Train rides in America can be a unique and exciting way to explore the country. While train rides in America is not as common as it once was, there are still several options available for those who wish to ride the rails.
One of the most popular train rides in America is the Amtrak, which is the national rail service that covers much of the country. The Amtrak offers various routes, including long-distance trains that connect major cities and regions.
Some of the most popular long-distance routes include the California Zephyr, which runs between Chicago and San Francisco, and the Coast Starlight, which runs between Seattle and Los Angeles. These routes offer stunning scenery and a comfortable way to travel between regions.
Another popular option for train rides in America is regional rail services. These trains typically cover shorter distances and connect smaller towns and cities. Some popular regional rail services include the Metrolink in Southern California, the Capitol Corridor in Northern California, and the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C.
Most Scenic Train Rides in America
There are several scenic train rides in America that offer breathtaking views of the country’s natural beauty. Here are some of the most popular and picturesque train rides in America:
- The Rocky Mountaineer: This train ride takes you through the Canadian Rockies and offers stunning views of the mountains, glaciers, and lakes.
- The California Zephyr: This route connects Chicago and San Francisco and takes you through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Colorado Rockies, and the Utah desert.
- The Coast Starlight: This train ride runs from Seattle to Los Angeles and takes you along the Pacific Coast, offering views of the ocean and the mountains.
- The Empire Builder: This route connects Chicago and Seattle and takes you through the Glacier National Park, the North Dakota Badlands, and the Cascade Mountains.
- The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: This train ride takes you through the scenic San Juan Mountains of Colorado and offers views of canyons, waterfalls, and historic mining towns.
- The Grand Canyon Railway: This train ride takes you from Williams, Arizona, to the Grand Canyon and offers views of the stunning landscape of the American Southwest.
- The Alaska Railroad: This train ride takes you through the Alaskan wilderness and offers views of mountains, glaciers, and wildlife.
When it comes to the best scenic train rides in the US, options are many starting from the Great Smoky Mountains to Napa Valley. All these are most popular in the spring and fall but consider riding the rails during the holidays, when many railroads offer exclusively themed rides and you can enjoy the ride with your whole family.
1. Cass Scenic Railway, West Virginia
The history of Cass Scenic Railroad can be traced back to the bold, brave men and women of West Virginia who dedicated their lives to building a lumber empire. Initially built at the turn of the century, today the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park offers fun rides from far and wide giving you a chance to experience the wilds of West Virginia while riding on a steam-driven locomotive.
2. Mount Washington Cog Railway, New Hampshire
Starting at Mount Washington’s western slope, The Mount Washington Cog Railway, which is also known as “The Cog,” runs almost 3,500 feet up to the highest summit in New England. It is the first mountain-climbing cog railway and the second steepest in the world. It runs both steam and biodiesel-powered locomotives and takes almost three hours round trip to the summit, where you can have the views that span the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire, Canada, Vermont, Atlantic Ocean, and Maine.
3. Strasburg Rail Road, Pennsylvania
You can have an Amish horse and buggy ride to reach a burgundy-red train station for a ride on America’s oldest shortline railroad. The Strasburg Rail Road goes deep into the Amish farmlands of Pennsylvania’s Dutch country, offering you the opportunity to ride the rails and dine in America’s only wooden dining coach.
4. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, North Carolina
Running across panoramic valleys, down bottomless gorges, and into tunnels through the Appalachian Mountains, this amazing scenic railroad is a one-of-a-kind experience that you will never forget. At the mesmerizing and remote corner of Western North Carolina, this Great Smoky Mountain Railroad covers 53 miles of track through two tunnels and over 25 different bridges.
5. Durango & Silverton Railroad, Colorado
Durango & Silverton line was started in 1881. It was initially about to haul silver and gold ore from the San Juan Mountains, but passengers soon realized the view was equally as precious. This brought this passenger locomotive steam train in operation ever since, running from Durango, Colorado, along the Animas River up to the old mining town of Silverton.
6. Arkansas & Missouri Railroad
Go to the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad to take a trip into the Ozarks and back in time to the nation’s Golden Age of travel. The rail track is one of the few commercial lines that still run both freight and passenger cars, and it provides three popular excursions for passengers: Fort Smith to Winslow, Springdale to Van Buren, and Van Buren to Winslow.
7. Napa Valley Wine Train
This train ride will take you through one of the most well-known wine valleys in the country. You also have a gourmet dinner plus a few bottles of Napa’s finest wines while enjoying your trip on Napa Valley Wine Train. This is the only train that offers passengers a movable feast and a riding experience that’s a bit more extravagant although.
8. Mount Hood Railroad, Oregon
Starting from Hood River, Oregon, 60 miles east of Portland, the Mount Hood Railroad offers coach and first class seats and dining for a range of trips. Apart from incredible views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams, you will also come across with engaging onboard entertainment, from mystery dinner theaters and musical concerts to fictitious train robberies.
What is the cost of a Train Rides in America?
The cost of a train rides in America varies depending on several factors such as the distance traveled, the type of train and class of service, the time of year, and the route taken. Here are some general estimates of train fares in America:
Amtrak: The cost of an Amtrak ticket varies widely depending on the route and class of service. For example, a one-way ticket from New York City to Washington, D.C. on the Northeast Regional train can cost around $49 for economy class, while a sleeper cabin on the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco can cost over $1,000.
Regional trains: Regional train services such as Metrolink and Capitol Corridor tend to be less expensive than long-distance Amtrak trains. A one-way ticket on Metrolink in Southern California can cost around $10-$15, while a one-way ticket on the Capitol Corridor in Northern California can cost around $20-$30.
Tourist trains: Some tourist trains, such as the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, can cost more than $100 for a round-trip ticket. However, these trains often offer unique experiences and attractions that are not available on regular train services.
It is important to note that train fares in America can vary widely depending on the season and availability of seats. It is recommended to book train tickets in advance to secure the best fares.
Train Terminals For Train Rides in America
There are numerous train terminals in America, including major terminals in large cities and regional terminals that serve smaller towns and cities. Here are some of the most well-known train terminals in America: Union Station, Washington, D.C.: Union Station is the major train station in the nation’s capital and is served by Amtrak trains, as well as local commuter trains and buses.
- Grand Central Terminal, New York City: Grand Central Terminal is one of the largest train stations in the world and is a popular landmark in New York City. It serves Amtrak trains as well as commuter trains and subways.
- Penn Station, New York City: Penn Station is the busiest train station in North America, serving over 600,000 passengers per day. It is a hub for Amtrak trains as well as commuter trains and subways.
- 30th Street Station, Philadelphia: 30th Street Station is the main train station in Philadelphia and is served by Amtrak trains, regional rail services, and buses.
- Union Station, Chicago: Union Station is the largest train station in Chicago and is served by Amtrak trains, regional rail services, and buses.
- King Street Station, Seattle: King Street Station is a historic train station in Seattle and is served by Amtrak trains as well as local commuter trains.
- Los Angeles Union Station: Los Angeles Union Station is the largest train station in the western United States and is served by Amtrak trains as well as local commuter trains and buses.
These are just a few examples of the many train terminals in America. Each terminal offers unique experiences and amenities, but all serve as important transportation hubs for passengers traveling by train.
Overall, train rides in America can be a unique and exciting way to explore the country. While it may not be as common as air travel or driving, it can provide a relaxing and enjoyable way to see the sights and experience the journey. These are just a few of the many scenic train rides in America. Each route offers its own unique views and experiences, making train travel an excellent way to explore the natural beauty of the country.