An Insiders’ Peek “Behind the Scenes” at the Alaska Railroad

Published: January 22, 2024

There’s something unique and special about traveling on the Alaska Railroad.

A train trip on this historic railroad route is a relaxing and comfortable way to see the state, visit many popular towns along the railroad’s route between Seward and Fairbanks, and access unforgettable Alaskan experiences like glacier and wildlife viewing and Alaska’s national parks.

After celebrating 100 years in 2023 transporting Alaska visitors across the Last Frontier in 2023, the Alaska Railroad rolls into 2024 with a loaded lineup of train trips packed with “only-in-Alaska” scenic views, exciting day trips, sweet “hop on, hop off” railroad stops, and rail-only to rail-enhanced Alaska tour itineraries.

But what is it like behind the scenes at this iconic rail company?

Here are three tips from our Alaska Tours travel experts we thought you’d like to know!

#1: A Rich History of Construction in an Unforgiving Remote Destination

A major milestone in the railroad’s fascinating history was in 1923, when President Warren G. Harding traveled to the riverside Interior community of Nenana and drove the golden spike that ceremoniously signified the completion of the Alaska Railroad’s construction. Since then, countless passengers and payloads have traveled the 482 miles of track between the pretty southern port of Seward and the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks in Alaska’s Interior.

President Harding drilling in the final track pin for the Alaska Railroad in 1923.

#2: The toughest thing about traveling on the Alaska Railroad is deciding when to jump off the train for “can’t-miss” Alaska adventure experiences.

Grab your paddle and enjoy some active Spencer Glacier kayaking

Along the Alaska Railroad’s route lie everchanging landscapes showcasing the colors and variety of Alaska’s many ecosystems. There is always the possibility of spotting wildlife and then the big bang views of Denali and Turnagain Arm, not to mention Alaska’s mountains, glaciers and waterways. When the train stops, the adventures continue with visits to Spencer Glacier, the tiny towns of Talkeetna and Whittier, and Alaska’s urban travel hubs of Anchorage and Fairbanks. There are many add-on activities and excursions available at every stop, providing all levels of Alaska thrills and exploration.

#3: Discover the “Top 5” Most Popular Alaska Railroad Trips

Alaska Tours can help you pick the perfect train trip to fit your dreams, as our team has connected travelers to Alaska adventures and bucket list experiences for over 30 years.

Journeys on the Alaska Railroad rank high for many of our travelers so here are the five of the most popular railroad tours and trips crafted and offered by Alaska Tours:

Alaska By Rail

This is Alaska Tours bestseller features nine days of exploring Alaska by rail packing in uniquely Alaskan adventures: a Kenai Fjords National Park cruise; a wilderness jetboat tour in Talkeetna; a bus tour into Denali National Park; a sightseeing tour in Fairbanks; a sternwheeler riverboat tour; all while enjoying a comfortable and memorable window seat on the Alaska Railroad between every stop and comfortable hotel stays along the way.

Travel through scenic landscape on the Alaska Railroad.

Glaciers and Wildlife Tour

Few Alaska Railroad itineraries pack as much Alaska awe as this tour’s glaciers and wildlife, and this showstopper delivers big doses of both. Imagine a full week hitting highlights including visits to the grand glaciers and breeching whales of Kenai Fjords National Park, experiencing the mighty sights of Denali National Park from its namesake peak to its diverse wildlife residents including bears, moose, fox and wolf. And not to be missed are the multitude of railroad stops in between these two iconic Alaska destinations.

two people on the deck of a tour boat looking at a tidewater glacier

Discover glaciers and wildlife in two majestic national parks

Alaska Railroad Adventure Tour

The name of this trip says it all as this multiday tour is designed for independent travelers and train enthusiasts who want to see a whole lot of Alaska. This round-trip itinerary out of Anchorage features a tour into Denali Park, a classic sternwheeler riverboat excursion in Fairbanks, a glacier cruise on Prince William Sound in Whittier, and many other exciting options featuring the best of authentic Alaska.

two women, one pointing, on the viewing platform of an Alaska Railroad train

Touring by train is a great way to experience Alaska!

Active Alaska” Rail Package

Awesome opportunities abound when aboard the Alaska Railroad, and this travel tour includes many adventures especially for intrepid travelers! The itinerary is action-packed with included and add-on options like hiking and ziplining, kayaking and rafting, wildlife viewing in Denali National Park, glacier viewing in Kenai Fjords National Park, and urban adventures in always-busy Anchorage. This is where choo-choo meets woohoo!

Alaska adventure and railroad travel at its best!

Train Travel in Fall and Winter

The Alaska Railroad runs year-round, and while its fall/winter offerings are somewhat abbreviated from its busy summer schedule, there are still plenty of popular packages like this one that bring travelers to the best of Alaska’s fall and winter sights. On this trip you can experience the big bright natural landscapes of the fall season from South Central’s Turnagain Arm to Alaska’s Interior, get up-close to Alaska’s most popular wildlife in the easily-accessible and incredible setting of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and enjoy the fall and winter night skies filled with northern lights outside of Fairbanks. Alaska’s “off-season” is when those beautiful lights turn on!

a yellow and blue passenger train traveling through a boreal forest in winter

Alaska Railroad Winter Train, a scenic journey not to be missed.

Whatever season you visit Alaska in, you’d be missing out if you don’t included an Alaska Railroad trip somewhere in your itinerary. Go for it!