Having spent the day exploring the little port of Seward (see here), it was time to return to the railway station by the harbour and board the evening train heading up north to our next stop of Anchorage.
Many of our fellow cruise ship passengers now joined up with tour groups to explore the main part of Alaska but we were travelling onwards independently with our friends. The Alaska Railroad train was pretty much full when we departed on time around 6pm – we had pre-booked our tickets with Alaskan trains before we left Australia. Although the line stays open all year round, the high season is from May to September, which naturally coincides with the cruise season. I would highly recommend advance booking (when we can travel again!).
The 470 mile railway line from Seward goes as far as Fairbanks just south of the Arctic Circle, connecting many small and otherwise isolated communities along the way.
We took the twilight train up to Anchorage, a journey of just over 4 hours. It’s a fabulous way to admire the landscape either from the comfort of your seat or a special viewing deck at the back of each carriage.
The blue and yellow train wends its way through breathtaking wilderness scenery all offset with the stunning hues of the setting sun on the horizon.
We chugged up mountain passes with spectacular views of the snow-capped Kenai Mountains, over bridges with gushing streams and marshy swampland. On one occasion we passed a moose grazing in one of the meadows but it dashed back into the bushland before I could capture a good photo. Much of the area once you leave Seward is part of the Chugach National Forest, which is the farthest north and west of all American state forests and is 30% covered in ice (you can read up more background information here).
A substantial dinner was served in the dining car – the luxury of the warmth and comforts of the train interior are a marked contrast to the wild terrain and landscape outdoors (wrap up warmly if you head out onto the viewing deck!).
About an hour or so before Anchorage we came alongside the inlet known as the Turnagain Arm, a mix of water and endless mudflats. Beluga whales and bald eagles amongst other wildlife are known to inhabit this area although we didn’t have any sightings. By this stage the sun was dipping in and out behind the clouds in the distance and we followed this surreal scene all the way to Anchorage Station arriving just as night was falling.
It was truly a memorable ride and a unique way to experience the amazing wilderness scenery of Alaska.
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