America has some of the most beautiful scenery, and what better way to view it than a leisurely train ride. Why take the family on a vacation rushing from place to place, when the journey can be the vacation. Railway travel is the easiest, most pleasant, and surprisingly affordable way to enjoy some of the most magnificent scenery in the United States. Whether you want a quick jaunt through the countryside or a cross country odyssey, these train rides are the best rides in the nation. 

 

CASCADES

156 MILES – Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia

This ride through America’s Pacific Northwest does not disappoint. Traveling from Eugene to Seattle you will travel through magnificent evergreen forests. The train then travels along Puget sound, where on a clear day, passengers on the western facing side can view the majestic Olympic Mountains. 

 

CASS SCENIC RAILROAD

8 miles – Cass, West Virginia

They call West Virginia “almost heaven” because of it’s spectacular scenery. This quick trek is a fantastic way to soak it up. Original locomotives, once used to transport lumber to mining camps, now haul passengers up an 11% grade slope for an amazing view of the mountains below. At the top is the Whittaker Station, a restored logging camp. In October when the fall foliage is at it’s peak is the perfect time to visit.

 

CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR

2,438 miles – Chicago, Illinois to Emeryville, California 

Retrace the trail the pioneers took when they settled the American West on this 50 plus hour train ride. In Denver the train journeys through the towering Rocky Mountains, then into the red rocks of Utah, through Ruby Canyon, into the Sierra Mountains, through Donner Pass and then into San Francisco Bay.

 

 

WHITE PASS AND YUKON ROUTE

120 MILES – Skagway, Alaska

This round trip ride, on a narrow gauge railway built during the Klondike Gold Rush, will have you traveling along the side of sheer cliff drops. Departing from Skagway, you travel 3.000 feet up, past glaciers, mountain lakes and thunderous waterfalls. You can choose the original miner’s supply route to Carcross, Yukon stopping at a restored station house in Lake Bennett, or take the route past Bridal Veil Falls and Dead Horse Gulch to White Pass Summit.

 

CAPITOL CORRIDOR

168 miles – San Jose, California to Auburn, California

This train trip was designed to quickly transport Bay Area residents to the Capitol in Sacramento. This trip will have you speeding alongside the picturesque San Francisco Bay, through the industrial bays and waterways near Martinez, and into the majestic rolling hills of Northern California. 

 

CAPE COD CENTRAL RAILROAD

27 miles – Hyannis. Massachusetts to Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts

Ride through the cranberry bogs, salt marshes, oceanfront trails and adorable little towns of Massachusetts. There are two options for this train ride, the sightseeing tour with complete informational narration, or the dinner train where you will enjoy freshly prepared meals on board. Both options will have you journeying through areas of Cape Cod that can only be seen by train.

 

GRAND CANYON RAILWAY

 

130 miles – Williams, Arizona

 

On this round trip train ride you will fly right past all the vehicle traffic and travel directly to the Grand Canyon’s south rim. Departing from Williams you will enjoy dense pine forests, majestic desertscape and rich wildlife.

 

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS RAILROAD

32 or 44 miles – Bryson City, North Carolina

With your choice of two excursions, this train ride is an excellent way to take in some of America’s greatest wilderness. The Tuckasegee River Excursion takes passengers through 32 miles of lush green valleys, over historic bridges and into the quaint town of Dillsboro, where it stops for an hour and a half. The Nantahala Gorge Excursion journeys 44 miles along the Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers, over Fontana Lake and into the gorge. 

 

COAST STARLIGHT

1,377 miles – Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington

This train trips hits all the highlights of a classic American road trip, driving up the Pacific Coast. This ride let’s you enjoy the dramatic cliffs along the Pacific Coast Highway, Mount Shasta, San Francisco Bay, Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier and Puget Sound.

 

SUNSET LIMITED

1,995 miles – New Orleans, Louisiana to Los Angeles, California

Delight in the grand vistas of red rocks and cacti on one of the most scenic train routes in America. It begins in Louisiana’s bayou country and travels on through the expansive Southwestern deserts of West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. During the peak season you will find National Park guides on board who will explain the history and geography of the region. 

 

STRASBURG RAIL ROAD

9 miles – Strasburg, Pennsylvania

Take a quick trip through Amish Country, enjoying the rolling hills and expansive countryside. Once used to transport goods from the heart of Pennsylvania to the coast, restored to being a passenger train in the 1960’s, the first class and president’s trains are outfitted to look like Gilded Age luxury. 

 

EMPIRE BUILDER

2,206 miles – Chicago, Illinois to Seattle, Washington

Enjoy this 46 hour ride as it travels through Lewis and Clark’s expedition route. From your comfortable seat in the observation lounge experience the Great Plains in all their splendor, ride through a seven mile tunnel cut through the Cascade Mountains and spend 8 hours marveling at the Glacier National Park.