Film and TV buffs will enjoy this six-day itinerary to locations where feature movies were filmed, plus a visit to archives of historic Alaska footage. Also included is a side trip to the quirky Alaska community that helped inspire the much-loved TV show “Northern Exposure.”
Day 1 Anchorage to Grandview
Start your trip in Anchorage with a scenic day trip aboard the Alaska Railroad Glacier Discovery train, as portrayed in the mid-’80s action movie “Runaway Train.” From Anchorage, the train travels south toward Grandview, with short stops at Girdwood, Portage and Spencer Glacier. If you disembark at Spencer Glacier, you can choose from various canoeing, kayaking and hiking tours. Either the train or a motorcoach will take you back to Anchorage at the end of your tour.
Day 2 Talkeetna
Continue your Alaska Railroad adventure, this time to the north aboard the Denali Star train. In about three hours you’ll arrive in the charming town of Talkeetna, one of several small communities that inspired the hit television show “Northern Exposure.” Outdoor adventure abounds in Talkeetna, which serves as the departure point for mountain climbers set on tackling nearby Denali, North America’s highest peak. Your options include flightseeing, jet boat tours, river rafting, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and more. Spend the night at one of several lodges or bed and breakfasts in the area.
Day 3 Denali National Park and Preserve
Back aboard the Denali Star, travel a little more than four hours north to Denali National Park and Preserve, one of several Alaska locations featured in the 2007 movie “Into the Wild,” which documented the trials of a top university student who chooses to abandon all his worldly possessions and venture into the Alaska backcountry. The train drops passengers off near the park entrance where numerous campgrounds, food and lodging services and recreation activities are available. In the nearby community of Healy, you can take photos with the replica of an abandoned school bus that also played a prominent role in the movie. But don’t miss the chance to explore Denali National Park yourself: Some of the most popular tour options include wildlife viewing, rafting, off-road tours, horseback rides and hiking excursions. Overnight at the park entrance or fly to a remote lodge deep within Denali’s unspoiled wilderness.
Day 4 Denali to Fairbanks
Spend another morning exploring Denali National Park—this is a great chance to tour the National Park Service’s working sled dog kennel—before boarding the Denali Star train for the scenic afternoon ride to Fairbanks. Dinner is available for purchase on the train, or you can catch a late meal in one of Fairbanks’s excellent brewpubs once you arrive.
Day 5 Fairbanks
In Fairbanks, spend your morning touring the University of Alaska Museum of the North. Here you’ll learn about Alaska’s gold rush history, Native culture and local wildlife. Make sure to stop by the museum’s Alaska Center for Documentary Film, an internationally acclaimed program that has documented the changing cultures of Northern peoples for more than 30 years. The museum’s film and audio collection contains more than 400 hours of irreplaceable Alaska historical material, including “Forced to Leave,” a riveting documentary film about the forced evacuation of Alaska’s Aleut people from their homes in the Aleutian Islands during WWII. Few Americans are familiar with this part of WWII history, and the archive includes personal interviews with survivors that describe their experience as virtual prisoners in an abandoned logging camp in Southeast Alaska.
Day 6 Utqiagvik (Barrow)
Fly to Utqiagvik (Barrow) via scheduled jet service. Situated on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, Utqiagvik (Barrow) is the northernmost community in the United States. The area boasts 24 hours of daylight during the summer months and offers a variety of tour opportunities to explore Utqiagvik (Barrow)’s rich Native heritage. Approximately 10 miles northeast of town is Point Barrow, the setting for the 1988 international rescue effort known as “Operation Breakthrough,” when three gray whales became trapped in the surrounding sea ice. The ordeal is dramatized in the 2012 film “Big Miracle,” starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski. Spend the night at a local hotel before returning to Fairbanks or Anchorage, and from there to home.