The United States boasts a diverse and breathtaking landscape, and what better way to experience it than through the window of a train? Train travel offers a unique perspective, allowing passengers to relax and soak in the beauty of their surroundings. From coastal cliffs to mountain ranges, here are the 10 most beautiful train trips you can take in the United States.
- California Zephyr (Chicago to San Francisco): The California Zephyr is an iconic cross-country journey that spans nearly 2,500 miles. Departing from Chicago, this Amtrak route takes passengers through the heartland of America, the Rockies, and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Highlights include the vast plains of Nebraska, the red rocks of Colorado, and the breathtaking Donner Pass.
- Coast Starlight (Seattle to Los Angeles): Embark on a coastal adventure with the Coast Starlight. This Amtrak route follows the stunning Pacific coastline, offering panoramic views of the ocean, lush forests, and distant mountains. The journey also includes a stretch through the Cascade Range, where passengers can catch glimpses of majestic Mount Shasta.
- Empire Builder (Chicago to Seattle or Portland): Connecting the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest, the Empire Builder offers a diverse landscape experience. Passengers witness the beauty of the Mississippi River, the expansive plains of Montana, and the rugged terrain of Glacier National Park. The train then continues through the Cascade Range, providing breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge.
- Great Smoky Mountains Railroad (Bryson City to Nantahala Gorge): For a taste of Appalachian charm, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad delivers a scenic journey through the lush landscapes of North Carolina. The Nantahala Gorge route is particularly enchanting, with its towering trees, rushing rivers, and views of the Great Smoky Mountains themselves.
- Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (Durango to Silverton): Step back in time with this historic train journey in Colorado. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad winds its way through the San Juan National Forest, offering passengers a glimpse of the Animas River, towering cliffs, and the historic mining town of Silverton.
- Cass Scenic Railroad (Cass to Bald Knob): West Virginia’s Cass Scenic Railroad transports passengers through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. The journey to Bald Knob takes you through dense forests, alongside mountain streams, and provides breathtaking vistas of the surrounding peaks. Steam locomotives add a touch of nostalgia to this memorable ride.
- Amtrak Cascades (Seattle to Eugene): Explore the beauty of the Pacific Northwest with the Amtrak Cascades route. Connecting Seattle to Eugene, this journey offers glimpses of Puget Sound, the Cascade Range, and the fertile Willamette Valley. Mount Hood and Mount Rainier provide a stunning backdrop as the train winds its way through the region.
- The Vermonter (St. Albans to Washington, D.C.): Experience the charm of New England aboard The Vermonter. This Amtrak route takes passengers through the picturesque landscapes of Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Rolling hills, quaint villages, and historic landmarks dot the route, creating a delightful and relaxing journey.
- Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic (Anchorage to Seward): Alaska’s rugged beauty is on full display with the Coastal Classic route. The journey from Anchorage to Seward provides breathtaking views of glaciers, fjords, and the Chugach Mountains. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including bald eagles and marine life, as you traverse this northern wonderland.
- Sunset Limited (New Orleans to Los Angeles): The Sunset Limited offers a taste of the American Southwest, taking passengers from the vibrant culture of New Orleans to the deserts of Arizona and California. Enjoy the ever-changing scenery, from bayous and swamps to arid landscapes and the iconic cacti of the Sonoran Desert.
These train trips showcase the diversity and natural beauty of the United States. Whether you prefer coastal views, mountainous terrain, or historical charm, there’s a train journey that caters to every taste. So, pack your bags, settle into your seat, and let the rhythmic clickety-clack of the tracks carry you through some of the most stunning landscapes America has to offer.