7 Spectacularly Scenic Train Tours to Satisfy Your Wanderlust

7 Spectacularly Scenic Train Tours to Satisfy Your Wanderlust
iStock/AlexPotemkin

Want to take off across the country and see the sites? Your first thoughts are probably of hopping in the car or booking a flight, but think again. Train travel is a low-stress, more economical, and more eco-friendly way to travel. Scenic train tours are also a great way to experience the wilderness without trampling it and from relative comfort (even luxury) as well.

And don’t think that you have to travel to Europe or more exotic locales to experience scenic train tours, the United States and Canada have some truly amazing train tours that last from a just a few hours to weeks. Go west, (or east) and add these scenic train tours to your travel bucket list to see the countryside.

North American Scenic Train Tours You Can’t Pass Up

Scenic Train Tours

1. Empire Builder

Chicago > St. Paul/Minneapolis > Spokane > Portland/Seattle

46 hours

The Empire Builder trip combines the best of stunning city views with the rugged wilderness of the American West. The trip starts out in Chicago and travels to the Pacific Northwest along major portions of the Lewis and Clark trail. With views of the Mississippi, Big Sky Country, Glacier National Park and Mt Hood in Seattle, this trip is packed with iconic views of the American West.

 

Scenic Train Tours

2. Denali Star Train

Anchorage > Wasilla > Talkeetna > Denali > Fairbanks

12 hours

The Denali Star Train is the way to get to Denali National Park in Alaska. The 356-mile journey spans two of Alaska’s five unique regions–Southcentral and Interior Alaska. When the weather cooperates, riders can even get a glimpse of Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. Combine this tour with other train routes and packages from Alaska Railroad to see Alaska from the comfort of a train car.

Scenic Train Tours

3. California Zephyr

Chicago > Omaha > Denver > Salt Lake City > Oakland

51 hours

The California Zephyr is often referred to as one of the most beautiful train trips in all of North America. Departing Chicago daily, the multi-day journey takes riders on a trip through the across the plans to the Rockies, the Sierra Nevadas, and deposits them in San Francisco. The train features an observation-lounge car with wrap around windows for maximum viewing pleasure.

Scenic Train Tours

4. Great Smoky Mountain Railroad –Nantahala Gorge Excursion

Western North Carolina

4 ½ hours

Comprised of tracks from historical regional railways, the Great Smoky Mountain Railway was established in 1988 to run excursions. The Railway has a wide variety of excursions and themed trips including the Nantahala Gorge Excursion which treats riders to views of the Smoky Mountains while following the Tennessee and Nantahala River. The trip even features a crossing over an historic trellis bridge.

Scenic Train Tours

5. Napa Valley Wine Train Vista Dome

Napa Valley

3 hours

If you are traveling to Napa wine country, the Napa Valley Wine Train is a must and the Vista Dome train, an elevated observation-style dining car, is a highlight. Riders can enjoy the views of wine country from this elegant vintage train car that features curved windows for maximum viewing. The three-hour journey also includes a multi-course gourmet meal and wine, of course.

Scenic Train Tours

6. Ethan Allen Express

Rutland > Albany > New York

5 ½ hours

The Ethan Allen Express is designed for riders to experience the beauty of the scenic Hudson River Valley. Take in the fall foliage or early spring skiing without the hassle of driving. The region is packed with bed and breakfast places, farm to table eating, unique shopping districts and plenty of fresh air and beautiful northeastern views.

Scenic Train Tours

7. Rocky Mountaineer Coastal Package

Seattle > Vancouver > Canadian Rockies

1-14 nights

Travel along the stunning Pacific Ocean to the majestic Canadian Rockies with this cross-border route that connects the cities of Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia with the breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies. The train only travels during the day, so riders don’t miss any of the views. Riders can choose packages that last from 1-14 days.

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Fitnessequipment
fitness
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Nutritiousfood
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Yoga
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Fashionmagazine
Fashionshow
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Smalltools
Therecipe
travel
animation
car
games
Motorcar
movies
music
news
Scienceandtechnology
tutorial
catering
health
Loseweight
outdoors
Reduceweight
science
stretch
training
Abadgirl
appetite
attitude
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Jen Wallace

Jen Wallace is a communications consultant and freelance writer who writes about everything from independent business tips to the modern history of the American hemline. Jen's passions and interests are varied and include a love for all things fermented, locavorism, cats, and community building among others.