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
28 meals
10 B 8 L 10 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.

Pipeline visit, Mary Shield kennel, and northern museum!
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 the River's Edge Resort

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

Train to Denali National Park
Denali National Park
Denali Education Center

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 at Denali Education Center's Riverside Hall. Water, coffee, and tea available. Other beverage available for purchase at a local mercantile.

Afternoon: Get oriented to Denali National Park and your home away from home. Spend the afternoon hiking with a field educator or enjoy some free time to relax and explore. At 5:00 p.m. all participants will meet in Riverside Hall for introductions to Denali Education Center, your group leaders, and your program's support staff. We will review the program theme and the up-to-date daily schedule. Learn about DEC's rich history with Road Scholar and take a short walk around their 10-acre campus to get familiarized with the landscape. Wildlife safety and emergency procedures- including contact numbers for key staff will also be addressed at this time.

Dinner: Enjoy your first healthy, home-cooked dinner at Riverside Hall. All meals are served buffet-style. The menu varies greatly and is always healthy and balanced. Water, coffee, tea, and snacks are available at all times.

Evening: Evening presentation topics and locations will vary depending on local speaker availability. Presentation topics range from learning about living in Denali to predator-prey relationships to climbing the mountain. The schedule for evening presenters in Denali will be announced on the first day of the program. Tonight we’ll gather in our Riverside Hall where an educator will introduce us to the sometimes surprising but always challenging subarctic ecosystem. Your educator will touch on topics that have shaped Alaska and Denali that range from geology, botany, and early pioneer history.

Heart of the Park, Eielson Visitor Center
Denali National Park
Denali Education Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Driving about 65 miles one way, approximately 8 hours total aboard, 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: Riverside Hall. After breakfast, pack your own to-go lunch- tailored to your own needs and tastes.

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: Buffet style in Riverside Hall

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

Learn about Denali's Wildlife and enjoy some Free Time.
Denali National Park
Denali Education Center

Activity note: Light walking up to 2 miles over 3 hours; compact surfaces, roots, rocks, and uneven ground possible.

Breakfast: Buffet style in Riverside Hall

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 Riverside Hall 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: Buffet style in Riverside Hall

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. 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: Buffet style in Riverside Hall

Evening: We’ll gather in Riverside Hall to discuss the following day's journey south and what to expect in Anchorage. Enjoy the final night in Denali. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning. After announcements we’ll gather with a member of the DEC year-round staff to learn about the seasonal trials and joys of life in Denali. Groceries, babies, outhouses — we'll hear about it all.

After breakfast head south on the train to Anchorage.
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 at 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. 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 on 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 Alaska History 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 Inlet Towers

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
Breeze Inn

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.

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
Breeze Inn

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.

Afternoon: Continue glacier-spotting and wildlife watching on Kenai Fjords cruise as the boat explores Alaska's coastal waters.

Dinner: After our cruise we'll gather for a buffet dinner at your hotel accommodations. Water, coffee, and tea available. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Gather this evening to share stories and moments from your program with your fellow participants.

Charter to Wildlife Conservation Center and Anchorage.
Downtown Anchorage, AK
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: At the Breeze Inn.

Morning: Board a chartered motor coach for Anchorage that will stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center along the way. Learn how the Conservation Center is working to better preserve Alaska's wildlife through conservation, research, and quality animal care.

Lunch: We'll enjoy lunch at the Conservation Center before boarding the motor coach and continuing on to Anchorage

Afternoon: After checking in to 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. 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
Downtown Anchorage, AK

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: The Lakefront Anchorage Hotel

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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