Denali NP Alaska

Discussion in 'West, Alaska and Hawaii' started by Lonestar648, Jun 12, 2018.

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  1. Jun 12, 2018 #1

    Lonestar648

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    Lonestar648

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    I recommend taking the Alaska RR from Anchorage or Fairbanks to Denali NP station. The scenery is spectacular, which is an understatement. Denali NP is over 6,000,000 acres with only one road, mostly gravel and restricted in the park. We decided to stay at the Camp Denali operator, up scale but definitely wilderness, being 90 miles inside the park, with views of Mt. Denali (formerly McKinley) from every cabin or building. The Camp has its own buses that pick up and meet the Fairbanks arrival, the ride is slow so everyone can take photos of the different animals. About half way in, there is a gourmet picnic dinner. Each day every meal is provided, there are guided hikes by naturalists based on hiking skill ability. We chose their Friday arrival and Monday departure. I took over 1000 photos from bears, sheep to tundra turning its fall colors to the Alpenglow to Mt Denali in all its splendor. Denali NP can be seen on the day long tour buses, but to really see the animals, the mountains, etc. you need multiple days. Fairbanks has many attractions from Riverboats to gold mines. A must see tour is going along the Turnagain Arm for the beauty of the mountains and watching the beluga whales teaching their babies to hunt salmon.
     
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  2. Jun 26, 2018 #2

    Twin Star Rocket

    Twin Star Rocket

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    I had the good fortune to ride the Alaska RR in 1982. First I rode a special train to Seward from Anchorage. This was before regular service had resumed to Seward. Then I rode from Anchorage to Denali NP. I stayed overnight in the main lodge and rode the yellow school bus the next day out the main road into the park. Weather was clear so I saw Denali plus lots of wildlife! Denali is often socked in with clouds.

    At the time the lodge still offered overnight lodging in parked sleeping cars, if I recall.

    Later I continued my train journey north to Fairbanks.

    My only regret on that vacation was not taking a conductor's offer in Anchorage to ride in the caboose to Portage. Oh well...
     
  3. Jun 26, 2018 #3

    Palmetto

    Palmetto

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    I'm glad you saw wildlife. I had a 5:30 AM tour departure, and didn't see one, single animal! [​IMG]
     
  4. Jun 26, 2018 #4

    jis

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    I rode the winter Aurora in a blazing blizzard at the north end in temps as low as -35F when we arrived in Fairbanks. It was quite a trip. This was over a Thanksgiving break a few years back.
     
  5. Jun 27, 2018 #5

    Palmetto

    Palmetto

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    How was the food [if you happen to remember]?
     
  6. Jun 27, 2018 #6

    DetroitTed

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    DetroitTed

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    Thank you for this post. I'm considering this very trip next year. Any more details would be appreciated. How was the train itself? The food? Anything else or advice you might add. Thanks
     
  7. Jun 28, 2018 #7

    Twin Star Rocket

    Twin Star Rocket

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    Any comments I might have about the food would be 30+ years outdated! When I rode it the operation was still under federal control. Now the state of Alaska operates it. Back when, much of the equipment was former Union Pacific including a dome car. Passenger cars have been replaced with newer equipment plus there are special cars attached belonging to cruise ship companies. I think that's still the case.

    I would definitely recommend a layover at Denali Park. More than one night would be better.
     
  8. Dec 18, 2018 #8

    jpinter

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    I had the chance to ride in 2017.  Saved money for dinner in the diner; excellent, but pricey.  Salmon.  But a great great run.
     
  9. Dec 18, 2018 #9

    jpinter

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    I coaxed my daughter into a 4 full day trip to Alaska, and we had a great trip.  Flew to Fairbanks, spent next day looking around.  Train to Denali on day, then toured the park.  24 hours later boarded to Anchorage.  

    Unbelievably fun for me, who loves trains, and my daughter, who came to enjoy the ride but mostly the amazing scenery.  The old dome cars were not overly crowded and provided a great ride.  We didn't do the 'double decker' ride (a higher price by a lot) but I actually preferred the vintage equipment.   We learned that buying an Alaska tourism book saved us significantly on the 2nd ticket so that's worth planning ahead on.
     
  10. Dec 18, 2018 #10

    AutoTrDvr

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    AutoTrDvr

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    I have also traveled on this train.  I never did eat, so I don't recall what the dining car had to offer.  I actually made the trip twice. Once, I had flown up to Fairbanks, and taken the trip down to Denali NP, where I stayed for a few days.  On the end of that trip, we were supped to go back all the way to Anchorage, but there was a problem which stopped the train dead in its tracks. They had to bus us the rest of the way back.  A few years later, I went back again and made the entire trip from Anchorage to Denali NP and back, on the train. This was back when they had GP-40s (or SD-40's not sure) for power.  Now, I think they have MAC-70s, if not anything newer.

    But yes, it is a gorgeous trip and I was lucky to get some shots of Hurricane Gulch (over the tressel bridge) as well as some really good white water shots of some river rapids.  We also went on a very early morning bus tour into the park,  and got some very early shots of both the north and south peaks of Denali before it started to cloud over.  We got a few wildlife shots, also, but not so many.

    But yes, everyone should go on this trip. And this time of year is the best time to book a summer excursion as the spaces in the Hotels fill up quickly, especially if you want to be there on or near the Summer solstice (which, trust me, is what you want)... :D
     

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