Rounding a bend on the Coastal Classic

The Coastal Classic from Anchorage to Seward

Riding the Alaska Railroad’s Coastal Classic from Anchorage to Seward is one of the most scenic train rides in the United States. If given an opportunity to make this journey on your trip to Alaska, don’t miss it! 

Riding the Coastal Classic from Anchorage to Seward (and vice versa) was once named by National Geographic as a top train ride in North America. Ride this route either way and you will understand why it is so popular.

The Coastal Classic starts its daily journey in Anchorage at 6:45AM to make the ~4-hour journey to Seward including a quick stop in Girdwood.

After leaving Anchorage, the train winds through Turnagain Arm where it will veer off the roads and through the backcountry of the Kenai Peninsula with the destination being Seward situated along Resurrection Bay.

After a seven (7) hour layover in Seward, the Coastal Classic makes the return journey to Anchorage.

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Making reservations

Making reservations for the Alaska Railroad is made easy by calling the reservations office at 800.544.0552 or by visiting the Alaska Railroad’s website.

If you have a group size over fifteen (15), it is best to call as they do give group discounts.

Departure times and fares

The Coastal Classic only runs in the summer months from mid-May to mid-September. You should always check the Alaska Railroad website for schedule updates.

During the summer months, the Coastal Classic departs Anchorage at 6:45am as it makes the four (4)-hour journey to Seward. Around 8am, it arrives in Girdwood for a very quick stop. Departing Girdwood at approximately 8:05am, it makes the last leg of the journey to Seward pulling into Resurrection Bay at 11:05am.

Stopping in Seward for seven (7) hours, the train departs Resurrection Bay at 6pm for the return journey to Anchorage.

Old Alaska Railroad Engine
Waiting at the Anchorage station
Deboarding the Coastal Classic in Seward
Arriving in Seward

Read about what to do during your stay in Seward, AK here!

Adventure Class or Gold Star

Riding the train from Anchorage to Seward, our group was seated in Adventure Class. Later in our time in Alaska, we rode in Gold Star from Talkeetna to Denali. We all enjoyed experiencing both but felt Adventure class was the best way on the Coastal Classic.

Riding in Adventure Class provided an opportunity to explore many different cars. Early in the trip we ate breakfast in the dining car (more on this a little further down) and there was also a snack car available to us.

Sitting in Adventure Class of The Coastal Classic
All Aboard!

We were able to stand on the very back of the train outside to see the views from a different perspective, along with full dome cars for better viewing.

Looking out the back of the Coastal Classic
Where we have been
hanging out on the top level of the train
Hi down there!

Lastly, our favorite part was standing between the cars to feel the wind in our face and a better view for wildlife spotting’s.

View of train rounding a bend

Gold Star service certainly provides a little more comfortable seating, but we didn’t spend that much time in our seat over the course of the four (4)-hour journey. When you purchase your ticket for Gold Star, two (2) adult beverages are included.

Riding in Gold Star
Gold Star service on the Denali Star

The train station

Arriving at the train station an hour prior to departure time allowed us to be not be rushed with a group of nineteen (19). We checked in as a group and proceeded to check our bags. Most of us checked one (1) bag and took our day pack with us on the train.

The train station itself hosts a small bagel & coffee stand where they sell pastries, breakfast burritos and a few other additional items.

A small souvenir shop is also located in the station.

The Alaska Railroad Anchorage station
Anchorage station

The journey

The journey along the route of the Coastal Classic will leave you with a feeling of awe. The conductor slows the train at interesting points of view (which is often) including any for wildlife if seen along the route.

The Coastal Classic route
The Coastal Classic route

We also found the journey educational as we learned about the different types of salmon, touched some porcupine needles and heard about a hydroplane for the first time.

Porcupine needles
Porcupine needles
5 types of salmon
Remembering the 5 types of salmon – Chum, Sockeye, King, Silver, Pink

I know it is cliché, but this trip is truly about the journey and not the destination. Soak up the views, feel the wind in your face, listen to the narrator, take pictures and smile with your travel buddies.

Incredible views

It felt like around every turn there was something new to see and experience. Going in July, we were able to see some flowing waterfalls which may not be present earlier in the season.

Views from The Coastal Classic
Majestic views everywhere you look!

Seeing the mountains reflect off the water is still one of my favorite pictures from this trip.

Mountains reflecting off water along The Coastal Classic route

Depending on how your trip around Alaska goes, this could very well be your first opportunity to see a glacier. At first glance it feels like it is a flowing river but look closely and you’ll see it is frozen solid!

Glacier along The Coastal Classic route


Be prepared to see almost any Alaskan wildlife on this journey. Early in the trip as you ride along the water, watch for flying bald eagles or whales showing themselves in the water. On the mountainside, Dalls Sheep with the appearance they will fall off the side of the mountain.

Dalls sheep on the mountainside
Sheep on the mountain

There could also be moose or bears along the tracks. We saw booth with the moose running alongside the train. We also spotted three (3) bear cubs in a tree! 

Eating on the train

Unless you want to bring something specific on the train, there are food options on your journey.

Dining car

Both Adventure and Gold Star have a dining car on-board.

For Gold Star, a meal is included. For Adventure class, it is an additional charge which you pay on-board.

During the trip, someone will come get you when it is your car’s turn for the meal. You are given an option of a few meals along with a beverage. The meals were above average, and the cars do have windows in order to not miss anything along the trip.

Sitting in the dining car of The Coastal Classic
Where is our food?

Snack car

There is also a snack car on the train selling a variety of snacks, sweets, coffee, soda and alcoholic beverages.

The Gold Star has a bartender who is available to make hot & cold drinks upon request. Remember you get two (2) beverages per person in Gold Star.

Hanging out in the snack car
Hanging out in the snack car

Enjoy your trip riding the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward on the Coastal Classic! This will be one of life’s memorable moments!

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Nancy Williams

Nancy Williams

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