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The 7 Best Train Trips in the US



best train trips USA

While you may be thinking about traveling across America on an epic road trip or simply hopping on a plane to your destination, you’re missing out on a unique way to see parts of the country you would otherwise never see. Sit back, enjoy the beautiful scenery and travel in comfort on one of these great US train journeys.

From cruising the Pacific coast in a luxury carriage to traversing glaciers in Alaska, train travel is a must.

The best train trips in the US

1. Coastal Starlight

Route: Los Angeles – Seattle

Few things can ever come close to the scenery along the Pacific coast. For 36 hours, you’ll have a front-row seat to the beautiful Cascade Mountains, rolling hills, glaciers and spectacular ocean cliffs. The most beautiful route departs from Los Angelas and ends in Seattle. Don’t miss the chance on the train of your life.

2. The Californian Zephyr

Route: Chicago – San Francisco

You’ll start your journey in Chicago and travel 2,400 miles (3,924 km) west, climbing through the breathtaking Rockies and snow-capped Sierra Nevadas before arriving at your final stop in San Francisco.

3. Amtrak’s Empire Builder

Route: Chicago – St. Paul/Minneapolis – Spokane – Portland/Seattle

This 46-hour journey takes you on an exciting adventure through majestic wilderness, following in the footsteps of early pioneers. From Chicago you will have beautiful views of the Mississippi and see the glowing night skylines of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Wake up the next morning as you cross the plains of North Dakota and travel over the spectacular Gassman Coulee Trestle.

Empire Builder Train |  Amtrak

4. Southwest Chief

Route: Chicago – Kansas City – Albuquerque – Flagstaff – Los Angeles

The Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, through the vast expanses of the legendary American West. As you travel through curved gorge passages that are only a few meters wider than the train itself, you’ll see spectacular scenery and views not visible from highways.

Amtrak #3 at Apache Canyon, NM |  Amtrak train #3, the eastbo… |  Flickr

5. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Route: Bryson City, North Carolina

Enjoy North Carolina’s beautiful scenery from the comfort of your home with the GSMR Nantahala Gorge Train Ride. In a 4 1/2 round trip you will be guided 71 km to and through the Natahala Gorge. Book your trip with a historic steam train here for one of the best train journeys in the US.

best train trips USA

6. Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic

Route: Anchorage – Girdwood – Seward

This scenic route is a local favorite: convenient day trips from Anchorage to Seward with beautiful scenery. You’ll have approximately 7 hours to spend in Seward, the perfect amount of time to enjoy a Glacier & Wildlife Cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park. Or opt for a visit to the Alaska Sealife Center and a trip to Exit Glacier.

train travel USA

7. Amtrak Adirondack

Route: New York – Montreal

The Amtrak Adirondack Train runs daily from New York City, for a 10-hour journey through the Hudson Valley wine country, to Montreal. Board the southbound train anywhere along the line and arrive in central Manhattan in time to enjoy dinner and nightlife in New York City. Convenient connecting trains in New York extend your reach to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC.

train travel USA

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