Alaska Train Trips

Alaska Train Trips
The 470 miles of the Alaska Railroad may not seem like much in the vastness of the largely roadless Last Frontier, but the tracks do connect the major cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks as well as smaller destinations including Seward, Whittier, Takeetna and Healy.

Alaska's five major train trips feature evocative names that do justice to classic rail journeys through some of the planet's most pristine and dramatic terrain. The blue-and-gold cars feature a double-decker, domed observation car. Summer service runs from mid-May to mid-September, and winter service runs the rest of the year.

Denali Star

The 12-hour journey from Anchorage to Fairbanks passes through Talkeetna, one of several Alaska towns laying claim to being the inspiration for "Northern Exposure," and Denali, gateway to the grizzlies, wolves and glaciers in the national park of the same name. You can peek out of the observation car and view beaver, moose and even salmon, their bright vermilion backs clear even from a distance as the train passes by bridge over gravel-bedded streams.

Coastal Classic

The trip from Anchorage to Seward via Girdwood takes about four hours and 20 minutes. The conductor will stop to allow passengers to see anything interesting, including the panoply of bird life in Potter's Marsh outside Anchorage and Dall sheep wandering along cliffs in the Chugach National Forest overlooking Turnagain Arm.

Glacier Discovery

Connecting Anchorage to Whittier, where many cruise ships dock, the Glacier Discovery passes through Girdwood and Portage during its two-hour, 45-minute trip, which includes a long tunnel opening into the town of Whittier. It also travels to Spencer Glacier as a whistle stop for a U.S. Forest Service tour.

Hurricane Turn

This historic train, in operation since 1923, takes passengers and supplies to remote cabins along a 55-mile stretch between Talkeetna and Hurricane, stopping to drop off building materials or to pick up fishermen. The two-hour journey along the Susitna River runs on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the summer and Thursday only in the winter.

Aurora Winter Train

The 12-hour winter journey from Anchorage to Fairbanks stops in Wasilla, Talkeetna, Hurricane, Denali, Healy, Nenana and Fairbanks, with flag-stop service--meaning you flag the train down to reboard--between Talkeetna and Hurricane, passing through Chase, Curry, Sherman, Gold Creek, Canyon and Chulitna.

Article Written By Rogue Parrish

Rogue Parrish is a writer and editor with Demand Media Studios.

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