The mid-summer sky is reflected on one of Alaska Railroad’s GoldStar coaches on the Coastal Classic train. Mountainsides of magenta fireweed and, mixed forests, moose, Dall sheep, eagles and glaciers (and sometimes bears and caribou) were part of the 114 mile train trip between Seward and Anchorage.
Trains are magical. Whether we’re talking about Northern California’s quaint Skunk Train or Japan’s lightening fast, silky smooth shinkansen (bullet trains), we love the rhythm and glide of moving through the countryside on steel rails. As we brought our summer to a close this year, we decided to take the train from Seward. We departed at 6:00 PM and four hours later arrived in Anchorage energized and relaxed.
Fireweed, startling in its vibrance, lines the tracks along the Coastal Classics route through Kenai Peninsula forests and mountains.
Large windows and the freedom to get up and walk around are part of what make train travel so pleasant. After a very good meal of almond-crusted Alaskan cod accompanied by a glass of wine, we made our way to the rear of our GoldStar car where an open deck allowed us to take in the sights, converse with fellow passengers, and enjoy the warm (for Alaska) summer air.
The Coastal Classic passes by three large glaciers: Trail, Spencer and (above) Bartlett.
Scanning the terrain for animals from the observation deck of one of the double-deck GoldStar cars, we saw moose, eagles, beaver lodges and Dall sheep. Bears – both grizzly and black – and caribou are also frequently sighted. We’re already looking forward to taking the train from Anchorage to Seward when we return in May next year.
The evening sun reflects off Cook Inlet though the car’s upper deck windows. After a wonderful four-hour trip, the train pulled into the station at Anchorage. Early the following morning, we boarded a plane for the Alaskan bush and our other home.