Discover Alaska by Rail: A Traveling Adventure

Learn about the Alaska Railroad while journeying its entire length. Explore a cross-section of Alaska life (and wildlife) in Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage and Seward.
Rating (5)
Program No. 1014RJ
11 days
Starts at
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11 days
10 nights
26 meals
10 B 7 L 9 D
Check-in, Orientation, and Welcome Dinner
River's Edge Resort

Activity note: Welcome to Alaska! Check into your hotel, meet the fellow participants, and start getting to know the program.

Dinner: In the dining room at the River's Edge Resort in Fairbanks, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. Just before dinner, the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Distances and durations of hikes may be affected by weather/local conditions. We will have evening presentations by local experts at the Denali Education Center. Topics will vary from natural history to mountaineering to living in the interior. Occasionally, presentations are part of a community offering, integrating us into the local culture. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

View pipeline, Mary Shield kennel, and Museum of the North!
River's Edge Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; Drive 40 miles total over 1.5 hours. Light town walking up to 2 miles; mostly paved, 1-4 steps possible, minimal elevation change.

Breakfast: At the River's Edge Resort, the breakfast buffet offers a variety of options each morning such as eggs, a breakfast meat, breads and/or cereal, coffee, tea, and water.

Morning: Stop and view the Alaskan Pipeline and learn about how it was built before traveling to the kennel of Mary Shields, the first women to finish the Iditarod. Get up close and personal with Mary's dog team and listen to stories about the mushing trail and life in interior Alaska.

Lunch: For lunch we'll stop at a local establishment that offers a variety of different hot and cold lunch options. Non-alcoholic beverage included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: 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.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant that highlights Alaska's fare and flare.

Evening: Free time to relax and explore before the group travels south to Denali!

Train to Denali National Park
Denali National Park
Denali Park Village Resort

Activity note: Getting on and off the trail; 130 miles to Denali Railroad Depot. Getting on and off a bus; 10 miles total over 20 minutes. Up to 2-miles walking possible throughout the day on compact surfaces and forested paths.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at River's Edge.

Morning: Enjoy the first leg of the 470 mile Alaska Railroad as it winds its way south to Denali National Park. From the depot, head to Denali Education Center's campus and your home for the next four nights!

Lunch: Buffet lunch in Denali Education Center's Sheldon Center . Water, coffee, and tea available. Other beverage available for purchase at a local mercantile.

Afternoon: After lunch we'll go over the schedule for your time in Denali before learning from one of Denali's Education Center's educations about the challenging and surprising ways that life thrives in the subarctic. After checking into your hotels you'll get the change to put your new knowledge to the test on one of Denali's front country trails. Spend the afternoon hiking with a field educator or enjoy some free time to relax and explore at your own pace.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner at your own pace and to your own tastes in the Denali Park Village's Gold Rush Dinning Room.

Evening: Join us in the Sheldon Center for an evening lecture -or- Spend the evening at your own pace as you prepare for your big day in the Park tomorrow.

Heart of the Park, Eielson Visitor Center
Denali National Park
Denali Park Village Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Driving about 65 miles one way, approximately 8 hours total, with rest stops every 1-1.5 hours. Walking up to 1-mile throughout the day; opportunities for more walking dependent on personal preference. Maintained trails are available around the Eielson Visitor Center. Trail length and difficulty vary significantly from less than 1 mile on easy, compact terrain, to longer hikes on more challenging terrain that can be uneven, rocky, and steep.

Breakfast: Gold Rush Dinning Room Buffet Breakfast. Choose from an array of options to suit your own tastes. Water, coffee, and tea are provided.

Morning: Boarding a shuttle bus, we’ll travel to the heart of Denali National Park on a day-long journey to the Eielson Visitor Center. Along the way, we’ll enjoy commentary about the park from our bus driver while we take in breathtaking views of the Alaska Range and its many peaks. Have your cameras ready as we might have a good chance to view Denali's wildlife, which may include caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, moose, wolves, and more! Opportunities to stretch our legs will be available throughout the day; we will stop periodically to observe wildlife when sighted, for restroom breaks, and for photo opportunities.

Lunch: At Eielson Visitor Center, we’ll have sack lunches with a sandwich, snack bars, and fresh fruit.

Afternoon: At the Eielson Visitor Center, we’ll have time for independent exploration to take in the many interpretive displays including a 3-D model of Denali that can help one visualize the various climbing routes, both past and present. Rangers will also be on hand to answer any questions that you might have. A shuttle bus will then set out for the return trip to Denali Education Center. However, if you wish to spend some more time independently at and around Eielson Visitor Center, hiking Denali's pristine wilderness this is an option. The Group Leader can offer information on how to return to the Denali Education Center for anyone interested in staying longer and hiking independently.

Dinner: Dinner in the Gold Rush Dinning Room.

Evening: Spend the evening resting, relaxing, and enjoying your time in Alaska.

Wildlife of Denali Class, enjoy a guided hike, or free time
Denali National Park
Denali Park Village Resort

Activity note: Light walking up to 3 miles over 3 hours; compact surfaces, roots, rocks, and uneven ground possible.

Breakfast: Buffet style in the Gold Rush Dinning Room.

Morning: Denali is home to 39 of the most iconic mammal species and an impressive 169 bird species. We’ll join a Denali Education Center field educator in class in our picturesque Sheldon Center as they discuss the extraordinary adaptations that allow local wildlife to survive in Alaska’s extreme subarctic climate. During this educational program, we will get to examine several fur pelts, skulls, and hooves from these regional species as we learn about how they are surviving in the North.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Spend the afternoon exploring one of Denali's front range trails with a Denali Education Center educator -or- Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. A list of Free Time Opportunities will be provided to you at your program orientation and your Group Leader will be happy to answer questions. You may wish to take some time to rest and relax, explore the park independently, or pursue other activities at your own cost such as rafting, flight seeing, or visiting the kennels of a local Iditarod champion.

Dinner: Cabin Night Dinner Theater- you'll get a taste for old time Alaska as you sit back and enjoy a this variety show production. Your meal will include salmon, ribs, and a mixed green salad. With berry cobbler for dessert- you're sure to leave satisfied.

After breakfast head south on the train to Anchorage.
Downtown Anchorage, AK
The Historic Anchorage Hotel

Activity note: Getting On and off the train, 230 miles total over 9 hours. 1-2 miles total of light walking; 1-4 steps possible while moving about the train.

Breakfast: Buffet style breakfast in the Gold Rush Dinning Room.

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. Or, spend some additional time taking in the Visitor Center displays at your own pace.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch on the train in their dining car. Water and non-alcoholic beverages included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Enjoy a scenic journey on the Alaska Railroad through Broad Pass and over the Alaska Range to Anchorage. Keep your eyes peeled for a glimpses of Mt. Denali and wildlife as you pass through Denali State Park.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner in the train's dinning car.

Evening: After arriving into Anchoarge we'll check into our overnight accommodations and spend the rest of the evening relaxing.

Alaska Native Heritage Center and Anchorage Museum
Downtown Anchorage, AK
The Historic Anchorage Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Walking up to 2 miles, including pavement and uneven terrain. Steps possible, elevator available.

Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the Historic Anchorage Hotel

Morning: Join a docent for a tour of the Anchorage Museum and Rasmuson Center. After learning some Alaskan history, continue on to explore their awe inspiring collection of Alaskan art.

Lunch: At the museum on your own.

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: Dinner as a group in downtown Anchorage. Water and non-alcoholic beverages included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Take some time to explore downtown Anchorage on your own.

Train to Seward, Behind the Scenes at Alaska Sealife Center
Gateway Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Getting on/off a train. Travel by rail approx. 120 miles, roughly 4 hrs. Walking up to 1.5 miles possible over pavement and some uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Enjoy Breakfast in the dinning car on the train to Seward. Non-alcoholic beverage included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: Early morning departure to travel the final stretch of the Alaska Railroad... one of the most spectacular railroad journeys on the continent. We'll wind our way along Alaska's coast as we make our way to the coastal town of Seward.

Lunch: At the SeaLife Center. Water, coffee, and lemonade included. Other options not available for purchase.

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 their 154 species of fish.

Dinner: Buffet dinner at Seward Hotel. Water, coffee, and non-alcoholic beverage included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: This evening after we'll meet as a group to go over our Seward itinerary and how it differs from Denali. After our brief Seward orientation the rest of the evening will be free to enjoy and relax.

Kenai Fjords National Park Marine Wildlife Cruise
Gateway Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat. Walking less than a mile. Steps and stairs on-board the boat. Some uneven surfaces. Travel by boat roughly 7 hrs.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at your hotel.Water, coffee, and tea included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: Enjoy a bit of free time at Seward's small boat harbor to walk around and enjoy the sights of Alaska's coast before we board our boat. On the small boat cruise of Resurrection Bay in Kenai Fjords National Park you'll enjoy extraordinary sightings of glaciers and Alaska's ruggest coast. Keep your eyes open for marine mammals, shorebirds, and pelagic birds. Soak in the unparalleled beauty of Kenai Fjord's coastline as a Park Ranger on board explains what you're seeing and answers your questions.

Lunch: Buffet style salmon and prime rib dinner on-board your boat cruise. Water, coffee, and tea available. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Continue glacier-spotting and wildlife watching on Kenai Fjords cruise as the boat explores Alaska's coastal waters and tidewater glaciers around Seward. After our cruise we'll gather back at the hotel to briefly go over the schedule for our departure the next day. Dinner and the rest of the evening is yours to enjoy at your leisure.

Dinner: On your own to sample the local fare. Seward is known for its fresh seafood caught daily and served in many of its delicious restaurants.This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At your leisure.

Charter to Wildlife Conservation Center and Anchorage.
The Lakefront Anchorage

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Travel approx. 120 miles, roughly 3 hours north to the Wildlife Conservation Center and Anchorage.

Breakfast: Buffet at the Gateway Hotel.

Morning: Board a chartered motor coach for our travels to Anchorage. Our first stop along the way will be the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Learn from an educator how the Conservation Center is working to better preserve Alaska's wildlife through animal rehabilitation, conservation, and research. We'll also have a chance to view some of their resident wildlife before we head to the Alyeska Tram.

Lunch: Upon arrival in Girdwood we'll take the Alyeska tram to the top of Mt. Alyeska. Here we'll enjoy lunch at the Boar and Tide Dining Room, and weather permitting, views of the surrounding area!

Afternoon: After our lunch we'll gather together for our decent down the mountain to continue our travels to Anchorage. After checking into our final accommodations, we'll have some time to relax and unwind before dinner and our program wrap-up.

Dinner: At the Lakefront, we'll enjoy a delicious buffet meal in a private dinning room.

Evening: After dinner, we'll take some time to share stories and laughter, and solidify memories as we say farewell and conclude our program.

Breakfast, Shuttle to airport, Program Concludes

Activity note: Check out by 12:00 p.m. Getting on/off a motorcoach. Driving approx 1.5 miles to the Anchorage Airport, approximately 5-10 minutes. Hotel shuttle is available 24 hrs a day. Arrange pick-up with the front desk.

Breakfast: Historic Anchorage Hotel Buffet.

Morning: After checking out, we'll board a motorcoach bound for the Anchorage Airport. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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