The winter trains of the Alaska Railroad cross frozen landscapes, pass moose, eagle and the occasional lynx. All the while Alaska Range peaks loom large on the left. Snug in the car, passengers take in the sights as the train rumbles across the winter expanses. The Alaska Railroad is a favorite no matter the season, but winter trains are something special.
Alaska Railroad Winter Schedule
Two trains depart Anchorage in winter. The Aurora Winter Train runs between Anchorage and Fairbanks. The Hurricane Turn train heads for backcountry flag stops and Hurricane Gulch.
The Aurora Train runs north from Anchorage on Saturdays and south from Fairbanks on Sundays all winter long, with weekday service added in around the holidays, Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, the Iditarod and in late March. The 12 hour ride passes mighty Denali, crosses Alaska rivers sparkling like cut crystal, and winds through stark and stunning landscapes.
The Hurricane Turn Train heads the same direction, but with scenic Hurricane as the destination. From October to May, this train operates on the first Thursday of each month, with round trip service starting in Anchorage. Hop off in Talkeetna for a few hours in a historic town, or ride out to Hurricane Gulch. There the train crosses a 900-foot tall steel bridge for one of the best views of the Alaska wilderness in winter.
A handful of people made this beautiful place a full-time home. The Hurricane Turn train is one of the only remaining flag stop trains anywhere. Locals actually flag down the train, hopping on or off near their homesteads and cabins. This isn’t just a scenic tour, it’s a vital link for locals who love the backcountry. The Hurricane Turn train departs Anchorage in the morning, and returns the same evening.
Excursions from the Train
One of the railroad’s most popular winter tours is a true slice of Alaska: pie making in tiny Talkeetna. Sitting at the confluence of three rivers, the Talkeetna Roadhouse was a welcome respite for miners and trappers even before the rail arrived. The roadhouse’s apple, rhubarb, and blueberry rhubarb pies have fueled more than a century of adventures, and the owners share their techniques and secrets with visitors in special pie making classes.
Special Event Trains
On top of regular scheduled service, special event trains are a big part of the winter timetable as well. The Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage runs a special ski train to Curry each March. Once an overnight stop in the days of slower, steam powered trains, Curry becomes a special playground for the day for Ski Train riders. Beer trains puts suds on the rail, while kids can get into the Christmas spirit on special holiday trains in December.