On the Rail – 10 Train Travel Tips

Ten tips for train travel in the Last Frontier

[by Susan Sommer]

Riding the rails through Alaska should be at the top of everyone’s list at least once. The state-owned Alaska Railroad hauls passengers and freight through Southcentral daily. No two trips are ever the same, for weather, wildlife, and the seasons change. Learn more at alaskarailroad.com.

1 – Book online. All the information you need is right at your fingertips. Reserve a seat in GoldStar Service for glass-domed windows on the top level and an outdoor viewing platform, plus full-service dining below. Or try Adventure Class, which offers comfortable front-facing seats and large windows. Discounted fares apply to some groups.

2 -Travel by train is slightly slower than by road, so plan accordingly.

3 – Combine your train travel with a day trip or adventure package, such as the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop guided hike, a jetboat adventure, or flightseeing.

4 – Food and beverage prices in the onboard dining car or café are higher than at landbased restaurants, but splurge so you don’t have to lug the kitchen sink with you.

5 – Head north from Anchorage to Talkeetna, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks. Or go south from Anchorage to Girdwood, Whittier, and Seward. You’ll pass through spectacular scenery along any route.

6 – Set your camera to a fast shutter speed to help counteract the train’s motion. Your photos—and memories—will be sharper.

7 – The Alaska Railroad’s special-event trains sell out fast, so book early for fun times skiing the backcountry at Curry, a remote area north of Talkeetna; singing along on a blues-musicand-food fest; sipping microbrews and seasonal fare on a beer run; and acting all spooky on a Halloween train with live music.

8 – Make sure to check out the large selection of Alaska Railroad merchandise online or at a depot, including the popular collectors’ annual posters, first produced in 1979. Each one features the creative interpretation of the signature blue-and-yellow train from an Alaska artist.

9 – Do take time to stand in the vestibule area between the cars and feel the elements— wind, rain, sun.

10 – Combine your train trip with a return excursion by bus, or enjoy the same scenery as Alaska Railroad passengers from a privately owned dome car. Find more options at alaskatrain.com.

2 thoughts on “On the Rail – 10 Train Travel Tips

  1. Best trip by Princess cruise line train ride was very proud to see the beautiful land and town.Would do it again,don’t pass up the chance to do this trip.

  2. My brother Roger and I worked for the Alaska Railroad in 1956 – 1958 when it was owned by the United States Government. My brother worked several years longer than I. Was a interesting place to work even back then, lots of good people there.

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