Monday, July 18, 2011

Travel Alaska by train - way cool

This is a trip I'd really enjoy doing.  Sure, it's not my normal vacation wish list of the sunny Caribbean but think about our Nation's largest state by train.   Forget about a cruise to Alaska, this is how you see the countryside of the Last Frontier.    

Each year about 3 million people visit Alaska but over 60% of them do it via a cruise ship.  I got nothing against that, that'd be cool too.  But there's something romantic about taking a nice train ride thru the country's wild backwoods.   But train ridership is picking up, this year the Alaska Railroad reported it's business is up 10% over this time last year.   

Alaska Railroad, the last full-service railway in the USA, cuts through 470 miles of Alaskan wilderness, punctuated by the occasional appearance of moose, sheep, bear and other wildlife.   They offer different routes prices starting off from $49.  Price list:

(the average speed is 38 mph - top speed is 65mph)

    Current routes include

The Coastal Classic winds its way south from Anchorage along Turnagain Arm before turning south to the Kenai Peninsula, eventually reaching Seward. This 114-mile (183 km) journey takes around four and a half hours due to some slow trackage as the line winds its way over the mountains.

    The Glacier Discovery provides a short (2 hour) journey south from Anchorage to Whittier for a brief stop before reversing direction for a stop at Grandview before returning to Anchorage in the evening.

    The Hurricane Turn provides rail service to people living between Talkeetna and the Hurricane area. This area has no roads, and the railroad provides the lifeline for residents who depend on the service to obtain food and supplies. One of the last flag-stop railway routes in the United States, passengers can board the Hurricane Turn anywhere along the route by waving a large white flag or cloth.

    The Aurora is available in winter months (September 15 - May 15) on a reduced weekend schedule (Northbound, Saturday mornings; Southbound, Sunday mornings) between Anchorage and Fairbanks. It is a 12 hour ride and departs at 8:15 a.m.

    The Denali Star runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks (12 hours one-way) and back with stops in Talkeetna and Denali National Park, from which various flight and bus tours are available. Although the trip is only about 356 miles (573 km), it takes 12 hours to travel from Anchorage to Fairbanks as the tracks wind through mountains and valleys; the train's top speed is 59 miles per hour but sometimes hovers closer to 30 miles per hour.

Check them out further on their website:


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