Alaska's Two Unique Railroads
There are two very different railroads operating in Alaska and a trip on both should be on any railroad buff's "bucket list".
The Alaska Railroad hauls freight and passengers from Fairbanks to Anchorage and down the Kenai Peninsula twelve months a year.
The Whitepass and Yukon Route runs from late May to September and caters to tourists to want to experience the scenery and history of the 1989 Gold Rush.
Both offer an opportunity to explore Alaska's breathtaking vistas in remote areas not accessible by road.
Choose Your Route
In the summer, the Alaska Railroad travels over four separate routes. Choose one or keep traveling throughout the state. Don't expect to get where you're going in a hurry. The trains slow down as they climb through mountain passes and valleys and over tracks that twist and turn. Engineers often reduce their speed when they spot wildlife to give passengers enough time to take pictures and video.
The Denali Star
This train travels between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It's only 356 miles but takes 12 hours. The Denali Star stops in Talkeetna and Denali National Park where you can book bus tours or a flight near America's tallest peak (Denali also known as Mt. McKinley).
The Coastal Classic
Enjoy an unparalled view of the coastline and mountain ranges south of Anchorage. It travels along the Turnagain Arm with a view of ocean birds and continues on to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. The 114 mile trip takes around four and a half hours.
The Glacier Discovery
It's the shortest of the Alaska Railroad routes (2 hours) but it can be one of longest if you stop to enjoy the many activities along the way. The Glacier Discovery travels from Anchorage along Turnagain Arm and through the Chugach National Forest. You can stop at the Spencer Glacier for a 1.5 hike with a U.S. Forest Ranger and catch the train on the way back to Anchorage. It's a popular transportation link for people traveling on the Alaska State Marine Ferry Service.
The Hurricane Turn
If you want to meet people who live the true "Alaskan" lifestyle take a trip on the Hurricane Train. It's one of the few remaining trains that provide a flag-stop service. Would-be passengers simply wave a large white flag to get the train to stop. Traveling between Talkeetna and the Hurricane area, it services an area without roads, stores and hospitals.
Alaska Railroad only offers one passenger train in the winter.
The Aurora Express
If you are traveling to Alaska in the winter hop on board the Aurora Express. The train runs mid-September to mid-May on weekends only. Travel from Anchorage to Fairbanks on Saturday, Fairbanks to Anchorage on Sunday.
Tours Designed for Your Ultimate Alaska Experience
Trains and So Much More
There any many companies offering tours that include trips on the Alaska Railroad. Even if you are traveling in an RV they are worth checking out. You can find a package that allows you to experience Alaska and enjoy your personal interests like hiking, rafting, museum tours and fishing.
The railroad offers it's own tour packages for up to 10 days of travel. Don't worry. You won't spend all your time on the train. There are exciting Alaska experiences and first class accommodations along the way.
Alaska By Daylight
Here's what you will fit in during your ten days onboard . Get ready for a gold mine tour, a cruise with a Park Ranger, a jet boat safari and best of all...meeting new friends.
Enjoy Your Alaska Railroad Trip
Book a Ride on a Dome Car
Enjoy the view on the luxury Goldstar, Denali Star or Coastal Classic dome.
Keep your camera close by.
There is public parking at all Alaska Railroad Depots.
Alaska Railroad trains are smoke free.
Check in at least one hour before the scheduled departure time.
Trains have a guide on board to answer your questions.
Snacks or fine dining are available.
Make your reservations early. You can book on line or by phone. Major credit cards are accepted.
">Video sets of the Alaska Railroad history are a great addition to a train buff's collection.
Whitepass and Yukon Route
The tiny port town of Skagway Alaska is home to the Whitepass and Yukon Route Railroad. Skagway is a two hour drive from the Yukon's capital Whitehorse.
This narrow gauge railroad was constructed in 1898 using tens of thousands of men and 450 tons of dynamite. It rises 3,000 feet in 20 miles and offers breathtaking views of mountains, waterfalls, and glaciers through tunnels and over trestles in vintage parlour cars.
The train also picks up people who have hiked the historic Chilkoot trail.
The round trip takes about a half day.
The train runs May to September. It is the most popular tour for people taking an Alaskan cruise.
Tickets are available at the depot in Skagway or on line.
Look for the iconic tin"> Whitepass and Yukon Route sign.