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Is the Alaska Railroad worth it?

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Q&A: We’re taking your advice and visiting Alaska this summer. We’d like to do a day trip on the Alaska Railroad but have limited funds. Is the Alaska Railroad worth it? Should we sacrifice something else to ride the rails? Thanks!

– Kevin and Annie Covington of Madison, Wisconsin.

A: Good question Kevin and Annie. During our recent trip to Alaska, we found that riding the Alaska Railroad was an experience like no other. It was an adventure filled with fun and excitement – plus a bit of intrique. We encountered quite a few quirky travelers (other than myself) and it gave us ample opportunity for conversations we could enjoy nowhere else. There are a number of reasons why the Alaska Railroad is such an amazing way to see Alaska’s expansive landscape. And it’s a key reason we named Alaska a Top 10 Travel Destination for 2023.

First, a brief history of the Alaska Railroad

The Alaska Railroad was originally built in the early 1900s to provide transportation and access to remote regions of Alaska. The railroad was a crucial lifeline for many small towns and villages, as well as “mountainmen” who often lived 100s of miles from the nearest encampment. The railroad gave them access to essential goods and services that were otherwise unavailable.

Over the years, the Alaska Railroad has played an important role in the economic and cultural development of Alaska. The railroad has been used to transport everything from gold and copper to timber and seafood, helping to drive Alaska’s economy and support the state’s many industries.

During World War II, the Alaska Railroad played a vital role in the war effort, transporting troops and supplies to strategic locations throughout the state. After the war, the railroad continued to serve as a vital link between Alaska’s many communities and it continues to help defend our nation today by quickly ferrying heavy equipment to various military installations in the state.

For the people you’ll encounter as you wander Alaska, the Alaska Railroad remains an important part of their transportation infrastructure. While the railroad has undergone many changes over the years, including the introduction of modern trains and technology, the spirit of adventure and independence that the railroad represents remains unchanged, making it a beloved part of Alaskan culture and history.

Why you should ride the Alaska Railroad

Today, the Alaska Railroad continues to be an important part of Alaska’s cultural and economic fabric. It is a source of pride for many Alaskans, who see it as a symbol of the state’s rugged spirit and independence. And it’s a key destination in itself for wanderers, as it features a safe and easy way to reach various sites via 5 routes connecting Fairbanks in the north to Anchorage and running down to Portage, Whittier, and Seward (explore the route map).

There are 5 key reasons why I recomment taking a ride on the Alaska Railroad:

Unique experiences for the wanderer

The Alaska Railroad also offers a range of unique experiences that you won’t find on any other train. For example, the railroad offers:

As you wander the globe, you’ll find that the Alaska Railroad is a wonderful and unique way to experience the beauty and culture of Alaska. Whether you are looking for stunning scenery, a taste of history, or a fun and adventurous journey, the Alaska Railroad has something to offer everyone. So, if you are planning a trip to Alaska, I strongly suggest putting Alaska Railroad on your itinerary!

So my advice, Kevin and Annie, is YES – the Alaska Railroad is worth it! If you’re budget is a little stretched, be sure to sneak the Alaska Railroad in, even if you have to sacrifice somewhere else. You’ll find landscapes and people that you would never encounter with any other method of travel through the Alaskan wilderness. Plus, you’ll be able to sit back and relax as you do.

Until then, check out our 3 part series on wandering Alaska:

One response to “Is the Alaska Railroad worth it?”

  1. […] Riding the rails on the historic Alaska Railroad has provided inspiration to legions of writers and wanderers for decades (myself included – I even started a short story during our journey). A variety of routes are available, running from Fairbanks in the north to Anchorage, and to Whittier and Seward in the south. The Alaska Railroad offers prime views of Denali National Park and the many coastal mountain ranges in the south. The double decker seating cars were extremely spacious and comfortable, and the crew very friendly. Best of all, we just relaxed and took it all in while someone else did all the driving. By using Anchorage as our basecamp, we were able to enjoy a day trip on the Alaska Railroad to Whittier, charting a 26 glacier cruise once we arrived. I review our journey on the Alaskan Railroad. […]

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