Traveling across the US by train has its own charm. You get to come up close with gushing rivers, lush mountains, historic stations, national parks, and so on. There was a time when the US was in dire need of a transportation system and it was only in 1869 in Utah that the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads were constructed.
Over time, the country deemed it necessary to replace the original tracks to build Amtrak. However, tourists and travelers can still opt for guided tours while enjoying spectacular views in luxury appointed rooms with modern amenities.
Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon Railway tops our list of the best train journeys across the U.S. The historic cars take you to the country’s greatest national parks upto date. Opened in 1901, the rail line utilizes recycled waste vegetable oil produced by restaurants in Arizona, Williams, and South Rim.
You can choose from six service classes: First, Coach, Pullman, Observation Dome, Luxury Dome, and Luxury Parlor. Plus, the Pullman class features 1923 trail voyages with open windows and bench seating for fresh air. And before you set out to Williams, take a day out to enjoy and experience the Wild West Show at any outdoor theatre.
While you are out on your day trip, catch reenactments by cowboys and railway characters and travel through the charming pine forests, the San Francisco Peaks, and sprawling parries until you reach the iconic park.
Amtrak California Zephyr
The Amtrak California Zephyr is two-day extradition and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The journey takes place on a combination of transcontinental routes and new tracks. It is a 51-hour long trip, spanning 2,300 miles and is considered to be the most scenic in the country. The journey begins in Chicago and ends in Emeryville.
Once you are on the train, you travel through the endless prairies of Nebraska and the scenic Rocky Mountains outside Denver. Moreover, you come as close as possible to snowcapped Sierra Nevadas, offering you a chance to imagine the early pioneer who made Wild West as we see today.
The train offers a sightseer lounge, dining, and sleep liner cars that feature bedroom suites and roomettes. However, it does not have WiFi and the cellular service might not be available in some areas.
Verde Canyon Railroad
The Verde Canyon Railroad expedition is a 20-mile round trip spanning 3.5 hours on a refurbished rail car. The journey starts at Sedona taking you across inspiring scenery while resting in a climate-controlled and comfortably seated car. Plus, the train offers three classes, a coach, first and caboose rentals if you are with a group.
If you opt for an organized tour or decide to board the train on your own, make sure that you explore the cliff dwellings by the Native American Sinagua people. In addition to that, do check out the old mining sites and be on the lookout for wild animals such as antelope and bald eagles.
Amtrak Coast Starlight
Now, this is where things get serious. The Amtrak Coast Starlight is a raw and jaw-dropping experience through the Pacific coastline and western urban centers. The rail car is equipped with sightseer lounging, dining cars, and Superliner sleeping. As a result, you get to relax throughout the 36-hour train journey from Seattle to Los Angeles. Interestingly, the train stops at Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Santa Barbara covering the Mount Raider, coastal cliffs, and the Cascade Mountains.
White Pass & Yukon Railway
The White Pass & Yukon Railways is a rare opportunity to explore the Alaska and South Klondike Highways and the stunning landscapes that come in between. The tack is nothing less than an engineering marvel that was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush and continues to attract thousands of tourists each year.
Apart from being a narrated ride, the train makes its way through 2,885 feet elevation allowing the passengers to explore cascading waterfalls and soaring cliff sides. Make sure to get your camera out to capture the lush gorges, snowcapped mountains, and glaciers.
The Amtrak Adirondack offers a splendid opportunity to witness the fall foliage in the Hudson River Valley of New York. The high-speed train takes you on a 10-12 hour journey through Upstate New York along Lake Champlain and Hudson River in addition to fields, forests upto Gare Central Station in Montreal, Canada.
Furthermore, Amtrak begins its journey from the Penn Station in New York in the morning and arrives at dinner time in Montreal. However, keep your passport and immigration ready as the immigration process might take an hour or two. And perhaps the best thing about the train journey is that the Amtrak includes Wi-Fi and there is no reserved seating. Therefore, choose your own desired spot.
Durango & Silverstone Narrow Gauge Railroad
The Durango & Silverstone Narrow Gauge Railroad contains a vintage, coal, and steam-fired coach car that takes you on a ride from Durango to Silverton, Colorado. The tracks were built during the silver mining boom and are in use since 1882. Once the boom ended, it have travelers the opportunity to experience the route that frontiersmen and miners once used.
This is one of the few narrow-gauge steam railroads in the U.S, therefore, make the best of it. The 3-hour journey starts from Durango and makes its way on beautiful railroads along the Animas River specifically designed to navigate steep mountainsides and curves.
The train ride offers several packages such as the winter wonderland journey of the San Juan National Forest in heated cars. While the standard class seating can be booked online, the Presidential, Deluxe, and First Class need to be book over the phone.
Alaska Denali Star
The Alaska Denali Stars takes you to North America’s Highest Peak in the mighty Denali, which is one of the most scenic national parks. The rail car features glass-dome ceilings to digest the sublime views. It starts from Downtown Anchorage and stops in Talkeetna and Wasila before traveling through Denali National Park and ending at Fairbanks.
The 12-hour train ride includes two classes, the GoldStar Service and the basic Adventure Class. Travelers can also opt for a private Wilderness run that offers open-air platforms, separate dining and train guides, etc.
Although the U.S is full of splendid landscapes, spectacular views, and captivating sites, you should never miss the opportunity to take a train ride across one of the most scenic locations mentioned above. However, you should only visit during the best time of the year when the season and weather conditions are perfect. This way, you get to witness nature at its best with mountains covered with snow, antelopes grazing the grounds and tall green trees surrounding you at every corner.