The Alaska Railroad
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The Alaska Railroad

The Alaska Railroad bills itself as "North America's Last Full Service Railroad."

Historic Fairbanks Train Station
This is from an old photo of the original Fairbanks Train Station.
The original photo is in the Driscoll collection, and is shown here courtesy of the UAF Archives.

Alaska Railroad Route to Denali ParkThis is the route the Alaska Railroad takes from Fairbanks to Denali Park. 

The tour guides for the trip are Alaskan students who have studied the history of the railroad, as well as the geography of the scenery, wildlife, etc and they share their knowledge with you.

Tickets
We used to list their rates, but they have become more complicated in recent years, so if you do not find the rates you need below, you will want to go to their site for more information.

Here are a few of the packages they were offering in 2004.

Adventure Packages

From Fairbanks
Fairbanks - Denali - Anchorage
F-1
2 days, 2 nights
Fairbanks - Denali - Fairbanks
F-2
2 days, 1 night
Day Tour, Denali
Fairbanks-Denali-Fairbanks Rail and Denali Air Tour
DS-2
1 day

Optional Excursions

From Denali

River Rafting in Denali
OD-1
1 day
Tundra Wilderness Tour
OD-2
1 day
Alaska Cabin Nite
OD-3
Evening
Denali Helicopter Flightseeing or Hiking
OD-4
1 day
Denali Air Flightseeing Tour
OD-5
1 day
Denali Backcountry Jeep Safari
OD-6
1 day

From Fairbanks

Riverboat Discovery
OF-1
1 day
El Dorado Gold Mine
OF-2
1 day
Fairbanks Historical City Tour
OF-3
1 day
Alaska Salmon Bake
OF-4
1 day
Arctic Circle Air Adventure
OF-5
1 day
Arctic Circle Drive Adventure
OF-6
1 day

Summer Rates for the Denali Star.

Denali Star Train - Daily Service May 19 to September 17, 2006
Northbound only on May 18 and Southbound only on September 17, 2006
Value Fares run May 18 through June 3, and September 5 through 17.
Peak Fares run June 4 through September 4.
GoldStar Service Fare: Direct rail service between Anchorage and Fairbanks add $105, all other rail segments add $85.
Children's fares apply to passengers age 2 - 11 years.

DENALI STAR TRAIN - 2006 Adventure Fares
    To Anchorage To Anchorage To Wasilla To Wasilla To Talkeetna To Talkeetna To Denali To Denali To Fairbanks To Fairbanks
    Value Peak Value Peak Value Peak Value Peak Value Peak
From Anchorage Adult - - $ 41 $ 45 $ 63 $ 80 $ 103 $ 129 $ 148 $ 185
  Child - - $ 21 $ 23 $ 32 $ 40 $ 52 $ 65 $ 74 $ 93
From Wasilla Adult $ 41 $ 45 - - $ 63 $ 80 $ 103 $ 129 $ 148 $ 185
  Child $ 21 $ 23 - - $ 32 $ 40 $ 52 $ 65 $ 74 $ 93
From Talkeetna Adult $ 63 $ 80 $ 63 $ 80 - - $ 61 $ 75 $ 85 $ 106
  Child $ 32 $ 40 $ 32 $ 40 - - $ 31 $ 38 $ 43 $ 53
From Denali Adult $ 103 $ 129 $ 103 $ 129 $ 61 $ 75 - - $ 45 $ 56
  Child $ 52 $ 65 $ 52 $ 65 $ 31 $ 38 - - $ 23 $ 28
From Fairbanks Adult $ 148 $ 185 $ 148 $ 185 $ 85 $ 106 $ 45 $ 56 - -
  Child $ 74 $ 93 $ 74 $ 93 $ 43 $ 53 $ 23 $ 28 - -

Summer Schedule for the Denali Star

DENALI STAR TRAIN - 2006 Summer Schedule
READ DOWN MILE CITY READ UP
8:15 AM 114.3 Anchorage 8:00 PM
9:35 AM 159.8 Wasilla 6:15 PM
11:05 AM 226.7 Talkeetna 4:40 PM
3:45 PM 347.7 Denali 12:15 PM
8:00 PM 470.3 Fairbanks 8:15 AM

Full service dining car and gift shop onboard.
Baggage Service available.

*Children under 2 are free. Child fares (ages 2 - 11) are 50% of the Adult rates rounded up to the nearest dollar. Customized packages are available. Transfers may be offered by hotels. Please schedule departing flights from Alaska at least 4 hours after published train arrival times.

Winter Schedules

Winter Timetables and Fares (September 2006 - May 2007)
bulletAurora Winter Train - Anchorage to Fairbanks
bulletHurricane Turn - Flag Stop Train

Aurora Winter Train - Sept. 23, 2006 to May 13, 2007
Anchorage ~ Fairbanks (Flag-stop service available)
Weekend Service, northbound on Saturdays and southbound on Sundays. The 2006/2007 Aurora Winter Train is now available to book, both online or by calling our reservation center at 800-544-0552.

Aurora Winter Train 2006-2007 Fares
One Way (Round trip is double) Adult (12-64) Child (2-11)
Anchorage-Wasilla $43 $22
*Anchorage-Talkeetna $53 $27
*Anchorage-Healy $97 $49
*Anchorage-Fairbanks $137 $69
Talkeetna-Healy $72 $36
Talkeetna-Fairbanks $85 $43
Healy-Fairbanks $45 $23
*Wasilla fares are the same    

 

AURORA WINTER TRAIN - 2006/2007 Winter Schedule
Northbound - Saturday
(Read top to bottom)
ARR Milepost Location Southbound -Sunday
(Read bottom to top)
8:30 AM Depart 114.3 Anchorage Depot 7:45 PM Arrive
10:00 AM 159.8 Wasilla Depot 6:00 PM
11:40 AM 226.7 Old Talkeetna Depot (Downtown) 4:30 PM
11:52 AM 236.2 Chase 4:06 PM
12:12 PM 248.5 Curry 3:46 PM
12:27 PM 257.7 Sherman 3:31 PM
12:43 PM 263.2 Gold Creek 3:21 PM
1:07 PM 268.4 Canyon/Indian River 2:51 PM
1:19 PM 273.8 Chulitna 2:49 PM
1:35 PM 281.4 Hurricane Section 2:23 PM
3:45 PM 347.7 Denali Depot 12:15 PM
4:30 PM 358.7 Healy 11:30 AM
5:43 PM 411.7 Nenana 10:15 AM
7:45 PM Arrive 470.3 Fairbanks Depot 8:30 AM Depart
       

Alaska residents and seniors (65 and over) receive 20% discount from regular fares. Children's fares (ages 2-11) are half off adult fare. Must show ID for discounted rates. Alaska ID required for resident fare. All rates, fees, schedules subject to change without notice. Dining Service is available on Aurora Winter Train.

Hurricane Turn Winter Train - October 5, 2006 - May 3, 2007
ANCHORAGE ~ TALKEETNA ~ HURRICANE
The Hurricane Turn Winter Train runs ONLY on the FIRST THURSDAY of every month.

The 2006/2007 Hurricane Winter Train is now available to book, both online or by calling their reservation center at 800-544-0552.

HURRICANE TURN - 2006/2007 Winter Fares
One Way Adult (12-64) Child (2-11)
Anchorage-Wasilla $43 $22
Anchorage-Talkeetna $53 $27
Anchorage-Hurricane $85 $43
Talkeetna-Hurricane $32 $16
Anchorage-Hurricane RT $114 $57
     
HURRICANE TURN - 2006/2007 Winter Schedule
Northbound - Thursday
(Read top to bottom)
ARR Milepost Location Southbound - Thursday
(Read bottom to top)
8:30 AM Depart 114.3 Anchorage Depot 7:00 PM Arrive
10:00 AM 159.8 Wasilla Depot 5:14 PM
11:40 AM 226.7 Old Talkeetna Depot (Downtown) 3:40 PM
11:52 AM 236.2 Chase 3:29 PM
12:12 PM 248.5 Curry 3:05 PM
12:27 PM 257.7 Sherman 2:48 PM
12:43 PM 263.2 Gold Creek 2:36 PM
1:07 PM 268.4 Canyon/Indian River 2:25 PM
1:19 PM 273.8 Chulitna 2:13 PM
1:35 PM 281.4 Hurricane Section (Train waits here for 20 min before heading south) 1:55 PM

Alaska residents and seniors (65 and over) receive 20% discount from regular fares. Children's fares (ages 2-11) are half off adult fare. Must show ID for discounted rates. Alaska ID required for resident fare. All rates, fees, schedules subject to change without notice. No Dining Service available on Hurricane Turn Train.

From Their Web Site:

"These cars feature some of the largest windows on passenger trains today. The capacity ranges from 60-78 seats per car, depending on the car type. Each has semi-reclining and forward facing seats. Parcel racks above keep carry-on luggage from under your feet. "

The Denali Star Train has:

1 - Diner Car Vista Dome car with upper level viewing
1 - Bistro Cafe Car
2 - Vista Dome Cars
2 - 78 seat Single-Level Cars
1 - Baggage Car

There is a full service dining car and gift shop onboard, and some tour prices include food. You are welcome to walk back to the Vista Dome car for a bird's-eye view of beautiful Alaska scenery

Timing
As for times, the train leaves Fairbanks daily at 8:15 a.m., arriving in Denali Park at Noon. It makes the return trip at 3:45 from Denali and arrives back in Fairbanks at 8:15 p.m. This means if you are going to see anything at all at Denali, you may only want to take the train one way, or spend a night in the park. In the winter of 1998, the railroad stopped passenger trains for a few months, blaming low ridership. So if you plan to travel in the off season, check ahead to be sure the train is running.

One reason for the slow trip is that the train has historically always been willing to make unscheduled stops, in fact, it is reportedly the last passenger train in the country to make flag stops, picking up or discharging passengers in Chase, Gold Creek, Hurricane and other rural communities, or fishing holes lacking road access. In many parts of the Interior, the Alaska Railroad provides the only year-round ground access. Many have reason to be thankful for that in the winter, as the Alaska Railroad has saved more than one life by stopping to pick up people stranded in the cold. Caution must also be exercised to avoid running over wildlife which coexist with the train tracks. Their site even gives these directions for how to flag down a train:

How to Flag Down a Train

The Hurricane Train offers Flag-Stop Service. To flag the train, stand 25 feet from the rail. Wave a large white cloth above your head until the engineer acknowledges you by sounding the train whistle. Remain 25 feet from the rail until the conductor has opened the door and motions you aboard. Use extreme caution at all times. Restrain your pets on a leash while the train is approaching or passing

Tour Trains
They have lots of different tour packages - too many to list here. In conjunction with the Alaska Railroad, Princess Tours and Gray Line of Alaska offer luxury rail travel with their own private fleet of "dome cars."

For some years, Gray Line of Alaska has been importing vintage dome cars from the Santa Fe and other historic rail lines. Built in the 1950s, these plush Budd and Pullman domed rail cars are now used in Gray Line's McKinley Explorer service, where they package the views of the passing countryside with a ride softened by special three-axle trucks.

Gray Line's McKinley Explorer cars depart both directions every day in the summer. The cars are named for Alaska rivers, like the Chena, and the Tanana. Each is self-contained with a capacity of 70 passengers and has seating on the upper level and dining facilities below. Complimentary coffee and tea is served, and there is a full-service, no-host bar. A tour guide offers information on sights and the history of the rail area.

The last prices we saw for the McKinley Explorer were $198 from Fairbanks to Anchorage, or $66 from Fairbanks to Denali park, with children paying half price.

Midnight Sun Express
Since 1984, Princess Tours has had its own "Midnight Sun Express."

The service utilizes Ultra Dome Series I cars, with daily departures from both Fairbanks and Anchorage. The special cars seat 90 passengers each and each has an upper level viewing platform, as well as a 45-seat dining area.

The last prices we saw for the Midnight Sun Express were $194 for the Fairbanks to Anchorage ride, or $65 for rides from Fairbanks to Denali park.

For more information on these luxury tours contact:
The Alaska Railroad in Fairbanks,
(800) 544-0552 or locally at (907) 458-6025,
Princess Tours' Midnight Sun Express, (800) 835-8907;
Gray Line of Alaska, (800) 544-2206.

Alaska Railroad Train before Mt. McKinley

More information on the Alaska Railroad can be found by writing to:

Alaska Railroad Corporation
Passenger Services
P.O. Box 107500
or calling toll free 1-800-544-0552
fax (907) 265-2323/TDD (907) 265-2620
Website: http://www.alaskarailroad.com/default.html

The new railroad depot in Fairbanks is located off the Johansson Expressway, at the intersection with Danby Road.

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