The 5 Best Train Journeys in the United States

Experiencing the scenic American landscape by train is certainly a ride worth taking. While it is not the fastest way to go from one place to another, there is something special and authentic about traveling by train. Here are some of the best train journeys that you can enjoy in the United States.

Snoqaulmie, Washington, USA at Reinig Bridge over the Snoqaulmie River.

1. Amtrak Coast Starlight

Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California
On this voyage, you’ll see iconic views of the West Coast while hitting up major cities like Tacoma, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. Highlights include seeing Puget Sound and the snowy peak of Mount Rainier. This historic train has been running since 1971. The trip takes about 35 hours and covers 1,377 miles.

Ticket cost: $120

2. Grand Canyon Railway

Williams, Arizona (Round Trip)
As its name implies, the great showstopper of this trip is the Grand Canyon. If you aspire to see this legendary wonder of the American landscape, going by train is actually one of the best ways to do so. You’ll skip the heavy bus traffic that can sometimes be a frustrating part of a Grand Canyon vacation.

Outskirts of the Grand Canyon

En route, you can enjoy glimpses of wildlife such as bald eagles, condors, and elk. The journey begins in the pine forests of Arizona, makes its way through Native American reservations, continues into high desert plateaus, and finishes with the canyon itself. It covers 130 miles round trip.

Ticket cost: $79

3. White Pass and Yukon Route Railway

Skagway, Alaska (Round Trip)
Delve into the history of the Alaskan Gold Rush from the vantage point of vintage railway cars. The trip begins in Skagway, Alaska, and continues to the Summit of the White Pass, a 40-mile round trip.

Beautiful Alaskan landscape, along peaceful train ride

The route dates back to the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush and is considered an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Along the way, you’ll see the Bridal Veil Falls, Dead Horse Gulch, Inspiration Point, dramatic cliffs, and the historic 1898 Klondike Trail.

Ticket cost: $122-$229

4. Cape Cod Central Railroad

Hyannis to Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts 
If you are looking for a glimpse of Cape Cod that is only offered by train travel, take a ride on the Cape Cod Central Railroad. You will see all of the classic Cape Cod imagery: cranberry bogs, salt marshes, coastal trails, etc. The route is 27 miles with optional narration and fine dining.

Cruising by calming waters

Ticket cost: $22-$47

5. Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Bryson City, North Carolina
If seeing the Great Smokey Mountains by train appeals to you, the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad has two excellent options. The Tuckasegee River Excursion is a 32-mile route that brings you through scenic forested valleys and across historic bridges. The 44-mile Nantahala Gorge Excursion offers even more beautiful scenery, including the Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers, Fontana Lake, and the gorge.


Chugging along the scenic railroad

Ticket cost: $51-$56


Don’t Miss the Chance to Experience Americana by Train

Whether you regularly seek out train trips or simply find yourself looking for a new way to travel, don’t miss the natural and historic gems the American railways. Check out The Outdoor Wear for more adventure posts and tips for the travel enthusiast.


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