Sunday, July 20, 2008


Probably the most interesting train trip I've taken was on a Grayline Tours railcar attached to the Alaska Railroad. After a conference I took the train from Anchorage to Denali, and then the next day from Denali to Fairbanks (see the stripmap here).

It was the weekend before Memorial Day, so Denali was sort of miserable, and we stood for hours outside after check-out time at the cabins before the train arrived, in a snowstorm. But the scenery was great. We were only allowed a small carry-on (no access to checked luggage) so we were freezing. Since it was early in the season, some things went wrong, so it wasn't for the inexperienced traveler.

In the last week or so I've seen this trip featured on travel shows and in newspapers, probably because this is prime time for the trip. Most of the shows and articles are real rah-rah, but the LA Times writer has an interesting take on Denali:
Every time I enter one of America's popular parks, I am reminded that we are primarily a nation of weenies, except for you and me, and I'm not so sure about you sometimes.
I agree with his recommendation ("End of the Line"): do the route in the opposite direction, starting at Fairbanks and going south to Anchorage.

You might see some celebs. Also you go near Clear, Alaska, famous in cold war novels for the huge radar installation, like the one at Beale AFB in California for early warning.