The Alaska Railroad is now 100 years old and going strong into the end of the year with its winter service season. Earlier this summer, a crowd of 800 gathered in Nenana, Alaska, to take part in a block party celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Alaska Railroad, which took place in 1923 when President Warren G. Harding drove in the golden spike.
Much of the development of the state can be attributed to the Alaska Railroad as communities and towns were connected via the rails allowing goods and passengers to travel between the state’s two largest cities. Today, the Alaska Railroad is the last remaining full-service railroad in the U.S. carrying both passengers and freight. The railroad’s unique attributes call to travelers as they make plans to explore Alaska.
Running now through mid-May, the Aurora Winter Train travels on weekends between Anchorage and Fairbanks and makes stops at destinations like Wasilla, Talkeetna, Denali National Park and Preserve and more. Additional midweek departures are offered in February and March of 2024. Onboard, guests enjoy large windows for viewing the vast wilderness, comfort food in the dining area, and expert narration from staff sharing the stories behind the sights.
Passengers can also bundle a train trip with activities like dog mushing, flightseeing and viewing the northern lights by booking one of the Alaska Railroad’s packages. The packages range from quick weekend getaways to multi-day trips. Winter packages available for the 2023-2024 season are Winter Escape, Talkeetna Getaway, Denali in a Day, Arctic Circle Adventure, The Aurora, and The Borealis.
“We’ve learned a lot in our 100 years and what we know best is that our passengers are making lifelong memories when they travel to Alaska, so we have to get it right for them,” said Dale Wade, vice president of marketing and customer service. “That’s why our team can make customized packages for our guests. From first-time aurora chasers, to thrill seekers on the back of a dog sled, we offer extensive excursions to pair with a train ride.”
This year, a new snowshoe tour is available in Talkeetna. It offers passengers the opportunity for a customized nature excursion paired with their rail travel. Operated through Alaska Nature Guides, guests are treated to a customized trip that varies depending on skill level, sightseeing wishes and weather conditions. Another popular add-on excursion in Talkeetna is winter dog mushing with five-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey. Passengers hop off the train and then within a short time are mushing their own team, learning about Iditarod training and playing with sled dog puppies.
Additional winter add-ons like a visit to the Anchorage Museum will give travelers even more history on the railroad. The exhibit “All Aboard: The Alaska Railroad Centennial” is on display at the Anchorage Museum until Feb. 18, 2024.
Travelers can contact the railroad's reservations team at email@example.com to create a fully customized experience. For more information about what to expect when traveling onboard the Alaska Railroad, visit www.alaskarailroad.com.