10 Stunning North American Train Trips to Take Now

Love the idea of a road trip but don’t want to be stuck behind the wheel the whole time? Think train trips instead! We’re sharing 10 of our favorites to inspire you. Check them out!

Love the idea of a road trip but don't want to be stuck behind the wheel the whole time? Think train trips instead! We're sharing 10 of our favorites to inspire you. Check them out!

 

Train trips are one of the best ways to see the sights in North America. You don’t have to do the driving, so you can just back and take in the beauty! Here are some North American train trips that you can take now. The journeys are divided into 2 sections- multi-day trips for those who are adventurous and single-day tips for those who want to see the sights, but aren’t fond of traveling great distances!

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North American Train Trips to Take Now

MULTI-DAY TRAIN TRIPS

1. Amtrak California Zephyr

  • Route- From Chicago, Illinois to San Francisco, California
  • Travel time- 51 hours and 20 minutes (one way), 3 days and 2 nights
  • Miles- 2,438 miles
  • Travels along/near- Through Denver, Colorado; Reno, Nevada and Sacramento, California.
  • Views- This train ride provides you with views of the Colorado River and the Glenwood Canyon in Colorado and the majestic Redwood Forests in California.

2. Amtrak Cardinal

  • Route- From New York City, New York to Chicago, Illinois
  • Travel time- 26 hours and 30 minutes (one way), 2 days and 1 night
  • Miles- 1,146 miles
  • Travels along/near- Through Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Views- This train trip provides you with views of the Allegheny Mountains and the New River Gorge in West Virginia and the skyline of Cincinnati, Ohio.

3. Amtrak Coast Starlight

  • Route- From Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California
  • Travel time- 35 hours (one way), 2 days and 1 night
  • Miles- 1,377 miles
  • Travels along/near- Along the Pacific Coast and travels through Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; San Francisco Bay, California and Santa Barbara, California.
  • Views- This train ride provides you with views of Mount Shasta in California; Mount St. Helens, Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains in Washington State.

4. Amtrak Empire Builder

  • Route- From Chicago, Illinois to Seattle, Washington
  • Travel time- 46 hours (one way)
  • Miles- 2,206 miles
  • Travels along/near- Much of this train trip travels near the Canadian border and through the majestic wilderness of the American West.
  • Views- This train journey provides you with views of the plains of North Dakota, the Glacier National Park in Montana and the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

5. VIA Rail Canada: The Canadian

  • Route- From Vancouver, British Columbia to Toronto, Ontario
  • Travel time- 5 days and 4 nights (one way)
  • Miles- 2,775 miles
  • Travels along/near- Through Jasper and Edmonton in Alberta and Winnipeg in Manitoba.
  • Views- This train journey provides you with views of the Canadian Rockies, as well as Canada’s vast farmlands, forests, lakes, prairies and waterfalls.

SINGLE-DAY TRAIN TRIPS

6. Amtrak Adirondack

  • Route- From New York City, New York to Montreal, Canada
  • Travel time- 10 hours (one way)
  • Travels along/near- Along the Hudson River Valley and the shores of Lake Champlain in New York.
  • Views- This train ride provides you with views of the Saratoga Springs, the Adirondack Mountains and Fort Ticonderoga in New York.

7. Amtrak Maple Leaf

  • Route- From Toronto, Canada to New York City, New York
  • Travel time- 12 hours and 30 minutes (one way)
  • Miles- 544 miles
  • Travels along/near- Along the Hudson River and the Finger Lakes Region in New York.
  • Views- This train ride provides you with views of the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey, as well as the Erie Canal and Niagara Falls in New York.

8. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

  • Route- From Durango, Colorado to Silverton, Colorado
  • Travel time- 3 hours and 30 minutes (one way)
  • Miles- 45 miles
  • About- This 3-foot narrow-gauge heritage railroad has been in operation since 1881.
  • Travels along/near- This train ride travels through the mountains of the San Juan National Forest, over wild mountain streams and across scenic bridges.

9. Grand Canyon Railway

  • Route- To and from Williams, Arizona
  • Travel time- 8 hours and 25 minutes, includes a 4-hour stopover at the Grand Canyon (round trip)
  • Miles- 130 miles
  • About- The Grand Canyon Railway was built in 1898 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

10. Amtrak Ethan Allen Express

  • Route- From New York City to Rutland, Vermont
  • Travel time- 5.5 hours (one way)
  • About-  This tour takes you through gorgeous views of upstate New York and Vermont. Along the way, you’ll see miles of wilderness, including the scenic Hudson River Valley.

Now that we have some great train trips in mind, let’s check out a few must-know tips to make the most of your adventure!

Must-Know Train Travel Tips

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First, try saying “train travel tips” 10 times fast, I dare you! I can’t even say it once! Okay, so before you head out on your adventure by train, there are a few things to know to make it the best journey ever.

  1. Pack snacks! Even though many of these trains offer food service, your choices may be limited (or insanely expensive). Opt for light and healthy snacks. You don’t want heavy cakes sitting in your belly making you uncomfortable during your trip!
  2. Dress for comfort. If you’re taking a train to a fancy place, you can always get changed right before you reach your destination. Stick to stretchy yoga pants and comfy layers.
  3. Splurge on a sleeper cabin for multi-day trips. You’ll be thankful you did! If you’re just taking a day trip, splurge on the best seats that you can afford.
  4. Charge your phone before you go. Finding charging outlets can be a challenge on some trains. If you’re going to be using your phone as a camera along the way, I also recommend bringing along a little power bank (fully charged, of course).
  5. Know the luggage rules before you pack. If you’re just taking a day trip, a carry-on bag is more than enough. For longer trips, or if you’ll be staying at the final destination for a few days, you can typically check one or two bags for free. You’ll also want to check over the list of banned items. Just like planes, trains tend to prohibit things like sharp objects and excess amounts of liquid or perishables.

Have you ever taken any of these train trips? Are there any others that you recommend? Share below!

3 thoughts on “10 Stunning North American Train Trips to Take Now”

  1. Love this. Living in Europe we’ve gotten used to training around versus flying even with the number of discount airlines. I’d love to come back home to the States and randomly pick one of these train journeys to get a fresh perspective on the US.

  2. We’ve taken a few train rides just for the heck of it and because it was cheap. These sound amazing and definitely better than ones we’ve tried!

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