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Riding the Alaska Railroad’s Goldstar to Denali

Recently I traveled with my sister to Denali National Park [1]. We took the Alaska Railroad’s GoldStar Dome [2] train from Anchorage to Denali. The trip north on the train was a wonderful way to travel to Denali.

We arrived at the train depot an hour early for check in and easily made our way to the check in counter for GoldStar clients. We were assigned our seats in the Dome car and the friendly train staff gave us our boarding passes and GoldStar service pins. These pins distinguish you as a GoldStar service passenger and allow you to travel between the different cars on the train, and then back to the GoldStar Dome car. We took some time during the ride to explore the train and visit the snack car as well as the gift car.

The train staff directed us to the luggage tent to check in our bags. The train can deliver luggage to most of the major hotels in Denali National Park If they do not deliver luggage to where you are staying they will simply tag the bags to the train depot to be picked up when you arrive. We were staying at the Grande Denali Lodge [3] and had our bags sent directly to the hotel.

All aboard!

Our seats in the GoldStar Dome car were great. The car is higher up and has a glass dome top, so the views were amazing! The Dome car really provides a nice panoramic view. The route the train travels is very scenic, and the train travels at a nice pace that allows good photo opportunities. We had wildlife sightings on the way up including moose and trumpeter swans. The tour guide for our car was great and very knowledgeable. I am a life long Alaskan, but I still learned new facts about Alaska and its history.

Shortly into our journey the train staff called us by rows to go to the dining car for breakfast. The GoldStar Dome car has its own private dining car right downstairs from your seat. The dining car still has large windows to give you great views while you dine. The bar tender for the private GoldStar Dome car bar came around to take drink orders and then brought them directly to our seats. The GoldStar service includes meals, gratuities and two alcoholic beverages.  In addition all non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary on the GoldStar Dome train, so I started my morning with a nice cup of hot chocolate. At lunch time the train staff again let you know when you can head down to the dining car.

The train made quick stops in Wasilla and in Talkeetna [4] on its way up to Denali. In Talkeetna we stopped for about 15 minutes, which allowed us to get off the train and take pictures by the train car. We then headed farther north where the scenery becomes even more mountainous. My favorite part of the train ride was the views as we crossed the bridge at Hurricane Gulch. It was an amazing view exclusive to the train and we were able to take pictures from the GoldStar’s private outdoor viewing deck.

After a scenic 8 hour ride we arrived in Denali at the train depot where our hotel shuttle was waiting to take us and other passengers on to our next adventure.