7 Best Luxury Rail Trips in the US

Traveling by train is a romantic and nostalgic experience that has been around since the 19th century. Although it has been slow to recover luxury rail travel, particularly compared to the rest of the world, there are a growing number of elegant rail experiences that can be found across the country. From traversing the Alaskan wilderness aboard the Denali Star to exploring the rugged west on the Colorado & Southern Railroad, here are seven of the best luxury rail trips in the US. The Grand Canyon Railroad is a great way to arrive in style at one of America's most iconic destinations.

The train departs from Williams Depot in Williams, Arizona, about 60 miles south of the canyon, and then travels for two and a half hours through the desert to reach Grand Canyon Village, right next to the South Rim. For the most luxurious experience, be sure to book the Luxury Parlor or Luxury Dome class of service; adult-only cars have private bars and outdoor platforms. The Napa Valley Wine Train has been taking oenophiles through California's wine region since 1864. The train now makes a three-hour round trip between downtown Napa and St. Helena, with different itineraries that include a multi-course gourmet meal served in sophisticated and historic train cars, and some tours include stops and tastings at various wineries.

The most popular car on the train is the Vista Dome, a 1952 Pullman, where you'll dine in a glass-domed car with almost uninterrupted views of the vineyards. Train travel in the United States may not be cheap, but it's worth the splurge. Every train trip incorporates iconic rail travel into a well-planned itinerary that also includes visits to popular destinations, full sightseeing tours, incredible routes, and more. Choose between train trips in Alaska, popular US coast-to-coast vacations, autumn foliage tours, or visits to US national parks by train.

You can select holidays with luxury train accommodation in sleeper cars or from a variety of one-way trips. On Amtrak's Coast Starlight you can ride historic Grand Canyon Railroad cars to one of the country's greatest national parks on a Grand Canyon rail adventure tour. The Starlight is equipped with Superliner cars for sleeping, tourist lounging and dining, taking you on a 36-hour walk from Seattle to Los Angeles. The route stops in Portland, Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Barbara, passing dramatic coastal cliffs, Mount Rainier, the Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound.

If long train odysseys across the country are within reach, then Amtrak's Empire Builder follows in Lewis & Clark's footsteps through the heartland from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest. The 46-hour roundtrip offers majestic views of the Great Plains, Mississippi River, Glacier National Park, Gassman Coulee Easel and Montana's Big Sky Country. Amtrak's California Zephyr transports passengers across America on an extraordinary two-day expedition using a combination of Transcontinental Railroad routes and new tracks. The 2,300-mile journey starts in Chicago and ends in Emeryville, California just outside San Francisco.

The train rises to a height of 2,885 feet through tunnels past high cliffs and waterfalls. Finally, enjoy spectacular fall foliage in New York's Hudson River Valley on Amtrak's Adirondack high-speed train which takes you upstate New York on a 10-12 hour journey along Hudson River and Lake Champlain.

Chandra Klingerman
Chandra Klingerman

Amateur food evangelist. Amateur beer advocate. Incurable zombie scholar. Extreme food trailblazer. Far horizon trailblazer.

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