In the past, there was only one northbound and one southbound scheduled passenger train between Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Denali. This train route is traditionally called the Denali Star. New for 2014 is a second train traveling the Denali Star route that may be more convenient for some traveler’s schedules.
The Alaska Railroad’s standard Denali Star scheduled service will continue to depart Anchorage at 8:15am and arrive in Denali at 3:40pm. This train service includes the standard Alaska Railroad Adventure class cars and their Goldstar Dome deluxe cars as well as the privately operated Wilderness Express Dome cars which are pulled at the back of the train. The Wilderness Express offers a great value for independent travelers looking for a premium dome service and is highly rated as well. For guests traveling south from Denali, the Alaska Railroad’s standard Denali Star scheduled service will depart at 12:30pm and arrive in Anchorage at 8:00pm.
New for 2014 is that there is an additional rail departure northbound and southbound between Anchorage, Talkeetna and Denali that will strictly pull the McKinley Explorer Dome cars owned by Holland America-Princess. The McKinley Explorer is customarily the cars used by Princess and Holland America cruise-tour clients but are also available for independent travelers who book in advance. This rail service offers dome seating, open–air viewing platforms and a full dining room in the lower level of the train car. The McKinley Explorer Dome cars will travel on the same Denali Star route but will depart Anchorage at 9:15am, Talkeetna at noon, and arrive in Denali at 4:40pm.
The biggest schedule change for this new train service is southbound from Denali to Anchorage. The McKinley Explorer will depart Denali at 10:15am, Talkeetna at 2:15pm, and arrive in Anchorage at 5:30pm. This McKinley Explorer service operates every day except Saturdays. This southbound service is convenient for those who are interested in arriving into Anchorage earlier to explore the town, or to catch an evening flight out of Anchorage.
Now you can choose the style of train car you want, the level of service you desire and the time that you works best for you for your Alaskan rail experience. Just keep in mind the different schedules when planning your itinerary as well as selecting your tours at each of your destinations. Finally, if you have independently booked your rail service and are being picked up by your hotel or a tour company at your destination you’ll want to make sure they understand which rail service you are arriving on. If you’ve booked a package including hotels, tours, and rail service with Alaska Tour & Travel we will report the rail service you are arriving on to your hotel or tour operator to ensure they are prepared for your arrival.