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“All Aboard the Alaska Railroad”

Alaska Railroad Depot
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Anchorage Trolley Tour
Ranked #11 of 228 things to do in Anchorage
Certificate of Excellence
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Reviewed May 2, 2013

Traveling by rail is a passion of mine. I have traveled by train all over the world. The Alaska Railroad offers a chance to break away from the highway and access wilderness areas like Spencer Lake, travel through tunnels and over impressive bridges like Hurricane Pass, and wind along the scenic Turnagain Arm on the way to Whittier or Seward. I enjoy my time on board visiting with friends or family as we explore Alaska by rail. We can dine on board, play cards, stand outside on the viewing platform and watch for wildlife along the way. The Alaska Railroad is a perfect way to travel hassle free.

1  Thank PhillipsCruisesAK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 19, 2013

I had made advance reservations by phone, which was so easy. I was very pleasantly surprised from booking to the end of my trip, as I didn't know what to expect. The Anchorage depot was about six blocks from my hotel, and I took an inexpensive cab ride from my downtown hotel. I was dropped off about 7:15AM on the Saturday. The ticket office was open, and I stepped up to collect my ticketing packet. The staff were very nice and pleasant. One staffer was wearing a moose antler hat.

The gift shop opened at about 7:30AM. There were lots of nice railroad souvenirs, books, and clothing. Prices were reasonable. One book was available only at the depot, which was a milepost description of history and sights for the entire trip for only $5. Had I taken the train all the way to Fairbanks, I would definitely had bought this.

I enjoyed watching the people who arrived to catch the train (families, solos of all ages). As they checked in, they loaded up their checked luggage by the destination signs set up by the door to the platform. Depot staff started moving large crates in position to load up the luggage. These were loaded up when the train arrived.

We got the "All aboooaard!" call. We were instructed to pull out our boarding cards, line up to be checked in at the train's vestibule, and directed to our designated car. The conductor, in all his uniformed finery, oversaw the boarding process. We climbed the stairs and went right to Car A or left to Car B. Boarding was very efficient. We took our assigned seats, and very quickly realized that there would be plenty of room to move about as the train was not fully booked.

As the train pulled out of the station, the Depot staff stood by and waved goodbye to all of us, including the male staffer wearing the moose antler hat. It was a very nice send-off. On my return, it was nice to see that the Depot allows friends and families to wait at the platform to greet their loved ones. My experience at the Historic Alaska Railroad Depot was orderly and superb! Kudos to a well-organized travel experience! Very impressive.

Thank WrldTrvl01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2013

When riding the Alaska Railroad, you need to arrive an hour early to check your luggage and check-in. We arrived around 7:15 a.m. on March 30, 2013 to ride the Northbound Winter Aurora Train from Anchorage to Fairbanks. The depot is managed by friendly and helpful staff. There is a small gift shop on the premises with a good selection of shirts, jackets, books and other souvenirs. I purchased a T-shirt for my granddaughter and the "Ride Guide", a book that provides extensive information for the rail trip from Seward to Fairbanks. This was my second trip on the train, the first was in 2007 from Denali National Park South to Whittier. My second trip started at mile post 114.3 and continued to the end of the rail, mile post 470.3, in Fairbanks.
The trip takes 11 1/2 hours, but takes you through breath-taking scenery, especially in the winter. We quit counting the moose that we saw along the way, mostly cows and their young. We saw evidence of large herds of caribous (tracks), but only actually saw two caribou during our trip. Unfortunately the weather was cloudy, so we didn't get to see Mt. McKinley. That sight took place during my plane ride from Fairbanks to Anchorage at the end of my trip.
Riding the train provides you with the opportunity to see the Chugach Mountain range and the Alaskan Mountain range along with many beautiful rivers, creeks, the Knik Arm, and beautiful birch trees and evergreens. We also saw many small towns, and homesteads of people living in the bush.
The train drops off supplies along the route for the people living in these remote areas. People along the route also flag down the train to ride into towns along the route. During this ride I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet children's author and illustrator, Shannon Cartwright, as she flagged down and joined us for a short portion of the trip. She had several of her books and I was able to obtain several autographed copies for my granddaughter.
Also boarding the train that day was a Discovery Channel crew that was in the bush taping a documentary that will be aired some time in the future about the railroad and the bush.
The winter train consists of 2 passenger cars, one baggage car and a dining car. Beverages, snacks and meals are available during the trip.
You can take pictures out of the picture windows in each car, but the best pictures are taken in the vestibules or platforms between the cars. You forget how cold it is while taking the pictures of the exquisite scenery on your ride. I hope to have the opportunity one day to ride the train again, once during summer so I can see fields of blooming fireweed and again in autumn to see the beautiful colors of Fall.

3  Thank Jeanne C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2013

Upon arrival in Anchorage it was a zoo. No one knew where to go, it was mass confusion. I did hear that the RR had only had 1 passenger car of ppl and this week there were 4!
The walk to the train cars were terrible slick. I saw several fall down.
The seats were comfortable and it was a very enjoyable way to meet other ppl and see the beautiful scenery from Anchorage to Fairbanks. We really enjoyed it.
The staff was way over worked. Running everywhere. In-spite of their running we couldn't get into the dinning car until after 3! The food was really good, but we were starved by that point! :)
I would assume by summer the staff would be trained to handle the crowds. They were friendly just wayyy under staffed.

1  Thank Djlew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ruth K, Manager at Alaska Railroad Depot, responded to this reviewResponded April 9, 2013


Thank you for taking the time to comment here. You are spot on. We had an unusually large train load that day and were not prepared. We regret the lack of service provided and are striving to put safe guards in place to ensure this won't happen again.

We consider the Aurora Winter Train to be one of our best experiences because of the very local flavor of this train and of course, the phenomenal beauty of the winterscape seen. We hope you won't let this one experience mar your opinion of the Alaska Railroad, as we take our customer service very seriously.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!!
Alaska Railroad Passenger Service

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2013

Easy check in, friendly staff, clean surroundings with coffee & snacks to purchase whilst waiting for the train to Seaward. Interesting gift shops. Easy to get to from central hotels.

1  Thank BeachyWaves30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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