Alaska by Train
Posted on 2013-06-27 by Swapartment
Having grown sick of the road trip mentality, or travelling by air constantly, we decided it was time to take the largest state in the USA by a much more charming way of travel – by train.
Having discovered that railways play a significant part in the history of Alaska, it felt only right to see the state via train.
One of the things we were so desperate to see was the Railbelt, which is a huge line of cities, villages and towns all located along the way through one, huge railway track. Although once the hub of travel and transport, the use of highways has slowly seen the railway become less popular in Alaska, but it still offers one of the most breathtaking views you are likely to come across.
One of the most magical things about this place is despite the world falling into a skyscraper-style future, where everybody wears a suit and talks on mobile phones, it still holds that old school humanity about it. Wildlife and woods still far outrank the people of Alaska, and it really is like the 20th century was just a passing of time, not the modernization of man here in Alaska.
Along one of the rails on the Railway Belt, we came across a huge lake and were informed that back in the day, this was the place where up to thirty thousand gold diggers were here, trying to hit the jackpot. 30,000 people, in tents, in the arctic conditions of Alaska just shows what life was like for generations not as lucky as us.
It gives you a great sense of not only appreciation for your own life, but if you can just imagine for a second all the tents and diggers, it creates the starkest of images in your head, and really helps to complete the view of this particular lake.
Another great sight that, on a clear day, will blow you away is Denali Park. You can see it as you travel along the railway lines, and it is the largest peak in the whole of North America. It really has to be seen to believed – it is one of the most outstanding sights in the whole of America.
Should you be looking for places to stop off at, or a starting point for your rail journey, then we recommend starting at Anchorage. It offers you a starting point to visit Fairbanks, Denali, Seward and many other cities and towns all by rail.
Of course, driving is an option, but you miss the opportunity to take in all of the scenery and just the outstanding way that life unfolds around you as you travel through the glaciers.
Taking a public railway option always allows you to hear the tales and stories directly from the narrators on-board, who know so much about the wildlife they can answer all of your questions and genuinely love talking about Alaska.
There are two main roads within the Alaskan train line, and that is the Alaska Railroad, and the White Pass & Yukon Route. The White Pass & Yukon Route takes you from Skagway, all the way to Fraser. Now a scenic route, a century ago it was the hub of the gold trade transportation.
Now, it takes you along all of the most impressive scenery it has to show, as well as allowing you to really appreciate how hard the gold rush was on those who were involved, as you drive by delicate terrain and ferocious beasts.
The Alaska Railroad takes you through pretty much the whole state, and gives you a very unique travelling situation with its famous dome-roofed trains. As the rest of the USA, or Canada, is accessible via the rail in Alaska, you don't need to worry about taking yourself out of the state by going on the wrong train. Everywhere leads to somewhere in Alaska.
Both these rail routes, however, take you places you cannot get to on road. They make frequent stops for you to go in and see the local towns, do a spot of fishing or hiking, as well as access to the national park of Alaska, with the train in Denali taking you right there to visit one of the most iconic parts of this state.
Although the trains can become a little expensive as you take more of them, railways offer you the chance to see parts of Alaska that others never have, and is certainly worth the little extra.
Alaska is a country where, the more you put in to your journey, the more you will get out of it. If you just stay in the one town and don't look to expand and see he entire state, then you will not enjoy it as much.
The best part about it is that you do not even have to bring food! Virtually all the drains come with buffets where you can fuel yourselves before more travel and sight-seeing, making the journey much easier to cope with as you get access to some great treats.
Well on it's way to becoming the ideal location for railway lovers, due to the length, cost and variety of destinations, Alaska offers much more than ice fishing or looking at hills. There is some very unique scenery which is impossible not to be astounded by, even those of us who proclaim to not care about scenery will find themselves in awe. The sheer depth of the mountains, with the white snow and outstanding skies completing the view, makes for a once in a lifetime viewing. Overall, the train journeys of Alaska make up a huge part of the journey – but we guarantee you will not be bored along the way.