Skip to main content

Train-ing to Denali


Goldstar service, Alaska railroad, train to Denali
Goldstar Service with Alaska Railroad
Taking the train to Denali is one of the best ways to enjoy the Alaskan landscape. The trip from Fairbanks to Denali takes four hours and riding in premium class with its glass dome ceiling certainly adds to the total experience. There’s also an outdoor platform if you wish to take pictures with the glass windows out of the way.

Goldstar service also includes breakfast if you leave early in the morning and two complimentary drinks. There’s a bar conveniently located in your car. And a guide who talks about the views and the few towns you see along the way. Your luggage is checked through to your hotel.

On the way back to Fairbanks, I opted for an Adventure Class seat which is about half the price of the Goldstar seat. There is no glass dome ceiling but the windows are large and clean and the cleaning service stops at each car every half hour or so to clean the restrooms and empty the trash bin.

There’s one downside to this train journey. While my luggage was checked through to my hotel in Denali, I had to pick it up at the Fairbanks train station. The scene at the station was nightmarish. There’s no carousel to speak of so there was a crush of passengers by the baggage counter as bags were offloaded. If you have a plane to catch, make sure you have plenty of time to make it to the airport.

The most common trees in this part of Alaska are spruce (both white and black), birch and poplar. Athabascan Indian houses were made from spruce logs. Birch bark was used for making kayaks. For more information about the Athabascan Indians of Interior Alaska, check this link:

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Nenana
St. Mark’s is a historic church dating back to 1905, three years after the discovery of gold in Fairbanks. Nenana is a small town 55 miles south of Fairbanks with a population of 300 (according to a 2010 survey). 

The Alaska Native Veteran’s Honor Bridge is a truss bridge crossing the Tanana River and connects Anchorage with Fairbanks.

Nenana river gorge, Alaska railroad
Nenana River Gorge
This is the prettiest area of the train ride and the most thrilling with the train hugging the side of the cliffs and the sheer drop below.

Nenana River Bridge in Moody
This truss bridge near Moody (in the background) is in the path of high winds with gusts reaching 120 mph.

The train tracks are so close to the edge of the cliff that it has to travel at a snail’s pace once it approaches the gorge near Healy. The tracks in this area have been repaired due to soil erosion.

Denali village, Alaska
This is Denali Village, about 2.5 miles from Denali National Park. There are free shuttle buses from the hotel and from the shopping center across the street that drops off guests at the Visitor’s Center where you can take the tour bus to Denali National Park. The tour bus is free but there’s an entry fee to Denali National Park which can be paid at the Visitor’s Center.

Nenana river, Alaska, Alaska railroad
Nenana River
This is the view of the river from my hotel, the McKinley Chalet Resort.

Whenever I think of Alaska
I remember its wilderness, and then
I wonder if I will return there
And if it will thrill me again
Such a vast and quite beautiful landscape
For hundreds and hundreds of miles
Raising my spirits and lifting my mood
And creating a world of smiles. 
By Phil Soar

Alaska railroad, Denali train station
Alaska Railroad train arrives at Denali Station
For more information about the train services and reservations from Fairbanks to Denali or from Anchorage to Denali, you can visit


Images by TravelswithCharie 


Popular posts from this blog

The Art of Carlos Botong Francisco - Progress of Medicine in the Philippines

Pre-colonial period Pag-unlad ng Panggagamot sa Pilipinas (The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines) is a group of four large-scale paintings depicting healing practices in the Philippines from pre-colonial times to the modern period. Carlos Botong Francisco was commissioned in 1953 by  Dr. Agerico Sison who was then the director of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) together with   Dr. Eduardo Quisumbing of the National Museum, Dr. Florentino Herrera, Jr. and Dr. Constantino Manahan. These oil on canvas paintings measure 2.92 meters in height and 2.76 meters in width (9.71 ft x 8.92 ft) and were displayed at the main entrance hall of PGH for over five decades. Owing to its location, the artworks were in a state of "severe deterioration" at the beginning of the 21st century from exposure to heat, humidity, dirt, dust, smoke, insect stains, grime, termites and an oxidized synthetic resin used in an earlier restoration. These canvases were restored three times, the last was

8 Heritage Houses of Iloilo

Lizares Mansion The province of Iloilo on the island of Panay has a rich trove of heritage houses, left over from the sugar industry boom in the 19th century. Iloilo also had the largest port in the Philippines at that time which facilitated the export of sugar to foreign shores and deposited money in the hands of the sugar barons. The barons dropped their earnings into the acquisition of properties in Negros and the construction of beautiful homes in Iloilo, many of which are located in the vicinity of the Jaro Cathedral. The Lizares Mansion was built in 1937 by Don Emiliano Lizares for his wife, Concepcion Gamboa and five children. The family fled to safety when World War II broke out and the house was occupied by the Japanese military. The family returned to the house after the war but left once again after the demise of Don Emiliano. It was sold to the Dominican order in the 1960s and was converted in 1978 to a private school, Angelicum School. The mansion now houses the

Filipino Struggles in History - Carlos Botong Francisco

In 1968, Antonio Villegas (then Mayor of Manila), commissioned Carlos "Botong" Francisco to paint the history of Manila for Manila City Hall. The series of large scale paintings was called  Kasaysayan ng Maynila  (History of Manila).  The paintings deteriorated over time and no attempt was made to preserve these historical canvases until 2013 when Mayor Amado Lim sent them to the National Museum for extensive restoration. Four years later, in 2017, Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada and the Manila City Council signed an agreement with the National Museum to leave the paintings at the museum so they may reach a larger audience in exchange for museum grade reproductions to replace the originals. Kasaysayan ng Maynila was later renamed Filipino Struggles in History and is now on display at the Senate Hall of the National Museum . Carlos "Botong" Francisco died in March 1969, a few months after completing the paintings. He is one of the first Filipino modernists and