The train from Anchorage to Fairbanks

Alaska by train...

Construction of the famous Alaska Railroad began in 1903, and since completion in 1923 it has linked Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, with Denali National Park and Fairbanks - Alaska's third largest city.  It's a spectacular journey across Alaskan wastes, you can do it as an independent traveller or you can find it included with a cruise up to Alaska.   There's more detailed & historical information about the Alaska Railroad at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Railroad.

  Train times

  Which class to choose?

  How much does it cost?

  How to buy tickets

  What's the journey like?  

 

  Train travel in the USA

  Train travel in Canada

Train times...

 Anchorage ► Fairbanks

 

 Fairbanks ► Anchorage

Period of operation:

Summer

Summer

Winter

Period of operation:

Summer

Summer

Winter

Days of operation:

Daily

Daily

Saturdays*

Days of operation:

Daily

Daily

Saturdays

Operator:

Alaska

Railroad

Holland America

Line

Alaska

Railroad

Operator:

Alaska

Railroad

Holland America

Line

Alaska

Railroad

Train name:

Denali

Star

McKinley

Explorer

Aurora

Winter

Train name:

McKinley

Explorer

Denali

Star

Aurora

Winter

 Anchorage depart:

08:15

09:15

08:30

 Fairbanks depart:

 

08:15

08:30

 Wasilla arrive:

09:30

|

09:50

 Denali depart:

09:15

12:30

12:30

 Talkeetna arrive:

11:05

12:15

11:25

 Talkeetna depart

13:55

17:00

16:50

 Denali arrive:

15:40

16:40

15:55

 Wasilla depart:

|

18:20

18:25

 Fairbanks arrive:

20:00

 

20:00

 Anchorage arrive:

17:00

20:00

20:00

Summer = mid-May to mid-September.  Winter = mid-Sept to mid-May.  Read downwards.

Denali Star = Alaska Railroad Adventure & Goldstar classes.  Conveys Wilderness Express ultra-dome cars owned by Celebrity Cruises & Royal Caribbean.

Aurora Winter train = Alaska Railroad Adventure & Goldstar classes.

McKinley Explorer = McKinley Explorer & Princess Rail ultra-dome cars owned by Princess Cruises & Holland America Line.

You can easily check dates, train times and times for intermediate stations at www.alaskarailroad.com.

Other Alaska Railroad routes:  The Alaska Railroad also operates several other routes & trains, including Anchorage to Seward (the Coastal Classic) and Anchorage to Whittier (the Glacier Explorer, and the last flag stop train in the USA, the Hurricane Turn between Talkeetna and Hurricane, serving local communities.  All these trains can be found at the Alaska Railroad's official website www.alaskarailroad.com.

Which class to choose?

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets?

What's the journey from Anchorage to Denali & Fairbanks like?

The photos in this section are courtesy of traveller Ed Harsh.  If you travel on these trains and get any photos of the food, seating, restaurant or train cars which might help explain the options to other travellers, please email me.

The Denali Star boarding at Anchorage station.  Starting from the rear of the train (left to right) you can see the two privately-owned Wilderness Express ultra-dome cars, the Adventure class vista-dome car (which also has some Adventure class seating), an Adventure class seats car, and the Adventure class Wilderness Cafe car with it's extra-high roof. 

   

Goldstar seats...

 

Goldstar viewing area...

 

Adventure class Wilderness Cafe car...

Chugach Mountains

The Chugach Mountains, just north of Anchorage.  The train follows the Susitna river...

The train calls at Talkeetna

The Denali Star stops at Talkeetna for 15 minutes.  Note the Goldstar class ultra-dome cars with their small upper level viewing area.

View as the train crosses the Hurricane Gulch bridge

Hurricane Gulch:  View from the Denali Star as the train crosses Hurricane Gulch, between Talkeetna & Denali.  This is the longest and highest bridge on the entire Alaska Railroad.  Indeed, for 8 years after its completion in 1921 this was the highest bridge in the United States.  See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Gulch_Bridge.

Alaskan scenery from the train
 
The Anchorage-Fairbanks train at Denali station

Denali station...  The Denali Star reaches Denali National Park.  In this photo you can see (starting with the car closest to the camera) the Adventure class seats car (note its extra-large windows!), the Adventure class Wilderness Cafe car with its extra-height roof and double row of windows, the two Goldstar ultra-dome cars, and (barely visible in the far distance) the baggage car and two locomotives.  For Denali Park information see www.nps.gov/dena.

Denali National Park buses   Nenana river

The National Park Service takes passengers from Denali station into the park on converted school buses.  After Denali, the train snakes along the Nenana River.

Mount Denali or Mount McKinley:  On a clear day it's possible to see Mt Denali (Mt McKinley) from the train, the tallest mountain in North America.  But don't count on it - it was not visible on this trip!  See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denali.

  Fairbanks station

Another shot of the river...

 

Fairbanks, the northernmost station in the U.S.


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