Best train trip for my dad...

May 1st, 2006, 04:02 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 2
Best train trip for my dad...

Hi good friends,
I am contemplating bringing my 74 yr old father on his dream trip to Alaska in September. We'll have about a week to 10 days. I am thinking a scenic rail trip might suit him best. What is the most scenic rail route? Which has best accommodations and chances to see wildlife?

Is it better to start in Anchorage or somewhere else? (We'd be coming from Boston).

Is September too late in the season? Will it already be getting dark then?

LargeMarge is offline  
May 1st, 2006, 04:57 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 603
There is really only one train trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks. It is run by the Alaska Railroad. Different tour companies can attach their cars to the train but the all go the same place.

It you had slightly more time and lots more money, I would cruise the inside passage and then take the railroad Anchorage to Fairbanks stopping in Denali overnight (and taking an early morning bus ride to see the wildlife). The Yorktown Clipper has had a wonderful week in the inside passage but it is not economy travel.
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
May 1st, 2006, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,855
As Barbara said, Alaska Railroad is the only train company in AK but some tour companiers do attach their cars to the trains. There are only a few passenger stops on each route.

IMO, the route between Anchorage and Seward is hugley more scenic that the route between Anchorage and Fairbanks. It is also about a 4-5 hour trip as opposed to a 12 hour trip to Fairbanks.

September will still be OK for hours of daylight but most of the flowering plants will be gone by then. If you can only do it in September, you need to do it in the first half. The AK Railroad schedule changes from daily to weekly in mid-September and many of the tourist oriented businesses close for the season by mid September. If you can do it in July or August instead, that would be my recommendation. If you can only do it in September, it is still a great trip.
dwooddon is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 03:36 PM
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 2

Thanks to both of you for the great information! I realize I need to just sit and read some more and get a few maps, etc. I was thinking a train trip was best, but now my dad says he'd love the I'm looking into it.
LargeMarge is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 06:24 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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I just wanted to tell you that in reading your post, I got teary-eyed. It's SO sweet that you're doing this for him.

Mine passed about 7 years ago, and how I long to take a trip like that with him. We never did.
lynnejoel1015 is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 07:24 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 16

I too got teary-eyed reading this. It wasn't that he and I didn't travel that gets me, it's that I never said that I loved him. He died on the 10th of May, 2000. I've only been to his grave once, and that was for the funeral. O.K. Deep Breathe.

There are a ton of different variables that you can do. I do mean a lot.

Trains. Alaska doesn't have a lot of choices when it comes down to trains. I may not be a 100% on target but I'm sure I'll be close.

Anchorage to Fairbanks and back
Anchorage to Whittier and back
Anchorage to Seward and back

There are tour companies that will either have the whole train charted or will have their cars attached to the train. I'm pretty sure that each cruise line offers add on either before or after your cruise.

Alaska Railroad also has packaged deals that you may want to look at.

I have taken the train from Whittier to Anchorage and Anchorage to Seward. It was basically the same trip except for the portion near Whittier where the tracks divide. I have not taken the train North from Anchorage yet since it's a little pricey for me but one day I might.

Cruises. You have a lot more options for a cruise. Basically, I say basically, they kind of look like this:

One Way
Round Trip (Exterior)
Round Trip (Interior)

One Way cruises are, in my opinion, the way to go. You can take a one way out of Seattle or Vancouver. You either disembarks at Whittier or at Steward. Or, you can depart out of Whittier or Seward and disembark at Seattle or Vancouver. They allow you the flexibility of seeing Alaska without being rushed since I believe they offer the most time in port.

Round trips (Exterior) are trips that leave out of Seattle, Vancouver or San Francisco. There maybe others that I'm not aware of but the two big two are Seattle and Vancouver.

The major differences in the Round trip Exterior are the ports and glacier viewings. This also is the same difference in the One-Way sailings. Glacier Bay National Park glacier viewings are a selling point for some lines while Hubbard, Tracey Arm ect. ect. ect. for others. Which is better? Vell, different people have different opinions. The general consent is that Glacier Bay is the sought out after. I haven't been there yet. I keep on telling myself yet.

Round Trip (Interior). Vell, I lied. The best way to see Alaska is to take a round trip Interior. These are smaller cruise lines (Cruise West, Lindblad, American West Steamboat) That depart and arrive from an Alaskan port. I'm sure that there are others out there but these are the major three. The main advantage to these lines is they are the true Alaska. The main disadvantage (at least to me) is price. They are more expensive and also you need to fly to the port but, if I had the money, I would take this option.

I'm not sure about September with the options above but having stated the above, I would recommend a one way with add on days before or after.

God Speed.

roguebkpkr is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 07:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,944
If you get yourself into Canada...

You can take the train from Vancovuer to Jasper and on to Edmonton.

And there are other train tours from Vancouver into the rockies.

And there's a train from Jasper through the mountains to, I believe, Prince Rupert.

Via Rail Canada is the main railroad involved.


BAK is offline  
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