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“awesome experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of McKinley Explorer

Ranked #16 of 95 things to do in Fairbanks
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: A scenic railroad spanning 356 miles, from Fairbanks to Anchorage.
Chennai (Madras), India
Level Contributor
170 reviews
54 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“awesome experience”
Reviewed July 22, 2013

travelling in Mckinley Explorer in the double decker train sitting in the room top covered with glass dome watching the mountains, rivers, wildlife unfolding before you as the train moves is an awesome experience - the guide also plays a good role to make the journey a memorable one

Visited July 2013
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1 Thank chettiyappan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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183 reviews from our community

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Cardiff, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
173 reviews
128 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 292 helpful votes
“travel in style and comfort”
Reviewed July 19, 2013

The McKinley Explorer was an absolutely gorgeous way to see some of Alaska: extremely comfortable seats, 180’views, helpful stewards and entertaining and informative guides. We took the train from Anchorage to De-nali, then again from Denali to Fairbanks as part of our HAL cruisetour. The trip from Anchorage to Denali was spectacular: beautiful views of Alaskan countryside and in particular, Denali. The Denali-Fairbanks trip we found not particularly memorable except the Nenana Canyon – the first part of the trip when leaving Denali.

Clarification: there is a single train which has several cars (McKinely Explorer, Alaska Railroad, Princess, Wil-derness Explorer) attached to a single engine. These cars are operated by different companies but are all connected to the same engine, just different coaches, ours operated by Gray Line of Alaska. Employees were knowledgeable and kept the trip entertaining.

The scenery was fabulous and it was great to be able to go out onto the observation deck on the back of the car to try to get better pictures. But the views from inside were fine (with the advantage of being above the tree-line!). Everyone has a seat reserved in the upper dome car which has a bar serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Tip: if you are on the 2 day trip, buy the refillable bottle for $12- you get unlimited soda or iced tea. Both trips included narration, which was plentiful. We were told when something interesting was coming up, be it scenery or wildlife, and the driver would slow the train down for us to get good views or photos. Observation deck, toilets and dining room are downstairs. .You are asked if you wish to dine, then are called down a few at a time. The food on the train was better than we expected: it was reasonably priced, the portions generous and the meal delicious.
There was only one problem: it was uncomfortable when the a/c went out (it seems that this is not uncommon – some passengers lobbied for it to be turned off as we left Anchorage, but the crew knew that it was temperamental. In the end they caved in, with the result that it broke down later!) We were offered iced water to cool us down until the problem could be fixed and eventually the a/c was restored. Apart from the stunning scenery we saw eagles and lots of moose.
These trips made the long distances pass by quickly. A very civilized and relaxing way to travel.

Visited June 2013
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6 Thank Margaret151151
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Level Contributor
42 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Take the train!”
Reviewed July 17, 2013

Our cruisetour included two rides on this great train. We could have taken less time by coach but the scenery including moose and eagles was fantastic. Seats are comfortable, you can move across the aisle to see wildlife or take a photo, and food and drinks are served. We so enjoyed riding from Fairbanks to Denali, on to Anchorage, then to Seward.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Carrie H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ABQ
Level Contributor
167 reviews
49 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“This is a nice ride”
Reviewed July 16, 2013

We rode the McKinley Explorer twice - to Denali National Park from Anchorage, and then to Fairbanks from Denali national Park. The ride is very comfortable, and you go through a lot of forested areas, some mountain views, and a few towns - sometimes not the good parts of these towns. (That's where the tracks are - and the other side of the tracks also) You have a window all around you and on top, so you get good views of the scenery. Although they said to look for wildlife, we never saw any - and you're passing by an area quickly, so it would be hard to catch any. We also dined in below - food was good and selections were varied. Both of our rides were served by friendly folks. A tip for soda drinkers - buy the souvenir bottle, and it includes unlimited refills - and it can be used on both trips. The train cars were clean and well maintained. These trips made the long distances pass by quickly. Our car had its electricity blow so no lights for awhile, but we had gotten our food before that happened, so the only inconvenience was that we had to go to the next car to go to the restroom.

Visited May 2013
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1 Thank WILLIAM B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Omaha, Nebraska
Level Contributor
22 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Great Ride and Views”
Reviewed July 14, 2013

The McKinley Explorer was fantastic. We rode from Fairbanks to Anchorage with an overnight stop in Denali. The scenery was good and I enjoyed going out to the open air platform on the back of the car to try and get better pictures. But the views from inside were fine also with the big windows all along the cars.

The food on the train surprised me by being better than I would have expected.

The guides on the train were also humorous and presented a lot of interesting information. One of the entertaining parts of the trip was when someone would spot and then say "Moose on the right" and the whole car of passengers would stand up immediately and try and catch a glimpse of the antelered spectacle.

I really enjoy riding on trains anyway, but this would be a nice trip for anyone.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Cybeamer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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