Travel by Train to Denali
A visit to Denali National Park and Preserve is a must for anyone who is planning a trip to Alaska. Even for the locals, it’s a must-see! While experiencing views of the largest mountain in North America is a bucket list item, the journey to get there can truly make for an unforgettable trip. One of the most unique ways to see unobstructed views of the state’s backcountry is from atop the rails as you wind your way through mountains and valleys. Take your hands off the wheels and let someone else guide your way while you keep your camera handy to capture the views and possible wildlife spotting.
Train routes to Denali
The easiest way to get to Denali National is to fly into Anchorage to take the train from Anchorage to Denali, or Fairbanks to catch the Fairbanks to Denali train. During the summer season from mid-May to mid-September, you can opt for one of Gray Line Alaska’s luxury rail travel options. Options include two types of itineraries: Blue Denali Rail Tours or Yellow Denali Rail Tours.
The Blue Denali Rail Tour travels along the scenic Alaska Railroad and includes options anywhere from one to four nights. This package includes accommodations in Denali, Talkeetna, or both! The tour leaves from Anchorage or Fairbanks and does not include hotel stays in either the departing or arriving city.
Those looking to cut the stress of finding overnight accommodations in the departing and arriving cities can opt for the Yellow Denali Rail Tour. This excursion whisks passengers along the scenic Alaska Railroad and includes options from three to four nights in Denali, near Talkeetna, or both!
For the ride from Anchorage to Denali, expect around eight hours of uninterrupted views of Alaska’s backcountry. From Fairbanks to Denali, the trip is around four hours. Each of these train rides will drop you off directly at the Denali Depot, adjacent to the Denali Visitors Center.
Sights along the way
Boarding the train at the Anchorage depot offers some of the best sightseeing in Alaska. Ride in style on the glass-dome railcars while taking in the views passing through the Matanuska Valley, known for its farming and enormous veggies. Passengers will also pass through the colorful town of Talkeetna and gorgeous rivers like the Susitna, a name that means mother river. The train will also cross the Hurricane Gulch Bridge, rising 296 feet above Hurricane Creek.
Traveling from Fairbanks to Denali, riders encounter natural treasures like deep canyons, tunnels, lowland wetlands, dark seams of lignite coal and get to travel over the Mears Memorial Bridge, a massive engineering accomplishment. The adventure ends at the Denali depot where a new adventure can begin.
Cost of getting there
If you’re ready to say, “Sign me up!” the last thing you need to know is the cost, which will vary depending on where you are departing from and your trip duration. Gray Line Alaska rail tour packages begin around $500 and can range up to $1,250.
The best time to book your trip to Denali and experience exclusive views of Alaska’s backcountry is in the summer when the daylight reaches nearly 20 hours a day! Trains do run year-round in Alaska but the Denali stop is only available in the summer.
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