Go off the beaten path while enjoying the best of the great state of Alaska by car, train and plane on this 2-week independent adventure.
About the Tour
A round trip expedition from Anchorage, this 15-day journey pinpoints some of Alaska’s most captivating destinations while also giving you plenty of time to explore the vast wilderness. Travel between cities by train and private bush plane, and enjoy the freedom to explore the open road with your rental car. In each stop along the way, sightsee in whatever way allows you to meet your travel goals. Enjoy nature? Set out into the wilderness for hiking, wildlife viewing or even glacier sightseeing. Desire a hint of culture? Visit local indigenous sites and fantastic museums throughout the state. There are restaurants, spectacular scenery and memorable experiences in each destination. Your Alaskan adventure begins in Anchorage, and from here, embark on an epic road trip to Homer, Seward, Palmer and Glennallen. Travel like a true Alaskan, boarding a bush plane in Chitina bound for McCarthy. When you return to Chitina, venture into the heart of the state to Fairbanks, where you will drop your rental car and have plenty of free time to explore. Board the Alaska Railroad and journey southbound en route to one of Alaska’s most celebrated attractions, Denali National Park, where the stately Mt. Denali looms in the backdrop. From Denali, reboard the Denali Star for a memorable journey back downstate to Anchorage, following a beautiful route through cities and the pristine wilderness. Unforgettable sights and experiences beckon in America’s Last Frontier.
- Rail travel on the Alaska Railroad
- Hotel accommodations for 14 nights
- Denali National Park bus tour
- 10-day mid-size car rental with unlimited miles
- Roundtrip bush plane flight between Chitina and McCarthy
Day 1 - Arrive in Anchorage
As you arrive in Anchorage today, make your way to your hotel and check-in for the evening. You are welcome to spend the remainder of the day beginning your explorations of this cultural hub. Anchorage is home to a thriving art scene that is showcased through numerous art galleries and museums. You can find everything from indigenous art to modern pieces throughout the city. Anchorage is also home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, breweries and pubs that highlight the region’s diversity. You can sample freshly caught Alaskan seafood, taste reindeer or savor international delights. Overnight Anchorage.
Day 2 - Anchorage to Homer
Pick up your rental car this morning, and begin the day’s road trip to Homer, located on the Kachemak Bay on the Kenai Peninsula. Follow a route along the Seward Highway, which has been dedicated as a National Scenic Byway, and the Sterling Highway and enjoy approximately 225 miles of unbelievable scenery as you travel between Anchorage and Homer. The journey takes you through Chugach State Park, where views of lush spruce groves and towering mountains guide the way. Feel free to stop off for hiking and to soak in the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. You will also drive along the coastline and the Turnagain Arm before traveling through the heart of the Kenai Peninsula to Homer. There are plenty of charming mountain towns to explore as you approach your destination, such as Cooper’s Landing and Sterling. Even inland, vistas of crystal blue lakes and impressive mountainscapes abound.
As you arrive in Homer, check-in at your hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure to begin your explorations of this seaside gem. Overnight Homer.
Day 3 - Homer at Leisure
A fishing town at heart and the “Halibut Capital of the World” by location and trade, Homer is a destination where water is life. There is a lively harbor, where you can watch fishermen bringing in the day’s catches or setting out into the blue water of Kachemak Bay. Stunning pebbled beaches are located throughout the town and are the perfect place to take in ocean views and to spot marine life, such as harbor seals, sea lions, otters and whales, while enjoying the ambiance of the beach against the colorful buildings and the towering mountains in the backdrop. You could set out into the water yourself with a kayak tour or on a chartered halibut fishing excursion. One of Homer’s most popular spots is the Homer Spit, which extends 5 miles out into the bay and is home to restaurants and eclectic boutique shops. If you want to walk or hike to capture the beauty that surrounds Homer, there are plenty of trails in the region, including the Spit Trail, which is paved and follows along the waterfront, and the Diamond Creek Trail, leading down to the bay. No matter where your adventures take you, keep watch for wildlife. Moose and bear often make appearances in Homer, and bald eagles swoop over the water frequently. Overnight Homer.
Day 4 - Homer to Seward
Drive along the coast, through endless forests and past charming towns as you drive from Homer to Seward today. The scenery is truly breathtaking along the Sterling Highway, and since you have the day to drive and unlimited miles on your rental car, make the most of it. You may wish to stop off in the coastal town of Ninilchik to set your sights on the most photographed church in Alaska, a quaint Russian Orthodox Church and cemetery that overlooks the original Ninilchik settlement and the ocean. There is a beautiful old pioneer town, complete with log cabins, in Soldotna, and in Cooper’s Landing, the brilliant blue water of Kenai Lake is a truly memorable sight. There are endless opportunities for hiking in these peninsula towns, as well. Upon settling in at your hotel, enjoy the sights and offerings of this port city for the remainder of the day. Overnight Seward.
Day 5 - Seward at Leisure
Seward is the gateway to one of Alaska’s most majestic protected lands, Kenai Fjords National Park. If you wish to visit, there are many boat tours that depart from Seward and present the coastal splendor of the park, including its fjords, calving icebergs and dynamic sealife. You may also drive to the national park and enter in the Exit Glacier Area. Here, there is a visitors center and a plethora of trails that lead to the massive Exit Glacier. Embark on a ranger-led tour for an in-depth experience. Staying in Seward, there are plenty of ways to occupy your day. Perhaps embark on a kayaking tour of Resurrection Bay and watch otters and seals frolic as you paddle through the cold water. Downtown Seward is a story of contrasts, with a newer portion filled with shops and places to book adventures and an older part home to locals’ favorite restaurants and taverns. All around the harbor, enjoy eateries with menus featuring local catches and endless opportunities to spot marine life. You could also visit the Alaska SeaLife Center here or simply stroll along the rocky waterfront. Overnight Seward.
Day 6 - Seward to Palmer
Back on the open road, travel again along the incredibly scenic Seward Highway from Seward to Palmer. This route takes you along the stunning coastline, offering endless views of the Cook Inlet, Turnagain Arm and the mountains. There are plenty of interesting places to explore as you venture to your next destination, including Portage, which is now a sunken ghost town, where the remains of homes have been reclaimed by nature. Anchorage is also on the route, and passing through allows you to uncover any attractions you missed during your initial explorations. Enjoy awe-inspiring scenes of the Chugach State Park as you continue north and cross the Knik River. As you arrive in Palmer, make your way to the Knik River Lodge, where cozy accommodations meet endless panoramas of the Alaskan wilderness. Take the remainder of the day to hike through the surrounding backcountry or to embark on one of the optional tours offered by the Lodge, including ATV excursions through the valley, dogsledding, helicopter flightseeing or a heli-hiking expedition. Overnight Palmer.
Day 7 - Palmer to Glennallen
Depart the Palmer region this morning and begin your journey toward Glennallen on the Glenn Highway, one of Alaska’s most dramatic byways. The Glenn Highway follows a path carved by glaciers millennia ago and runs parallel to the track of the Matanuska Glacier. In fact, this roadway offers some of the most accessible glacier viewing in the state, as well as a tangible look at the history of Alaska. You can stop at Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site for a distant view of the glacier or wait until you approach the Matanuska Glacier Scenic Turnout on the side of the highway for a closer glimpse at this ancient sheet of ice. Around mile marker 102, you can also stop at Glacier Park and, after paying a fee, hike to the glacier and touch it for yourself! Before arriving in Glenallen, you also pass the Lion’s Head trailhead, which is advertised throughout the state for its incredible scenery and spectacular views. This is a strenuous hike yet yields a wonderful payoff. Continuing toward Glennallen, look upon unique black spruce trees and more mountain scenery before arriving at your destination. This town is known for its incredible scenery and is surrounded by protected land, as Glennallen is the gateway to Wrangell St. Elias National Park, the largest national park in the United States. Overnight Glenallen.
Day 8 - Glenallen to Chitina/ to McCarthy by Bush Plane
Your day begins with a short drive to Chitina, approximately 68 miles from Glennallen. Portions of the route follow along a sparkling river, while others present mountains and deep forests. As always, be alert for Alaska’s wildlife that roam freely through this wild region. As you arrive in Chitina, board a bush plane for an unforgettable flight above Wrangell St. Elias National Park to the Kennicott Glacier Lodge. This homey lodge is surrounded by nature’s glory, with views of a massive glacier and towering mountain peaks. The lodge has an idyllic setting surrounded by 14 of the highest mountain peaks in North America and is built as a replica of an original mining-era building. Pictures and artifacts tell the story of the region as you walk throughout the main building of the lodge, and the rooms allow you to unplug and relax while being surrounded by history. You may choose to relax on the property and soak in its natural beauty or to begin your adventures in Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Overnight McCarthy.
Day 9 - McCarthy/Kennicott at Leisure
Steeped in history, the McCarthy/Kennicott region is home to a deep mining past and endless outdoor adventures. You may wish to embark on a guided or independent hiking excursion to Root Glacier, which is located just 1 1/2 miles from Kennicott Glacier Lodge, or to hike the challenging trails that are located in the mountains behind Kennicott. You can book a flightseeing tour at the lodge to capture the endless grandeur of Wrangell St. Elias National Park from above, as well. For a different perspective, join a river rafting expedition through the park. Gaze up at mountain peaks and glaciers from the water while keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife, such as moose, bear and Dall sheep. Mountain biking is also popular in the region, and there are plenty of trails from which to choose. If it is history you seek, spend the day in the historic mining town of Kennicott, founded in 1900 when copper ore was spotted on the mountainside. Over the next 30 years, the town boomed as a copper mining hub, and remnants of its mining past can be seen today. There are 40 original buildings in the town, many of which are open to the public. A guided tour is the best way to see the buildings and to unravel the full story of this once prosperous destination. Overnight McCarthy.
Day 10 - McCarthy to Chitina by Bush Plane/ Drive to Fairbanks
A bush plane is your chariot once again as you return to Chitina this morning. On arrival, hop in your car for a journey along the Richardson Highway to Fairbanks. While, of course, you will be awed by panoramic mountain and wilderness views, this roadway also offers scenes of the trans-Alaska pipeline. Enjoy the pristine scenery of Wrangell St. Elias National Park once more as you make your way north. You may wish to pull off and enjoy some remote lakeside vistas at the rest stop in Paxton or to photograph the spectrum of colors that cover Rainbow Ridge. Another point of interest along the route is the wildlife viewing point near Black Rapids glacier. This little detour allows you to see herds of wild bison roaming freely; however, there are also places to see bison at the Donnelly Creek State Recreation Area, which is further north and also offers breathtaking views of some of the state’s highest mountain peaks. Perhaps learn about the history of travel in Alaska and life around the turn of the century at the unique Sullivan Roadhouse Museum. No trip through this region is complete without stopping for the perfect photo op with the sign of North Pole, Alaska. As you arrive in Fairbanks, check-in at your hotel and settle into your accommodations. You can choose to rest if you hope to stay awake all night to experience the Midnight Sun in all its glory or begin your explorations of this exciting location. Overnight Fairbanks.
Day 11 - Fairbanks at Leisure
Your day is at leisure to enjoy the myriad offerings of Fairbanks. Spend your day museum hopping, checking out places like the Museum of North, the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center, the Aurora Ice Museum or Pioneer Park, an open-air tribute to early Alaskan history that is complete with displays and museums throughout. You could also visit a reindeer ranch or tour a dogsled kennel. There are art galleries and restaurants galore. Hiking and walking trails can be found throughout Fairbanks, as well, including the Chena River Walk, which is a paved path through downtown. This river walk offers lovely views of the water and access to beautiful parks and historic plazas throughout Fairbanks. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could drive to Chena Hot Springs to take a dip in the hot springs and pools. The Angel Rocks trailhead is also in the Chena Hot Springs region and offers fantastic views of the surrounding scenery. You return your rental car this evening. Overnight Fairbanks.
Day 12 - Fairbanks to Denali by Train
Make your way to the train depot in Fairbanks this morning, and join the Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star for a memorable ride through Alaska’s interior to Denali. The scenery is varied and includes points of interest that appeal to all passengers. Catch glimpses of old mining towns and beautiful mountains. The train crosses the Tanana River on a steel bridge that stretches for 700 feet - one of the longest in the world - and follows the Nenana River to the Nenana River canyon gorge. Keep your eyes peeled; this is one of the most scenic stretches of the entire journey. In all, the journey takes approximately 4 hours to complete and offers many views that cannot be seen from the road. Transfer to your hotel and enjoy views of the surrounding mountain ranges and forests while you get settled. You may spend the rest of your day immersing yourself in nature with guided or independent hiking excursions, biking, rafting or flightseeing. There is even golf nearby. You have plenty of time for whatever you choose; remember, the sun doesn’t set during the summer months. Overnight Denali.
Day 13 - Denali National Park
The most impressive sights of Denali National Park lie ahead as you embark on an all-day sightseeing tour by bus. Narrated by a knowledgeable guide, this tour offers interesting facts about Denali National Parks and takes you to known hotspots for seeing wildlife. Enjoy views from lookouts and set your sights upon the highest mountain in North America, Mt. Denali. Your bus travels up steep mountains and around tight passes while venturing to ponds, lakes and points of interest, such as Stony Dome, Cathedral Mountain, Primrose Ridge, Healy Ridge and even sled dog kennels. Overnight Denali.
Day 14 - Denali to Anchorage by Train
Following a scenic route on the Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star, travel from Denali to Anchorage today. As the train leaves the station in Denali, you will cross Riley Creek and travel along the Nenana River past the border of Denali National Park. Crossing Hurricane Gulch is an experience to remember, as the train crosses 296 feet above the creek, and as you cross, views of Mt. Denali come into focus. The train crosses a 504-foot steel bridge over the Susitna River before pausing near downtown Talkeetna. Your journey on the Denali Star proceeds alongside the Susitna River and more incredible mountain views come into sight, including those of Mt Foraker, Mt. Hunter and Mt. Denali. Travel through the Mat Su Valley and past beautiful lakes before passing through cities like Willow and Wasilla and entering the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge. Long steel bridges cross the Matanuska and Knik Rivers, and scenic views of the Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains come into view. From this point, enjoy views of the “Sleeping Lady” mountain, Mt. Susitna, the colorful spirit houses of Eklutna village and military bases before the train makes its final stop in Anchorage. Transfer to your hotel upon arrival, and enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure. Overnight Anchorage.
Day 15 - Tour Conclusion
Your extraordinary adventure through Alaska concludes this morning upon check-out at your hotel
Accommodations include Inlet Tower Suites, Anchorage; Best Western Bidarka, Homer; Breeze Inn, Seward; Knik River Lodge, Palmer; Caribou Hotel, Glenallen; Kennicott Glacier Lodge, McCarthy; La Quinta Inn & Suites, Fairbanks; and Denali Bluffs, Denali. Hotel accommodations are subject to confirmation at time of booking; substitutions will be of similar quality and amenities.
Rail travel on the Alaska Railroad is in Adventure Class.
Accommodations include Sheraton Hotel, Anchorage; Land’s End Resort, Homer; Seward Windsong Lodge, Seward; Knik River Lodge, Palmer; Caribou Hotel, Glenallen; Kennicott Glacier Lodge, McCarthy; Pike’s Waterfront Lodge, Fairbanks; and Grande Denali, Denali. Hotel accommodations are subject to confirmation at time of booking; substitutions will be of similar quality and amenities.
Rail travel on the Alaska Railroad is in GoldStar Class.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfill the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
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