Looking for a unique way to take in the grandeur of the Alaska landscape? You might want to think about taking a ride on the Alaska Railroad.
The state-owned railroad links Seward, in Southcentral Alaska, to Anchorage and Fairbanks, and there are numerous packages you might be interested in depending upon what kind of adventure you might want to have in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
The railroad offers a multitude of passenger options, from daily Fairbanks-to-Anchorage and Anchorage-to-Seward runs as well as multi-day packages that include kayaking, hiking and glacier cruises.
Visit www.alaskatrain.com to check out all the packages, routes and rates.
One of the most popular passenger trains is the Denali Star, a daily summer service between Anchorage and Fairbanks with stops at Talkeetna and at Denali National Park and Preserve.
The trains depart at 8 a.m. each day from each location and arrive at the opposite end of the route at 8 p.m. You will see spectacular scenery no matter which direction you are headed.
The railroad has a passenger service fleet of dozens of railcars, including passenger coaches and dining cars. It also features a variety of cars specifically for enjoying scenery along the route, including glass-domed GoldStar cars with a viewing platform and reclining seats.
The Vista Dome Coaches, with reclining seats beneath a dome in the middle offering 360-degree views, and low-level dome coaches have seats arranged around tables and also have a small galley and service bar.
One of the summer packages includes the train from Fairbanks to Denali National Park and Preserve and back with an overnight stay in the park. It gives you the opportunity to enjoy either an afternoon or morning bus trip into the park before returning to the Golden Heart City. The train leaves Fairbanks at 8 a.m. one day and departs Denali for the return trip at about 4 p.m. the following day.
Other summer passenger trains include the Coastal Classic, daily service between Anchorage and Seward, which is increasing in popularity every year. The Glacier Discovery features daily service between Anchorage and Whittier with whistle-stops at Spencer Glacier and Grandview. The Hurricane Turn features Thursday through Monday service between Talkeetna and Hurricane with several stops in between.
Zip-lining is available to passengers on the Denali Star, and kayaking is available to passengers on the Glacier Discovery.
The railroad also offers vacation packages running from two days to 10 days. Offerings include glacier cruises, a rails and trails package featuring backcountry hikes, and a basic tour featuring stops in Anchorage, Talkeetna and Denali.
Summer rail service is offered from mid-May to mid-September.
The Alaska Railroad also offers winter passenger service between Anchorage and Fairbanks at least once a week. During the holiday season and in February, service increases to twice a week, and in March there are three trips per week with the train going one direction one day and the opposite direction the following day.
You can book your tours online at www.alaskatrain.com or by calling 1-800-266-8625.
Alaska has relied on the railroad to transport goods and people across the vast state for more than a century.
The railroad is not just a busy passenger service giving almost 500,000 annual riders a leisurely look at some otherwise inaccessible scenery. It also is a critical infrastructure hub for the state. The railroad hauls nearly 4 million tons of freight and 2 million tons of gravel each year.
If you want a unique way to see the Alaska countryside, the Alaska Railroad is the way to go.