See America by Train

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18 train routes span America's most breathtaking and scenic landscapes, offering a unique experience you'll never forget, says Only In Your State.

See America by train: 18 train journeys that take you to the heart of the US

Photo: Shutterstock

There's no better way to get a feel for life than to take one of America's epic train rides. There is something charming and magical about traveling by train; sit back as the world flies by outside the window, feel the rhythmic swaying of the carriage, listen to passenger chatter and feel that life is beautiful, not to mention the scenery outside the window – they will definitely not leave you indifferent.

Alaska Railroad – Alaska

There is no better or warmer way to explore The Last Frontier than by taking the Alaska Train. Based in Anchorage, the Alaska Railroad was founded in 1903 and has been leading adventurers through some of the state's most breathtaking natural areas for over 100 years. After just one ride, you'll fully understand why National Geographic Traveler included it in the Top 10 Train Trips in North America.

Enjoy views of the Turnagain River and the Chugach National Forest as you head south from Anchorage to Seward on one of the best day trips in Alaska.

Empire Builder – from Washington to Illinois

Experience America's rugged splendor like never before aboard the Amtrak Empire Builder train. Traveling daily between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest and following major stretches of the Lewis and Clark Trail, Empire Builder takes passengers on their own American adventure. The 3550 km route passes through the country's most majestic wilderness and stunning landscapes, following in the footsteps of the pioneers. This 46-hour tour is one of the greatest American adventures you'll ever have.

Mount Hood Railroad – Oregon

When you live in a place like Oregon surrounded by natural beauty, it can be easy to lose sight of just how extraordinary this part of the country really is. Sometimes we all need a reminder to stop and smell the roses or, in Oregon, the cherry blossoms. And the Mount Hood Railroad is the perfect place to do it. This charming passenger train brings a big dose of nostalgia; an experience that will take you back to a simpler time. And while the train itself is absolutely amazing, what you will remember most is the scenery of these excursions. In the spring, when the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the landscape surrounding the majestic Mount Hood is full of enchanting white and pink flowers. But at any time of the year, the Mount Hood Railway offers some of the most breathtaking views in the country and is the perfect way to enjoy the splendor of PNW.

Coast Starlight – from California to Seattle

Widely regarded as one of the most impressive rail routes in the country, Amtrak's Coast Starlight Route connects the West Coast's major cities, from Los Angeles to Seattle. The scenery along the Coast Starlight route is unsurpassed; the 35-hour drive sees the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta, old-growth forests in California and Oregon, and long stretches of pristine Pacific coastline. The cute dining cars and sleeping cars only add to the charm of this epic journey. Coast Starlight – a dazzling tour of the west coast; a must for those looking for a scenic adventure.

Roaring Camp Railroads – California

For the most breathtaking views of Northern California, look no further than the Roaring Camp Railroads. This historic line offers two train rides through California's most wondrous treasure: its towering redwood groves. One of the rides, the Redwood Forest Steam Train, carries passengers over flyovers under a high mahogany canopy, winding a narrow gauge railway up to the top of Bear Mountain. The train's steam engines date back to 1890 and are considered some of the oldest still serving passengers in America, making this an exciting adventure.

Napa Valley Wine Train – California

There is nothing more beautiful than California's Napa Valley; a fertile oasis that grows one of the best grape varieties in the world. Home to over 400 wineries, Napa Valley is world famous for its wines and spectacular natural scenery. Oenophiles and aesthetes should take the Napa Valley Wine Train, which offers excursions into the idyllic California countryside. This is a great and easy way to see Napa Valley as you pass through Oak Knoll, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena. Of course, local wines are served during the three-hour drive, making for the perfect combination of wine and Northern California's stunning scenery.

Grand Canyon Railroad – Arizona

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the crown jewels in the country and a visit to this national treasure is a must for many. While there are many ways to explore this natural wonder, none is more unique and charming than the Grand Canyon Railroad. Traveling daily between Williams, Arizona and the majestic Grand Canyon, the historic Grand Canyon Railroad is a classic adventure. bar and adjacent rear platform. But in fact, it's not about what's inside the cars; we are talking about breathtaking scenery outside.

And trust us, the scenery here is truly extraordinary!

Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway – Colorado

Since 1891, the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway has taken millions of people on an unforgettable journey to the highest point in the southern front range of the Colorado Rockies. This 4,302.25m peak is a favorite for experienced hikers; however, for most, it is literally out of reach. Luckily, there is the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. This journey will take passengers to the top of Pikes Peak, traveling along Ruxton Creek, past Minnehaha, and en route through Deer Park.

This is an extremely scenic adventure offering million-dollar views of some of the most beautiful scenery in the country . For a time, the future of this railroad hung in the balance; however, in May 2021, the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway reopened after much-needed repairs and restoration.

Durango & Silverton – Colorado

Named one of the most scenic train rides in the world, the Durango & Silverton is an unforgettable adventure in the American West. This coal-fired steam locomotive travels through the most incredible areas of Colorado, through the rugged desert and majestic canyons of the San Juan National Forest. What makes this tour so special is that it puts Colorado's largest and most impressive natural wonders within reach for everyone, not just avid adventurers and enthusiasts.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad – New Mexico and Colorado

Cumbres & The Toltec Scenic Railroad offers a 100 km round trip from Chama in northern New Mexico to Antonito in Colorado. The locomotive that you will sit on is a locomotive that climbs mountains with ease and grace. Traveling through the Rocky Mountains, passengers on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad will enjoy the picturesque scenery. The open-air carriage lets you immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this historic train, allowing passengers to breathe in the cool Colorado breeze while admiring the stunning natural scenery of the southwest.

Branson Scenic Railway – Missouri

Missouri's Branson Scenic Railway runs through many beautiful places, and a train ride is truly the best way to slow down and enjoy the views. Luckily, you can discover the stunning Missouri Ozarks on a relaxing train ride on the scenic Branson Scenic Railway. Take a seat under the glass dome, enjoy your meal and enjoy the beautiful scenery aboard the Branson Scenic Railway. This railroad will take passengers on a 60-km journey into the heart of the Missouri Ozarks, an experience you won't soon forget.

Arkansas-Missouri Railroad – Arkansas

This is another way to see the sights of the state – by train. The Arkansas-Missouri Railroad offers great train rides through one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Each of the railway excursions will delight you with breathtaking views all year round; but in the fall, when the leaves begin to change color, you'll be speechless by the charming Arkansas Ozark. This is the best way to experience the splendor of one of America's most luxurious regions.

The Crescent Train – from Louisiana to New York

Amtrak's Crescent Train is a 30-hour expedition that takes passengers from the Big Apple to Big Easy. This ride spans 2,092.15 flawless miles and passes through more states than any other Amtrak route. Departing deep into the American South, the train passes through iconic Mid-Atlantic cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC before heading into the heart of the South – to Greenville, Atlanta and Birmingham. New Orleans is the perfect end point for this route; a grand finale with jazz clubs, Cajun restaurants and an indelible, exuberant culture.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad – North Carolina

In North Carolina, the scenic route is always the best option. Between the picturesque mountains, hills and valleys of Tar Heel State, babbling streams and rivers, the only way to truly enjoy the views is to take the old-fashioned route and take the train. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, based in Bryson City, runs several different tours of the remote and scenic stretches of the magnificent range.

While rail travel is impressive, you'll definitely want to book tickets for a tour of Nantahala. For four and a half hours, you'll ride the beautiful Nantahala River, listen to Native American tales, and explore some of the country's most magnificent mountain scenery. This is another trip to add to your fall list, as the cooler temperatures bring color and depth to the Smoky Mountains, perfect for your photos.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad – Ohio

Ohio's only national park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, is one of the Midwest's most dazzling hidden gems. Rolling and lush, full of rivers and valleys, this is a pristine place you just want to enjoy – and a trip to the National Scenic Park aboard the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley Railroad is the perfect way to do it.

This unforgettable three and a half hour train ride takes you right through the Cuyahoga River Valley, along the Cuyahoga River, and past magnificent wetlands (yes, Ohio has wetlands!). This tour offers the ultimate experience in one of the nation's finest and most forgotten national parks, sure to give passengers a new understanding of the Midwest.

Cass Scenic Railroad – West Virginia

High in the mountains of West Virginia is the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, a place where visitors can step back in time aboard a restored steam locomotive. Originally built to haul logs to a sawmill in West Virginia, the Cass Scenic Railroad has been transformed into one of the most scenic, historic, and interesting passenger trains in the country.

Trains depart from the town of Cass and take visitors to Whittaker Station (two hour ride) or Bald Knob (four and a half hour adventure). We are partial to the Bald Knob tour. Boasting a unique ecosystem that is more like what you might expect to find in Canada than West Virginia, Bald Knob towers over all but one of West Virginia's countless mountain peaks. The train climbs to an impressive height of 697.99 m from Cass Depot to the top of Bald Knob for a breathtaking adventure.

Mount Washington Cog Railway – New Hampshire

One of the most notable features of the Northeast is New Hampshire's majestic Mount Washington. With a height of 1916.58 m, it is the highest peak in the northeast and also one of the most beautiful. And while you can climb this beautiful mountain on foot or even by car, there's a really unique way to experience Mount Washington that should be on your wish list, and that's the eponymous railroad.

This railroad has a rich history: the first train climbed on July 3, 1869 and has been taking adventurers to the summit ever since. The three-hour ride slowly ascends into the clouds, revealing stunning panoramas with each stage of the ascent. In fact, the Mount Washington Cog Railway is a National Historic Engineering Landmark, and it really is a piece of history that you should experience for yourself.

Aclea Train – East Coast of the United States, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington DC

The seven-hour Amtrak Acela Train is an epic east coast journey from Boston to Washington, D.C. Along the way, you will stop and experience the culture of the East Coast. You can sample fresh clam chowder in Boston, learn about US history in DC, or head to a museum in Philadelphia. Not only are the views from the outside dazzling and awe-inspiring, the Amtrak Acela trains have recently been refurbished to be the pinnacle of modern luxury. If you are looking for epic views and luxurious comfort, the Acela train will give you the best experience.

Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. Such is the case with the passengers who board these excellent trains. Climb aboard and get ready for one of these epic train rides across beautiful America.

Address: Branson Scenic Railway, 206 E Main St, Branson, MO 65616, USAAddress: Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Rockside Station, 7900 Old Rockside Rd, Independence, OH 44131, USAAddress: Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, 45 Mitchell St, Bryson City, NC 28713, USA Address: Mount Hood Railroad, 110 Railroad Street, Hood River, OR 97031, USAAddress:Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, 306 E Emma Ave, Springdale, AR 72764, USAAddress: 800 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USAAddress: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, 479 Main Ave, Durango, CO 81301, USAAddress: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, 500 Terrace Ave, Chama, NM 87520, USA Address: Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, 12363 Cass Rd, Cass, WV 24927, USA Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, USAAddress: The Mount Washington Cog Railway, 3168 Base Station Rd, Mount Washington, NH 03589, USAAddress: 5401 Graham Hill Rd, Felton, CA 95018, USAAddress: Anchorage Depot, 411 W 1st Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501, USAAddress: 1001 Loyola Ave, New Orleans, LA 70113, USA< strong>Address: Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, USAAddress: 1301 W 11th St, Vancouver, WA 98660, USAAddress: 1275 McKinstry St, Napa , CA 94559, USA