Culture

This Train Trip Takes You On A Breathtaking Week-Long Adventure Under The Northern Lights

December 25th, 2018

Maybe your neighbors already have the Christmas light thing down or your idea of festive scenery involves glowing noses or life-size men in red suits. And that’s ok, but there’s a far more majestic holiday scene available to you on your very own polar express, courtesy of the Alaska Railroad.

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Niebrugge Images Source: Niebrugge Images

Those who aren’t into the sounds of children shredding present after present or feeling the disappointment that comes at roughly 10am on Christmas morning when all of your hard work is laying on the floor as your family wonders how it could be over so soon now have the option of spending a serene 8 days following the green and purple glow of the Northern Lights from Anchorage to Fairbanks, Alaska.

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Alaska Tours Source: Alaska Tours

You’ll even get to stop at the Chena Hot Springs if you’re game for a dip.

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Alaska Tours Source: Alaska Tours

The first train departs on Christmas Eve, but even those of you who couldn’t possibly break yourselves away from family at the most wonderful time of the year have the option of a later trip. There are additional departures on February 4 & 25, 2019 and March 4, 11, 18 & 25, 2019.

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Alaska Tours Source: Alaska Tours

And you won’t be stuck sitting on a train the whole time. Instead, the trip will involve exploring local shops and restaurants in each city along the way.

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Alaska Tours Source: Alaska Tours

You’ll even get to do some sightseeing in the stunning Alaska range and its centerpiece, Denali, the highest peak in all of North America.

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Alaska.org Source: Alaska.org

For those not content to stand around gawking, there are “flightseeing” tours of the mountains that allow you to view the epic landscape from a small plane!

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Alaska Tours Source: Alaska Tours

Of course, each evening you’ll go hunting for a stunning view of the lights, which are created when gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere collide with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. That’s the technical way of describing this:

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Alaska Tours Source: Alaska Tours

Did you know the lights even make weird noises? Onlookers have reported hearing crackling and hissing during particularly active nights.

Tour-goers will also make a stop at an Iditarod champion kennel where they can commune with the beautiful sled dogs.

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Alaska Mushing School Source: Alaska Mushing School

And maybe see puppies! (We’re just assuming/hoping.)

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Alaska Mushing School Source: Alaska Mushing School

You have to get yourself to Alaska and back, but the train adventure will run you around $1,479, plus excursions and meals.

The Alaska Railroad offers other winter train tour packages as well, including one where you get to cross the mighty Yukon River and travel up into the Arctic Circle, with the option of a dog sled ride.

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National Park Service Source: National Park Service

While you can take trips on the railroad any time of year, you have the best chance of seeing the lights in the deep winter when it’s dark the longest.

A week-long trip gives you multiple opportunities to get a glimpse since the lights require not only a dark, clear night.

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NPS Source: NPS
but solar flare and wind action. They’re simply not there and/or visible every night.

A train trip is a perfect way to stay safe and comfortable since viewing the lights requires being away from the light pollution of any major town or city.

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Explore Fairbanks Source: Explore Fairbanks

Time to grab your warmest winter gear and make those travel plans!

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Source: Alaska Railroad

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