Alaskan Adventure: Train vs. Car and Denali vs. Fairbanks

Elsie Young

Planning an Alaskan adventure for the family? Sounds awesome! Here’s a breakdown to help you decide between taking the train or renting a car, and choosing between Denali and Fairbanks:

Train or Car:
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  • Option: Consider the Denali Star (Anchorage to Denali) for a scenic experience with glaciers and mountains.
  • Duration: Around 12 hours.
  • Pros: Great for relaxing and enjoying the views.
  • Cons: Limits your exploration in Denali since you’ll need to rely on buses within the park.

  • Option: Renting a car offers flexibility.
  • Route: Anchorage to Seward (coastal route) is shorter (4-5 hours) with stunning ocean views.
  • Pros: You can stop at your own pace and explore more in both Seward (glacier cruises, marine life) and Denali (drive to the park entrance, then take buses further in).
Denali vs. Fairbanks:

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Denali National Park:

  • Highlight: North America's tallest mountain, Denali.
  • Activities: Excellent wildlife viewing (bears, moose).
  • Caution: Weather can be unpredictable in June, potentially limiting visibility.

  • Nickname: "The Golden Heart of Alaska."
  • Activities: Unique experiences like gold panning and exploring historic sites.
  • Consideration: In June, Fairbanks might not be as exciting as Denali and has fewer daylight hours (around 18 hours).
Suggestions Based on Your Interests:

  • Love nature and wildlife? Prioritize Denali, take the train for the scenery, and be flexible with bus tours due to weather.
  • Want a mix of scenery, towns, and activities? Rent a car, drive to Seward (coastal beauty) and Denali (explore the park entrance area), then consider a shorter Fairbanks visit.
Numbers to Remember:

  • Train ride (Anchorage to Denali): ~12 hours.
This should help you plan an amazing and memorable Alaskan adventure