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6 Unforgettable Alaska Train Tours to Take with Alaska Railroad

America has had a lot going on in 2020, and naturally, we're dreaming of travel. Removed from the rest of the states, Alaska offers an ever-tempting escape, best explored by car or on an unforgettable train tour with Alaska Railroad.

Perched prettily up north about 3,000 miles from Washington State, Alaska tempts travelers with fresh mountain air, wide open spaces, low population numbers and plenty of spectacular sights and activities. While the global pandemic hasn't made travel easy as of late, Alaska is still part of the USA, which means you can fly here without the qualms of international travel. Whether you want to find wildlife, witness Denali or see glaciers in Kenai Fjords, read on for 6 unforgettable Alaska train tours to take with Alaska Railroad.

Image courtesy of Alaska Railroad

Did You Know? Alaska Railroad runs from Seward to Fairbanks, passing through Whittier, Anchorage, Talkeetna and Denali National Park. There are three train routes – the Denali Star, Coastal Classic and Glacier Discovery – each offering the comfort and class of GoldStar Service, which is included in our packages.

Denali Star

Ride Alaska Railroad's flagship train between Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali National Park and Fairbanks. Cross the Knik River with views of the Chugach Mountains, watch Denali rise above the Susitna River, catch sights of Hurricane Gulch from atop a 296-foot bridge and enjoy panoramic views of the Alaska Range at Broad Pass. On a clear day, passengers can see the train’s namesake peak, Denali, the tallest mountain in North America.

Coastal Classic

Discover why National Geographic Traveler ranked the Coastal Classic among their Top Ten Train Rides in North America on a journey from Anchorage to Seward. Winding along Turnagain Arm, the steep mountains of the Chugach Range plunge into the sea and the train veers away from the road into backcountry wilderness. Upon arrival in Seward, the train stops on the shores of Resurrection Bay, the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park.

Glacier Discovery

From Anchorage, the Glacier Discovery train stops briefly at the resort town of Girdwood before continuing on to Portage. Here, guests may disembark to visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, home to black and brown bears, moose, caribou, wood bison and more. The train then travels through a mountain tunnel to Whittier, providing a perfect connection for a glacier and wildlife cruise in Prince William Sound.

Image courtesy of Alaska Railroad and Glenn Aronwits

1. Best of Alaska Rail & Glaciers, First Time Favorites

6 Days | View Full Package Details

  • DAY 1 Arrive Anchorage
  • DAY 2 Prince William Sound 26 Glacier Cruise | Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 3 Anchorage | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 3 Excursions
    Option 1. Anchorage Brew Tour
    Option 2. Eco Nature Tour
    Option 3. Upgrade Option: Alaska Bear Viewing Tour (additional cost)
  • DAY 4 Anchorage to Denali National Park Entrance | Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 5 Denali National Park Backcountry Tour | Coach | Flightseeing
  • DAY 6 Denali National Park Entrance to Fairbanks | Alaska Railroad

First time in Alaska? We know just what you need to see. Hop aboard Alaska Railroad in Anchorage – the largest city and cosmopolitan center of Alaska – to ride all the way to Prince William Sound for a 26 Glacier Cruise. Find yourself face to face with magnificent masses of ice, so close that you can hear the glaciers move and see their brilliant blue color. The next day, select your choice between a brewery tour in Anchorage, eco nature tour or bear viewing tour (additional cost).

Image captured by Alaska Rail Vacations Owner, Clay, on a trip in Alaska

Back on Alaska Railroad, take the Denali Star train to Denali National Park. Enjoy a backcountry adventure by coach to search for bear, moose, caribou, Dall sheep and other wildlife, plus learn about the geology of the region from your friendly and knowledgeable guide. Return to the Park Entrance on board a small bush plane, then spend your final day whitewater rafting, helicopter flightseeing or hiking before reboarding the Denali Star for Fairbanks.

Image courtesy of Alaska Railroad

2. Glaciers, Fjords Denali & Alaska Train Vacation

7 Days | View Full Package Details

  • DAY 1 Anchorage to Seward | Alaska Railroad | Kenai Fjord Cruise
  • DAY 2 Seward | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 2 Excursions
    Option 1. Helicopter Glacier Flight and landing
    Option 2. Helicopter Glacier Dog Sledding
  • DAY 3 Seward to Anchorage| Private Transfer | Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise | Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 4 Anchorage | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 3 Excursions
    Option 1. Anchorage Brew Tour
    Option 2. Eco Nature Tour
    Option 3. Upgrade Option: Alaska Bear Viewing Tour (additional cost)
  • DAY 5 Anchorage to Denali National Park Entrance | Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 6 Denali National Park Backcountry Tour | Coach | Flightseeing
  • DAY 7 Denali National Park Entrance to Anchorage | Coach or Rail (upgrade)

In Alaska the land is every bit as beautiful as the sea, and this rail vacation combines Alaska Railroad with Kenai Fjords National Park, Prince William Sound and Denali National Park. A full circle tour out of Anchorage, the adventure begins on Alaska Railroad's Coastal Classic train for a breathtaking ride to Seward. Here you'll disembark for a 6-hour cruise of Kenai Fjords National Park with its abundant wildlife and breathtaking glaciers.

Travel Designer Sam on a Kenai Fjords cruise in Alaska

On day two, choose between a helicopter glacier tour or helicopter glacier dog sledding, then spend the third day back on the train to another cruise – this time in Prince William Sound. Back in Anchorage, enjoy Freedom of Choice between another three tours (a brewery tour, eco nature tour or bear viewing at an upgraded cost), then take a detour out to Denali National Park for a train, coach and bush plane backcountry adventure tour.

Image courtesy of Alaska Railroad

3. Prince William Sound Denali Explorer

7 Days | View Full Package Details

  • DAY 1 Arrive Anchorage
  • DAY 2 Prince William Sound 26 Glacier Cruise | Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 3 Anchorage | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 3 Excursions
    Option 1. Anchorage Brew Tour
    Option 2. Eco Nature Tour
    Option 3. Upgrade Option: Alaska Bear Viewing Tour (additional cost)
  • DAY 4 Anchorage to Talkeetna | Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 5 Talkeetna to Denali National Park Entrance| Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 6 Denali National Park Backcountry Adventure | Coach | Flightseeing
  • DAY 7 Denali National Park Entrance to Fairbanks | Alaska Railroad

Ride the rails into an exciting world of wildlife viewing, glacier cruising and flightseeing in Alaska! This package is similar to the first on our list, but with a day added in Talkeetna. Traveling out of Anchorage on Alaska Railroad, your first stop is Prince William Sound for a 26 Glacier Cruise. Come face to face with glaciers and watch broken pieces of ice crash into the sea, then select your choice of tour in Anchorage to sip on suds, walk within nature or see brown bears up close (upgrade option).

Some of our Alaska Rail Vacations team ready for a flightseeing tour

On the fourth day this package strays from the itinerary of our first, riding Alaska Railroad north to Talkeetna. Best known as the base camp for climbers attempting to scale Mount Denali and for the stunning views of the mountain, the scenic ride can be celebrated later on main street with local brews and great eats. From here, your tour goes to Denali National Park, for the same amazing backcountry adventure we mentioned in package one.

Image courtesy of Travel Alaska

4. Kenai Fjords Denali Explorer

7 Days | View Full Package Details

  • DAY 1 Anchorage to Seward | Alaska Railroad | Cruise Kenai Fjords
  • DAY 2 Fox Island | Guided Sea Kayaking
  • DAY 3 Fox Island to Seward | Northwestern Fjord Glacier Cruise
  • DAY 4 Seward to Talkeetna | Coach
  • DAY 5 Talkeetna to Denali National Park Entrance | Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 6 Denali National Park Backcountry Adventure | Coach | Flightseeing
  • DAY 7 Denali National Park Entrance to Fairbanks | Alaska Railroad

This 7 day tour combines two of Alaska’s most visited destinations – Kenai Fjords National Park and Denali National Park – with spectacular wildlife viewing and cruising. Beginning in Anchorage, head to Seward for a Kenai Fjords cruise to wander various waterways and see brilliant glaciers up close. Detour to Fox Island for a night and go kayaking to see puffins, sea lions and seals, then it's back on board a ship to work your way through Northwestern Fjord.

Image courtesy of Kenai Fjords Tours

After all that cruising, switch to coach for the drive from Seward to Talkeetna, making a short stop in Anchorage on the way. Spend a night in this unique gold mining community, then board Alaska Railroad's Denali Star train for the scenic journey to Denali National Park. Enjoy a backcountry adventure complete with grizzly bear, moose, wolves, caribou and Dall sheep sightings, then take a flightseeing tour back to the Park Entrance to board Alaska Railroad for Fairbanks.

An image taken by our team of the outdoor viewing platform on Alaska Railroad.

5. Grand Alaska Rail Cruise Connector

5 Days | View Full Package Details

  • DAY 1 Seward or Whittier to Anchorage
    Option 1: Seward Cruise Ship Terminal to Anchorage | Small Group Tour
    Option 2: Whittier Cruise Ship Terminal to Anchorage | Small Group Tour
  • DAY 2 Anchorage | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 3 Excursions
    Option 1: Anchorage Brew Tour
    Option 2: Eco Nature Tour
    Option 3: Upgrade Option: Alaska Bear Viewing Tour (additional cost)
  • DAY 3 Anchorage to Denali National Park Entrance | Alaska Railroad
  • DAY 4 Denali National Park Backcountry Adventure Tour | Coach | Flightseeing
  • DAY 5 Denali National Park Entrance to Fairbanks | Alaska Railroad

A perfect program for before or after a cruise, this 5-day adventure begins in Seward or Whittier and combines Anchorage and Denali National Park with travel on Alaska Railroad. On day one, choose between a small group tour out of the Seward or Whittier cruise ship terminal, both of which bring you to Anchorage. You'll then have the entire second day to explore Alaska's largest city by way of a brewery tour, eco nature tour or bear viewing – your choice!

Image courtesy of Denali Cabins

On day three, you'll depart from Anchorage on Alaska Railroad and head to the Denali National Park Entrance. On arrival, Experience why the restricted Park Road is called one of the grandest drives on earth, complete with wildlife sightings of grizzly bear, moose, wolves, caribou and Dall sheep. Switch to flightseeing tour on the way back for incredible views of Mount Denali, then leave Denali National Park on Alaska Railroad to end the trip in Fairbanks.

Image courtesy of Alaska Railroad

6. Aurora Rail Adventure - Bettles Lodge

8 Days | View Full Package Details

  • DAY 1 Arrive Anchorage
  • DAY 2 Anchorage to Talkeetna & Winter Dog Sledding
  • DAY 3 Talkeetna to Fairbanks | Aurora Winter Train
  • DAY 4 Fairbanks to Bettles Lodge
  • DAY 5-6 Bettles Lodge
  • DAY 7 Bettles Lodge to Fairbanks
  • DAY 8 Depart Fairbanks

If you're searching for something a little more unique, consider a winter trip in Alaska. With fewer people, more availability and plenty of seasonal magic, this may just be the perfect option for those seeking extra space. Beginning in Achorage you'll travel to Talkeetna to experience an iconic Alaskan winter sport (you guessed it! dog sledding), then board the magical Aurora Winter Train bound for Fairbanks and Bettles Lodge.

Image courtesy of Bettles Lodge

Located directly under the Auroral Band with the most clear weather days and cloud-free nights, Bettles Lodge is one of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis in Alaska. On this 8-day trip you'll have multiple chances to see the lights, plus enjoy authentic winter activities like snow shoeing, cross country skiing or warming yourself by the fire pit under the stars. After a final breakfast at the lodge it's time to return by air to Fairbanks.

To request rates and check for early booking offers, contact our Travel Designers toll free at 1-855-465-1001 or email sales@alaskarail.com and the team will gladly personalize your dream Alaska rail vacation.

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