The blue and yellow trains of the Alaska Railroad are chugging north or south more days per week this winter, a nod to the state’s increased number of snow-season travelers. This morning on KTVA 11 Daybreak (<—–check it all out) host James Gaddis and I outlined the specifics for families considering a section of the Aurora Winter Train’s scenic route between Southcentral and Interior Alaska.
Where you can go: The Aurora Winter Train travels a total of 360 miles, originating in either Anchorage or Fairbanks. But in between, travelers can choose to embark/disembark at Wasilla, Talkeetna, Healy, Nenana, or Fairbanks. The winter train also offers a flagstop service (meaning if you live or are spending time in the wilderness you can wave down the train) between Talkeetna and Hurricane for those cabin dwellers or winter campers.
When to travel: The Alaska Railroad winter schedule can be found on the very comprehensive AKRR website, but do pay attention to timetables and days of operation; it is critical for planning a multi-day trip. In a nutshell, the Aurora Winter Train schedules are as follows:
Now through May 14, 2017——> Northbound: Saturdays. Southbound: Sundays
MIDWEEK SERVICE: Select dates in February and March.
Northbound: Tuesdays – Feb 21 & 28, March 7, 14, 21 & 28, 2017
Southbound: Wednesdays – Feb 22, March 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29, 2017
Northbound: Thursdays – March 9 & 16, 2017
Southbound: Fridays – March 10 & 17, 2017
Take note, parents, that dates for midweek travel generally coincide with Anchorage and Fairbanks school breaks and half-days.
Fares: Tickets for one-way train travel aboard the Alaska Railroad ranges from $70/adults $36/kids 2-11 from Anchorage to Talkeetna; and $190/adults $90/kids Anchorage-Fairbanks. Tip: Families booking round-trip travel between Anchorage (or Wasilla) and Fairbanks during the winter midweek schedule can receive a discount of just over 25%, a savings that can be significant when traveling with kids.
Travelers 65+ are half-fare, as are individuals with certain disabilities. Call the AKRR Reservations Line at 800-544-0552 if you have questions, or to book any fare.
What to know: Traveling the Alaska Railroad with kids is not unlike air travel, but a little easier to navigate.
- Arrive 1 hour early, and be prepared with photo ID for all adults.
- Bring day packs with snacks, drinks, and all necessities for kids for a 3-12 hour train ride.
- Carry credit cards for on-board purchases, as no cash is accepted in the snack bar or dining car. Check dining options HERE.
- Passengers are welcome to bring skis, snowshoes, bikes, and other recreational equipment for their use at a particular destination, but will need to check these items as baggage.
Where to stay: A great place to begin is by communicating with local visitor bureaus.
AKontheGO also has an extensive list of family fun in each of the Alaska Railroad’s winter destinations. Check ’em out here: