Explore the heart of the Last Frontier on a journey that takes you from Fairbanks, into Denali, and through Prince William Sound by rail and by ferry. Bring your bicycle to ride around the communities you visit and to explore Denali on your own. Fly to Fairbanks to begin your Alaska adventure. Depending on where you live, this could add an extra day to your itinerary. The good news is that the Fairbanks International Airport is served by frequent flights from within Alaska as well as from the Lower 48 and even countries like Japan and Germany. Alaska really is closer than you think.
Fairbanks — Alaska's Golden Heart City (+)
Fairbanks — Alaska's Golden Heart City (-)
Spend the day exploring Fairbanks. Visit a museum to learn about the natural and cultural history of the area. Tee off at one of a number of golf courses. Go birding and visit with wildlife biologists at a nearby research center or bike around Farmer's Loop. Take a professionally guided tour above the Arctic Circle by ground or by air, or share a personal home visit and kennel tour with a dog musher and dogs. Hike the trails or relax in a natural mineral hot springs in the Chena River Recreation Area. Explore downtown and take a self-guided walking tour or check out the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and Pedro Monument.
Denali State Park and Denali National Park & Preserve (+)
Denali State Park and Denali National Park & Preserve (-)
Then, board the Alaska Railroad for the trip to Denali. On this route, sparkling salmon streams and stands of birch and spruce come into view, while carpets of fireweed add dramatic purple to the landscape. Arrive in Denali just after noon and spend the next few days exploring at your leisure. Whether you seek information, inspiration or just need to buy a bus ticket, you'll want to stop at one or more of the visitor centers. Adventures of varying levels of physical activity can be found during your visit to Denali. Activities in the park include, sightseeing, birding, sled dog kennel visits, flightseeing, mountaineering, biking, hiking, and backpacking. Beyond mile 15 the road is closed to private vehicles, so you'll need to be on a bus, bicycle, or on foot to access the full length of the Denali Park Road. In the summer, daily bus trips are offered along the 92-mile road from the park entrance to the old mining community of Kantishna. The mostly gravel road meanders through scenic vistas and prime wildlife viewing areas. There are also shuttle busses and camper busses available that allow you to take day hikes, take your bike into the park, or go camping. Choose your own adventure in Denali and get the most out of your time in this spectacular setting.
Alaska Railroad to Anchorage — Big Wild Life (+)
Alaska Railroad to Anchorage — Big Wild Life (-)
Next, depart on the Alaska Railroad for the trip to Anchorage. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as moose, bear, wolves, caribou, Dall sheep, and abundant waterfowl. Ascend to the highest point on the railroad at Broad Pass (2,363 feet) and pass over the longest bridge on the railroad at Hurricane Gulch (914 feet). Take one last look at Mt. McKinley as you depart Talkeetna and continue on to Anchorage. Metropolitan luxuries mix with unrivaled natural wonders to make Anchorage an unforgettable destination. Visit the Anchorage Museum and peruse 10,000 years of Alaska history. Visit the Alaska Zoo to encounter polar bear, Amur tigers, Bactrian camels, wolves and many other cold climate and exotic animals. Activities abound in the area, go flightseeing, golfing, hiking, biking, or birding.
Alaska Railroad to Whittier — Gateway to Prince William Sound (+)
Alaska Railroad to Whittier — Gateway to Prince William Sound (-)
Depart on the Alaska Railroad for a two-and-a-half-hour ride to Whittier. Follow the shore of Turnagain Arm, past Girdwood, and through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America. Spend the afternoon exploring Whittier, the gateway to Prince William Sound, and take a day cruise to see magnificent tidewater glaciers. Fishing is also a popular activity for all ages; take a kayak tour or go scuba diving. Search for wildlife, beachcomb, pick berries, or go for a hike.
Ferry from Whittier to Cordova (+)
Ferry from Whittier to Cordova (-)
Explore more of Whittier in the morning and board the ferry for your voyage through Prince William Sound to Cordova. Prince William Sound is made up of many deep fjords with tidewater glaciers and islands around every turn. Step outside for some fresh air and spectacular views of the passing landscape. Arrive in Cordova in the early afternoon and get acquainted with the town. Visitors from around the globe trek to Cordova to fish for salmon on the Copper River Delta, explore Orca Inlet, hike the Chugach National Forest or be surrounded by tens of thousands of migrating shorebirds at Hartney Bay. The eclectic town is the perfect complement to the wilderness. It is a comfortable place to stroll, shop, visit a museum or gallery, or linger over a cup of coffee and admire the view of the bustling commercial fishing harbor.
Cordova — Alaska's Hidden Treasure (+)
Cordova — Alaska's Hidden Treasure (-)
Spend the day exploring Cordova and drive or bike 34 miles of the Copper River Highway to see an abundance of wildflowers and wildlife. The Copper River is one of Alaska's greatest rivers with a delta that spreads over 584 square miles and supports the famous Copper River wild salmon fishery. Go halibut fishing in nearby waters or take your pick of rivers for the chance to catch a salmon. Nearby hills and forests have miles of world-class USFS hiking trails including a hiking trail to Sheridan Glacier, or you could visit the Million Dollar Bridge and Childs Glacier with an organized tour operator. Also stop by the Cordova Historical Museum, the Native Village of Eyak's Ilanka Cultural Center and the Prince William Sound Science Center. When you have finished exploring fly home. Cordova receives daily air service with connections to Anchorage, Yakutat, Juneau, and Seattle. Return home with an appreciation of the beauty of Alaska's Heartland, Mt. McKinley, Prince William Sound, and everything in between.