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Alaska By RailApril 23, 2007 By: Jennifer Merritt Travel Agent
Alaska Railroad is stepping up its add-on excursions for adventure seekers
There may be no place better suited for train travel than Alaska, a region filled with snow-capped mountains, sparkling lakes and a horizon of greenery. The advent of glass-domed ceilings on scenic tour trains has allowed for uninterrupted views of such scenery, which can bring visitors close to Alaska's rich environment and abundant wildlife.
Railroad has a step up on its competition with its luxury dome car,
featuring a unique upper-level viewing platform.
And though the tendency is to think of scenic rail tours as
best suited for older travelers or people with limited mobility, Alaska
Railroad is in the process of expanding its tour packages to include more stops
with additional soft and hard adventures.
Currently, Alaska Railroad offers trips to 11 locations
throughout the state, such as
In the coming months, the company hopes to add about six more stops in areas
where guests can sightsee, camp and hike. While overnight packages with
accommodations can be booked directly through Alaska Railroad, the rail service
also works with tour operators and cruise lines on pre- and post-trip
excursions. All bookings made by travel agents receive a 10 percent commission.
Agents can customize a trip for one or two nights or book
longer packages for as long as 12 days. The company recommends booking longer
trips in advance, as spots can fill up quickly.
Shorter trips include overnight stays in
with the option of adding such activities as river rafting, Jeep safaris and
dinner theater. Guests also can choose to stay in lodges located off the beaten
path in places like national parks and remote forests.
Longer trip offerings include "Alaska Indulgence,"
a 12-day tour from
accessible only by floatplane and tours of art galleries and heritage centers
in downtown areas.
Fishing is one of
biggest draws and Alaska Railroad has crafted a tour so that guests do not miss
such a unique opportunity. The rail service offers a 10-day "Wild Alaska
Adventure" package, where guests hike, raft and, of course, fish. Six full
days of the trip are spent in some of
more well known fishing areas, where salmon, trout and grayling are common.
While Alaska Railroad's four trains—Denali Star, Coastal
Classic, Glacier Discovery and Hurricane Turn—provide traditional
scenic rail amenities such as reclining seats and a dining car, perhaps one of
the most charming aspects of the company's service is its guides. High school
students are recruited through The Alaska Railroad Tour Guide Program, which
has been in place for 25 years. Throughout the school year, students
participate in an extensive tourism course, learning about the state, its
history, vegetation and points of interest to later regale Alaska Railroad
guests with during their trips.