Alaska Railroad Anchorage to Seward
411 West 1st Avenue, 99501
410 Port Avenue, 99664
4 hours, 35 minutes
Adventure Class, GoldStar Dome
Grab ‘N Go, Sit Down Dining
May 13 to September 25, 2023
$119 Adventure, $243 GoldStar
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Just after departing Anchorage the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet will come into view, and you will begin to understand why this route from Anchorage to Seward is called the Coastal Classic. As you leave downtown you will notice that the railroad tracks are parallel to a paved pathway called the Coastal Trail. This 11 mile long trail connects downtown to Kincaid Park and is a wonderful place to explore by bicycle or by foot. As you continue on through Anchorage, you will pass by Westchester Lagoon and several older neighborhoods including Spenard… named after the early Alaska homesteader named Joe Spenard. You will pass over Dimond Boulevard, a busy commercial area which is home to one of the state’s largest shopping malls. About 10 minutes, later keep an eye out on the right side of the train for a unique subdivision with Alaskan bush planes parked in their backyards, as well as a short grassy air strip adjacent to the tracks.
Next you will leave the town of Anchorage behind and drop down to near sea level where you will follow the Turnagain Arm for the next hour or so. Off to your left you will see Potter’s Marsh, a great spot to view migratory birds and the occasional moose. The train will now wind along the coast, traveling by small communities such as Indian, and around scenic vistas including Beluga and Bird Points. Because the tracks curve so often in this area, you can get great photos of the train and Turnagain Arm from the viewing platforms and rail vestibules.
Just over an hour after departing Anchorage, a brief stop is made in Girdwood. This small town is home to Alyeska Ski Resort, a favorite winter and summer destination of local Alaskans and visitors alike. After another 10 miles you will pass Old Portage Station, and the cutoff or branch line that would take you to the town of Whittier. The tracks from Portage to Whittier are just over 12 miles long, and travel through two tunnels, the longer of them being two and one half miles in length.
You now leave the coast (but not the spectacular scenery) as you start climb through the Kenai Mountains. The train is now traveling through the Chugach National Forest. At nearly 6 million acres it is the second largest National Forest in the country. After passing though the Placer River Valley, you will reach Spencer Glacier. With its massive wall of ice, and close proximity to the train tracks, it is one of many excellent photograph opportunities on this trip. A “whistle stop” is made on the Glacier Discovery Route at Spencer Glacier for folks who want to get off and hike, camp or take a day tour.
As you wind along the Placer River Canyon, you will travel through a series of five relatively short tunnels and past Bartlett Glacier before reaching a 1,063 foot pass of the Kenai Mountains… appropriately named Grandview. This is a particularly scenic portion of your journey and the train will slow down to make sure everyone can take a picture or two… or ten. Next up is Trail Glacier, Trail Creek and Trail Canyons, and the train offers great views of all three. After taking the bridge over Trail Creek, you will reach the small community of Moose Pass situated on the banks of Upper Trail Lake. About 200 residents live here, along with a likely larger population of moose.
At Moose Pass the highway and railroad tracks “meet back up”, so you will see occasional sections where vehicle traffic is visible. Both the road and rail tracks travel along the shores of Kenai Lake. This 22 mile long lake is the headwaters of the Kenai River, home to world-famous salmon fishing runs. Often the lake is a stunning turquoise color… a result of the sun reflecting off glacier silt particles suspended in the water.
Next you will travel over Divide, another lower summit of the Kenai Mountains, then cross the Resurrection River and into the coastal town of Seward. Although mile 0 is truly at the historic depot located downtown, you will stop a mile or so short at the present Seward train depot located near the small boat harbor. The train will remain in Seward for the day before heading back to Anchorage in the evening. You can read more about Seward here, and if you need help booking Seward hotels, cruise or tours… we can help with that too.