Scenic, Alaska Railroad Passenger Service, Whistle Stop
Easy, Wheelchair Access
Adventure Class Good
Aurora Train Route Highlights
Anchorage to Talkeetna
is headquarters to the Alaska Railroad and the journey to Fairbanks
begins here. Several miles into the trip, the heavy birch forests of Eagle River and Chugiak lead to the Knik and Matanuska Rivers.
The expansive watershed harbors wildlife like moose, bear, the occasional wolf and abundant waterfowl. About 40 miles from Anchorage comes the Matanuska Valley, Alaska's agricultural center and home to the towns of Palmer and Wasilla.
Just south of Talkeetna
, 70 miles further, the first view emerges of Denali ("The High One" or "The Great One"
), North America's highest peak. The train takes its first stop in Talkeetna, a small town with a mining history and now, a popular takeoff point for climbers to Denali.
Talkeetna to Hurricane
From Talkeetna, the track follows the serpentine banks of the Susitna River. On clear days, more views of Denali emerge across the river presenting many chances for photos. In the area from Talkeetna to Hurricane the Alaska Railroad runs one of America's last flag stop trains. In this area are a number of remote cabin sites and old homesteads that are only accessible by the Alaska Railroad, hiking in many miles, or by snowmobiles in the winter months. In the 55-mile flag stop stretch between Talkeetna and Hurricane, outdoor adventurers can get off the train anywhere and can stop the train to get on by waving a flag (towel, shirt etc.) while standing near the track.
Heading towards Hurricane you'll pass points along the track known as Chase, Curry, Sherman, Gold Creek, Canyon, and Chulitna.
Hurricane to Denali
The train moves into Broad Pass. At 2,363 feet it's the highest point on the railroad, and is where caribou migrate through during the fall. Thousands of travelers visit Denali National Park and Preserve to see wildlife like wolves, caribou, Dall sheep, moose and bear, and, of course, Denali.
Denali to Fairbanks
The coal-mining town of Healy follows after a 10-mile jaunt through Healy Canyon, where the surging waters of the Nenana River cuts through the steep-sided cliffs. As the track levels out, Nenana comes into view.
Nenana is home to one of the remaining original Alaska Railroad Depots, now a museum and gift shop. The track cuts through the northern boreal forests of interior Alaska. Birch, aspen and willow fill this landscape where gold miners first came to seek their fortunes.
Fifty-eight miles from Nenana you arrive at Fairbanks. The "Golden Heart City" signals the end of the line - but just the beginning for more adventure, culture and history in the Last Frontier.