White Pass & Yukon Route
Tel: 800 343 7373
Concierge.com's insider take:
In July 1923, as one of his last acts as president, Warren G. Harding drove the golden spike to commemorate the Alaska Railroad's completion. Nearly a hundred years later, the train is still the best way to explore Alaska's endless interior. It's the last railroad in the United States to offer whistle stops—they'll stop even if you're standing in the middle of nowhere with a moose or caribou as baggage—and is also the most scenic route between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Dome cars offer views of the Alaska Range and deep forests, and it's not unusual for passengers to catch sight of bears, moose, and caribou from the train. The 240-mile trip takes approximately 12 hours; passengers can disembark and spend time in Denali National Park before continuing on the journey. For a day trip, travel between Anchorage and Whittier (glacial scenery; one seriously creepy tunnel; access to Prince William Sound, which is a favorite of kayakers) or Anchorage and Seward (access to Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords, one of the few places where you might spot humpbacks and orcas at the same time). Either of these runs can be combined with a Spencer Glacier whistlestop; special DMU (self-propelled) trains, run in cooperation with the Forest Service, offer access to remote camping areas and nature walks. Nearly all Alaska Railroad trains run daily in summer; winter schedules are a lot tighter.
Alaska's only other railway is the White Pass & Yukon Route, a narrow-gauge train that takes passengers on excursions between Skagway and Canada's Yukon Territory, along the same route hopeful prospectors used to access the gold fields during the great rush of the late 1890s. Trains run daily between early May and late September.—Edward Readicker-Henderson