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Discover Alaska by Rail: A Traveling Adventure

Program Number: 1014RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/17/2014 - 7/28/2014; 6/17/2016 - 6/28/2016; 6/20/2016 - 7/1/2016; 7/8/2016 - 7/19/2016; 7/11/2016 - 7/22/2016;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Price starting at: $3,195.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Train Treks; On the Road; National Parks; History & Culture Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 32; 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian    

All Aboard! Journey the entire 470-mile length of the historic Alaska Railroad from Fairbanks to Seward. Ride to Denali National Park, home of 20,320-foot Mount McKinley, and study the wildlife and natural history of this International Biosphere Reserve through field trips and educational programs. In Anchorage, experience the living cultures of Alaska’s Native groups at the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center. At the final stop, the harbor town of Seward, take in the grandeur of Kenai Fjords National Park and the Alaska SeaLife Center.


• Explore Kenai Fjords National Park by boat to spot glaciers, marine mammals, birds and the rugged coast.
• Meet Mary Shields — the first woman to finish the Iditarod — and her dogs at her home near Fairbanks.
• View stunning scenery and wildlife on a day-long journey into the heart of Denali National Park.

Activity Particulars

Optional walks up to three miles over trails with elevation gain of up to 250 feet. Elevations of 3,900 feet.

Itinerary Summary

Fairbanks, 2 nights; train to Denali, 4 nights; train to Talkeetna, 1 night; train to Anchorage, 2 night; train to Seward, 2 nights.

Coordinated by Denali Education Center.


The indigenous Athabaskan tribe had fished in the local area for centuries before it was settled in 1903 as a trading post for riverboats and gold prospectors. Fairbanks today is an important player in interior Alaska’s oil fields and pipelines.

Denali National Park

Established in 1917, this 6 million-acre wilderness is home to 20,320 foot Mount McKinley, and wildlife such as moose, caribou, Dall sheep and grizzly bear, and is considered one of the most intact sub-arctic ecosystems in the world.


Situated between boreal forest, tundra, temperate rainforest and a marine environment, Anchorage was established when the Alaska Railroad was constructed to connect the interior with the coast. The area is home to almost half the state’s population. 


Situated at the head of Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula, Seward is one of Alaska’s oldest and most picturesque communities. Founded in 1903, it is named for William H. Seward, the Secretary of State who negotiated the purchase of Alaska (originally derided as “Seward’s Folly”). Seward serves as a gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park.

Moose Pass

 Moose Pass is a beautiful Alaska town nestled on the shores of Trail Lake in the heart of the Kenai Peninsula, 100 miles south of Anchorage. Surrounded by towering mountains, Moose Pass offers easy access to the trails of the Chugach National Forest and its pristine mountain lakes and breathtaking alpine vistas.

Fairbanks: Hotel. Denali: Cabins along the Nenana River. Talkeetna: Hotel. Anchorage: Hotel. Seward: Hotel.
Meals and Lodgings
   Cutler Student Apartment Complex (SAC)
  Fairbanks 3 nights
   Denali Education Center
  Denali National Park 3 nights
   Inlet Tower Hotel and Suites
  Anchorage 2 nights
   Kenai Peninsula Learning Center
  Moose Pass 3 nights
 Cutler Student Apartment Complex (SAC)
Type: Campus/Dorm
  Contact info: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775 USA
phone: 907-474-7247
  Room amenities: Each apartment is like a small condo with two floors. Downstairs is a living room and kitchen and upstairs are two bedrooms with a shared bathroom. Up to four people will share a bathroom. ALL of these apartments require using a flight of stairs. SOME REQUIRE USING TWO FLIGHTS OF STAIRS. We have a very limited number of accessible apartments available. If you need an accessible apartment please contact us as soon as possible to see if we can provide one. Meals will be served in the university cafeteria, a 1/3-mile walk from the apartments. This is the main dining hall in use on campus in the summer, so you get to interact with the campus community while you dine. There is a laundry room in the apartment complex. Machines are free, soap may be purchased in the campus bookstore.
  Facility amenities: Coffee pots, microwave, phone, free laundry, free 24 hour internet access in nearby dormitory.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: The maximum number of people sharing a bathroom is four.
  Additional nights prior: $40 To reserve rooms, you must call the UAF Summer Conference Desk at (907) 474-6769. Be sure to tell the person you speak with that you are with the Road Scholar Program.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Denali Education Center
Type: Cabin
  Description: The Denali Education Center campus was built in 1990 along the eastern boundary of Denali National Park, on the banks of the Nenana River. This quiet wooded campus, consisting of 12 cabins and Riverside Hall, was the first in the U.S. built exclusively for Road Scholar programs. All facilities are on the ground floor with four steps leading into each cabin. The longest walk from your cabin to Riverside Hall is about 200 yards on a gravel walkway, and the shortest is about 15 yards.
  Contact info: Milepost 231 George Parks Highway
Denali Park, AK  99755 USA
phone: 907-683-2597
  Room amenities: Our location is idyllic, rooms and services are simple. Each cabin at the Denali Education Center has one bathroom that may be shared by up to four people. There is no housekeeping during the week, though fresh towels are available mid-week. Rooms do not have clocks, radios, TV’s, microwaves, or hair dryers. All rooms are non-smoking. There are no phones in the rooms, though cell phone reception is fine. Emergency calls may be received in the office, as needed. An answering machine will receive calls after hours or when staff is in the field.
  Facility amenities: Laundry facilities are available for $2 per wash and $2 per dry, laundry detergent included. Internet access is available nearby.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Each cabin has two rooms with one shared bath.

 Inlet Tower Hotel and Suites
Type: Hotel
  Description: Just south of downtown Anchorage near: The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts The Egan Convention Center The Anchorage Museum The Dena'ina Convention and Civic Center Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
  Contact info: 1200 L Street Anchorage
Anchorage, AK 99501 USA
phone: 907-276-0110
  Room amenities: Complimentary high-speed Internet access Free local calls Speaker phone with voice mail 25-inch color television with premium channels HBO Refrigerator, microwave & wet bar Coffeemaker with Alaskan gourmet coffee Hairdryer Iron/Ironing board Rollaway beds and cribs (upon request) Safe deposit box available at front desk Air conditioning
  Facility amenities: Free High-Speed Wireless Internet, all guest rooms & public space Free 24-Hour Shuttle Service, to airport, railroad station and downtown Fitness center, open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Mixx Grill Food & Spirits
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Kenai Peninsula Learning Center
Type: Motel
  Description: The Kenai Peninsula Learning Center is a full-service lodge located on the shore of upper Trail Lodge. A restaurant and bar are available. Rooms are double occupancy with either two twin beds, or one double bed. All rooms have private baths. There is a possibility of triple or quad rooming, by advance request only.
  Contact info: PO Box 5
Moose Pass, AK 99631 USA
phone: 907-288-3101
  Room amenities: A TV with limited channels is available in each room.
  Facility amenities: Internet access is available, but no laundry facilities at Moose Pass.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after: $109 Rooms are available before and after the program. Rates depend upon the time of year. Call 907-288-3101 for rates and to make a reservation.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Independent arrival and check-in between noon and 5 pm. You will be staying at Cutler Student Apartment Complex (SAC) that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast. 10 am check-out time. You will be staying at Kenai Peninsula Learning Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Participants must sign and return both the Participant Information & Supplemental forms.
  Parking availability:
Free parking is available at all locations.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Fairbanks
  Nearest city or town:  Fairbanks
  Nearest highway: Airport Way
  Nearest airport:  Fairbanks International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location:  Moose Pass
  Nearest city or town:  Seward
  Nearest highway: Seward Highway
  Nearest airport:  Anchorage
Travel Details



From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.




5 miles


Take a cab from the airport to the Cutler Student Apartment Complex on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.


Moose Pass


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$65 including tax
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


2.5 hours 


Departs Moose Pass at 9:00 am. Scheduled to arrive at Anchorage airport at 11:30 am. PLEASE allow time for road delays which are common on Alaskan highways. Book a flight departing after 1:30pm. Reserve by calling (907) 288-3101, say you are with Road Scholar, and (with your travel details handy) ask for help with reservation on the charter bus to Anchorage. Or you may wait until you arrive at Moose Pass, and book your charter bus at their front desk.

Driving Directions
  Fairbanks International Airport The Cutler Apartment Complex is located on the UAF campus. The campus is about five miles north of Fairbanks International Airport. There is no public transportation between the airport and campus. A cab to campus costs about $20. There are private shuttles, such as Airlink, which are $10.50 for up to three people and $1 per bag. Look for signs in the parking lot to see what apartment the coordinator will be staying in. Participant rooms will not be ready for occupancy until after 3 pm. Luggage may be left at the coordinator’s apartment between noon and three. When you check-in at 3:00 p.m., you will be given your room assignment, nametag, program folder and any additional information you may require. We will walk down to the dining hall at 5:00 p.m. to have dinner. Orientation will be at approximately 6:30. Please let us know if you will be arriving at the complex after 4:30 p.m. and we will make arrangements to meet you and take you to join the group. If you arrive later than this, we will be able to provide a cold supper at the apartments.
Elevation Note: Participants will travel to 3900 feet during the field trip into Denali National Park.

Equipment Requirements: Waterproof footwear with ankle support and proper rain gear are both highly recommended.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Independent arrivals 3-5pm.
(Thursday, July 17)
 Arrive To: Independent arrival to Fairbanks.
 Dinner: On campus
 Evening: Orientation.
 Evening: Introductions.
Accommodations: Cutler Student Apartment Complex (SAC)
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Riverboat Discovery
(Friday, July 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast
 Morning: Morning class at the University followed by a field trip out on the town.
 Lunch: Lunch
 Afternoon: Afternoon field trip aboard the Riverboat Discovery. This three hour cruise will take you into the heart of Alaska and the heart of a family who has made the rivers of Alaska a way of life for four generations. You will see a bush float plane taking off alongside a "bush" style runway, visit the home and kennels of the late four-time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher, and gain insight into the ancient Athabascan Indian culture. Alaskan Native guides who have worked and lived in Alaska will take you on a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village.
 Dinner: Dinner
 Evening: Experience the Fairbanks summer art scene at one of the season's diverse cultural events.
Accommodations: Cutler Student Apartment Complex (SAC)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Museum of the North
(Saturday, July 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast
 Morning: Discover the pioneer history of Fairbanks, Alaska's WWII history, and the spectacle of the northern lights at the newly renovated University of Alaska Museum of the North.
 Lunch: Lunch
 Afternoon: Learn why Fairbanks is known as the "Golden Heart of the North." Mingle with the locals on an afternoon field trip to catch the best of seasonal celebrations in this famously friendly little city.
 Dinner: Dinner
 Evening: Evening program TBA.
Accommodations: Cutler Student Apartment Complex (SAC)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Train to Denali
(Sunday, July 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast
 Morning: Board the Alaska Railroad for a journey through the wide open spaces of Interior Alaska towards the heart of the Alaska Range and Denali National Park.
 Lunch: Lunch
 Afternoon: Orientation to Denali Education Center campus.
 Dinner: Riverside Hall
 Evening: Learn about the sometimes surprising, always extreme, conditions that shape life in Denali and define a subarctic ecosystem in “Welcome to the Subarctic.”
Accommodations: Denali Education Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Journey to the Heart of the Park
(Monday, July 21)
 Breakfast: Riverside Hall
 Morning: Enjoy stunning scenery and wildlife watching opportunities on a day-long journey into Denali National Park by shuttle bus to Eielson Visitor Center.
 Lunch: In the field
 Afternoon: Want to hike independently in this pristine wilderness? We invite you to leave the bus behind and travel cross-country... at any time throughout the day.
 Dinner: Riverside Hall
 Evening: Free time.
Accommodations: Denali Education Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Wildlife of Denali
(Tuesday, July 22)
 Breakfast: Riverside Hall
 Morning: Discover the extraordinary animals that call Denali home and learn about their marvelous adaptations to life at high latitudes in “Wildlife of Denali.”
 Lunch: Riverside Hall
 Afternoon: Explore the rich habitat of Horseshoe Lake. Join an expert naturalist for a 1.5 mile round-trip walk with 250 feet elevation change. Or, take off on your own for free time or optional activities including rafting, flightseeing, flyfishing, or visiting sled dog kennels.
 Dinner: Riverside Hall
 Evening: Guest speaker TBA. Schedule for expert local evening presenters in Denali will be announced on first day of program.
Accommodations: Denali Education Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Ride the rails to Anchorage
(Wednesday, July 23)
 Breakfast: Riverside Hall
 Morning: Learn about the pioneer community of McKinley Station, the beginnings of what is now the gateway to Denali National Park. This is an optional walk that travels 1.6 miles with 100 feet of elevation gain.
 Lunch: Bag lunch for the train.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a scenic journey on the Alaska Railroad through Broad Pass, over the Alaska Range to Anchorage. Hope for a glimpses of Mt. McKinley and wildlife as you pass through Denali State Park.
 Dinner: Dine onboard the Alaska Railroad.
 Evening: Check-in to the Inlet Towers
Accommodations: Inlet Tower Hotel and Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Alaska Native Heritage Center and The Anchorage Museum
(Thursday, July 24)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at Inlet Towers
 Morning: Join a docent for a tour of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. After learning some Alaskan history, continue on to explore the awe inspiring collection of Alaskan art
 Lunch: Lunch at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
 Afternoon: The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a gathering place that celebrates, perpetuates and shares Alaska Native culture, language, heritage and tradition. Explore the exhibits and take in one-of-a-kind demonstrations by Alaska Native artists, dancers, musicians, and story tellers of all ages.
 Dinner: In downtown Anchorage
Accommodations: Inlet Tower Hotel and Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Behind-the-Scenes tour at Alaska SeaLife Center
(Friday, July 25)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the Inlet Towers
 Morning: Early morning departure to travel the final stretch of the Alaska Railroad... one of the most spectacular railroad journeys on the continent.
 Lunch: On train
 Afternoon: Bus transfer to Moose Pass followed by an orientation to the Kenai Peninsula Learning Center campus.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour at the Alaska SeaLife Center. Learn about the Center’s marine wildlife research, rehabilitation projects, and life support systems. Discover what is takes to care for seals, sea lions, octopus, seabirds, and 154 species of fish.
 Dinner: Trail Lake Lodge
 Evening: Glaciers & Glaciology
Accommodations: Kenai Peninsula Learning Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Exit Glacier
(Saturday, July 26)
 Breakfast: Trail Lake Lodge
 Morning: Choose your own adventure. Recommended exhibits and presentations include: Qutekcak Native Tribe Culture Center; Native Alaskan Presentations & Stories from the Elders, Seward Museum for “The History of Seward,” and Two Lakes Trail nature hike with Carol Griswold.
 Lunch: At the SeaLife Center
 Afternoon: Enjoy a Ranger-led interpretive walk to the toe of Exit Glacier. Up to 1 mile and 50 ft of elevation gain.
 Dinner: Trail Lake Lodge
 Evening: Evening presentation: “My Alaska Experience” with Rosella Ikerd
Accommodations: Kenai Peninsula Learning Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Kenai Fjords National Park Marine Wildlife Cruise
(Sunday, July 27)
 Breakfast: Trail Lake Lodge
 Morning: A bit of free time at Seward's small boat harbor.
 Morning: Small boat tour to Resurrection Bay in Kenai Fjords National Park. Enjoy extraordinary sightings of glaciers, marine mammals, shorebirds, and pelagic birds. Soak in the unparalleled beauty of Kenai Fjord's wild and rugged coastline.
 Lunch: Onboard boat
 Afternoon: Continue glacier-spotting and wildlife watching on Kenai Fjords cruise.
 Dinner: Trail Lake Lodge
 Evening: Program wrap-up.
Accommodations: Kenai Peninsula Learning Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Independent departures.
(Monday, July 28)
 Breakfast: Trail Lake Lodge
 Morning: Independent departures. 10 am check-out time.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Alaska: History of the 49th State

Author: Claus M. Naske

Arctic Dreams

Author: Barry Lopez

Arctic Village

Author: Robert Marshall

Coming Into the Country

Author: John McPhee

Last New Land

Author: Wayne Mergler

Make Prayers to the Raven

Author: Richard Nelson

Minus 148 Degrees: The First Winter Ascent of Mount McKinley

Author: Art Davidson

Naturalist’s Guide to the Arctic

Author: E.C. Pielou

Roadside Geology of Alaska

Author: Cathy Connor

Ten Thousand Miles With a Dog Sled

Author: Hudson Stuck

Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival

Author: Velma Wallis

Two in the Far North

Author: Margaret Murie

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