Alaska Railroad, Denali National Park and Preserve
The Alaska Railroad is, in my opinion, the best way to get to Denali National Park. It takes a bit longer, but it winds through some of the most gorgeous scenery I've seen from a train. It is about an 8 hour ride from Anchorage to Denali, and the train drops you right in the park, just across the street from the Visitor's Center.
You thread through deciduous forests, past mountains and over deep gulches, following the rivers that make their way from the glaciers. It is great to sit back and soak up the scenery. It can't be beat.
Adult one-way price (summer fare): $270
We spent more than two weeks in Alaska and relied mostly on busses, boats, airplanes and trains to get us around. To get to Denali National Park from Anchorage, we took the Denali Star Train. The ride is very pleasant and runs through beautiful Alaskan country. Each train is staffed with a tour guide, who is actually a high school student chosen from a highly competitve pool of applicants and goes through rigorous training. You'll be amazed at how professional and articulate these high school kids are! What a wonderful program Alaska has for its kids!
The fare between Anchorage and Denali is $103 per adult and $52 per child. The trip takes almost 4 hours one way. Food is served on the train and is quite good. You should make a reservation. No need to pay extra for the Gold Star service. There was plenty of room in the upstairs portion of the dome cars. We went up there when we wanted a good view. It was spectacular!
A wonderful train ride from Anchorage to Denali (and to/from Fairbanks) can be had on Alaska Railroad's "Denali Star". The seven and half hour run from Anchorage runs thru Wasilla and stops in Talkeetna on the way to Denali National Park.
During the summer only, it depart Anchorage at 08:15AM and arrives at the park at 3:45PM. Return departs Denali at 12:15PM and arrives Anchorage at 8:00PM. Hotel shuttles meet the train on arrival at the park.
Regular cars are quite nice and cost $129 OW. For an extra $85 you can ride in one of the new Gold Star Dome cars with even better visability. There is a nice dining car and snack area.
A very popular way to visit Denali National Park is to take the train. The Alaska Railway has daily summer passenger service to the park from Anchorage, Fairbanks and other cities. Cruise ship passengers often catch the train in Seward, on Alaska's southern coast, and ride it all the way to Denali. Rail service is limited in winter.
I took an amazing four hour trip on the Alaska Railroad from Talkeetna, along the Susitana River, with views into both Denali State Park and Denali National Park. I will give a more detailed account of that trip in my soon to be posted Talkeetna page.
This is an excellent way to reach the park from either Fairbanks or Anchorage. The scenery is incredible as you approach the park. Denali Park has its own station, which is near the visitor center. When I was there last, the lodges would provide their guests transportation to the accomodations. a lot of people arrive at the park via train. The cruise ship passengers often have their own section of the train. This is an excellent way of seeing the countryside or even resting in anticipation of visiting Denali Park.
Excellent way to see Alaska nature - Alaska Railroad. From main cities (Anchorage and Fairbanks) to Denali Park You can get by train. More info on the website of Alaska Railroad.
Anchorage - Denali: 120 $, 7,5 hours
Anchorage - Fairbanks: 160 $, 12 hours
Anchorage - Talkeetna: 70 $, 3,25 hours
A scenic way to see the interior of Alaska is by rail. Good for those not wanting to drive or on a tight schedule. Not the quickest mode of transportation, in fact the train is downright slow! Takes 4 hours from Fairbanks to Denali N.P. and 8 hours from Anchorage. Certainly no comparison to the TGV or bullet trains. But it is designed to be a scenic railway with observation cars and narration the whole way. Many passengers have seen wildlife but we weren't so lucky. Nevertheless it's a relaxing way to travel.
Alaska Railroad also pulls all-domed Holland America and Princess cars. You can purchase tickets for these cars even if not on a cruise but the price is almost twice the amount of Alaska Railroad. Assigned seating in the Alaska RR is downstairs and passengers are limited to 20 minutes at a time in the domed upper levels.
There are 2 restaurant cars - one fast food, the other not as casual with table linens and waiters. Food is good!
In the summer, Alaska Railways visits the park twice daily from Anchorage, but trains run at least daily all year round. Round-trips cost about $250, linking a station inside the park entrance with a platform adjacent to the Anchorage International Airport. Though the cost is cheaper than the average car rental, the trains give little or no flexibility. Strict timetables are observed on the rail, but there are few ways better to see the Alaskan interior.
Besides driving, it's also popular to visit Denali by Alaska Railroad. In the summer, there's a train running between Anchorage and Fairbanks with a major stop inside Denali National Park (one train each direction each day). These blue and yellow train cars have glass cellings (dome cars) for easy viewing of the scenery. The fare from Anchorage is about $125, from Fairbanks is about $50.
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