Whether it's how to get from Anchorage to Denali National Park, or what food is available aboard the train, transportation-related questions are some of the most frequently asked by visitors. Find all the answers below. Want to learn more about Alaska travel in general? Take a look at our full Alaska FAQ page. If your specific question isn't listed, please contact us online or call us at 800-208-0200.
Alaska Train FAQs
Alaska Railroad trains are all wheelchair accessible. GoldStar Dome cars also have elevators to get to the second-level seating area.
Seats on the train are reserved. The Alaska Railroad assigns seats 24 hours prior to travel. Seat numbers are provided upon check in at the train depot.
Prices listed for the train are one way unless they specifically say "Roundtrip" in the description. The only routes that offer roundtrip pricing run Anchorage to Whittier and Anchorage to Seward. Both the Spencer Glacier train and the Grandview Valley trains are roundtrip services, but the return trip takes place by motorcoach from Portage Depot.
Food and drinks are available for purchase on board the Alaska Railroad in either the Wilderness Café bistro car or the train's sit down dining car. On the Glacier Discovery train, only the Wilderness Café is available.
If the weather is clear, it is possible to see Denali from the train between Anchorage and Talkeetna at milepost 209 and 224, and between Talkeetna and Denali Park around milepost 270 and 280. Onboard train hosts announce these viewpoints in advance. There are no views of the mountain between Denali Park and Fairbanks.
No, there is no train service connecting Seattle or Vancouver to Alaska. Alaska can be reached from those cities by cruise or plane.
There is no direct, same-day train service from Denali to Seward. To ride the train from Denali to Seward, you would have to take the Denali Star route to Anchorage, overnight in Anchorage, and then catch the Coastal Classic to Seward the next morning. The Park Connection Motorcoach is your best option for traveling from Denali to Seward in the same day.
GoldStar Dome cars have a reserved outdoor viewing platform on the second level.
Yes, the Alaska Railroad operates in the winter, but the schedule is limited.
You can book Alaska Railroad train tickets online using our Train & Bus Express Checkout, or over the phone at 800-208-0200.
It is suggested that you book train tickets at least a month in advance, but if possible, book as early as October for travel the following summer. Popular routes sell out quickly in peak season.
Tips and gratuities are always welcome. Most travelers do tip train personnel, but it is not mandatory.
The Alaska Railroad operates year round, but winter service is limited. Full summer service, which includes trains between Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Seward, begins mid-May and runs till mid-September.
The railroad accepts all major credit cards. Cash is not accepted on board.
Alaska Railroad passengers are allowed two checked bags plus one carry on, with dimension and weight restrictions like those of airlines. The Alaska Railroad charges $20 per item for oversized or excess baggage.
Smoking is not allowed on board any Alaska Railroad train. Passengers may smoke in designated smoking areas outside the depots prior to boarding.
Visitors who'd like to travel by train in Alaska have four options: Adventure Class, GoldStar Dome, Wilderness Express, and McKinley Explorer.
Adventure Class is the most economical service, offering comfortable lower-level seats and access to a bistro and shared observation car. GoldStar Dome service is the railway's all-inclusive option. Onboard meals, two alcoholic beverages, and unlimited nonalcoholic beverages are included in the ticket price, as is a seat on the upper level of a dome window car. The Wilderness Express and the McKinley Explorer are privately operated dome trains with similar upper-level dome seating but no included meals or drinks. Both are used by cruise ships and escorted tour groups, as well as by independent travelers.
For more details about the perks of each service, check out this Alaska train options article.
The Adventure Class is a regular train car with comfortable assigned seats, large picture windows, and grab-and-go snacks and beverages available for purchase. The GoldStar Dome service is a two-level car with all seating on the upper level under a glass dome roof. GoldStar tickets include the price of plated meals as well as two alcoholic beverages per adult and unlimited nonalcoholic beverages. Wilderness Express and McKinley Explorer train services also feature two-level cars with glass dome seating, but meals and beverages are purchased separately in the lower level dining room.
A photo ID is required for all adults traveling on the train. A driver's license or passport are acceptable forms of ID.
If you are taking the train either from Anchorage northbound to Fairbanks or from Fairbanks southbound to Anchorage, the train arrives at its final destination at 8:00 PM. The train depots in both Anchorage and Fairbanks are about 15 minutes from their respective airports by taxi, so departing flights should be booked for no earlier than 10:00 PM. If you are taking the northbound train from Seward to Anchorage, you will arrive at the Anchorage train depot at 10:15 PM. Departing flights should be booked for midnight or later. In case of train delays, however, we generally recommend overnighting in Anchorage and flying out the next day.
Follow this link to see our Alaska Railroad Map.
Both the Wilderness Express and McKinley Explorer have separate kiosks at each train depot. Passengers booked on these premium train services will check in there.
The Alaska Railroad travels between Seward and Fairbanks. The Alaska Railroad has several route options including the Denali Star, Coastal Classic, and Glacier Discovery. The Denali Star travels between Anchorage and Fairbanks with stops in Talkeetna and Denali National Park. The Coastal Classic route travels between Anchorage and Seward with optional stops in Portage, Girdwood, and the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop. The Glacier Discovery Train travels between Anchorage and Whittier and can go as far as Grandview Valley.
Click here for a list of Alaska train depot locations.
The entire Alaska Railroad from Seward to Fairbanks is scenic, with each leg special. But, if we were forced to pick, the route between Anchorage and Seward is the most scenic of them all.
This 114-mile stretch is quite diverse and much of the scenery can only be viewed from the train. Some of the scenic highlights include the Turnagain Arm, Placer River Valley, Bartlett Glacier, and Grandview Pass. Please check out this scenic railway article for a full description along with a comparison of the Adventure Class and GoldStar Dome services on this route.
The train is very scenic no matter where you sit. Going southbound from Anchorage, Turnagain Arm is on your right for the first part of the train ride, but glacier and mountain views are on both sides for the remainder of the trip. Going northbound from Seward, the reverse is true. Going northbound from Anchorage, Denali is on the left side of the train if the weather is clear, but both sides of the train offer opportunities for scenic views. If you are seated in a dome car, the glass domed roof allows for 360-degree views regardless of where you're sitting.
There are three good reasons to take both the train and the bus while you are in Alaska: You can stretch your travel budget farther, you'll spend less total time traveling between destinations, and, most importantly, you will have the chance to see more of Alaska. Our full train and bus advice page provides all the details.
It is certainly possible to see wildlife from the train, but it is not guaranteed.
On board train hosts provide narration and point out scenic areas and wildlife.
Park Connection Motorcoach FAQs
Child safety seats are not required. Seatbelts are available and car seats can be used, but they are not provided or required.
The prices listed are for one-way service. Round trip prices are available for select routes.
All Park Connection motorcoaches have a lavatory. Note, for operational or safety considerations we may supplement our motorcoach fleet with smaller vehicles such as 10-passenger Sprinter Vans throughout the 2020 season. These vans do not have onboard lavatories.
Depending on availability, it may be possible to change your reservation to a different day. Our company's change and cancellation policy comes into effect 45 days prior to your first date of travel. If you are outside of 46 days prior to travel, you can change your reservation date without a fee. Between 45 to 31 days prior to your first day of travel, a 10% change fee will apply. Between 30 to 15 days prior to your first day of travel, a 50% change fee will apply. Within 14 days of travel, your reservation is non-refundable and non-changeable.
The daily 3:00 PM Park Connection coach from Anchorage to Seward drops off at the Seward cruise ship dock. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Park Connection has a 3:00 PM transfer from Anchorage to the Whittier cruise ship dock as well.
Advanced reservations are advised. However, on some days depending on availability, you might be able to show up at the departure location and time and be able to purchase a ticket the day of.
The Park Connection Motorcoach can always drop off at the Anchorage airport. We do not pick up at Anchorage hotels or the Anchorage airport. You will have to meet the motorcoach at its downtown departure location. The Park Connection does drop off and pick up at Denali Park hotels and lodges, the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, and Seward Windsong Lodge.
The Park Connection provides scheduled transportation between destinations. If time allows in their scheduled route, drivers may sometimes make photo or rest stops.
The Park Connection offers child rates for infants and children 11 and under.
Our drivers are encouraged to give light narration that is relevant to your journey.
From mid-May to mid-September, the Park Connection operates daily between Denali National Park, Talkeetna, Anchorage, and Seward.
Our motorcoaches are wheelchair accessible. Please notify the Park Connection upon booking or at least 48 hours in advance if wheelchair accessibility is required. Each motorcoach can accommodate up to two wheelchair passengers at one time.
The Park Connection allows two bags and one small carry on item per person. Additional fees may apply for excessively large oversized bags or items like bicycles, fish boxes, fishing equipment, or climbing equipment. There is no charge for items like strollers, car seats, wheelchairs, scooters, or oxygen concentrators.
The Anchorage Museum has a wonderful café called Muse offering lunchtime cuisine. Downtown Anchorage also has a variety of restaurants within walking distance, including the popular Humpy's and several sandwich shops.
The Park Connection Motorcoach offers daily service between Anchorage, Seward, Talkeetna, and Denali Park. Pick up and drop off service in Girdwood and Moose Pass can be arranged with advanced reservations. Service is provided from the Port of Seward and Whittier on certain cruise ship days. Please see our schedule for more detailed information.
The Park Connection Motorcoach is a deluxe bus line providing efficient, affordable transfers between Alaska's favorite destinations. The Park Connection is also the only transportation service offering same-day transfers between Seward and Denali National Park. For more information including rates and routes, please visit our main Park Connection Motorcoach page.
Park Connection buses are large luxury motorcoaches. Each motorcoach holds 52 passengers. Seats are equipped with power outlets, seatbelts, and foot rests. Each coach has an onboard lavatory. Note, for operational or safety considerations we may supplement our motorcoach fleet with smaller vehicles such as 10-passenger Sprinter Vans throughout the 2020 season.
It depends on the port:
When you get off the cruise ship in Whittier you will enter a cruise terminal where you will claim your luggage. Once you find your bags, look for the Park Connection sign near the seating area. Please remain seated here and a representative will come meet you.
In Seward on Fridays and Mondays when ships are in port, we generally have a departure right from the cruise dock. Check your Park Connection documents. If this is the case, when you disembark the cruise ship you will enter the cruise ship terminal where you will claim your luggage. Once you have your luggage, remain inside the terminal. A representative will come into the terminal when the Park Connection Motorcoach arrives.
In Seward on other days when you get off the cruise ship you will enter the cruise terminal where you will need to find your luggage. Within the terminal there is a Hertz kiosk that has a Park Connection sign on it. Hertz provides complimentary shuttle service to the Seward Small Boat Harbor for Park Connection guests. You will board the Park Connection at the Small Boat Harbor.
Despite its size and remoteness, Alaska has reliable summer transporation, especially between its top destinations.
Alaska trains run between Fairbanks and Seward with primary stops in Denali National Park, Talkeetna, and Anchorage.
The Park Connection Motorcoach provides daily summer service between Denali National Park and Seward, with stops in Talkeetna and Anchorage.
Please visit our Alaska Transporation page for all available options.
To see a chart of mileages between these top Alaska destination, please click here.
Gas prices vary in Alaska but are typically higher than average prices in the lower 48 states. Gas is less expensive in Anchorage and more expensive in small and remote towns.
We get into all the details in our full train vs. car vs. bus advice article.
During the summer, most major airlines fly into Anchorage. These include Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Sun Country. International carriers include Icelandair, Condor, and Air Canada. You can typically find nonstop service during the summer from Seattle, Chicago, Honolulu, Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, Dallas, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Vancouver, Canada.
Although much smaller than Anchorage, it's also possible to fly into Fairbanks and Juneau. For a few more specifics, take a look at this article on air travel to Alaska.
Click here for our Alaska mileage chart.
The Alaska Marine Highway is a state ferry system that runs all the way from Bellingham, Washington, to the tip of the Aleutian Islands. Routes, schedules, and ticket information are available on the state ferry website.
For an overview of the ferry system, check out this Alaska Marine Highway article.
Whittier tunnel schedule and rates can be found on the Alaska Department of Transportation website.
You can only take a rental vehicle on the Denali Highway, Dalton Highway, or McCarthy Road if you book a 4x4 rental vehicle. Standard rental car companies do not permit their vehicles on those roads.
If you plan to drive on only Alaska's major highways (Seward, Sterling, Parks, Glenn, or Richardson) a 4WD vehicle is not necessary. If you plan to drive on any unimproved Alaska roads, a 4WD vehicle is recommended due to varying road conditions.
You can rent a car in Anchorage and Fairbanks directly with us online or over the phone at 800-200-0200. We do not book rental cars in Seward or Whittier, although we do provide transportation deals for guests who rent a car in Anchorage after arriving into Seward or Whittier on a cruise. Please visit our Seward rental car and Whittier rental car pages for more details.