This summer, embrace your pioneer instincts and hit the rails in search of, not gold, but some of the best sights, sounds, and smells that America’s golden train country can offer you. These 7 Summer Train Trips will transport you back in time and across the nation’s most gorgeous and dramatic landscapes, so pack your camera and your sense of adventure this Wanderlust Wednesday, because our destination is transportation!
- Ethan Allen Express
New York City to Rutland, Vermont - 5.5 hours
The Ethan Allen Express, aptly named after the Revolutionary War hero from the Adirondack region, will take you 241 gorgeous miles through some of the best East Coast scenery. Enjoy breath-taking views of the Catskills and Green Mountains, as well as unique glimpses of Fort Edward and other historic landmarks along the way. One of the stops on this trip includes Rhinecliff-Kingston, a great little town to see an educational museum or stretch your legs with a quick hike or bike!
- Cass Scenic Railroad
Cass to Bald Knob, West Virginia - 4.5 hours
You’re going to love this heritage line through West Virginia, the Cass Scenic Railroad that takes you through the beautiful eastern mountains. Travel through the undulating peaks and into the past as you listen and learn about the 1901 timber industry that used these converted flat cars, today providing you a unique and fun open-air carriage experience. Enjoy also the historic Last Run Restaurant, delicious food right next to a truly informative and immersive city museum.
- Durango and Silverton
Durango to Silverton, Colorado - 3.5 hours
Colorado just got a whole lot cooler this summer with this amazing opportunity to ride from Durango to Silverton, a three and a half hour journey across 45 absolutely stunning miles of Rocky Mountain scenery. This narrow-gauge railway (rails just three feet apart) travels from 6,512 feet above sea level to 9,305 feet, providing views of the surrounding 14,000 foot peak. Enjoy the history behind the 1920s steam engine pulling 1880s passenger rail cars as you travel along the very track that pulled in innumerable amounts of gold and silver ore in the state’s past.
- California Zephyr
Chicago, Illinois to Emeryville, California - 51 hours
We know that a 51-hour train ride across the nation isn’t everyone’s cup of tea for a summer trip, but if you have the time riding the California Zephyr is well worth it in scenery, history, and extremely fascinating information. Enjoy the ride from Chicago all the way to California, a 2,434 mile ride through seven spectacular states. See pioneer trails, travel along the Colorado River, get the best views of the Rockies, and even travel through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, taking in so much history and classic Americana views along the way!
- Coastal Classic
Anchorage to Seward, Alaska - 4.5 hours
If you can make it to Alaska this summer, first of all we are very jealous of you, and secondly, you have one of the coolest (no pun intended) opportunities to ride the Coastal Classic Railroad, traveling 500 miles from Anchorage to Seward. Enjoy the wildest landscape in the country as you see natural tunnels, glaciers, mountains, river gorges, and even some moose, bears, bald eagles, and elk. Enjoy several scenic stops at places such as Girdwood and Cook Inlet as well!
- Southwest Chief
Los Angeles, California to Chicago, Illinois - 40 hours
The Southwest Chief route is shorter but quite similar to the California Zephyr mentioned before, only in reverse. On this 40 hour, 2,756 mile trip across the nation you will start in the busy bustling city of L.A. and end in Chicago, taking time to see Southern Cali and the Mojave desert at first and then also in the rolling hills and fields of Missouri and Illinois. This is a more reasonably paced trip if you don’t have all the time for the aforementioned one, plus the scenery is a bit different on this desert centered route.
- Grand Canyon Railway
Williams to Grand Canyon, Arizona - 8 hours
The last fun railroad trip on our list for summer 2016 is the Grand Canyon Railway, an eight hour journey from Williams, Arizona, to the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon. On this trip enjoy the 1901-based train cars as you see the brilliant brick reds of the natural land forms that litter the trek to the South Rim. See San Francisco Peaks and enjoy an Old West theme during your ride, a truly immersive and beautiful train trip opportunity!