the historic Crow Creek Mine brings to life the mining past of the Girdwood. There are so many wonderful ways to spend your day.

This evening, perhaps choose to enjoy a mountaintop dinner at the Seven Glaciers Restaurant. Perched above the hotel, the restaurant is accessible by tram and includes an extensive wine list and unique menu that highlights locally sourced Alaskan seafood and game. Overnight Girdwood.

Day 4 - Alyeska Resort to Anchorage

Your morning is at leisure to continue soaking in the offerings of Girdwood and the Alyeska Resort. Later today, hit the Seward Highway once again to return to Anchorage. Return your rental car as you arrive in the city, then take the rest of the day to sightsee. You may choose to visit one of the museums in Anchorage or to meander through the eclectic art galleries, the combination of which work together to weave the tale of the region. Overnight Anchorage. 

Day 5 - Anchorage to Fairbanks by Train

Make your way to the train station this morning and join one of the Alaska Railroad's most beloved trains, the Aurora Winter Train for an all-day journey to Fairbanks. This 350-mile route begins by traveling along the Knik Arm to Wasilla and then proceeds through the wilderness toward Talkeetna. The train passes through the quaint town of Hurricane before passing through Denali. Keep your eyes peeled for views of Mt. Denali as the train continues on its northerly route. Dramatic mountain views pave the way to Healy, and from here, travel riverside to Fairbanks. While the scenery offered on this route is spectacular year-round, the vast expanses of wilderness are only enhanced by winter's thick white snow. On arrival this evening, a hotel shuttle whisks you to your downtown hotel. As you approach your hotel, look up. Fairbanks is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, thanks to its idyllic situation within the Auroral Oval. Overnight Fairbanks.

Day 6 - Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs

Your morning is at leisure to enjoy the ambiance of Fairbanks. There are excellent museums in the city, including the Museum of the North, the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center, and the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, and an incredible variety of attractions. Do not forget to get a picture under the moose antler arch and to walk through the streets of Pioneer Park, which are lined with historic buildings. Mid-day, you are transferred from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs Resort for a two-night stay. The resort is located approximately an hour east of Fairbanks and is situated in an ideal position for Aurora Borealis viewing. Upon check-in, spend the afternoon soaking in the natural and man-made amenities of Chena Hot Springs. Perhaps take a dip in the hot springs, the heated pool, or one of the hot tubs. You may also wish to rest up in your room in preparation for tonight's adventure.

This evening, embark on a 4- to 5-hour Aurora Viewing Expedition Tour. From the resort, set out in a Small Unit Support Vehicle, which travels to the top of a nearby hill for an unobstructed view of the northern lights. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and vistas surround from every angle. A heated yurt is available should you need to warm up. Overnight Chena Hot Springs.

Day 7 - Chena Hot Springs at Leisure

The offerings of Chena Hot Springs are endless, and the day is yours to experience them in as you please. Continue to relax in the hot springs or get a restorative massage in the cabin across from the pool house. You can visit the Aurora Ice Museum to see the world's largest year-round ice environment or embark on one of the optional tours from the resort. There are guided snowmobile tours and dogsledding expeditions. Snowshoeing and ice skating are also great ways to spend your day. Overnight Chena Hot Springs.

Day 8 - Chena Hot Springs to Fairbanks

Depending on your transfer time from Chena to Fairbanks, you may decide to take a last dip in the hot pools this morning. Upon arrival in Fairbanks, enjoy time at leisure.

Overnights in Fairbanks.

Day 9 - Tour Conclusion in Fairbanks

Relax at the resort before transferring to airport independently for the conclusion of the tour.

Additional information

Please note

Rail tickets on the  Aurora Winter Train are in Adventure Class.

Any complimentary shuttles services are provided and operated by individual hotels, and availability needs to be confirmed by passengers with hotels directly. Shuttle service cannot be guaranteed by Vacations By Rail. For inexperienced winter drivers, an SUV is highly recommended.

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.


Comfort Inn, Anchorage

Comfort Inn, Anchorage

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Chena Hot Springs Resort, Fairbanks

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Springhill Suites

Springhill Suites, Fairbanks

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Alyeska Resort, Girdwood

Alyeska Resort, Girdwood

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Alaska Railroad

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5.0 stars5.0 / 5 · 1 review

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5 stars

Submitted 18 Feb 2024

Very nice. We liked the self-guided approach with the planned agenda. We knew what to do but were able to pace to suit ourselves.

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