Photo Credit: Aaron Gifford

The Alaska Railroad stretches 470 miles from Seward in the south to Fairbanks in the north. The train operates two main daily routes in the summer: a southern route between Seward and Anchorage and a northern route between Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, and Fairbanks. (You can't go from Seward to Fairbanks in a day—and wouldn't want to.)

There are four individual routes, with daily departures mid-May to mid-September. The route names can be confusing. Below the map is our attempt to simplify it for you.

The Coastal Classic

Main Use: To go between Anchorage and Seward
Stops: Anchorage | Girdwood | Seward
Length: 4 hours each way (you can go in the morning and return that evening)

Why Do It:

  • A more scenic way to transfer between Anchorage and your cruise in Seward.
  • Day or overnight trips to Girdwood for hiking, dogsledding, flightseeing, or relaxation at a resort.
  • Day or overnight trips to Seward for Kenai Fjords day cruises, Alaska SeaLife Center, and Exit Glacier.

Denali Star Route

Main Use: To go between Anchorage and Denali, or Denali and Fairbanks
Stops: Anchorage | Wasilla | Talkeetna | Denali | Fairbanks
Length: 8 hrs Anchorage to Denali; 4 hrs Denali to Fairbanks

Why Do It:

  • Four different companies operate along this route, giving you several choices of service; Alaska Railroad, Wilderness Express, Denali Rail Tours, Princess Rail Tours.
  • If you’re not riding the train between Seward & Anchorage, taking it to Denali is your next best way to experience the Alaska Railroad.
  • Day or overnight trips from Anchorage to Talkeetna for flightseeing, rafting, jetboating, small town charm.
  • If you’re visiting Denali, it’s only another 4 hours to Fairbanks for a riverboat cruise or Arctic Tour.

Glacier Discovery Route

Main Use: Day trips into Prince William Sound or roadless wilderness areas
Stops: Anchorage | Girdwood | Whittier | Portage | Spencer
Length: About 5 hours each way

Why Do It:

  • Scenic transfer between Anchorage and Whittier cruises.
  • Easy day trips into roadless wilderness near Anchorage for sightseeing, rafting (reserve in advance), or hiking.
  • Day or overnight trips to Girdwood.
  • Connect to a glacier and wildlife cruise in Price William Sound (from the port of Whittier) and visit active tidewater glaciers, or hire your own small-boat charter to explore or kayak the Sound.

Hurricane Turn Route

Main Use: Excursions from Talkeetna for the off-the-beaten-path independent traveler; operates only certain days of the week
Stops: Talkeetna | Hurricane
Length: 2 hours each way

Why Do It:

  • Ride an old-time train with a self-propelled diesel car.
  • Meet locals who use the flagstop train to get to their remote cabins.
  • Option to return by raft from Chase with Denali View Rafting.


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