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Alaska Beat

Alaska makes National Geographic's top ten North American rail trips

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published September 2, 2012

How long have you lived in Alaska? And you've never ridden the Alaska Railroad? Shame.

If it's true that you, or someone you love, has never made the trek from Anchorage to Seward aboard the Alaska Railroad's "Coastal Classic," you are encouraged to do so now. Especially since summer, which is on its way out (sorry), is making room for the beautiful colors of fall.

National Geographic recently compiled a top ten list of the best "North American Train Trips." And Alaska's Coastal Classic came in at number nine on the continent -- and surely some would argue that even that is too low in the list.

The Alaska Railroad system covers 500 miles of some of the world’s wildest landscapes—with this 114-mile stretch through the Kenai Mountains by far the most impressive section, says Susie Kiger of the Alaska Railroad. Leaving Anchorage, the route hugs the coast of the Turnagain Arm to a stop at Girdwood; overnight if you wish at the Alyeska Resort. From there the train veers away from the scenic Seward Highway to areas inaccessible by car, traveling through five tunnels, past cool blue glaciers, and over a river gorge. Watch for moose and bears. Overnight in Seward or simply explore the village and return to Anchorage for a perfect day trip. Noteworthy: Beluga whales, bald eagles, moose, and Dall sheep along Turnagain Arm; the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward; passing within 800 feet of Bartlett Glacier; sunsets over Cook Inlet on the return trip; the Glacier and Wildlife Cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park.

Sounds pretty great, right? It's in your back yard. And it's still Labor Day weekend. The perfect recipe for some for a scenic in-state trip. Visit The Alaska Railroad's webpage for more information.

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