Alaska By Rail

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.  The maiden voyage of Alaska Railroad's double-decker dome car

However, Alaska 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 Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks. 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.

Which has an upper-level viewing platform

Customized Trips

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 Denali 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 Fairbanks to Anchorage. Highlights are stays at lodges accessible only by floatplane and tours of art galleries and heritage centers in downtown areas.

Fishing is one of Alaska's 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 Alaska's 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.