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train trip in Alaska


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#1 blackpup

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 03:38 PM

What I would love to do someday is fly into Alaska and then vacation on a train going around Alaska, I bet that would be just some amazing scenery. 



#2 greatcats

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 03:53 PM

Sure, the scenery from the Alaska Railroad is great, but you will only see a small part of the immense state. I recommend the Alaska Ferry up the Indide Passage fromBellingham.
I was a commuter railroad employee in NJ for many years until 2002, and have since been a tour guide at Grand Canyon National Park and Ketchikan, Alaska. Also, have been a National Park Volunteer at Hawaii Volcanoes and now Sunset Crater Volcano near my home. If not on Amtrak, also like long road trips, camping some of the time.

#3 pennyk

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 04:13 PM

I plan to take the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Fairbanks next month.


Amtrak miles: 203,600; Routes: Silver Meteor, Champion (1973), Silver Star, Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Lakeshore Limited, Adirondack, Vermonter, Cardinal, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Missouri River Runner, Acela Express, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Hiawatha Service, Maple Leaf, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Downeaster, Piedmont, Carolinian, Lincoln Service, Autumn Express 2013, Empire Service, Sunset Limited, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, Pennsylvanian, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Autumn Express 2015, Ethan Allen Express, AEM-7 Excursion, Pacific Surfliner; Lakeshore Limited (BOS-ALB), Autumn Express 2016, Palmetto.

VIA miles: 4,584; Routes: The Canadian (westbound), Ocean.


#4 me_little_me

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 04:30 PM

My wife and I flew to Anchorage for two nights. Then took the train to Denali for two nights riding a bus to end of road. Then back to Anchorage by bus for another night.

 

Then we took the train to the middle of nowhere where the Alaska RR, the forest service and a small company had a deal. A school-like bus took us a short way from the train to a small lake in front of Spencer Glacier. We got lunch then we rode in rubber rafts to near the glacier which was just a short distance across the lake. This was followed by an hour and a half trip down the river to another middle-of-nowhere place where the train was waiting for us. Back to Anchorage.

 

The next day we flew to Juneau. A day later we took a 50 passenger all day ride to Tracy Arm where we got up close to the Glacier (which happened to calve while we were there). The cruise ship was a mile out in the middle of Tracy Arm because it couldn't get closer. We even wandered (with engines off) through hundreds of seals with pups by the glacier.

 

After a few days in Juneau, we took the ferry to Skagway where we stayed a few days taking a ride on the White Pass RR into Canada with a van back.

 

Lastly, we took a cabin for 4 nights on the ferry back to Bellingham, catching Amtrak to Seattle from where we flew home.



#5 JayPea

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 04:31 PM

I plan to take the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Fairbanks next month.


I did that same trip a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. The scenery was great! I even got a bit of a bonus train trip as I took the Empire Builder from Spokane to Seattle and back as I flew to Anchorage from Seattle and back to Seattle from Fairbanks via Anchorage. On the way back to Anchorage from Fairbanks, instead of getting dragged off the plane or getting hit with a baby carriage :lol: ;) :P we instead got treated to close ups of Denali as it was a rare clear day and the Alaska Airlines pilot circled around it so both sides could see it. I want to go back!!!
Amtrak Routes Traveled: City of New Orleans, State House/Lincoln Service, Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, Capitol Limited, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited, Pacific Surfliner, Cardinal.
 
Pre-Amtrak Routes Traveled:
Empire Builder (Great Northern), North Coast Limited (Northern Pacific), Abraham Lincoln (Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio), City of Hinkle  (Union Pacific) Panama Limited (Illinois Central)

Bustitutions: Portland-Spokane (EB),Galesburg-Bloomington (CZ/Lincoln Service )
 

Amtrak Miles: 80276

Pre-Amtrak Miles: 8478

Bustitution Miles: 450

Excursion trains ridden:  Centralia and Chehalis Railroad, Mt. Hood Scenic Railroad, Alaska Railroad, 1880 Train (Black Hills Central RR) and trains at the Illinois Railway Museum, California Railway Museum, and the Monticello (IL) Railroad Museum.

#6 pennyk

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 05:14 PM

 

I plan to take the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Fairbanks next month.


I did that same trip a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. The scenery was great! I even got a bit of a bonus train trip as I took the Empire Builder from Spokane to Seattle and back as I flew to Anchorage from Seattle and back to Seattle from Fairbanks via Anchorage. On the way back to Anchorage from Fairbanks, instead of getting dragged off the plane or getting hit with a baby carriage :lol: ;) :P we instead got treated to close ups of Denali as it was a rare clear day and the Alaska Airlines pilot circled around it so both sides could see it. I want to go back!!!

 

Since I do not fly, I will be taking lots of trains (and a couple of ships) to get to and from Alaska.


Amtrak miles: 203,600; Routes: Silver Meteor, Champion (1973), Silver Star, Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Lakeshore Limited, Adirondack, Vermonter, Cardinal, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Missouri River Runner, Acela Express, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Hiawatha Service, Maple Leaf, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Downeaster, Piedmont, Carolinian, Lincoln Service, Autumn Express 2013, Empire Service, Sunset Limited, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, Pennsylvanian, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Autumn Express 2015, Ethan Allen Express, AEM-7 Excursion, Pacific Surfliner; Lakeshore Limited (BOS-ALB), Autumn Express 2016, Palmetto.

VIA miles: 4,584; Routes: The Canadian (westbound), Ocean.


#7 blackpup

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 07:11 PM

We did cruise the inside passage of Alaska and took a scenic few hour train ride, it was amazing.



#8 railiner

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 10:41 PM

I've been to Alaska three times...

 

The first time, back in 1970, I went from New York City all the way to Fairbanks by bus...up the entire Alcan Hiway...then I rode the Alaska RR train, The AuRoRa down to Anchorage.  Back then, there were no cruise ship cars nor any dome cars on the train, but I enjoyed it anyway.  They had some of the same Army surplus hospital cars, that Amtrak later used as lounge cars in the Heritage era.  The distinctive feature on the ARR lounge was a working juke box.  Some college kids were actually dancing to the music as the train rolled along...

I wanted to take the Alaska State Ferry down to Washington, but the schedule required too much of a layover, and instead, I flew down to Seattle. From there, I rode the bus back home.

 

The second time was 1991.  We flew to Anchorage, and took a fully escorted Princess Tour.  We met our tour guide at our welcome dinner in the rooftop restaurant of the Captain Cook Hotel.  The next day, we took a comprehensive tour of Anchorage, and the surrounding area.  The next day, we boarded Princesses 'Midnight Sun Express', twin unit Ultra Dome, bringing up the marker's on the ARR train to Fairbanks.  Ever since I first saw those cars, when they were on display to travel agents at Denver Union Station, in the early '80's (where I worked at the time), I was determined to get to ride them. We were seated in the upper level of the forward car.  Up ahead of us were the four Super Domes of Holland America's  'Mt. McKinley Explorer', and leading the way, were the 'public cars' of the ARR.  Our car was tall enough to actually see over the top of the Super Domes.  On the lower level, was a beautiful dining room , that fed us all three delicious meals.  The car behind ours also had dome seating on the upper level.  The front of its lower level contained the galley for the dining rooms in our car,  The rear of that car had a gift shop, and behind that, an open sided, (but covered) observation deck.   A brilliant concept.  I understand that the newer versions of the Ultra Domes are all self contained, for more flexibility in number of cars in the consist, so they have much smaller open sided obs. decks.

 

We got off at Denali Park, and stayed at the Princess Lodge.  The next morning, we took a seven hour wildlife bus tour into the Park..we then boarded that days train for the ride up to Fairbanks.  The next day we took a ride up to the gold dredge, over to the Alaskan Pipeline, and then a cruise on the Riverboat Discovery.   The next day we board a chartered Convair 580, for the ride back to Anchorage.  Our pilot detoured slightly, and gave us an absolutely fabulous view of Mount McKinley.   Twice! He circled it in each direction so that all aboard could get a great view.  We landed at the Anchorage Airport.  We then boarded an Alaska RR shuttle train with gallery cars.  The train took us right down to Whiitier, alongside our waiting cruise ship, The Pacific Princess (the original 'Love Boat'). for a wonderful 7 day cruise down to Vancouver.

 

The third time was in 2010 when we took a 14 round trip cruise from Seattle to Anchorage on Holland America's Amsterdam.  What made this cruise unique was that it was the first cruise ship in modern history to sail all the way up the Cook Inlet to Anchorage, including unique calls at Homer and Kodiak.  Other cruise ship's serving Anchorage port at either Whittier or Seward.  And we called at  both Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier...usually you only do one of them.

My train ride was at Skagway, on the White Pass and Yukon....

 

Cant' wait for my next one.... :)


metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#9 jis

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 06:40 AM

I have done the Alaska Railroad in both summer and winter, and IMHO, the winter experience was the one more worthy of writing home about. There something about five feet of snow with snowdrifts all over the place and temp of -34F! And in all that, wrapping up adequately, opening up the Dutch Door, and snapping away.

#10 Palmetto

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 01:43 PM

We did cruise the inside passage of Alaska and took a scenic few hour train ride, it was amazing.

That would be the train down to Seward, on the Kenai Peninsula.  A round trip Anchorage-Seward with a whale watching boat tour sandwiched in between the train rides is quite doable.  And the train has a food service car, as well.



#11 railiner

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 09:06 PM

 

We did cruise the inside passage of Alaska and took a scenic few hour train ride, it was amazing.

That would be the train down to Seward, on the Kenai Peninsula.  A round trip Anchorage-Seward with a whale watching boat tour sandwiched in between the train rides is quite doable.  And the train has a food service car, as well.

 

It could have been the Seward-Anchorage train, or it could have been the WP&Y excursion out of Skagway...not clear...

 

Speaking of the Seward train, that will definitely be in my next trip to Alaska...that will complete the only missing portion of the ARR that I haven't yet ridden...I did travel half of it, as the route from Anchorage to Whittier, diverges from the Seward line at Portage....


metroblue?

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#12 Palmetto

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 03:00 PM

I did a cruise on Silversea last September [I didn't pay for it!], and they had a three or four car charted AAR train for their ship, with single level domes and tables in the domes.  There was a lunch menu offered for an extra cost.  Which leads me to say again that if AAR can do single level domes, then Amtrak surely can.  The Cardinal and the Adirondack come to mind.



#13 railiner

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 01:33 AM



I did a cruise on Silversea last September [I didn't pay for it!], and they had a three or four car charted AAR train for their ship, with single level domes and tables in the domes.  There was a lunch menu offered for an extra cost.  Which leads me to say again that if AAR can do single level domes, then Amtrak surely can.  The Cardinal and the Adirondack come to mind.

A comp cruise on Silversea? Sweet!  It doesn't get much better than that...

Surprised that you had to pay for lunch, knowing Silversea's "all-inclusive" policy aboard its ship's...

 

Agreed...there is no real reason that the single level Amtrak trains could not have a "Panarama Lounge"...

Remember those Seaboard "Sun Lounge" bedroom lounge cars on the Silver Meteor?   :)


metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#14 blackpup

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 12:11 PM

no, we didn't go to Seward, I think it was the gold rush train tour out of Skagway. This was 17 years ago, I remember going to Juneau, Skagway and I can't recall the third. The cruise left from Vancouver, Canada.



#15 Palmetto

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 04:39 PM

 



I did a cruise on Silversea last September [I didn't pay for it!], and they had a three or four car charted AAR train for their ship, with single level domes and tables in the domes.  There was a lunch menu offered for an extra cost.  Which leads me to say again that if AAR can do single level domes, then Amtrak surely can.  The Cardinal and the Adirondack come to mind.

A comp cruise on Silversea? Sweet!  It doesn't get much better than that...

Surprised that you had to pay for lunch, knowing Silversea's "all-inclusive" policy aboard its ship's...

 

Agreed...there is no real reason that the single level Amtrak trains could not have a "Panarama Lounge"...

Remember those Seaboard "Sun Lounge" bedroom lounge cars on the Silver Meteor?   :)

 

Should've been clearer:  my niece paid for the cruise, not Silversea.  I was a little surprised by the charge for food also.  It was decent and so was the bloody mary. :)






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