It's impossible to see all of Alaska in just two weeks, but this itinerary will take you from Interior Alaska, to Denali, and through the Inside Passage. You'll gain an appreciation for the vast and wild land on this nearly 1,200 mile train and ferry vacation. 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, so 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.
Alaska Railroad to Denali (+)
Alaska Railroad to Denali (-)
In the morning, 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.
Denali State Park and Denali National Park & Preserve (+)
Denali State Park and Denali National Park & Preserve (-)
Adventures of varying levels of physical activity can be found during your visit to Denali. 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. Activities in the park include, sightseeing, birding, sled dog kennel visits, flightseeing, mountaineering, biking, hiking, and backpacking. Choose your own adventure in Denali and get the most out of your time in this spectacular setting.
Alaska Railroad to Anchorage — Alaska's Largest City (+)
Alaska Railroad to Anchorage — Alaska's Largest City (-)
After lunch, 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. Spend a day exploring Anchorage before continuing on your journey. 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. At the Alaska Zoo encounter polar bear, Amur tigers, Bactrian camels, wolves and many other cold climate and exotic animals. Savor wild-caught seafood at one of the many restaurants downtown. Activities abound in the area, go flightseeing, golfing, hiking, biking, or birding.
Alaska Railroad to Whittier & Ferry to Juneau (+)
Alaska Railroad to Whittier & Ferry to Juneau (-)
In the morning, 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, where you can go on a day cruise to see 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. Board the ferry in the evening for your ferry trip across the Gulf of Alaska. This route is only offered every other week in the summer, so be sure to schedule the rest of your trip around the departure of this ferry. During the day-and-a-half voyage from Whittier to Juneau relax and enjoy the scenery. Reserve a passenger cabin if you would prefer some privacy. For the more adventurous, set up your own tent on the back deck. Step outside for some fresh air, the covered solarium is heated and provides spectacular views of the passing landscape. Food and beverage service is available, including hot and cold options. Along the way, the ferry stops in Yakutat for just over an hour. Get out and explore for a bit before continuing on to Juneau.
Juneau — Alaska's Capital City (+)
Juneau — Alaska's Capital City (-)
Spend a day and a half exploring Alaska's capital city. Visit one of the local museums, the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, or go shopping. Juneau's most popular attraction is the mighty Mendenhall Glacier, the only glacier accessible by road in Southeast Alaska. Go to the Visitor Center for interactive displays and hike one of the many trails in the area for different views of the glacier. Several helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft companies offer unique opportunities to see and experience the Juneau Icefield from the air. For the more adventurous, trekking and dogsledding are highly rated glacier activities. Whale watching is something you won't want to miss in Juneau. Humpback and orca whales congregate in the calm waters around Juneau and put on quite a show in the summer. Also, try fishing, hiking, rafting, kayaking and even ziplining.
Ferry from Juneau to Ketchikan (+)
Ferry from Juneau to Ketchikan (-)
Board the ferry and continue south to Ketchikan. Depending on the ferry you choose, your cruise could range from nineteen hours to a day and a half; the mainline ferry routes visit the communities of Wrangell, Petersburg, and sometimes Sitka. If time allows, spend a day or two in one of these communities or simply stay on the ferry for the trip to Ketchikan. Relax and enjoy the passing scenery of the Inside Passage, bond with your travel companions, meet local Alaskans, and make some new friends along the way.
Ketchikan — Salmon Capital of the World (+)
Ketchikan — Salmon Capital of the World (-)
Arrive in Ketchikan, and pick up the official Ketchikan walking tour map at the Visitors Bureau conveniently located downtown. Routes can be walked in as little as 60 minutes, but plan extra time to appreciate the sights and for visiting attractions. Fly and/or cruise to Misty Fjords National Monument. After mid-July, tour one of the many bear viewing areas. Go salmon fishing with one of the many experienced charter boat captains to see why Ketchikan is called the "Salmon Capitol of the World." Visit Saxman Native Village or Totem Bight State Park to learn about the Native culture of the area. You can also go hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, or ziplining.
From Ketchikan, fly back to Seattle and home again. With multiple flight options per day, and only a 90 minute flight between Ketchikan and Seattle, in most cases you can you can make it home in just one day. Return home with an appreciation for the grandeur that is Alaska.