Rail Search: Anchorage or Girdwood to Seward or reverse; available May 9 - September 13, 2015
The Coastal Classic Train is a local favorite that winds through the stretch of wilderness between Anchorage and Seward. A string of massive glaciers visible from the track enriches the journey. This train travels to the shores of Resurrection Bay for convenient connection to Kenai Fjords National Park, whale watching, sea kayaking, tidewater glacier viewing, fishing, and dog sled rides.
GoldStar Service is available on the Coastal Classic. GoldStar passengers rave about the expansive views, enhanced by the glass-dome ceilings and upper level outdoor viewing platform.
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Coastal Classic Route Details
Your journey starts in Seward, the southern terminus of the railroad. It quickly begins its climb through primeval forests of Sitka spruce. After crossing Snowy River, Kenai Lake comes into view, set off with its stunning aqua color and surrounded by soaring mountains.
Thirty miles into the trip, the track winds through Moose Pass, a former railroad construction camp on the shores of Trail Lake. As the rail ascends into the Kenai Mountains, it leaves behind the forests and reveals mountain meadows and streams of gin-clear glacial waters. Trail Glacier appears on the right and soon after, the summit of Grandview at 1,063 feet and the historic Loop District - named for a complex series of trestles built to handle the steep grade in the age of steam engines. In the same stretch, Bartlett Glacier crowds the track just 800 feet away.
Placer River Valley
After passing through a series of short tunnels, the track descends to the Placer River Valley near Spencer Glacier. Moose, bear and wolves populate the valley among the willow and alder trees. Trumpeter swans migrate through in spring and fall and arctic terns hover above the ponds and river looking for small fish and insects. Twelve miles later Turnagain Arm appears, where 40-foot tides rush into the narrow confines of the Chugach Mountains. Beluga whales pursue salmon and other schooling fish. Next comes Girdwood, home to Alaska's premier ski resort, a 40-mile commute from Anchorage.
Chugach National Forest
The Chugach National Forest borders Turnagain Arm, some six million acres, the second largest in the U.S. Bald eagles cruise the thermals above and Dall sheep come to feed on the low plants growing on the cliffs bordering the track. Next comes Potter Marsh in the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. Anchorage is the final stop, 114 miles out of Seward.