Riding the Rails: Top Train Day Trips Across the Nation

Let's take a trip back in time to the Golden Age in Transportation, the age of steam, tracks, and trains! Several places all across America offer unique and interesting day trips on trains in cars ranging from historical and vintage to new and innovative. There’s no better way to take in rural America than by the timeless tracks that helped start our nation, and there’s no better place to look for what day trips you and your friends and family should be taking than right here!


  • Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Peak Express offers you a trip 3,000 feet up in elevation and 130 years back in time as you travel the Narrow Gauge in Colorado. This 1882 coal-fired, steam-operated engine reaches speeds of 18 mph and takes you 45 miles to a 9305 foot peak, a track originally used to carry gold and ore through the mountains. This historic train runs on 6 tons of coal and 10,000 gallons of water, and was even featured in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!


  • Grand Canyon Railway

Travel from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in the stunning desert backdrop of Arizona. The Grand Canyon Railway takes you on a one way trip that lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes, as you travel along in a vintage 1923 Pullmans style car, 1952 style cafe car, or '50s era first class car. This train originally debuted in 1901 and has since been used almost daily! Enjoy this 130 mile round trip around the Canyon!


  • Napa Valley Wine Train

This train isn’t just fun for wine lovers (though it is pretty fun for them too) as you board these 1915 style Pullman cars of the Napa Valley Wine Train. This 3 hour, 36 mile trip offers you a 3 course lunch or dinner meal with wine and beer tastings along the way. The views of the sun soaked vineyards are amazing, as you travel Napa Valley’s main hub to St. Helena on these historic 1860s tracks!


  • Mount Washington Cog Railway

Welcome to New Hampshire, home of some of the best fall foliage views! The Mount Washington Cog Railway is the first cog railway in the nation, at 150 years old. This 3 mile, 3 hour trip to the highest peak in the Northeast allows you plenty of time at the top to take in the gorgeous scenic vistas and learn more about the historic cars you’ll be sitting in!


  • Cass Scenic Railroad

Another fall favorite is the Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia. The A Ride in the Woods track will take you from Cass to Bald Knob on an 11 mile heritage track line. Within this state park location you will travel up the mountains in this 1901 style locomotive originally used to carry timber. The unique open air carriages in this restored steam engine provide the best and closest interaction with your surroundings, but be sure to bring a jacket for those chilly mountain mornings!


  • Adirondack Scenic Railroad

The famous Adirondack Scenic Railroad is awaiting you in New York, the historic cars taking you from Utica to Lake Placid in Upstate New York. The sights you will see on this day trip are unbeatable, including Thendara, Saranac Lake, and several other small towns with big vistas. The cars on the train offer various beer and wine tastings during the trip, which is filled with historic opportunities for learning and exploring upper New York!


  • Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

North Carolina’s access to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park makes it one of the most scenic and biodiverse trips through the mountains we offer! With over 125 tree species, 1000 plant species, and 300 animal species within the park, gorgeous scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities are not lacking. Travel up the western Mountains in a fall or food themed day trip, and be sure to check out the Smoky Mountain Train Museum at the top!


  • Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad

Get ready to travel through groves of thick black cottonwood, dogwood, red alder, vine maple, and beautiful coniferous forest on the longest running steam train in the Pacific Northwest, the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad! This day trip is only offered on weekends but takes you across the most breathtaking parts of Washington. The railway offers a museum and yearly Civil War train ride and re enactment as well, heavily focused on local history and railroad history.


  • Arkansas and Missouri Railroad

The Ozarks are calling you, as you  travel back into the essential golden age of travel with this 1986 Class III railroad, the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad. Being one of the few commercial lines running freight and passenger trains still, this 3 hour, 70 mile round trip will take you from Van Buran to Winslow, showing you the best of the Ozarks! Pass the rugged beauty of the Boston Mountain Range, 3 valley trestles, and a 1,700 foot long Winslow Tunnel, as you take in all the sights this natural state offers!


  • Denali Star Railway

Last but certainly not least is the Denali Star Railway, the most wildlife filled and scenic trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks, Alaska. During this trip aboard the famous double-decker dome cars you will have many chances to see massive moose or giant grizzlies, or just take in the gorgeous mountain and forest filled scenery. Mt. McKinley is among many top sights you will see on this practically day long Alaskan adventure.