“We are looking over land where man may never have said foot,” said the commentator as I gazed out the dome shaped Plexiglas window that arching up the side of the Wilderness Express on Alaska Railways. The trip was an excellent segue to our week-long trip explorer boat trip through Glacier Bay National Park with Un-Cruise Adventures.
The occasional settlements along the way were small, no more than two or three houses close together. We passed large towns like Wassila, Sarah Palin’s home town. “She did not see Russia from here,” said the waiter, smiling dismissively when I tried to strike up a conversation. Alaska Railways enabled us to get into the interior of Alaska, with its wide stretches of forests, occasional towns, creeks, and rivers with razor sharp currents. For part of the route we looked down to rivers running through ravines. When we were level with the ground, we often glanced over into swampy fields with animals. “Caribou spotted a half mile away on the left side” or “See beaver dam ahead—lots of little logs piled up like a hut” or “Bear knawing on a log about thirty feet on the right, coming up.”
After three hours we stopped in Talkeetna for an overnight stay (see separate blog on Talkeetna), before heading on to Denali National Park, three hours further on. From Denali we took the train to Fairbanks and flew home. Honeymooners sitting across from us were taking a slow ten day trip they’d planned with Alaska Railways, hopping on and off at various points for rafting and fishing trips and flight-seeing .
Service on the train was excellent with informative commentary over loudspeakers. Since we had a Gold Dome Package, meals were included. When it was time for dinner we were called down to the dining car where there were also wide windows
Each railway station was well organized, and had friendly, helpful staff.