7 Beautiful Train Trips In The United States!
There are a lot of luxury, long train trips you can take in North America and in all areas, but they are normally pretty expensive. Do you want to know a little train-lovers secret? Many of America's most scenic routes are among some of the shortest. These seven trips offer stunning vistas, classic railroad cars, and relaxing rides—and they're all less than 115 miles long, one way.Train rides are a fantastic way to see different parts of the country! Check out these seven trips you can take! Click To Tweet
1. Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic.
Do you think the best way to see Alaska scenery is on a big cruise ship? Well, take a look at the Coastal Classic train trip! This train runs from mid-May to mid-September along a 114-mile route from Anchorage to Seward. It runs alongside the Chugach Mountains and the Turnagain Arm waterway which feeds into the Gulf of Alaska; make sure you keep an eye out for whales and bald eagles! After a stop in the town of Girdwood, the train heads on to the wild Kenai Peninsula backcountry, providing spectacular views of waterfalls and glaciers. In Seward, the train stays for the day before heading back. During this time you can explore Kenai Fjords National Park or visit Exit Glacier.
You can also take in the sights of Seward for multiple days and head back later. Or if you have your heart set on a cruise, you can pick up the ship in Seward!
2. The Cape Cod Central Railroad.
Maybe you're looking for something in New England. You really need to look at the Cape Cod Central Railroad with it's 27-mile Coastal Excursion Train! This train departs from Buzzards Bay on weekends and offers views of salt marshes, sand dunes, woodlands, and bogs.
The railroad also offers lunch, dinner, and Sunday Brunch trains. The elegant dinner train is the most popular. Diners enjoy a five-course meal as their train crosses the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge. The dinner is candlelight and white-linens and has a dress code: No jeans, T-shirts, shorts, tank tops or flip flops.
3. Cass Scenic Railroad.
This trip up to the peak of Bald Knob uses a rail line that was originally built in 1901 to haul lumber to the mill in Cass, West Virginia! A Shay steam locomotive will pull you and you might get to ride in a car that was once used to haul lumber (don't worry, they refurbish them.) And if you're looking for a little adventure, they offer overnight stays in a caboose!
4. Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
This 64-mile trip covers a lot of ground and spectacular scenery! You'll see rugged mountains, wood-beam tunnels, river crossings, rustic towns, aspen trees, and maybe even a bear! The railroad runs between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado and you can start in either town. After departing from Chama, the steam locomotive climbs the 10,015-foot-high Cumbres Pass. At the summit you'll be able to see alpine meadows with wildflowers and dark green conifers. Later, you'll drop 800 steep feet into the Toltec Gorge. This train has been featured in more than 20 films, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And to kick it up a notch try riding in the open-air Gondola Car!
5. Grand Canyon Railway
Visiting the Grand Canyon can try anyone's patience! It is an extremely popular park and you can beat the traffic by taking the train to the South Rim, after all, tourists have been doing this since 1901! This 65-mile trip starts in Williams, Arizona and heads through Ponderosa pine forests and desert prairies. You'll pass the San Francisco Peaks, the highest point in Arizona, 12,600 feet. The train has six rail cars that range from 1920s-era Pullmans to the two-floor Luxury Dome, which includes a private bar and dome for viewing. On the trip, keep an eye out for wildlife such as California condors and pronghorns, which look like antelopes. Smelling the steam engines exhaust may make you hungry (they run once a month on Saturdays), they are fueled by recycled French fry oil from local restaurants.
6. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad offers not only one must-ride roundtrip, but they have two of them! The first, a 44-mile, 4.5-hour, called the Nantahala Gorge Excursion, will take you along the Tennessee and Nantahala rivers, and across Fontana Lake, which was created in the 1940s after the construction of the 480-foot-tall Fontana Dam, before heading into the gorge (“Nantahala” is a Cherokee word meaning “land of the noon-day” sun—deep parts of the gorge only receive direct sunlight at midday.)
The second must-ride excursion is called the Tuckasegee River Excursion. This trip features quaint bridges and valley greenery. If you saw the movie The Fugitive, the train wreck scene in it was filmed on this line. Plus, you'll pass the train wreckage from the film!
7. Napa Valley Wine Train
This is a trip that features great food, vintage cars, and great wine! It's no surprise that this 36-mile roundtrip experience has been a favorite in Napa since 1989. You can book a three-hour lunch or dinner trip with gourmet food. Or you can do a half or full-day journey with stops at local wineries. Of course, you might not want to leave the luxurious Pullman cars, which feature etched glass partitions and comfy armchairs. The glass-enclosed Vista Dome Car provides elevated views of the Napa Valley landscape, but if you're on a dinner trip, it may get dark before it ends. They also offer special events such as Murder Mystery trains and a Hop Train featuring brews from the Napa Palisades Beer Company.
Do You Want More?
This list contains a few of the many trips you can take! If you're looking for one in your area, Google search is fantastic! Or if you want to plan a longer trip, you can find those too! Just remember, scenic train trips can be expensive! If you have gone on a trip, tell us in the comments! Or if you want some other suggestions, ask!