The shortest route on the Alaska Railroad, the Glacier Discovery offers opportunities to escape Anchorage and take unique day trips to Girdwood, Portage or Whittier, and in the Kenai Mountains.
Whittier. Connect to a Glacier & Wildlife Cruise in Prince William Sound (from the port of Whittier) and visit active tidewater glaciers, or hire your own small-boat charter to explore or kayak the Sound.
Spencer Glacier. Take Spencer Glacier Rafting, a raft trip around icebergs in Spencer Lake (need to reserve in advance). Join a USFS ranger at the Spencer Whistle Stop for a narrated 1.5 mile hike to Spencer Lake.
Grandview. An easy day-trip, get away from the roads, and see beautiful scenery and wildlife.
Girdwood. Visit the resort town of Girdwood for dog sledding, flightseeing, or rain forest hikes.
All of the trips listed above are also possible from Portage (a 1 hour drive from Anchorage, 20 minutes from Girdwood).
What the Route is Like
As you come out of Anchorage, you'll skirt Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. The first two hours run right along the waters of the Arm. Keep a sharp eye out here: passengers frequently spot Beluga whales, Dall sheep, eagles, and moose.
You'll make a quick stop at Girdwood, Alaska's resort town, then Portage. (From here you can go to Whittier to connect to Prince William Sound glacier and wildlife cruises.) Just south of Portage you'll stop following the roads and head straight up the Placer River Valley, a wide glacial river valley carpeted with grassy meadows.