Many tourists to Alaska will find themselves traveling between the different cities in the state. The most important cities are Anchorage and Fairbanks. Located along Alaska’s southern coast, Anchorage is the largest city in the state and home to many government agencies, natural wonders, and cultural centers. Fairbanks is located deep within the Alaskan Interior and serves as the gateway to the state’s North Slope, the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, and many other important attractions.
Given the distance between both cities and Alaska’s extreme climate, you might be wondering how you can travel between them safely. Here are the ways you can get from Fairbanks to Anchorage and vice versa.
How Can I Get from Fairbanks to Anchorage?
Fairbanks and Anchorage are over 300 miles apart, a daunting distance. However, as two of the state’s most important cities, they are connected via road, rail, and air.
The easiest and simplest way to travel between Fairbanks and Anchorage is to fly. Several commercial airlines offer daily service between both cities. Additionally, due to Alaska’s remoteness and lack of road connections in rural areas, bush pilots offer private services between the cities as well as many smaller communities that are off the beaten trail. A downside to air travel is that you will not be able to enjoy many of the scenic sights that are found between the two cities.
Another common way to travel between Fairbanks and Anchorage is the Parks Highway. Completed in 1971 and named after former territorial governor George Alexander Parks, the Parks Highway runs for over 300 miles and allows motorists to easily drive between Alaska’s two principle cities. The Parks Highway also allows road access to Canada via the nearby Alaska Highway, which runs from just south of Fairbanks to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, connecting Alaska to the greater North American road network.
While not an Interstate Highway, the Parks Highway is perfectly safe and is used by thousands of motorists each day, whether they’re traveling for work or pleasure. The Parks Highway is the easiest way to visit Denali, the tallest mountain in North America and one of Alaska’s primary tourist draws. In addition to Denali, the Parks Highway offers access to important tourist towns such as Wasilla, Talkeetna, and Cantwell, each of which feature important museums and quirky restaurants and bars. While much of the Parks Highway is uninhabited, there are still many places where you can refuel your car and load up on snacks and supplies.
It’s easy to travel the Parks Highway with your own car, but many private companies and tour operators offer bus transportation between Anchorage and Fairbanks. If you’d rather leave the driving to someone else and enjoy the sights that Alaska has to offer, taking a bus or minivan is an attractive option. Many tour operators will also bring guided tours along for the ride, so you’ll get to learn all about Alaskan history and culture as part of your trip.
Finally, a popular way to travel between Fairbanks and Anchorage is the Alaska Railroad. Extending from Fairbanks to Anchorage and further south to Seward, the Alaska Railroad is an important artery for shipping both people and goods throughout the state. Indeed, for a number of rural communities without road access, the Alaska Railroad is their only connection to the outside world. Opened in 1914, the Alaska Railroad is one of the oldest continually-operating passenger rail services in the U.S.
The Alaska Railroad is a major tourist attraction, with its coaches featuring large windows for easy viewing of the scenery outside. The Denali Star service is the primary route connecting Fairbanks and Anchorage, offering daily trips with stops along the way at Denali National Park and Talkeetna. The Denail Star only runs during the summer months, with the Aurora Winter Train offering weekend-only service between Fairbanks and Anchorage the rest of the year. Travel along both trains can take up to 12 hours, considerably longer than the Parks Highway, due to tracks winding between mountains and valleys. A number of shorter routes connecting Anchorage with Seward, Whittier, and other cities further south are also available.
Given Alaska’s remoteness and its breadth of sights and attractions, you’ll want to visit multiple places in the state to get the most out of your trip. While traveling in Alaska carries hazards that aren’t found in more southern locations, getting around the state is still easy and safe provided you take the proper precautions. Traveling between Anchorage and Fairbanks is a simple matter, one that thousands of people do every day, whether they’re locals or tourists. Whether you want to see the sights from the comfort of your car, relax on a bus while a tour guide fills in the details, or soak in the views from a railway car, you can get from Fairbanks to Anchorage in the way that you want.