The "Alaska Fall Colors" railroad vacation package is our staff's favorite tour ! It combines the scenic Alaska Railroad ride, amazing fall colors, wildlife viewing and the majestic Northern Lights. The fall foliage in Alaska offers an equally brilliant symphony of yellow, orange, and red fall colors, usually peaking in late August and the first two weeks of September. The fall season in Alaska offers particularly beautiful landscapes. Travelers are rewarded with magnificent views of the Alaska Range, snow-capped Mt. Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley), vast alpine valleys with native plant life, arctic tundra - impressive vistas around Broad Pass on the Parks Highway to Denali, excellent wildlife viewing of moose and roaming grizzly bears, and fascinating Northern Lights viewing opportunities at Chena Hot Springs Resort.
RR#07 Alaska Fall Colors and Northern Lights Viewing Rail Tour
Dates | Rates
Options | Extensions
Aurora Borealis FAQ
Upon arrival in Anchorage, check in to your downtown hotel. Get ready for the Alaska vacation of a lifetime. Anchorage features dozens of parks and 122 miles of paved bike paths. Warmed by a maritime climate, you can spend the day salmon fishing at Ship Creek, hiking the nearby mountains, photographing glaciers and dining at a four-star restaurant. Within a 15-minute drive from downtown on the Hillside is the tree-lined trailhead of Anchorage’s most popular hike, Flattop Mountain. A short floatplane ride opens up the possibility of almost any type adventure. That’s one reason why Lake Hood is the world’s busiest floatplane base. Try some fresh Alaska seafood (Salmon, Halibut) for dinner in one of the many excellent restaurants around the hotel. Afterwards enjoy a stroll along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail with sweeping views over the inlet to Mt. Denali and Mt. Susitna aka: "Sleeping Lady".
Anchorage - Denali National Park | Rail Tour
Board the Alaska Railroad in Anchorage. Choose between the standard rail car or the glass-domed compartments with large panorama windows ensuring unobstructed views of the pristine scenery. Get the camera ready as the train crosses Hurricane Gulch Bridge, 300 feet above the creek. Arrival at Denali Village at around 4 PM and transfer to your hotel. Remaining day at leisure or join outdoor activities. Optional: Enjoy a scenic float trip near the entrance of Denali National Park with a taste of whitewater rafting. This guided trip skirts the boundaries of Denali National Park down the glacier-fed Nenana River. Experience beautiful scenery and keep your eyes out for moose, sheep, caribou and bear, as you raft downstream 11 miles. The most scenic portion of the Nenana River gives you a thrilling, yet safe rafting. More adventurous guests have the option to continue with the Canyon Run! Get into real whitewater rafting as you hang on through thrilling rapids.
Denali National Park
Denali National Park offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities and spectacular sceneries. In the morning transfer to the Wilderness Access Center where your wildlife tour begins. Pick up your pre-reserved tickets and explore the center if time allows. Board the bus, sit back and look for Dall sheep, moose, caribou, wolves and grizzly bears along the ridges and river beds or observe one of the 150 different bird species which inherit the park area. Your driver informs you about the history of Denali National Park, its diverse wildlife and flora. Once a bear, caribou or another animal has been spotted the bus will stop that everyone can watch and take pictures. Your tour turns around at Eielson Visitor Center - 66 miles into the park. We can extend the bus tour to Wonder Lake or Kantishna Roadhouse. You can get off the bus anytime you wish and take a stroll, go hiking and enjoy the landscape. Return to the Denali Park entrance anytime during the day.
Denali National Park - Fairbanks | Rail Tour
Morning at leisure: visit a park ranger sled dog introduction, raft or float on the Nenana River or take a scenic flightseeing tour around the magnificent three - Mt. Denali 20.320 ft, Mt. Foraker 17.400 ft and Mt. Hunter 14.573 ft. Transfer to the Denali Rail Depot. Depart Denali at 4:00 PM for the scenic rail journey north towards Nenana - known for the Alaska Ice Classics - and further on to Fairbanks, known as the Golden Heart City. Tucked away into miles of unexplored wilderness and only 120-miles below the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks offers excellent year-round outdoor recreational opportunities. Evening Aurora viewing tour included: Evening transfer to a prime aurora viewing lodge, located in the hills about 20 miles north of Fairbanks – far away from any city lights. Enjoy spectacular 270-degree aurora displays through large picture windows from the comfort of the lodge or outside. Return transfer to your hotel around 2:00 AM.
A day for individual sightseeing activities in Fairbanks. Optional Full Day Arctic Circle Tour: Travel in comfortable passenger vans on the Dalton Highway - also known as the North Slope Haul Road and featured in the TV series "Ice Road Truckers" - along the Trans-Alaska-Pipeline to the Arctic Circle and learn about the gold mining in the region. Don't forget to take your camera as you will see magnificent mountain scenery as well as the vast colorful Arctic Tundra during fall. Experience how the Gwich'in Athabascan Natives live in "Bush" Alaska. This area is the home of mighty moose, black - and grizzly bear as well as migrating caribou herds. When we cross the Arctic Circle your guide will award you a personalized Arctic Circle Certificate. After photographs at the Yukon River Bridge and the Arctic Circle sign, we begin the return journey and take time to view the amazing Northern Lights! We return to the hotel in Fairbanks at around 4 AM.
Fairbanks - Chena Hot Springs Resort
Explore the Alaska University Museum with the best natural history collection statewide, Alaskaland or take an authentic sternwheeler cruise for a scenic 20-mile roundtrip on the Chena and Tanana Rivers. Transfer to the Chena Hot Springs Resort, about 60-miles north of Fairbanks. The resort with it's legendary healing mineral waters is one of the best accessible - and by far the most developed hot springs spa resort in Alaska with some exceptional 200 !! Aurora viewing days per year. Tonight join the spectacular snow coach tour to see the aurora up close (included). From the resort you travel 30 minutes to the top of a ridge (2600 ft) where no city lights interfere the aurora. After arriving on top you can step inside the heated Mongolian Yurt to warm up and enjoy a hot beverage. For the next few hours you can always step outside and enjoy spectacular 360-degree Aurora displays. Return to the resort at around 2:00 AM.
Chena Hot Springs Resort
Experience one of the best places on earth to observe the beautiful and mysterious northern lights aka: "the Pathway to Heaven". Bright, energetic curtains of yellow, green, red and even purple lights brighten our night skies regularly. Fairbanks and Chena Hot Springs are both situated within a ring-shaped region around the North Pole - called the auroral oval. This location provides the area around Fairbanks with a terrific balance of occurrence, frequency and activity. Experience the northern lights from a heated "aurorium" cabin within the Chena Hills, just above the Chena Hot Springs Resort. Relax and rejuvenate during the day at the large natural rock outdoor hot springs pool, the indoor mineral water fed pool area, during a massage or in a variety of in/outside hot tubs. Don't miss a visit at the unique Aurora Ice Museum and get yourself an "Appletini" beverage - served in an glass made out of ice.
Chena Hot Springs - Fairbanks
After breakfast remaining time to enjoy Chena Hot Springs Resort facilities. Individual transfer to the Fairbanks airport or a downtown hotel location for any pre-arranged tour extensions. Flight reservations to your home destination should be arranged preferably after noon. Please Note: all flights to/from Fairbanks are not included. The tour is also available from Fairbanks to Anchorage.
|Rates in US $ / per Person||Single||Double||Triple||Quad||Child|
|August 18 - August 31||$3101.00||$1951.00||$1618.00||$1448.00||$641.00|
|September 1 - September 15||$3038.00||$1888.00||$1555.00||$1385.00||$625.00|
|Rates in US $ / per Person||Single||Double||Triple||Quad||Child|
|August 18 - August 31||$3884.00||$2484.00||$2062.00||$1852.00||$823.00|
|September 1 - September 15||$3858.00||$2458.00||$2036.00||$1826.00||$807.00|
|Daily Departures from August 18 - September 15|
|Rates in US $ | per Person||Adult|
|Denali Village: Denali Whitewater Rafting Tour or Scenic Float Trip
Duration: 3 hrs
|Fairbanks: Arctic Circle Tour & Aurora Viewing by Van (2 PM - 4 AM)|
|Fairbanks: Arctic Circle & Aurora Viewing Fly & Drive|
|Fairbanks: 5 hr Arctic Circle Flightseeing Tour|
|Fairbanks: 3 hr Riverboat Discovery Sternwheeler Cruise|
First Class Hotel Category (**** Hotels & Lodges)
First Class hotels usually offer additional amenities such as a restaurant, lounge, bar, fireplace seating, fitness room, swimming pool/hot tub, etc. All rooms in First Class hotels belong to a higher category and are always equipped with a private bathroom. Most hotels in this category are usually located in prime locations in prime downtown locations or in national parks. These include larger hotel chains such as: Marriott Hotels, Sheraton, Westmark Hotels, Princess Hotels and Lodges, Clarion Suites, Comfort Inn & Suite. The larger hotel chains are only available in Anchorage and Fairbanks. If a major hotel chain is not available, we prefer to book local premium hotels/deluxe cabins or cottages for our clients. Please note that premium accommodations may not be available in small towns; in such cases we will book the best available accommodation..
Superior Hotel Category (*** Hotels, Motels & Lodges)
Superior Hotels offer a good amount of essential guest services and are located in downtown locations and/or in/near national park areas. All superior class hotel rooms are equipped with a private bathroom. Example larger hotel chains for superior class hotels are: Holiday Inn, Howard Johnson, Guesthouse Inn, Ramada Inn, High Country Inn, Aspen Hotel Group, Comfort Inn. As you might be aware, that these hotel chains are not available throughout Alaska. In such cases or/and when we feel that Alaskan owned hotels & lodges offer a better experience, we go with that choice. Cabins and Cottages also considered in this category to make your experience even more ‘Alaskan’. We ensure that all the Cabins & Cottages have a private bath to make your stay comfortable.
▶ Northern Lights Viewing in Alaska | Canada – New Moon Dates
Ideal viewing time is approximately from 7 days prior to New Moon and until 7 days after New Moon. While some people may be concerned that a full moon is a problem, only weak aurora may be obstructed by the light of the moon, but in Alaska the aurora is frequently strong enough that aurora viewing is still possible on a moonlit night. As far as aurora photography goes, the aurora above a moonlit landscape actually tends to have a pleasing effect. On the whole, when participating in an aurora tour, one doesn’t need to be worried about the moon.The moon does not influence the aurora activity, the sky is just darker. You can therefore travel any time of the month.
When you do your research for shooting the aurora, you’ll find pluses and minuses for going when a full moon is present. On the minus side is if the lights that night are somewhat faint, the brightness of the moon’s reflection of the sun can fade them out. On the other hand, a full moon can be used to illuminate objects in the foreground. Many aurora shots include buildings with lights on inside to provide an interesting foreground subject. Depending on your shooting location, this feature might not be available. However, a full moon will help light up anything you have in front of you, no matter where you are. Because shots are done for at least six to eight seconds and up to fifteen seconds or more (depending on your shutter and ISO settings), the full moon will do a great job of making what would otherwise be a silhouette into a well-lit subject. Conversely, if you choose to go when there isn’t a full moon, a strong flash can be helpful in popping light onto a foreground subject.
▶ Aurora Viewing | Prime Viewing Dates
Q: When is the best time of the year to see the Aurora
A: In northern regions such as Alaska, the Yukon Territory, Northern British Columbia and the Northwest Territories - the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are seen from late August to mid April. Furthermore, during the autumn and spring, the weather is rather unstable and has a lower percentage of clear skies. Therefore, we have determined the best viewing seasons to be from mid-August to the end of September and from mid-November to mid-April. In This time of the year offers the best trade off between mild weather and dark skies. During the summer months, night skies are not dark enough to view the Aurora Borealis and in midwinter temperatures in the – 40 degree range make outdoor aurora viewing somewhat unpleasant. In other locations farther from the average aurora oval, the main consideration is the level of geomagnetic activity, which varies rather unpredictably through the year.
Q: When is the best time of the day
A: Within the most active regions of Alaska and prime viewing areas the Aurora oval typically becomes visible around local midnight. Note: this is an astronomical midnight - which may be an hour or two different from the civil or the “ wall clock “ midnight due to daylight savings time and/or peculiarities in your time zone. Spectacular Aurora displays due to geomagnetic disturbance may be seen at any time when the sky is dark, but they are relatively unpredictable. Under average conditions, observations around local midnight are most likely to yield results.
Q: What are the Temperatures in the Northern Regions
A: The average daily temperatures in February/March are approximately +20/-30 - equivalent to –8/-33 degrees Celsius.
Q: How to observe the Aurora
A: If you follow our recommendations you should be able to enjoy some pleasant Aurora viewing.
- A: Ensure - that you be there when the action begins. Because more often than not, the show picks up very quickly and also fades out as quickly as it started! Most of the auroras are out only about 2 to max 10 minutes at ones.
- A: Be Patient - this is maybe the most important thing in aurora viewing. If the show starts, it's always worth. Seeing a full-blown aurora show is just an indescribable experience.
- A: Experience - this is maybe the second most important (human) factor in aurora viewing. If you are first patient and then successful in seeing auroras, the direct consequence is that you will gain of course - experience. After a while you will begin to recognize what the aurora is doing, in which phase it is and so on. And the most important thing - You will learn how a weak aurora looks like!!! Because, even that we are hoping to see a bright "eruption phase " aurora, the aurora isn't all the time bright. So the experience will help you to see and determine if there is a weak aurora, which could get brighter in the future! I
- A: Light Conditions - the primary reason for not seeing an aurora are any city light obstruction or a bright twilight. Our destinations are far away from a city or other light obstruction and therefore should guarantee the best viewing conditions possible.
- A: Weather - don't think overcast weather prevent you from Aurora viewing. Although often clouds do ruin everything, but at times...you can also get lucky breaks! Another example, during a major aurora storm in 2001 the forecasts and satellite pictures showed that it should be overcast, but it was not. We could see the stars and the aurora through the thin clouds! So, give it a try anyway...it could be worth it!
Q: What causes the Aurora
A: Energetic charged particles from the magnetosphere. These particles are electrons and protons that are energized in the near geo-space environment. This energization process draws its energy from the interaction of the Earth's magnetosphere with the solar wind. The magnetosphere is a volume of space that surrounds the Earth. We have this magnetosphere because of Earth's internal magnetic field. This field extends to space until it is balanced by the solar wind.
Q: What is the altitude of the Aurora Borealis
A: The bottom edge is typically at 100 km (about 60 miles) altitude. The aurora extends over a very large altitude range. The altitude where the emission comes from depends on the energy of the energetic electrons that make the aurora. The more energy the bigger the punch, and the deeper the electron get into the atmosphere. Very intense aurora from high-energy electrons can be as low as 80 km (50 miles). The top of the visible aurora peters out at about 2-300 km (120-200 miles), sometimes high altitude aurora can be seen as high as 600 km (350 miles). This is about the altitude at which the space shuttle usually flies.
▶ Sun | Solar Wind | Magnetosphere
The solar wind is the outermost atmosphere of our sun. The sun is so hot that it boils off its outer layers, and the result is a constant outward expanding very thin gas. This solar wind consists not of atoms and molecules but of protons and electrons (this is called a plasma). Embedded in this solar wind is the magnetic field of the sun. The density is so low that we may well call it a vacuum. However tenuous it is, when this solar wind encounters a planet, it has to flow around it. When this planet has a magnetic field, the solar wind sees this magnetic field as an obstacle, as protons and electrons cannot move freely across a magnetic field. These charged particles are constrained to move almost always only along the magnetic field. Likewise, when they are forced to move in a specific direction, a magnetic field will move with them or will be bent into the direction of the flow. Whether the magnetic field forces the plasma motion or whether the plasma motion bends the magnetic field depends on the strength of the field and the force of the motion. When the solar wind encounters Earth's magnetic field, it will thus bend the field unless the field gets too strong. The strength of the magnetic field falls off with distance from Earth. The distance at which the solar wind and the magnetic field of the Earth balance each other is about 60,000 km away, or 1/10 of the distance to the moon. The inside of this volume that is bounded by the solar wind is called the magnetosphere. At the interface of the solar wind and the magnetosphere, energy can be transferred into the magnetosphere by a number of processes. Most effective is a process called reconnection. When the magnetic field in the solar wind and the magnetic field of the magnetosphere are anti-parallel, the fields can melt together, and the solar wind can drag the magnetospheres field and plasma along. This is very efficient in energizing magnetospheres plasma. Eventually, the magnetosphere responds by dumping electrons and protons into the high latitude upper atmosphere where the energy of the plasma can be dissipated. This then results in aurora. Here is an animation (1.6Mb) that illustrates this process.
▶ Alaska and Canada Northern Lights Viewing | Photo Support
Q: How do I take the best pictures
A: For the first -time or for seasoned aurora photographer, a 35 mm camera on a tripod equipped with a cable release is a must. Use a wide-angle 24 mm to 50 mm lens and set it to an f-stop which is the fastest – or one slower to avoid distortion of bright star images – usually f/1.4 – f/2.8.
- Exposures of 5 to 15 seconds work well unless the aurora is faint or mostly stationary, in which case the exposure time should be doubled. People tend to overexpose their photos, causing the aurora to look washed out. If the aurora is bright, moonlight and city lights should not interfere and can offer an interesting foreground. Never use filters because they could cause internal reflections. If it is very dark, a silhouette of a tree of lit cabin will certainly add to the scene. Video cameras are normally not sensitive enough to successfully record the aurora.
- Because aurora occurs under clear skies, photographers will often be shooting in temperatures well below zero. Since cold saps camera batteries, it is advisable to use an older camera with mechanical shutter instead of one that is fully automatic. Cold makes plastic brittle, so the cable release should be wired mesh vice plastic. At minus 40 Fahrenheit, all cameras will freeze in less than 10 minutes; before taking it inside to warm, place it in a zip-lock plastic bag to reduce condensation.
- Tape the lens to infinity so that it doesn’t slip and cause your images to be out of focus. Don’t try for a 37th exposure; it might break the film, and it is best to overexpose your first frame on the roll so that the film processor knows where to start cutting your negatives. Wind your finished roll of film slowly so that it doesn’t shatter or cause static buildup – this may appear as scratch. While Kodak film processing mailers are generally reliable, it may be worth the extra cost to have the film processed through a custom photo lab. Going the custom lab route will save the film from being lost in the mail or scratched in an automated process.
- Slower speed film (print or slide) has better gain resolution; making for a sharper image when enlarged. Thus it may be too slow to record the fine detail structure of the aurora.
- Medium-speed color film (200 /400 ASA) works as well. Purists insist on slide film. You can try a faster film, but keep in mind that graininess and color quality tend to decrease with increasing film speed. We recommend using 400-speed film is a good compromise between detail and quality of the image.
- Different films will emphasize different colors of the aurora, so experimentation is advisable. Bracketing your exposures (05 seconds, 10 seconds and 15 seconds) will give you the characteristics of the film. Even in a roll of 36 exposures, there are only a few shots that are acceptable to me.
Q: Can I videotape the Aurora
A: Videotaping the aurora generally takes highly specialized video equipment. Generally – camcorders are not sensitive enough to see the aurora, though a few will record a faint, smoky image given a sufficiently bright aurora. Your best bet for video showing the color and motion of the aurora is to purchase a professionally – recorded tape such as one distributed form the Geophysical Institute in Fairbanks. Thus, some home video cameras are capable of picking up bright auroras. In particular, a camera rated at for example: less than one-lux sensitivity has captured – faintly and colorlessly a bright auroral arc. Many cameras which have special features such as digital zoom and / or vibration compensation are much less sensitive and will not show the aurora. The most annoying problem with home video cameras in low-light situations is their inability to focus. If your camera has a focus-lock button, you may be able to focus on a distant, brightly-lit object, and lock the focus then see if you can pick up the moon or perhaps catch a hint of an extremely bright aurora. Just don’t expect much, because home video cameras aren’t designed to do low-light recording.
Q: Do you have any Aurora Photography Tips
A: When you do your research for shooting the aurora, you’ll find pluses and minuses for going when a full moon is present. On the minus side is if the lights that night are somewhat faint, the brightness of the moon’s reflection of the sun can fade them out. On the other hand, a full moon can be used to illuminate objects in the foreground. Many aurora shots include buildings with lights on inside to provide an interesting foreground subject. Depending on your shooting location, this feature might not be available. However, a full moon will help light up anything you have in front of you, no matter where you are. Because shots are done for at least six to eight seconds and up to fifteen seconds or more (depending on your shutter and ISO settings), the full moon will do a great job of making what would otherwise be a silhouette into a well-lit subject. Conversely, if you choose to go when there isn’t a full moon, a strong flash can be helpful in popping light onto a foreground subject.
▶ More about Northern Lights Tour Packages
Q: Flights to Alaska
A: Alaska -, Continental -, United -, Delta Airlines and US Airways are providing multiple flight connections daily to Anchorage and Fairbanks from the lower 48's. For current rates please refer to: >> Alaska Airlines or other airlines and any ticket reservation systems of your choice. Sorry, but we do not provide a reservation service for airlines tickets. Accordingly our advertised tour rates do not include any flights to/from Alaska.
Q: Recommended Clothing
A: We recommend fleece or heavy wool sweaters, down jackets or similar cold weather gear with attached hood, gloves, sun glasses, swimsuit, wool shirts, cotton or thermal underwear, mittens, sturdy winter boots, lip balsam, moisturizing cream. Winter gear and clothing may be rented at your local outdoor stores or at REI - Recreational Equipment INC - in Anchorage (please contact the stores directly)
A: Meals are not included in our tours (except as otherwise stated within each "Tour Included" section) The cities of Fairbanks and Anchorage are providing a large number of restaurants in all categories. Our lodges and resorts are providing a dining room or a full service restaurant with a extended food and drink selection.
Q: Sightseeing Tours
A: Sightseeing tours are not included in our tour packages (except as otherwise stated within each "Tour Included" section) Thus, we do offer a variety of optional tours. Please contact us or simply check our websites.
Q: How far in advance should I make a Reservation
A: This is hard to predict but if you travel during: (1) New Moon Dates (2) Public Holidays (3) Long Weekends (4) Alaska Events etc. tours are most likely sold out and it will be virtually impossible to materialize a last minute request. Accordingly it is highly advisable to book as early as possible.
▶ Chena Hot Springs Resort | Accommodation Description
Moose Lodge Room / First Class Category
The Moose Lodge features 40 spacious rooms with two queen beds that have comfortable 14 inch mattresses.
Each room includes a full bath, 8 channel TV, hair dryer, coffee maker, telephone and unlimited swim/soak passes during your stay.
Fox Room / Superior Category
The Resort features 32 Fox Rooms, each with a unique Alaskan Decor and close proximity to the hot springs.
A comfortable option, smaller and more intimate than the Moose Lodge yet cozier, each room has two double beds,
a 3/4 bath with shower, 8 channel TV, hair dryer, coffee maker and unlimited swim/soak passes during your stay. No room-in telephone.
|Alaska Rail Tour Services
Regular Seating and Private Dome Car Choices
Our Alaska Rail Tours are available with the following classes of service: Denali Star & Coastal Classic Regular Service | Many people prefer the standard class for its single level stability, generous seating and the ability to easily walk between different cars on the train. Gold Star Dome Cars Are the newest first-class rail cars in Alaska with large picture windows and fine dining options. Upper level dome car 360-degree viewing seating, priority check in, outdoor viewing deck. The lower level provides a restaurant, bar and gift shop. Midnight Sun Express Dome Cars | These 2-story dome cars with large multiple outside viewing platforms are operated by a private company. Enjoy the full-time 360-degree view dome seating with plenty of leg – and storage room. Additional features are: GPS assisted monitors, restaurant, bar and gift shop. The 1950’s Vintage Cars | The 1950's-era vintage railcars built by the well known Budd Company were some of the last reminders of the Golden Age of rail. A private company began acquiring Budd dome cars for passenger service on the McKinley Explorer train in Alaska. The seven cars the: Matanuska 508, Chena 509, Chulitna 510, Tanana 512, Talkeetna 513, Kashwitna 553 and Eklutna 554 were purchased and completely refurbished. These railcars were to become the most historic and elegant way to travel through America's Last Frontier. Mc.Kinley Explorer Dome Cars | Are the largest domed cars ever build with plenty of legroom, wide isles and additional luggage storage space. The seats are on the upper level – with restaurant, gift shop and bar downstairs - providing a 360-degree view through the glass windows around and the glass dome above you. All seats are wired so you may listen to music and recorded narration. GPS assisted monitors in each car are tracking the exact location. The covered outside viewing platform is a great feature for a breath of fresh air. All Alaska Rail Tours are including a pre-confirmed and assigned seat as well as on-board narration services. MAP – Modified American Plan (Breakfast & Dinner) is available upon request.
We provide a reduced tour rate for children up to 11 years. Please refer to each individual tour for more information. Children will be accommodated in parents room.
The Midnight Sun Express, the McKinley Explorer and the Alaska Railroad Gold Star Dome Cars are offering full service breakfast, lunch and dinner options (all custom made to order) at the on-board restaurants. You will have the opportunity to visit the dining room and order freshly prepared food from the menu. Since all of our dishes are prepared to order we will do our best to accommodate all dietary concerns. Please notify us of any special dietary requirements at the time of reservation.
Recommended gratuities to the on-board train staff and host guides are $3.00 to $5.00 per person and day. Gratuities for meal and bar service are entirely discretionary, but 15% is customary in most Alaskan restaurants. All tipping is a matter of your individual preference and is of course - always voluntary.
For additional information and addresses on hotels, lodges and resorts included in your railroad tour package, please check our „Info Center“ area.
|Luggage Transfer & Access
Passengers are limited to two pieces of checked baggage, not to exceed 50 pounds, that must be checked with the Alaska Railroad without charge. Each passenger may also take one carry on, not to exceed 2 ” by 14” by 17 ”, which will stored under your seat on the viewing level. Please pack any medications, cameras, binoculars or valuables in your carry-on.
Are not allowed onboard (except assistance dogs)
Is not permitted on-board the trains. Smoking is allowed outside on the platforms. Ashtrays are available on the outside viewing platform.
Most of our tours are including scheduled sightseeing trips. For more information please refer to each individual tour package. In addition to these scheduled tours we also provide a variety of exciting optional sightseeing trips with a great value. Please Note: Optional sightseeing tours are only available in connection with a confirmed rail tour package reservation.
|Tickets & Travel Documents
You’ll receive your boarding passes, travel documents and additional tour information on the departure day at the rail station. Ticketless travel options are available upon request.
Most scheduled transfers indicated within the itinerary are included in our rail tour packages. Optional pre/post hotel tour accommodation are including transfers from/to the airport. Private limousine and/or group coach transfers are available for an additional charge.
Each train has at least one rail car that this fully accessible to wheelchairs. A specially designed lift makes getting on and off the train easy and safe. There are also accessible restrooms on each of the accessible rail cars.
|Alaska Rail Tour Travel Destinations
Anchorage to Talkeetna | Anchorage is headquarters to the Alaska Railroad and the journey to Fairbanks begins here. Several miles into the trip, the heavy birch forests of Eagle River and Chugiak lead to the Knik and Matanuska Rivers.The expansive watershed harbors wildlife like moose, bear, the occasional wolf and abundant waterfowl. About 40 miles from Anchorage comes the Matanuska Valley, Alaska's agricultural center and home to the towns of Palmer and Wasilla. Just south of Talkeetna, 70 miles further, the first view emerges of Mt. McKinley, North America's highest peak. The train takes its first stop in Talkeetna, a small town with a mining history and now, a popular takeoff point for climbers to Mt. McKinley. Talkeetna to Denali | From Talkeetna, the track follows the serpentine banks of the Susitna River. On clear days, more views of Mt. McKinley emerge across the river presenting many chances for photos. Black and brown bear frequent the sandbars and scuttle into the brush as the train approaches. Next, the Indian River Canyon is home to many beavers and beaver lodges can be seen in the ponds along the way. The track climbs toward tree line, first crossing Hurricane Gulch, the longest bridge on the railroad just over 914 feet and 296 feet above Hurricane Creek. The train moves into Broad Pass, at 2,363 feet it's the highest point on the railroad, and where caribou migrate through during the fall. Thousands of travelers visit Denali National Park and Preserve to see wildlife like wolves, caribou, Dall sheep, moose and bear, and, of course, Mt. McKinley. Denali to Fairbanks | The coal-mining town of Healy follows after a 10-mile jaunt through Healy canyon, where the surging waters of the Nenana River cuts through the steep-sided cliffs. As the track levels out, Nenana comes into view. It is home to one of the remaining original Alaska Railroad Depots, now a museum and gift shop. The track cuts through the northern boreal forests of interior Alaska. Birch, aspen and willow fill this landscape where gold miners first came to seek their fortunes. Fifty-eight miles from Nenana, Fairbanks, the "Golden Heart City" signals the end of the line - but just the beginning for more adventure, culture and history in the Last Frontier.
Seward to Anchorage | Your journey starts in Seward, the southern terminus of the railroad. It quickly begins its climb through primeval forests of Sitka spruce. After crossing Snowy River, Kenai Lake comes into view, set off with its stunning aqua color and surrounded by soaring mountains. Moose Pass - Thirty miles into the trip, the track winds through Moose Pass, a former railroad construction camp on the shores of Trail Lake. As the rail ascends into the Kenai Mountains, it leaves behind the forests and reveals mountain meadows and streams of gin-clear glacial waters. Trail Glacier appears on the right and soon after, the summit of Grandview at 1,063 feet and the historic Loop District - named for a complex series of trestles built to handle the steep grade in the age of steam engines. In the same stretch, Bartlett Glacier crowds the track just 800 feet away. Placer River Valley - After passing through a series of short tunnels, the track descends to the Placer River Valley near Spencer Glacier. Moose, bear and wolves populate the valley among the willow and alder trees. Trumpeter swans migrate through in spring and fall and arctic terns hover above the ponds and river looking for small fish and insects. Twelve miles later Turnagain Arm appears, where 40-foot tides rush into the narrow confines of the Chugach Mountains. Beluga whales pursue salmon and other schooling fish. Next comes Girdwood, home to Alaska's premier ski resort, a 40-mile commute from Anchorage. Chugach National Forest - The Chugach National Forest borders Turnagain Arm, some six million acres, the second largest in the U.S. Bald eagles cruise the thermals above and Dall Sheep come to feed on the low plants growing on the cliffs bordering the track. Next comes Potter Marsh in the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. Anchorage is the final stop, 114 miles out of Seward.