The Best Train Trips to Take Across America

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The Best Train Trips to Take Across America

The United States, known for its diverse landscapes and vastness, offers a multitude of scenic and historic train trips that provide a unique perspective on the country’s character and beauty. A train journey allows you to witness America’s diverse cultures, rich history, and breathtaking landscapes. Here are some of the best train journeys that take you across America.

The Empire Builder – Amtrak


First up is Amtrak’s Empire Builder, a journey that covers a sprawling 2,200 miles from Chicago to Seattle. Named in honor of James J. Hill, the “Empire Builder” who founded the Great Northern Railway, this voyage encapsulates the robust essence of America.

Starting in the bustling city of Chicago, the train embarks towards the stunningly scenic route along the Mississippi River. Further west, the train cuts through the plains of North Dakota, into the splendid spectacle of the Northern Rockies, and finally descends into the lush landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.

The ride, spanning two days and nights, introduces travelers to a multitude of changing vistas, from the skyscrapers of Chicago to the unending grasslands, the dramatic Rockies, and finally the coastal views of Puget Sound.

California Zephyr – Amtrak


Arguably one of the most scenic rail journeys in North America, the California Zephyr covers a whopping 2,438 miles, spanning from Chicago to Emeryville, California, just outside of San Francisco. This journey carves a path through seven states, presenting a beautiful palette of American landscapes.

The highlights of the journey include crossing the Mississippi River, the awe-inspiring Rockies, the Colorado canyons, and the picturesque Sierra Nevadas. With observation cars boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, travelers are offered unobstructed views of the passing natural wonders.

Coast Starlight – Amtrak


Connecting Los Angeles and Seattle, the Coast Starlight is another gem in the crown of American rail travel. This journey is famed for offering a diverse taste of the West Coast’s varying landscapes.

Departing from Los Angeles, the train threads its way along the magnificent Pacific Coast, providing breathtaking ocean views. As it travels north, it ascends into the Cascade Range, revealing mountainous scenes that contrast beautifully with the earlier coastal views. The journey ends in the vibrant city of Seattle, marking a vivid finale to the spectacular journey.

Southwest Chief – Amtrak


The Southwest Chief, running between Chicago and Los Angeles, is a journey filled with historical intrigue. It follows a part of the iconic Route 66 and offers a glimpse into the bygone era of pioneering American West.

Passengers on this journey will witness an array of natural and historical landmarks, including the vast wheat fields of Kansas, the red cliffs of New Mexico, the Grand Canyon, and the deserts of Arizona. The journey concludes with a descent into the sprawling cityscape of Los Angeles.

The Auto Train – Amtrak


The Auto Train, the only one of its kind in the U.S, connects Lorton, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.) and Sanford, Florida (near Orlando). Beyond the novelty of being a train that also transports your vehicle, the Auto Train takes passengers through the East Coast’s charming terrains.

This service is particularly favored by those seeking to avoid the I-95 traffic while still having the convenience of their car at the destination. The journey offers views of serene landscapes, vast farmlands, lush green forests, and cityscapes.

Cascades – Amtrak


The Amtrak Cascades offers a feast for the eyes, connecting the cities of Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Eugene, Oregon.

The journey offers a picturesque palette of landscapes, from the snow-capped mountains of the Cascades Range to the sparkling blue waters of the Puget Sound and the Columbia River. Highlights include views of Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and the lush evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest.

To summarize, America’s train journeys capture the heart and soul of the nation’s landscapes and historical narratives. The ease of rail travel, paired with the mesmerizing views, provides a captivating way to traverse this grand country. Whether you’re a local or a foreigner, there’s no denying that America’s train journeys offer an enchanting view of the nation’s diverse and awe-inspiring expanse. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride as the landscape transforms with every mile.