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Getting From Anchorage to Fairbanks (and back)

3857293492_a41ef086b9Being the two biggest cities in Alaska, Anchorage and Fairbanks are on the itineraries of many visitors to Alaska, and there are several options for traveling between the two cities. Which one is right for you depends on your budget, your style of travel, and how much time you have to spend.

Flights between Anchorage and Fairbanks

By far the fastest way to get between Anchorage and Fairbanks is by plane. This is also sometimes the only way to make the trip during the winter months, when roads are closed and trains aren’t operating. There are multiple flights daily on Alaska Airlines, and flight time is about an hour. To search for flights, use the form in the right column of this page.

Trains between Anchorage and Fairbanks

Alaska Railroad runs daily service (in the summer months) between the two cities. The trip lasts about 12 hours, and passes through some of the most beautiful countryside in Alaska, including stops at Talkeetna and Denali National Park. If you don’t mind dedicating a day of your trip to this leg, the views are spectacular, and there are always great conversations to be had with your fellow passengers as you watch out the windows for wildlife and scenic vistas. For those travelers looking for more than a simple train ride, there is the Princess Tours Midnight Sun Express, a full-service luxury train with a domed glass ceiling for the best possible views, and onboard fine dining options.

Driving from Anchorage to Fairbanks

As nice as a glass-domed train ride might be, you still can’t stop and choose your own speed on the train, and so some travelers prefer to drive themselves. The only road option is the George Parks Highway, or Alaska Route 3. The 358-mile trip takes about 7 hours, not including stops, and you will want to make stops, since the road passes through not only Denali National Park, but also less well-known spots like Eklutna Lake. Plan on a full day for making this trip – keeping in mind that a full day in the summer can last quite a while. For those wanting to make it more than a day’s trip and stop in the middle, Talkeetna is close to the halfway point and offers a very different kind of Alaskan experience than either of the cities.

Photo by lisahazen