We're doing the train next month. All I've seen is raves about the scenery and that it is so much more comfortable than the bus because you can move around and get snacks. I've been told that the road actually parallels the tracks for part of the distance, but the tracks veer inland and allow for more breathtaking scenery than you would get from the highway. Everyone has said how much we will enjoy the train trip. Many people rent cars and travel that way. That does give you more flexibility. But you would miss out on the vistas that you can only get by rail. I'll be finding out for myself in just over 3 weeks if this is good advice! Can't wait!!!!
The most scenic portion of the Alaska RR is the Seward- Anchorage section. Worthwhile to consider. As for the northern portion- it is far better IF McKinley is viewable of which it seldem is. On the cruise contracted trains the cars are full and seats are assigned with tables of 4, so 2 people ride backward. On the ARR you have freedom of seat choices and observation cars are open - space available, there is excellent guides on the ARR as well. If 2 people are going consider www.toursaver.com for their 2 for 1 ARR coupon- if usable during your timeframe. A factor to consider is the Anchorage - Denali portion is 8 hours and you need 2 overnights in Denali Park to make your stop worthwhile 4pm arrival, if you are returning to Anchorage-noon departure, continuing to Fairbanks- 4pm departure. Plan carefully and make the most of your time.