Come on, ride the train!

A trip on the Alaska Railroad has been on my "want to do" list since we moved here.  I am a HUGE believer in playing tourist in my own state.  I am so grateful that I saw as much of Washington as I did but at the same time I am sad about the many opportunities I missed.  It's so easy to fall into the 'we always go here' rut!  Although things can be expensive around here I always remind myself that it would be even more expensive if we didn't live here and then I dive in.  This summer things finally worked out for the railroad and I!  I bought the tickets way back in June when they were running their 'Kids Ride Free' promotion.  For each adult ticket you got two free kids...Scott wasn't that interested in the whole deal so it worked out perfectly for the girls and I.

I chose the Glacier Discovery train because it leaves from Whittier and is a shorter day trip.  There are lots of options for this can start in Anchorage, Portage, or Whittier and end in any of those destinations.  You can also end in Portage and take a motor coach back to Anchorage.  Once onboard you can choose to get off at the whistle stop at Spencer Glacier or continue on to Grandview.  We chose the Grandview option because although the girls are old enough to stay up all afternoon now (some days, anyway!) afternoon is not our best time of the day.  The hike at Spencer Glacier sounds really neat, but I wasn't confident that a certain 5 year old would be fun during that sort of activity at that time of day.  A morning hike would have been a whole different story! 

The train was scheduled to leave Whittier at 12:45, so we ate an early lunch and walked down to the depot here in town.  The girls had been a bit hesitant about the whole deal, but as we approached the train their excitement grew.

We boarded, toured the train and checked out our seats.  The girls were delighted to find out that unlike an airplane there was no seat belt requirement and that we could walk around while the train was in motion.  Once they discovered we could also go outside while underway they were completely sold!

The trip through the tunnel was fun on the train!  The girls loved that it was light in the train unlike the car.  It was also fun to see the Portage Valley from a different vantage point.  We arrived at the Portage station to pick up more passengers and then headed up to the Spencer whistle stop.

Although the walk up to the glacier sounds really cool, I will say that all of the cool sights on this ride came after the Spencer Glacier stop so I was glad that we had signed on for the whole deal.  Shortly after dropping folks off here we slowed down again as this black bear family was spotted.  Neat!

We then continued on our way.  Here's Spencer Glacier...

And here's Spencer Lake...

It was pretty cloudy on our way up, but cleared out on the way down and the sun even peeked out!  I am sure that everyone who rides the train takes a picture similar to this one...

Here's what I mean about the weather.  Here's Trail Glacier on the way up...

And on the way back down...

Just a little different, huh?  This rail line is still under construction, so here's the next phase under construction, the Grandview whistle stop.

It was truly a wonderful afternoon!  The kiddos surprised me by not getting bored until 5pm!  The train arrives back in Whittier at 5:30, so that was four whole hours they were entertained by the train, scenery, snacks and other passengers.  Fantastic!


  1. What a fun trip! Great pictures, too.


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