When we think about travelling and going on vacation, the typical means of transportation that comes to mind are either to go by car or by airplane. Although train rides may often be a last-ditch choice when a car isn’t available and flight prices are too high, not enough credit is given to trains. Travelling by train provides an unforgettable experience, allowing you to take in the sights and make stops in cities you want to visit. The five train rides below are perfect examples of some can’t-miss adventures, and will have you rethinking how you felt about trains in the first place:
The West Coast of the United States is renowned for its stunning beaches, breathtaking coastal views, and mountainous terrain. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train ride is a 36-hour trip from Portland, OR, to Los Angeles, taking you by some of the most magnificent sights the coast has to offer. The ride takes travelers on an adventure unlike any other, as the train whisks through the Cascade Mountains, beautiful waterfalls, and lush, green forests. The train is equipped with dining, sleeping, and lounge/cafe cars to provide you with all the amenities you need while on the journey.
If the thought of a 36-hour ride just seems far too unbearable, Amtrak provides a much shorter route that provides just as much beauty and serenity. The Cascades train embarks from Eugene, OR and stops in Seattle, making for a more reasonable four-hour trek. The initial part of the trip goes through the lush, evergreen forests while traveling through Oregon, and brings you to the coastal and mountainous regions of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains upon nearing Seattle.
If you thought the Coast Starlight’s 36-hour ride was long, just wait until you see what the California Zephyr has in store. Beginning in Chicago, and trekking all the way to Emeryville, CA, the ride retraces history by taking the same routes as many of the early pioneers. The more than 50-hour ride stuns travelers with a unique experience, journeying through Denver’s Rocky Mountains, the vibrant red rocks in Utah, the infamous Donner Pass, and introducing California through the San Francisco Bay region. If you’re up to it, this one cannot be missed.
White Pass & Yukon Route
Many people in the country are curious about “The Last Frontier,” and this train ride is the perfect way to get a deeper understanding of the beauty that Alaska has to give. Departing from the city of Skagway, AK, the route takes riders through the White Pass via the edges of cliffs, providing a near-frightening experience of seeing cliff-drops as they travel on what seems to be too narrow of a railway. The route is only 120 miles in total, and unlike others on this list, is a full round-trip bringing you back to Skagway. Experience sights such as Dead Horse Gulch, Bridal Veil Falls, and many others, as you explore this unknown frontier.
Rightfully named for what it represents, the Empire Builder train ride retraces some of the most notable footprints of Lewis & Clark, providing riders with insight into just how the American countryside was mapped and built. The ride amounts to 46-hours one way, and takes a route through Chicago, St. Paul, MN, Spokane, WA, and ending the ride in either Portland or Seattle, depending on personal preference. The breathtaking views as you travel along the Mississippi River, through Glacier National Park, and other beautiful sights will make the long trip more than worth it.
Although train rides may not be the first thing that come to mind when you consider travelling or vacationing, the above routes provide insight into why these journeys should be among your top choices. No matter where you’re looking to go, or the sights that you want to visit, the vast array of train rides throughout the country provides unique and unforgettable options for vacationing.