The Most Spectacular Train Trips in the US

Travellers come from all over the world to experience the magnificent train rides of the US West Coast. Amtrak's Coast Starlight is the most popular long-distance route and widely regarded as the most impressive, with more than 455,000 passengers last year. From Spokane, you can go south along the Columbia River Gorge to Portland or cross the Cascade Mountains north to Puget Sound in Seattle. Along the way, you can admire mountain passes marked with tall trestles and long tunnels, rivers with hydroelectric dams and salmon fish ladders, and plenty of 20-minute stops where you can go out and stretch your legs or pick up a pizza delivery.

As you look out the windows of California's Zephyr, you'll see the same views that enchanted 19th-century fortune seekers when they traveled the first transcontinental railroad line west to San Francisco and dreamed of making it rich. This historic line takes you through the heart of the mining and ghost towns of gold rush country to former stagecoach stations that became stops for the original railway. The country's first Pullman sleeper train once circulated on these rails, nicknamed the “Star Train” for famous passengers who frequented it in the late 1930s. Getting to Grand Canyon National Park on this railway line helps you imagine the remote and inaccessible wonder that once was the canyon.

You can still ride in the historic cars of the Grand Canyon Railroad, dragged by the “French Fry Express”, a converted 1923 locomotive that now runs on recycled vegetable oil from South Rim restaurants. On board, colorful railway characters keep the story alive with simulated train robberies and cowboy musicians who guide passengers through old songs. Once at the Grand Canyon log cabin style depot in the South Rim, you'll be within walking distance of popular viewpoints and most of the village's historic buildings. Between New York City and Albany, meticulously maintained mansions line the banks of the wide, blue Hudson River.

It's easy to see how the natural splendor of this valley inspired an entire artistic genre. Other must-see spots along this route include the Adirondack Mountains, the Palisades, West Point Academy riverfront stone battlements, and ruins of Bannerman Castle. We have compiled a list of 6 incredible train trips in the US that will take your breath away. From coast to coast or specifically designed to enjoy scenery, these train routes will allow you to enjoy all glorious views without having to keep your hands on a wheel.

Traveling by train can be a romantic, nostalgic and peaceful way to see the country. Even a commuter train between major cities can be a step up from a car trip, but these scenic train trips are more than that. The Alaska Railroad's flagship stay is a 350-mile stretch through its heart that highlights its beautiful and rugged nature. Among birch forests, mighty rivers, caribou and bear sighting, views of Mount McKinley and a stint at Denali National Park, there's no shortage of breathtaking views here.

If you can splurge on a GoldStar upgrade, enjoy spectacular scenery from an outdoor observation car with nothing standing between you and nature. The Mount Washington Cog Railway is another must-see destination for those looking for picturesque views in New Hampshire. This vintage train travels daily to its 6288-foot peak -the highest in Northeast- giving passengers an elevated feeling similar to a gondola ride. At its top, enjoy panoramic views of Canada and Atlantic on a clear day.

The Oahu Railway & Land Co offers a tropical twist on train travel with its 90-minute tour of Oahu on a former sugar cane carrier traveling at 15 miles per hour. The attraction shows you a little-seen version of Hawaii full of old sisal plantations and ghost towns. Plan your trip for second Sunday of each month if you want to reserve a seat in its elegant 1900 lounge car. Finally, Napa Valley Wine Train is one of most picturesque ways to experience one of most picturesque states in US. Enjoy all its glorious views while leisurely strolling around country without having to worry about road or wheel. These are some of best train trips in US that will take your breath away! So get on board, enjoy views and take as many photos as you want without having to keep your hands on wheel.

Chandra Klingerman
Chandra Klingerman

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

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