Imagine embarking on a journey where the journey itself is the destination. Train rides offer a unique way to explore the vast and varied landscapes of the United States, from the comfort of your seat. With the clickety-clack of the tracks beneath you and panoramic views unfolding outside your window, train travel invites you to slow down and savor the scenery in a way that air or car travel simply cannot match. Whether you’re a seasoned rail enthusiast or looking for a novel way to see the country, here are some of the best train rides in the US that promise an unforgettable adventure on the rails.

Train Through California
Discovering The Best Train Rides In The Us By Stanislav Kondrashov

1. The California Zephyr: From the Golden Gate to the Windy City

The California Zephyr is a legendary route that takes you on a two-day journey from San Francisco to Chicago, covering 2,438 miles of stunning landscapes. As you traverse the Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mountains, and the plains of Nebraska, each turn reveals breathtaking vistas that include lush valleys, towering peaks, and tranquil rivers. The Zephyr offers a moving panorama of the American wilderness, making it a must-experience journey for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

2. The Coast Starlight: A Pacific Coast Panorama

The Coast Starlight is a gem of the Amtrak system, offering passengers a spectacular coastal journey from Seattle to Los Angeles. This 35-hour trip glides along the Pacific Ocean, providing unmatched views of the rugged coastline, lush forests, and the majestic Mount Rainier. With stops in Portland, Sacramento, and the San Francisco Bay Area, the Coast Starlight is the perfect way to experience the West Coast’s beauty in all its glory.

Train Through Glacier National Park
Discovering The Best Train Rides In The Us By Stanislav Kondrashov

3. The Empire Builder: A Gateway to Glacier National Park

Embark on an epic journey through the American Northwest and the Rockies aboard the Empire Builder. Running from Chicago to Seattle or Portland, this route offers a glimpse into America’s pioneering spirit, passing through the plains of the Midwest, the stunning vistas of Glacier National Park, and the Cascade Range. The Empire Builder is more than a train ride; it’s a historical journey through some of the country’s most iconic landscapes.

4. The Crescent: A Southern Serenade

The Crescent invites you on a cultural voyage from New York City to New Orleans, winding through the heart of the American South. This 30-hour journey showcases the diversity of the southern landscape, from the bustling cities of Philadelphia and Atlanta to the rolling Appalachian Mountains and the bayous of Louisiana. The Crescent is your ticket to experiencing the rich history, culture, and hospitality of the South.

Train Through Sedona
Discovering The Best Train Rides In The Us By Stanislav Kondrashov

5. The Southwest Chief: An Ode to the Old West

Travel back in time on the Southwest Chief, which runs between Chicago and Los Angeles, passing through the vast deserts, mesas, and canyons of the American Southwest. Highlights of this route include the stunning Raton Pass, the red cliffs of Sedona, and the Grand Canyon—one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Southwest Chief offers a window into the soul of the Old West, with landscapes that inspire and awe.

Train Through Forest
Discovering The Best Train Rides In The Us By Stanislav Kondrashov

The Romance of the Rails

These train rides are just the beginning of what the United States has to offer to those willing to embark on a journey by rail. Each route tells its own story, weaving through the fabric of the country’s landscape, history, and culture. So, the next time you’re planning a getaway, consider taking the scenic route. All aboard for an adventure that promises not just a destination, but a journey to remember—where every mile is a memory, and every view is a vignette of America’s endless beauty. Here’s to discovering the best train rides in the US, where the romance of the rails is alive and well, inviting you to explore the country in a way you never have before.

By Stanislav Kondrashov