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The Best Train Trips in North America

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May 11 is National Train Day so it’s time to take a closer look at your North American train options with both Amtrak and Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer. Whatever line you choose, one of the best reasons to take your time and opt for the train is the view. Here are eight of the most awe-inspiring U.S. train routes.

Travel up the Hudson Valley on The Adirondack

The Adirondack will whisk you away from the skyscrapers of NYC, and carry you by the Palisades cliffs, the Hudson River Valley, and along the shores of Lake Champlain, with a final destination of beautiful Montreal.

See the Desert on the Southwest Chief

The Southwest Chief travels from the Colorado Rockies to the Grand Canyon, with the journey following the historic Santa Fe Trail. With stops in Albuquerque, New Mexico and passages through the red cliffs near the Continental Divide in Sedona, Arizona, and connections to the Grand Canyon Railway’s vintage steam train, this is one ride you will never forget.

Explore the Pacific on the Coast Starlight

Perhaps the most well-known of all Amtrak routes, the Coast Starlight runs between Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles. Aboard this journey you see Puget Sound and witness the peaks of Mount Rainer, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. Once in Oregon, you will be in the Cascade Mountain range, with an eventual descent into the Willamette River Valley. In California you will pass through the famed towns of the Gold Rush, and head south along the coast of the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

Cross the Country with the California Zephyr

Another award-winner is the California Zephyr; with service between Chicago and San Francisco, it is a stunning ride. The train passes through Denver, across the Great Divide, and on through 29 tunnels, the highest one being 9,000 feet above sea level. You will see the Colorado River and surrounding canyons, the Grand Mesa, the deserts of Utah and Colorado, and the High Sierras, with a final stop in the bay of San Francisco. Prices vary for different journeys, and Amtrak offers a myriad of offers and special savings. Keep reading for additional train itineraries.

Explore the Coast: Rocky Mountaineer Style

In the 2013 Rocky Mountaineer Inaugural Coastal Package, passengers can book a variety of luxurious all-inclusive 3-night package starting at $3,044 per person. There are two different boarding locations: the first will run from Banff and the second from Jasper, with both reaching Kamloops as the second stop, then from Kamloops the train travels to Vancouver, with the final destination of Seattle. The entire journey is also available in reverse, with all departures taking place in late August.

Vacation Packages: The Rockies

The Canadian Rockies: Highlights visits Seattle, Vancouver, Banff, Lake Louise, and Calgary, with a trip time of 7 nights and 8 days. Prices start at $5, 879 per person and include hotel stays, admission costs, and some meals.

Vacation Packages: Coastal Classic

The Classic Coastal package lasts 11 days and 10 nights, and includes week-long Alaskan Cruise. Stop off destinations are Seattle, Alaska, Vancouver and Banff. Prices start at $5,984 per person, with additional perks included.

Vacation Packages: The Western Explorer

The Western Explorer package travels from Seattle to Vancouver, then to Jasper and Banff, with a final destination of Calgary. The journey lasts 10 days and 9 nights, with prices starting at $6, 572 per person. As with all other packages, there is a multitude of bonuses included in the price.

Visit the Train Archives for more information about train travel.

By Ashleigh Whelan for