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

At a Glance

All Aboard! Journey the entire 470-mile length of the historic Alaska Railroad from Fairbanks to Seward. Along the way you'll learn about life in the North and its people, culture and wildlife. Ride to Denali National Park- home of North America’s tallest mountain, 20,310-foot Denali where you'll explore its trails with one of Denali Education Center's educators. Then you'll head to Anchorage and experience the cultures of Alaska’s Native groups before heading to the harbor town of Seward to take in the grandeur of Kenai Fjords National Park.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Minimal walking and standing. Optional walks of up to three miles. Elevations on your bus trip up to 3,900 feet.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • View stunning scenery and wildlife on a day-long journey into the heart of Denali National Park.
  • Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn about Alaska's diverse array of cultures and traditions.
  • Explore Kenai Fjords National Park by boat to spot glaciers, marine mammals, birds and the rugged coast.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Shopping for Porcupine A Life in Arctic Alaska
by Seth Kantner
Seth Kantner returns to the setting of his debut novel , Ordinary Wolves, with an autobiographical account of his own life growing up in Northern Alaska. Beginning with his parents’ migration to the Alaskan wilderness in the 1950s and extending to his own attempts to balance hunting with writing, Kantner recalls cold nights wrapped in caribou hides, fur-clad visitors arriving on dog sleds, swimming amidst ice floes for wounded waterfowl, and his longstanding respect for the old Iñupiaq ways. Captured in words and images, these details combine to reveal a singular landscape at a pivotal moment in its history. Both an elegy and a romp, the book illuminates a world few will see as Kantner has.
Snapshots from the Past: A Roadside History of Denali National Park
by Jane Bryant
Visitors come to Denali National Park and Preserve for many reasons - spectacular scenery, wildlife, the continent's highest peak, and the cultural experiences. This amazing book does a wonderful job of presenting snapshots of Denali's past and telling many of the stories that have shaped its history. This book included user-friendly maps of the Park's road and innumerable historic photos to highlight its content. It is arranged to follow the park road from east to west, from the park entrance to Kantishna, and is a must-read for anyone interested in delving into the Park's rich history.
Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
by Velma Wallis
Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River Valley in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking, ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine. Though these women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die trying. In simple but vivid detail, Velma Wallis depicts a landscape and way of life that are at once merciless and starkly beautiful. In her old women, she has created two heroines of steely determination whose story of betrayal, friendship, community, and forgiveness "speaks straight to the heart with clarity, sweetness, and wisdom" (Ursula K. Le Guin)
Arctic Dreams
by Barry Lopez
Based on Barry Lopez’s years spent traveling the Arctic regions in the company of Eskimo hunting parties and scientific expeditions alike, Arctic Dreams investigates the unique terrain of the human mind, thrown into relief against the vastness of the tundra and the frozen ocean. Eye-opening and profoundly moving, it is a magnificent appreciation of how wilderness challenges and inspires us.
Denali's Howl
by Andy Hall
In the summer of 1967, twelve young men ascended Alaska’s Mount McKinley—known to the locals as Denali. Engulfed by a once-in-alifetime blizzard, only five made it back down. Andy Hall, a journalist and son of the park superintendent at the time, was living in the park when the tragedy occurred and spent years tracking down rescuers, survivors, lost documents, and recordings of radio communications. In Denali’s Howl, Hall reveals the full story of the expedition in a powerful retelling that will mesmerize the climbing community as well as anyone interested in mega-storms and man’s sometimes deadly drive to challenge the forces of nature.
Naturalist’s Guide to the Arctic
by E.C. Pielou
This book is a practical, portable guide to all of the Arctic's natural history—sky, atmosphere, terrain, ice, the sea, plants, birds, mammals, fish, and insects—for those who will experience the Arctic firsthand and for armchair travelers who would just as soon read about its splendors and surprises. It is packed with answers to naturalists' questions and with questions—some of them answered—that naturalists may not even have thought of.
Last New Land
by Wayne Mergler
Through time, tales both oral and written have immortalized America's last wilderness. Editor Wayne Mergler scoured Alaska's literary tradition for the best writing the state has to offer and did not come up empty-handed. From the Native legends of the Creation to Jack London's stirring stories of frontier survival, to John Haines's more contemporary reflections on homesteading. The Last New Land gathers a rich and comprehensive sampling of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about the Northland.
Wildflowers of Denali National Park
by Verna E. Pratt
This book is considered a classic plant ID guide for the Denali area and is a good "picture guide" to many of the flowering plants of central Alaska, more specifically the Denali National Park & Preserve area. It is arranged by color of the flower and then loosely by the family of plant.
Jimmy Blue Feather
by Kim Heacox
Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old and in constant pain and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native, he’s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska. When his grandson, James, a promising basketball player, ruins his leg in a logging accident and tells his grandpa that he has nothing left to live for, Old Keb comes alive and finishes his last canoe, with help from his grandson. Together (with a few friends and a crazy but likeable dog named Steve) they embark on a great canoe journey. Suddenly all of Old Keb’s senses come into play, so clever and wise in how he reads the currents, tides, and storms. Nobody can find him. He and the others paddle deep into wild Alaska, but mostly into the human heart, in a story of adventure, love, and reconciliation.
Two in the Far North
by Margaret Murie
This enduring story of life, adventure, and love in Alaska was written by a woman who embraced the remote Alaskan wilderness and became one of its strongest advocates. In this moving testimonial to the preservation of the Arctic wilderness, Mardy Murie writes from her heart about growing up in Fairbanks, becoming the first woman graduate of the University of Alaska, and marrying noted biologist Olaus J. Murie. So begins her lifelong journey in Alaska and on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where along with her husband and others, they founded The Wilderness Society. Mardy's work as one of the earliest female voices for the wilderness movement earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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