Epic Train Excursions In Alaska

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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!

Summer Trips To Alaska
Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour

Winter Trips To Alaska
See The Northern Lights

Summer Trips To Alaska
Denali Discovery Adventure

Denali Adventure in Alaska Vacation
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Who Wants To Take An Alaskan Train Trip?

Imagine chugging through Alaska’s backcountry – on a train! Well, believe it or not, you can. Both the Alaska Railroad and The White Pass and Yukon Routes take thousands of tourists around Alaska’s huge territory every year on spectacular Alaskan train rides. Whether you want to plan a train excursion in Alaska that takes one day, or you want to book a multi-day adventure across the state, your Alaskan train trip is sure to be an unforgettable adventure.

Planning Your Alaskan Train Adventure

There are many different ways to tour Alaska by train. Many cruise packages include an add-on train ride to Denali National Park or Anchorage, for example. Some pre-planned tours also include a train ride as part of the itinerary. But if you are planning to see Alaska on your own, without a tour guide, getting around by train is easy! You can take advantage of daily routes that run all year round, or book yourself on a special multi-day Alaskan train trip across the state.

Here are three things to think about as you plan your train excursion in Alaska:

  • What route would you like to take? The Alaska Railroad runs 270 miles from Fairbanks to Seward. Popular routes include the Denali Star between Fairbanks and Anchorage with a stop in Denali National Park. Or, you can ride the Coastal Classic between Anchorage and Seward. The Glacier Discovery train runs roundtrip from Anchorage to Whittier and Grandview. Of course, if you want to explore the Inside Passage region, you’ll have to book a trip on the White Pass and Yukon railway!
  • What train service interests you? The Alaska Railroad’s cars run the full length of the railway in Alaska. But the privately-owned Wilderness Express and McKinley Explorer run between Anchorage and Denali State Park, offering guests a luxurious travel experience. The White Pass railway, on the other hand, is a must for history buffs – the train chugs along a real, narrow-gauge track from Alaska’s Gold Rush Era.
  • How much time do you have? Although taking the train offers visitors a wonderfully scenic experience, an Alaskan train ride does take longer than traveling by road. For those with limited time, taking a day trip out of Anchorage on the train is a perfect way to experience this unique mode of transportation. From Anchorage, you can either head north to Talkeetna or South to Seward. There is also an exciting day option to Spencer Glacier and Grandview for outdoor enthusiasts!

Top Three Alaskan Train Trips For Visitors

The Alaska Railroad offers train service all year round, although the winter months do see limited hours. Five main lines run every day. Here are the top 3 most popular Alaska Railway lines for visitors who want to plan an Alaskan train trip.

  • Denali Star – before the Seward Highway was built, Anchorage and Fairbanks we connected solely by rail. Today, that rail line is serviced by the Denali Star, the Alaska Railroad’s flagship train. If you take an Alaskan train ride along this historic route, stops include Talkeetna and Denali National Park. Because there's so much to see and do along the way, most visitors stop for an overnight in Talkeetna and/or two nights near Denali Park. Talkeetna offers travelers a gateway to Denali via flightseeing and glacier landing tours, while Denali is perfect for wildlife tours. Visitors can continue to the end of the line or opt for a return back to Anchorage once they are done sightseeing.
  • Coastal Classic – this train excursion in Alaska covers 110 miles of track between Anchorage and Seward, a coastal town near Resurrection Bay. The Alaska Railroad runs two Coastal Classic trains daily during the summer. This route takes approximately four hours, but offers passengers the opportunity to see Dall sheep grazing along the craggy cliffsides that border the route and eagles flying over the open water of the Bay. You can even see glaciers from the comfort of the train car along this route! Once you disembark in Seward, you can enjoy a day cruise at Kenai Fjords, or many other outdoor activities before you have to return to Anchorage! Visitors often spend the day exploring Kenai Fjords before leaving in the evening.
  • Glacier Discovery Train - the Alaska Railroad runs one Glacier Discovery train daily during the summer. It travels out and back from Anchorage to Grandview with stops in Girdwood, Portage, Whittier, and the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop. The first glaciers on the Glacier Discovery route come into view above Girdwood. From here, the train continues to Portage, then takes the spur track into Portage Valley where several hanging glaciers cling high up on the steep mountainsides. The train passes through a 2.5-mile tunnel to emerge on the other side of the mountains in Whittier and, after a 40-minute stop, retraces the scenic spur back to Portage. The two most prominent glaciers on the railway are soon reached, first Spencer Glacier and then Bartlett Glacier. The complete circuit takes just under 12 hours, with the segment between Anchorage and Whittier running 2.5 hours.

An Adventure Along The Inside Passage

The Alaska Railroad covers the southern regions of the state, while the White Pass and Yukon Routes offer visitors train excursions in Alaska along the Inside Passage. Built in 1898 to open the Klondike to gold seekers, this narrow gauge railway stretches from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. Train (and history) lovers will enjoy the rush of riding the rails on a real gold-rush era, narrow-gauge railroad past glacial rivers, waterfalls, and gorges – while climbing 3,000 feet to scenic vistas!

Where Does The White Pass Railway Run?

Most visitors take this rail line from Skagway to White Pass Summit. Once the train pulls out of the station at Skagway, it begins its nearly 3,000-foot climb up steep grades and tight curves. Along the way, you’ll pass Inspiration Point, look down on Skagway Harbor and out at the Sawtooth Range, and pass through Dead Horse Gulch. After 20 breathtaking miles, you’ll reach White Pass Summit and be able to look down at the headwaters of the Yukon River.

Traveling Back In Time By Railroad

Planning an Alaskan train trip is one way to move back in time and see Alaska from a historical point of view. As the car sways gently along the track and you succumb to the steady rhythm of the trip, you can relax and enjoy the sights unfurling outside your window. From epic mountain peaks to majestic glaciers to wildlife in the distance, an Alaskan train ride offers visitors a rare opportunity to see Alaska in a unique and exciting way.

Download all three Alaska tour brochures for tour dates and pricing.