Fairbanks to Denali National Park, Alaska

Yesterday the people in my group had asomewhat different day than I did. While they traveled to Denali National Park in a glass-domed railway car, I went ahead with the bus.

We don’t normally do early starts on these tours, but there are 2 – we had to be at the railway depot at 7:30 for an 8:15 departure.

Alaska Railroad at Fairbanks

Jo and I went in to get the tickets.

Alaska Railroad at Fairbanks

And just before 8:00 everyone got on board car 1058, the Kashwitna. For 2 years I was the guide for this tour while someone else drove the bus, so I got to go on the train – that was an excellent experience.

Boarding the Alaska Railroad at Fairbanks

The trip is much quicker by bus so I had lots of time to wander. I started by having a look at the large model railroad layout in the depot, built by the Tanana Valley Model Railway Club.

Tanana Valley Model Railway Club

The George Parks Highway climbs to the top of a ridge and stays there for about half an hour. Yesterday that put me into the clouds as well as occasionally heavy rain.

I stopped at Nenana and went for a long walk. This used to be an important transportation hub but is rather a backwater now, though a significant amount of barge traffic for communities along the Tanana River still starts here.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Mission.

I walked up the highway to get some photos from the bridge, and lucked into seeing my group’s train as well.

I reached Denali just after 11:30 and got the luggage unloaded, then went to the Denali railway depot, which gets to be a very busy place.

The train was right on time, and rolled to a stop at the scheduled 12:15.

Alaska Railroad at Denali

Jo was first off the car, into a light rain.

Alaska Railroad at Denali

The Kashwitna as people started to come up to the bus.

Alaska Railroad at Denali

Our hotel, the McKinley Chalet, is only a couple of miles from the railway depot. Our room block is down in the forest a few blocks from the lobby, seen here.

McKinley Chalet, Denali

Our room block.

McKinley Chalet, Denali

The suites are very nice, with a sitting area as well as the bedroom.

McKinley Chalet, Denali

A pleasant place to do my work.

McKinley Chalet, Denali

The changes I’ve seen in this area since 1990 have been dramatic, and few of them have been good. It’s known as “Glitter Gulch” with good reason – what a mess to have at the edge of a park like Denali.

At the north end of the strip is the start of the Nenana Gorge – this was shot from the parking lot of our hotel.


Fairbanks to Denali National Park, Alaska — 1 Comment

  1. I sincerely wish I was REALLY on this tour with you as the driver/guide, instead of enjoying it by way of pictures & blog. Really looking forward to going back to Denali (and every other place on our route).