photo courtesy of The West Virginia Department of Commerce
Trains may seem like an old fashioned way to travel, but they can be an adventure in themselves. Train trips allow you to sit back and take in incredible scenic views, some of which are only accessible by railway. Travel time may be longer, but many of these trains offer amenities like sleeping cars, dining cars and lounges or cafe's. Below are some of the most beautiful railroad excursions in the country.
1. Grand Canyon Railway
This train takes you from Williams, AZ to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, stopping along the way to allow you to take in some of the park's legendary sights. Because of the varying elevations on the route you will see high-mountain pine forests and wide open plains all in one trip. The train includes some of the original cars, as well as a cast of historical characters that will act as your tour guides along the way. The ride is about 4 1/2 hours round trip, including the stop in the canyon.
Photo courtesy Grand Canyon Railway Hotel
2. Amtrak Coast Starlight
This train takes you up the West coast, departing from Los Angeles and ending up in Seattle. En route you will see some incredible views, including stretches of the Pacific Ocean, lush forests and the Cascade Mountain range. This train has it all, from sleeping and dining cars to a special sightseeing car and a lounge with a full bar and wine and cheese pairings. This is one of the most popular long distance routes in the US, and will take about 36 hours one way, including multiple stops
Photo courtesy of Amtrak
3. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway
This historic narrow gauge train departs from Durango, CO and curves along the Animus River to the mining town of Silverton. Most of the ride will take you through scenic canyons and forests, and you are likely to see elk or bighorn sheep along the way. You have the opportunity to look out from open air gondolas and ride in some of the vintage coach cars still in use. The trip is about 3 1/2 hours each way with a stop in Silverton so passengers can eat, shop and explore.
Photo Courtesy of durangotrain.com
4. Cass Scenic Railroad
The Bald Knob trip on the Cass Scenic railroad takes you up the third highest peak in the mountains of West Virginia. It boasts spectacular views into the valley below, and some of the passenger cars are actually refurbished logging cars from the original line in 1901. There are a few stops along the way, including one at historic Whittaker Station, an old logging camp, for lunch. Travel time is about 4 1/2 hours round trip including the stops.
Photo courtesy of mountainrailwaywv.com
5. Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic Train
The Coastal Classic train offers an up-close look at the scenic Alaskan wilderness. Departing from Anchorage, it takes you along the Turnagain Arm of the Kenai Mountains, through the back country and into Resurrection Bay in Seward before looping back. There is a good chance you will spot some of the abundant wildlife along the way. Roundtrip it takes about 8 hours, but many passengers will spend the night in Sweard before heading back.
Photo courtesy of Alaska.org