We took a train excursion from Anchorage that went to Girdwood so I know that it is possible to get to Girdwood by train. The train doesn't run in the winter.
Arrival time: From Anchorage on the Costal Classic Southbound: 8:05 AM, From Seward on the Costal Classic Northbound: 8:55PM, From Anchorage on the Glacier Discovery Southbound: 11:15 AM, From Whittier on the Glacier Discovery Northbound: 7:35 PM
Departure time: To Seward on the Costal Classic Southbound: 8:05 AM, From Seward to Anchorage on Costal Classic Northbound: 8:55PM, To Whittier on the Glacier Discovery Southbound: 11:15 AM, From Whittier on the Glacier Discovery Northbound: 7:35 PM
Anchorage: 40 miles, 1.25 hours by train, 45 min by car
Fairbanks: 400 miles, 13.25 hours by train, 9 hours by car
Talkeetna: 140 miles, 4.25 hours by train, 3 hours by car
Denali: 277 miles, 7.75 hours by train, 5 hours by car
Glacier City Transit is a small shuttle system new this year to Girdwood, and absolutely indispensible in the winter.
The schedule is somewhat shortened in the summer (summer schedule doesn't run 'till 3am every night to get the bar crowd home,) but it's still perfect for getting around town since its route hits basically every public location in Girdwood from early morning untill about 11:00 or so at night.
The fare is $1.00 unless you are a guest at the Hotel Alyeska, in which case tell the driver, since the hotel pays your fare.
Bus drivers are knowledgeable about the town and things to do and do accept tips, so be generous!
About the only way to get to Girdwood from Anchorage is by car. The train goes right by Girdwood on the way to Seward or Whittier but doesn't stop.
By car it is about an hour drive. But it is some of the most scenic driving to be found in Alaska, so take your time and plan to pull over at the numerous scenic pull outs.
Renting a car in Alaska has gotten expensive with all the new taxes added by the state in the past few years. (Republican House Speaker getting back at a misbehaving party member who just happens to own a rental car franchise). Expect about 27% higher costs than are quoted.
During the summer you can para-sail off of Mt Alyeska! Don't worry if you've never done this before, you won't be alone. You ride piggy-backed with an experienced guide who does the driving. You just get to enjoy the ride. How many chances do you get to jump off a mountain?
In the winter time, the cable car is part of your lift ticket and can be riden up and down as much as you want. The tram pass for non-skiiers is $13. for the day, which is very reasonable. You can go up for lunch, come down, go up for drinks, come down, or just go up to enjoy the view.
The tram is easily accessable from the resort.
The picture is taken in the summer.
During the summer, the cable car will take you to the chalet on Mt Alyeska. Our tickets included lunch at the cafeteria. The lunch option was reasonably priced. There is ample seating in the chalet, but if you bring a blanket, it is much nicer to dine out of doors. A picnic, if you will, and maybe a bottle of wine.
There is limited parking up close to the hotel, but there is additional parking (ample) down the road. The road goes in a roundabout fashion so you think you are further than you really are, and there is a shuttle bus stop. You can easily walk to the hotel before the bus will show up.
For getting around Girdwood, there is a "for hire" shuttle service
Some people may think that mushing is something that is staged for the tourists, or done by professionals in races, but I have seen mushers on the road in my travels around the state. I saw this guy on a lightweight rig being pulled by two dogs that weren't even well trained.
So this is a real thing that is done in Alaska
There are excellent areas to mush around Girdwood, so bring your team. This truck has his and hers dog sled mounted on top, with kennels for two teams. I saw several vehicles of this type on my winter trip.
If you don't have your own sled and team, you can go on dogsled tours.
Here is a glimpse of the road once you have gotten off the highway and committed yourself to traveling to Girdwood.