Alaska Railroad offers rarified views of the Last Frontier
Travel in style.
The Alaska Railroad — which now spans cities as Seward, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali National Park and Fairbanks — has a history that dates back to 1903, more than 50 years before Alaska became a state.
The original 51-mile track extended through the mountainous Kenai Peninsula terrain from Seward to Upper Turnagain Arm, just south of Anchorage. It is thanks to the random decision to base a railroad construction camp for the Alaska Engineering Commission in Ship Creek that the city of Anchorage was constructed.
Today, the 44- railcar train system provides regularly scheduled public transportation from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the heart of Interior Alaska. The Alaska Railroad has three main passenger routes: the Coastal Classic, with service between Anchorage and Seward on the beautiful Kenai Peninsula; the Denali Star, with service between Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali National Park and Preserve and Fairbanks; and the Glacier Discovery, with service to Whittier and then runs on a sightseeing route into the Kenai Mountains.
A destination of its own, the Alaska Railroad is not your run- ofthe-mill, get-to-where-you-needto- go kind of train. Its signature yellow and blue cars snake through picturesque scenes of colossal snow- capped mountains that tower over alpine meadows, rainforests, lakes and rivers in parts of the state inaccessible by road.
Both the Denali Star and Coastal Classic trains each have luxury- class service, known as GoldStar Service, in specially designed double- deck, glass- domed railcars with upper level outdoor viewing decks (only found on the Alaska Railroad), original Alaska art, dining room seating with a view and a full-time bar attendant. The dining rooms on board the Denali Star and Coastal Classic offer all travelers a choice of hot or cold meals featuring Alaska seafood, chowder, quiches, salads and other delicious dishes that can be paired with a glass of wine or a locally-brewed beer, with the option to pre-pay for meals when rail tickets are purchased.
Each destination offers the opportunity to venture farther into the region by taking advantage of a wealth of recreational activities such as flightseeing, glacier cruises, Denali National Park tours, dogsledding tours, ice climbing, rafting and more.
The Hurricane Turn Train is a feature of the Alaska Railroad favored by locals and also geared toward the independent traveler. Offered Thursday through Sunday in summer, and on the first Thursday of each month in winter, the Hurricane Turn provides old-fashioned flag-stop service, known to be the last in the United States, along its route from Talk- eetna along the Susitna River and through the Indian River Canyon to Hurricane, 55 miles north.
This service is offered in the winter months as well and takes off from Anchorage instead of Talkeetna. Passengers on this train have access to Alaska’s backcountry anywhere along the route with the wave of a hand.
Throughout the year, special event trains like the Great Alaska Beer Train from Anchorage to Portage and back or the Blues Train from Anchorage to Seward draw many locals and visitors and offer a chance to enjoy the sights while mingling with likeminded travelers and friends. The trains tend to sell out early and seating is limited so advance booking it highly recommended.
Departures are available in any of the communities served by the Alaska Railroad. All fares, schedules, day tours and vacation packages from 2 to 12 days can be found at AlaskaRailroad.com.
Glass- domed cars with outdoor viewing decks
are part of the Gold Star luxury service on the Denali and Coastal