Soar through lush trees and majestic mountains and feel grounded at the same time. Explore spectacular views, see vivid landscapes, and experience a unique adventure. Unlike car rides, a train trip gives you the chance to sit back, relax, and to enjoy the journey. We’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of five scenic train rides in the USA that would make a wonderful instagram-worthy adventure. Get ready to experience breath-taking chills and awe-inspiring excitement while riding on a train!
Seattle - Portland - Sacramento - Los Angeles
The Coast Starlight first operated in 1971 and was the first train to offer direct service between two cities. This train ride links the greatest cities of the West Coast. Embark from Seattle and get onboard the Coast Starlight! On this ride, you’ll whisk through the impressive Oregon Cascade Range, snowy Mount Shasta, earthy forests, and refreshing valleys with glimpses of the foamy Pacific coast shoreline. With this year’s superbloom, you can gaze at beautiful wildflowers along the way. We also recommend reserving a seat on the west side of the train for the best views of the Pacific Ocean.
Time: 35 hours one way
Price: $122-$154 one way
Features: Bicycle friendly, dining car, and lounge car.
Chicago - Minneapolis - Seattle
The Empire Builder is Amtrak’s most popular long distance train. This 2,206-mile journey allows passengers to travel across America and see the country’s greatest scenery with a single Amtrak ticket. Glide across the northern edge of the United States in the Empire Builder train. In between the urban stops, you’ll feel like an early pioneer on sections of the Lewis and Clark trail while experiencing the flowing plains, dramatic Glacier National Park, majestic Rocky Mountains, and mighty Sierra Nevadas. Oh and with their trainside checked bicycle option, you can bring your bike onboard to explore around the various stops, nature-friendly style. If you're looking to enjoy the scenery, the best time would be in mid-June to take advantage of longer daylight hours. We suggest traveling west to east, as that train will begin traveling the mountains around 6:30 am.
Time: 46 hours one way
Pricing: $310 to Portland OR $241 to Seattle (each one way)
Features: Dining car and lounge car.
Chicago - Denver - Salt Lake City - San Francisco
The California “Zephyr”— which means a soft gentle breeze, is Amtrak’s second longest train ride, and is rightfully named so. This train ride is easily one of their most scenic rides where passengers are able to get great views of the upper Colorado River valley. Soar across the immense Rocky Mountains, rugged Sierra Nevadas, Glenwood Canyon, Trucke Rover, and Donner Lake. During spring, you can stop by in Denver and step outside for a swim, picnic, or hike. Better yet, grab your bike and check out its 85 miles of bike trails!
Time: 51 hours 20 minutes one way
Price: $173 one way
Features: Bicycle friendly, dining car and lounge car.
New York - Albany - Montreal
The Adirondack is a higher-speed passenger train that runs between New York City and Montreal. The Adirondack mountains itself do not have many settlers, and much of the area exists in a primitive natural state, protected by state law. In between the major cities of New York and Montreal, you’ll get to experience Hudson Valley, known for its delicious wines. In the fall, you might get to see that bright brilliance of the fall foliage in the trees as you swiftly travel by. At only 10 hours, the Adirondack makes a great day trip for the crisp weather loving adventurer.
Time: 10 hours one way
Price: $70 one way
Features: Snack Car, Quiet Car, and WiFi onboard.
St. Albans - Essex Junction - Springfield - New York - Washington DC
The Vermonter is a passenger train ride that runs through Vermont and Washington DC. The journey lasts about 12 hours and 30 minutes and covers 611 miles. When it’s frosty and cold outside, cozy up inside a warm train and take in the snowy Vermont scenery. This is a comfortable, but adventurous experience you could have on the Vermonter, which also has a Quiet Car onboard for you to relax and unwind as you trek through the chilly mountains. Stopping in Vermont, which has a bunch of ski resorts, you can not only glide through the mountains on a train but on skis too!
Time: 13 hours 45 minutes
Price: $74 one way
Features: WiFi and Quiet Car.
Did any of these train trails catch your attention? If so, you’re all set to start charting out your next train adventure! While most long-distance trains offer checked baggage and bicycles, make sure to check with the train first. It might be best to leave your furry friend with a fellow hooman friend this time as most Amtrak train trips over 7 hours are not pet-friendly. Finally, don’t forget to pack your camera and adventure bag to capture all the beautiful scenery you’ll experience as you embark on one of Amtrak’s gorgeous train trips! If you think we missed out on any of America’s most scenic train rides, comment down below and let us know. Or if you’ve been inspire to take a journey across the great USA, comment down below and let us know which one you’ve decided on!