Do you like traveling by train? Do you enjoy multi-day train trips? I recently started obsessing about train trips and went into a rabbit hole of research, and I am now more excited than ever to plan my next train trip in the USA.
In this article you will learn about:
There’s just something about traveling by train. It evokes a time gone by when rail travel was luxurious, and the carriages were elegant and festive. There is part nostalgia and part slow living that I enjoy about train voyages.
Train travel is generally slower than air travel, but it allows you to relax and enjoy the scenery, which is a big part of the experience. Many train trips offer sleeper cars where you can rest and sleep during the night and wake up at a new destination in the morning.
Some train trips also have stops along the way where you can get off and explore the local area before getting back on the train. Depending on the train trip, the duration can range from a few hours to several days. It’s always best to check the specific itinerary and schedule of the train trip you’re interested in to plan your journey accordingly.
Preparing for a multi-day train trip involves some planning and preparation to ensure that you have everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable journey.
Before departing, check the train schedule to plan your journey and know when you’ll be arriving at your destination. Familiarize yourself with the stops (if any) along the way.
Find out what is included and what is not included in your package or ticket purchase. Things like snacks and meals may or may not be part of the deal.
Since space is limited on trains, it’s best to pack light and bring only the essentials. Bring comfortable clothes, a few changes of clothing, and toiletries. Most train trips have a baggage limit, so be sure to check the specific requirements before packing.
For the longer multi-day trips, it’s a good idea to bring some entertainment. This can include books, magazines, music, podcasts, or movies on a tablet or laptop. Don’t forget to pack your chargers for your electronic devices.
Depending on the season and location of your train trip, the weather can vary widely. Be sure to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly, especially if you will be doing some excursions off the train.
While most train trips offer dining cars or food service, it’s always a good idea to bring some snacks and drinks, especially if you have any dietary restrictions.
Several personal factors would make you pick one train trip over another. Here are a few things to consider.
Do you enjoy nature and panoramic landscapes? If so, choose train trips that offer stunning views of mountains, forests, and coastlines.
Choose train trips that offer comfortable seating and modern sleeper cars for multi-day trips. Check the photos of the accommodations on the website.
Look into train trips that are known for being safe and secure, that are reliable and that have a good reputation for customer service.
If you have mobility issues or other disabilities, research train trips that have accessibility and accommodations that suit your needs.
Do you love history and culture? Look for train trips that pass through areas with significant cultural or historical significance, such as national parks, historic landmarks, or iconic cities.
Read comments and ratings on websites like Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet to learn about others’ first-hand experiences.
These train trips were chosen based on their ability to provide a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable travel experience for older women who want to explore the beauty and diversity of the United States.
Photo: Amtrak – The California Zephyr
The California Zephyr is a scenic long-distance passenger train running daily between Chicago and San Francisco. The route covers over 2,400 miles and takes you through some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country, including the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River Valley, and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
The train offers comfortable seating and private cabins, dining cars serving fresh, locally sourced meals, observation lounges with panoramic views, and access to Wi-Fi and power outlets.
Along the route, the California Zephyr stops at several popular destinations, including Denver, Salt Lake City, and Reno, offering you the chance to explore these cities and their attractions.
Visit the Amtrak California Zephyr for more information.
The Coast Starlight is a scenic train trip that runs along the west coast from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California. The trip spans over 1,300 miles and takes approximately 35 hours to complete.
Along the way, you can enjoy stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Cascade Mountains, and the Central California Coastline. The train features several amenities, including a dining car, observation car, and sleeping accommodations, such as private rooms and roomettes.
You can also take advantage of onboard entertainment and activities, such as wine tasting and educational presentations. The Coast Starlight is considered one of the most beautiful train trips in America.
Photo: The Rocky Mountaineer
The Rocky Mountaineer’s Rockies to the Red Rocks is a new train route that takes you on a stunning journey through the American Southwest, starting in Denver, Colorado and ending in Moab, Utah.
The two-day journey covers over 600 miles, taking you through breathtaking landscapes that include steep canyons, towering red rock formations, and expansive deserts. Along the way, you can enjoy luxurious amenities such as gourmet meals, spacious seating, and panoramic windows that provide uninterrupted views of the surrounding scenery.
The train also stops at various scenic spots, including Glenwood Springs and Arches National Park, where you can disembark and explore the stunning natural beauty of the area.
The Rockies to the Red Rocks is a one-of-a-kind train journey that offers an unforgettable experience of the American Southwest.
Head to The Rocky Mountaineer website to find out more about this train trip and other fabulous train voyages they offer.
Photo: Amtrak The Empire Builder
Another Amtrak train journey – this trip takes you from Chicago to Seattle passing through some of the country’s most scenic landscapes, including the Mississippi River Valley, the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountains.
The Empire Builder offers comfortable seating and private cabins, dining cars serving fresh, locally sourced meals, observation lounges with panoramic views, and access to Wi-Fi and power outlets.
Along the route, the train stops at several popular destinations, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Glacier National Park, and Spokane, offering you the opportunity to explore these cities and their attractions.
Visit the Amtrak The Empire Builder website to learn more about the trip.
Photo: The Train
The Grand Canyon Railway is a historic train that takes you on a memorable journey to one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders – the Grand Canyon.
As you board the train, you will step back in time to the days of vintage rail travel with restored 1920s-era rail cars. The journey from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon takes you through the beautiful forests of northern Arizona, and you will see stunning views of the San Francisco Peaks.
Upon arrival at the Grand Canyon, you can explore the natural wonder of the world and enjoy a variety of activities such as hiking, sightseeing, and taking a helicopter tour.
The Grand Canyon Railway is a unique way to experience the majesty of the Grand Canyon while also enjoying a nostalgic train journey.
Visit The Train website to get all the details you need to book your next train trip to the Grand Canyon.
Photo: Cumbres & Toltec
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a historic train journey that takes you through the rugged and beautiful San Juan Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico.
You will step back in time as you board a vintage steam train and travel through stunning landscapes, including deep canyons, towering peaks, and alpine meadows.
Along the way, you will pass by abandoned mining towns and historic sites, while a knowledgeable guide shares the area’s rich history and lore. The journey takes you through some of the most beautiful and remote areas of the Rocky Mountains, offering unparalleled views of the surrounding scenery.
The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is a unique and unforgettable way to experience the natural beauty and rich history of the American Southwest.
The Cumbres & Toltec website has all the information you need regarding this impressive train experience.
Photo: Alaska Railroad
The Alaska Railroad’s Borealis is a luxury train journey that takes you through the stunning wilderness of Alaska. You will board a modern train that features spacious seating, panoramic windows, and a dining car serving delicious Alaskan cuisine.
The Borealis journey starts in Anchorage and travels north to Fairbanks, passing by some of Alaska’s most spectacular natural wonders, such as the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Denali National Park, and the Alaska Range.
Along the way, you’ll have opportunities to spot wildlife, such as moose, bears, and caribou, and learn about Alaska’s rich history and culture from knowledgeable onboard guides.
The Borealis is a truly unforgettable way to experience the rugged and beautiful wilderness of Alaska.
Get more information about this trip and others offered by Alaska Railroad here.
Photo: America’s Railroad Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is an iconic train journey that takes you through the breathtaking canyons of the San Juan National Forest in Colorado.
You will board a vintage steam train that dates back to the 1880s and travel through stunning landscapes, including narrow canyons, cascading waterfalls, and deep gorges.
The journey starts in the historic town of Durango and takes you all the way to the mining town of Silverton, offering a glimpse into Colorado’s rich mining history.
Along the way, you will pass by stunning natural landmarks, including the Animas River and the towering peaks of the San Juan Mountains.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a truly unforgettable way to experience the beauty and history of Colorado’s rugged wilderness.
Learn more about this train and other events at Durango Train.
If you’d like to learn more about famous train trips around the world, see 7 BUCKET LIST TRAIN VOYAGES IN THE WORLD.
Have you experienced any of these train trips? Are you planning a train trip soon? Which train trip on the list is your favorite? Do you have any other interesting train trips to recommend? Tell us about it in the comments below.
The Ghan (north-south) or the India-Pacific (east-west) rail trips in Australia are wonderful journeys across a spectacular country. 🇦🇺
It will be a fun adventure regardless of what the point of it is.
I’ve been on several of these train trips multiple times. I think it’s important to distinguish between Amtrak and other private RRs such as Rocky Mountaineer and Silverton Durango. That affects price and available amenities. I love train travel but this article is incomplete in that way.
These will be fun adventures for me. Thank you.
Thank you for this information on my favorite way to travel. When I moved to the West Coast many years ago, I had a sleeper on the Empire Builder and loved all of it. The only thing I wish I could’ve changed was the timing – it was autumn and by the time we reached Glacier National Park in Montana, it was dusk and too dark to see much. I’m looking forward to some of the other trips you mentioned.