Aurora Winter Train was one of the most intense train rides I’ve ever been. Here is the reason why…
Train is one of my favorite ways to travel. There’s just something romantic about it. The Aurora Winter Train runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks on Saturdays, and the other way around on Sundays. The twelve-hour journey presents some of the best of Alaskan winter, especially if you are lucky to ride on a clear day (like me!). The train makes several stops during 470 mile ride, and give people photo opportunities. Some of the main stops are: Talkeetna (milepost 225), Mount McKinley (milepost 279), Hurricane Gulch (milepost 284.2), and Denali National Park (Milepost 347.7)
I headed to the train station early in the morning (it was only 8:30am departure but felt really early due to the lack of sun). The sun was slowly coming up as we started moving. The Chugach Mountains revealed themselves under the rising sun. When sky was still dark, and the frozen rivers were barely seen, two moose casually walked across the train track, and disappeared into the forest. The train slowed down to let them leave safely.
The Aurora Winter Train is all about snowy wilderness, stunning scenery, and serendipity. Not too long after we left Anchorage, the train entered the peaceful winter wonderland. We made stops to observe a herd of caribous on the frozen river, Dall sheep on the rocky cliff, frozen rivers, a bold eagle on the tree, and majestic Mount McKinley. We were blessed with the clear sky that day. People said, only a third of visitors of Alaska (in summer) get to see Mount McKinley, and the chances are lower in the winter. Mount McKinley, also known as Denali, is the highest mountain in North America. This day, we were one of those lucky ones. She was certainly, the Great One.
The train got into Fairbanks at 8pm. For some reason, it didn’t feel like 12-hour journey. Maybe because I was too busy taking photos and oo-ing and wow-ing at all those amazing sceneries. I like trains because it’s relaxing most of the times, but Aurora Winter Train was certainly one of the most intense trains I’ve ever been on. But it is definitely must thing to do if you visit Alaska in winter.