A train trip is a unique experience that can show you the country in a way you’ve never seen it before. As the USA is a large, diverse nation there are many train trips going near and far, in both antique and modern rail cars. Here are some of the best train trips in the USA.
1. Cass Scenic Railroad – West Virginia
On this 4.5 hour train ride you will be taken through the mountains of West Virginia on journey reminiscent of the times when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. The ride actually takes place on a steam-driven locomotive, and it starts in the town of Cass where history from the times is preserved for visitors to see.
2. Mount Washington Cog Railway – New Hampshire
The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a 3 hour guided train tour to Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast. It is the world’s first mountain-climbing train. You can choose either to take the trip in a vintage coach powered by a steam locomotive, or the more modern, eco-friendly biodiesel engines. Go during the fall to take in the changing leaves and fall foliage.
3. Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – Colorado
Though it’s only 3.5 hours long, this historic train ride is a truly unique experience. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs 45.4 miles each way along the Animas River from Durango to Silverton, Colorado, climbing 3,000 ft of elevation along the way. The rails are only three feet apart, and on them a 1920s steam engine pulls 1880s-era rail cars.
4. Grand Canyon Railway – Arizona
Operating between Williams, Arizona and Grand Canyon National Park, this train is a historic 130 mile round-trip ride. Picturesque views are offered along the entire 2 hour and 15 minute trip, all the way up to the arrival at one of the natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon. Riders enjoy refurbished train cars from the 1920s to the 1950s.
5. Napa Valley Wine Train – California
The Napa Valley Wine Train is a true experience, with gourmet wining and dining provided on board. The train travels from Napa to St. Helena and back, a 36-mile round-trip lasting three hours. It passes through the beautiful wine country and past famous, historic wineries. Passengers ride in restored Pullman train cars from 1915.
6. Ethan Allan Express – from New York City to Rutland, Vermont
Traveling through the Catskills and upstate New York into the Green Mountains, the Ethan Allen Express takes passengers through some of the most beautiful scenery in the eastern USA. The 241 mile long train ride has stops along the way for hiking, biking, dining, and sight-seeing.
7. Arkansas Missouri Railroad – Arkansas and Missouri
The Arkansas Missouri Railroad travels through the mountains and valleys of Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. It offers passengers a chance to travel as they did in the ‘Golden Age of Travel’ with its beautiful antique parlor and passenger cars. There are three different excursions to choose from on this scenic railroad.
8. California Zephyr – Chicago to Emeryville, California
For travelers looking for a long, scenic westward route, the California Zephyr is a great option. It goes from Chicago, Illinois through Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada to end up in California near San Francisco. It is a very scenic route that lasts over 51 hours in total. This epic train trip travels a similar route taken by the pioneers who settled the American West.
9. Southwest Chief – Chicago to Los Angeles
This higher-speed train travels 2265 miles through the American midwest and southwest on a 40 hour scenic journey. Southwest Chief goes across the Mississippi River, past ranches, fields, pueblos, mountains and deserts and through canyon passageways.