Video Title:  "The McKinley Explorer"/ "Denali Wilderness"
Produced: Sky River Films, 1993
Length:  45 minutes
Reviewer: Paul S. Highland

This show is in two parts.  The first part, about 16 minutes in length, features some brief history of the Alaska Railroad, with scenes of modern passenger trains and old photos of gold prospectors in the 1890s.

Then the modern tour begins at the Westours office in Anchorage.  The McKinley Explorer train is comprised of several vintage dome cars pulled by two or three Alaska RR Geeps.  Scenes from the trip include:  Farms near Wasilla and in the Matanuska Valley; fishing in the Susitna River; Talkeetna with bush pilot service and views from an airplane; wildflowers, meadows, muskegs, and a bridge across a river; flag stops for rural residents; dinner served in the dining car.

At Denali National Park, passengers can detrain for a bus tour of the park.  Wildlife abounds, including moose, caribou, bald eagles, Dall sheep, and grizzly bears.  The views of Mt. McKinley are impressive.  Back on the train, there are scenes of large forested areas; the Tanana River; a view around a curve from the rear coach; the city of Fairbanks with riverboat cruises; beautiful green mountains; an "auto train" with campers and autos carried on flatcars; and more mountain scenery.

The remainder of the show, "Denali Wilderness," has no railroad footage whatsoever; rather it is a showcase of wildlife and seasons in Denali National Park.  Among the many animal species shown are caribou, grouse, squirrels, snowy owls, red foxes, Dall sheep, grizzly bears, terns, pikas, marmots, moose, geese, golden eagle, wolves, ptarmigans, hares, and magpies.  Various animal activities include spring calving, migrations, fall rutting, foraging, and hunting.

The amount of train activity in this video is rather disappointing from a railfan perspective, but the beautiful Alaska scenery and the fascinating wildlife tend to make up for it.  "The McKinley Explorer" would make a nice souvenir of a trip to Alaska, or a good armchair travelogue to enjoy on a quiet day.