Best Train Trips in the USA

 

1. White Pass & Yukon Route
- Skagway, Alaska
Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, this narrow gauge railroad is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The WP&YR climbs nearly 3000 feet in just 20 miles and features steep grades of up to 3.9%, cliff-hanging turns of 16 degrees, two tunnels and numerous bridges and trestles. See the steel cantilever bridge which was the tallest of its kind in the world when it was constructed in 1901. Experience the breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and historic sites from the comfort of our vintage passenger coaches.

2. Alaska Railroad
All along the magnificent journey from Seward to Fairbanks, through stunning scenic wild and panoramic vistas, guests are showered with thought-provoking commentary delivered by life long Alaskan tour guides. But you can't beat the sweeping views of Denali, award-winning glimpses of color-brushed tundra, and chance glances at moose, bear, eagles, and the occasional fox. As you can imagine, the train's grand picture windows come in handy for, well, superb pictures.

3. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - Colorado
Durango was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway in 1879. The railroad arrived in Durango on August 5, 1881 and construction on the line to Silverton began in the fall of the same year. This historic train has been in continuous operation for 126 years, carrying passengers behind vintage steam locomotives and rolling stock indigenous to the line.
 

4. Great Smoky Mountain Railroad - North Carolina
With the romance and mystique of an era gone by, guests on board the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad will enjoy scenic train journeys across fertile valleys, into tunnels and through river gorges in a spectacular region called The Great Smoky Mountains. This section of western North Carolina offers a wide array of ever changing vegetation and fantastic landscapes. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is truly spectacular with 53 miles of track, two tunnels and 25 bridges. Choose from a variety of round trip excursions departing from depots in Dillsboro and Bryson City.
 

5. Shasta Sunset Dinner Train - Mount Shasta, Californa
The Shasta Sunset Dinner Train operates over the historic McCloud Railway, with roots back to 1897 and the early logging days of Siskiyou County. Built over the southern flank of 14,162-foot Mt. Shasta to connect the bustling company town of McCloud with the outside world, then as now, forest products from the region's rich timber belt were the railroad's mainstay. Steep grades, sharp curves and a unique "switch back" were features of the original construction "over the hill" that dinner train guests experience today.
 

6. Napa Valley Wine Train  - Californa
The Napa Valley Wine Train's 3-hour-long, 37-mile round-trip between Napa and St. Helena, passengers can choose to enjoy a gourmet meal prepared on board for an additional charge. They can also sample several of the region's wines available at the wine bar located in one of the lounge cars. The train offers optional stops for tours of Domaine Chandon Winery in Yountville or Grgich Hills Cellar in Rutherford for an additional fee. The train hosts several special events throughout the year including murder mystery dinner theatre, family fun trips, vintner's luncheons, appellation dinners and holiday excursions.


7. Grand Canyon Railway - Arizona
In 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway brought interested travelers from all over the world to stand on the rim and ponder the feeling that touches all of humanity in a similar manner when they gaze upon the canyon. Grand Canyon Railway was the lifeline to Grand Canyon National Park in the early 20th century. It was the railroad, along with the Fred Harvey Company, that commissioned and built most of the historic structures that still exist along the South Rim. The historic train almost faded into history itself when passenger service to Grand Canyon National Park stopped in 1968 as train travel gave way to the popularity of automobile travel. But like any legend it refused to die. As fate would have it, Grand Canyon Railway was reborn in 1989 when entrepreneurs Max & Thelma Biegert brought the Grand Canyon's train back to life. Today, Grand Canyon Railway carries more than 230,000 people by rail to Grand Canyon National Park each year. The Railway also offers vacation packages that include train travel, stays at Williams and Grand Canyon hotels, RV park stays and much more.


8.
Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co.
-
Washington
This excursion train travels to the large trestle at MP 59, near Divide, WA, for an 18 mile trip lasting 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Trains depart from our Mineral, WA restoration facility, and are powered by one of our steam locomotives unless otherwise noted on the schedule page. During the ride you'll travel through forests and past the town of Mineral. You'll also cross several small trestles over mountain streams. On the afternoon run you'll also cross a large timber trestle. At Divide you'll have a view of Storm King Mountain. Steep grades mean you'll get the chance to see the steam locomotive working hard.


9. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad - Ohio
On Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad you will experience the fun and adventure, the romance and nostalgia of riding the train on one of the oldest, longest, and most scenic excursion railways in the country. Enjoy an unforgettable journey through the heart of beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park, along the Cuyahoga River and the historic Ohio & Erie Canalway between Cleveland and Akron, and on to Canton.
 

10. Yreka Western Railroad
- Yreka, California
Your trip back in time begins as you arrive at our 1889 Historic Yreka Depot and ready yourself to ride the "Blue Goose" Train. The center piece of the Yreka Western Railroad's excursion train is steam locomotive #19. Built by Baldwin in 1915, this 2-8-2 Mikado pulls a vintage train consisting of 1920 era Harriman Passenger Cars, an open air car and a unique and rare caboose from the McCloud River Railroad. Passengers are treated to the unique sights, sound and smell that only a steam locomotive can produce. As #19 works its way over Butcher Hill East of Yreka, history stands still as you pass the Pioneer and Chinese Cemeteries while their many varied monuments quietly stand guard over the individuals that founded and built Yreka. Your journey continues down through the scenic Shasta Valley with majestic 14,162 foot, snowcapped Mt. Shasta dominating the vista. As your train crosses the Shasta River and through the surrounding meadow, pastures and grazing land, you will see many examples of the area wild life. Your journey continues to the "Old West" cattle town of Montague, California. The trip on the “Blue Goose” takes approximately 1 hour to cover the 7.8 miles. Passengers will then disembark the train for a lunch break. Montague’s orignial Southern Pacific Depot has been restored and is home to Montague's Railroad Museum. You may partake of one of the nearby restaurants, or enjoy the shady Railroad Park for a picnic and visit the other points of interest that will round out your experience in this historic “Old West” town.



Honorable Mention Railway Excursions


Alaska Central Railroad
Wasilla, AK
Classification: 7.5 " gauge railroad
Location: The railroad is located in Wasilla, Alaska, about 50 miles north of Anchorage. It can be found between the Wasilla Airport and the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry.
Comments: The Alaska Central Railroad is the operating division of the Alaska Live Steamers, Inc.

Verde River Canyon Excursion Train
300 N. Broadway
Clarkdale, AZ 86324
Telephone: (520)639-0010, (800)293-7245
Classification: Diesel excursions
Location: 2 hours north of Phoenix.

Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway Company

P.O. Box 310
Eureka Springs, AR 72632-0310
Telephone: (501)253-9623

Classification: Steam excursions with dinner train operations
Location: 299 North Main Street Highway 23

 

Reader Railroad

P.O. Box 507
Hot Springs, AR 71902
Telephone: (501)624-6881
Alternate telephone: (501)685-2692
Classification: Excursions

Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

306 East Emma
Springdale, AR 72764
Telephone: (800)687-8600
Alternate telephone: (501)751-8600
Classification: Diesel excursions
Location: Depot at corner of Emma at Railroad tracks in Springdale, Arkansas. This is the northwestern part of the state, in the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
Comments: AKA Scenic Ozark Railway Journeys. Twice a week excursions through the Boston Mountains from Springdale and Van Buren, Arkansas. Operates April through mid Noverber. Alco locomotives and turn of the century passenger cars, some with air conditioning, all heated and openable windows during pretty (most of the year) weather. Through Winslow Tunnel (1768 feet long) and over high trestles with abundant scenery and wildlife along the line to see. Snacks available, no meals served.

Roaring Camp Railway

P.O. Box G-1
Felton, CA 95018
Telephone: (408)335-4484
Classification: Diesel excursions
Location: Six miles north of Santa Cruz, on Grahm Hill Road, at the Felton Depot.
Comments: Trains to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and return. Spring through Fall operation.
 

Fillmore and Western Railway

351 Santa Clara Avenue
Fillmore, CA 93015
Telephone: (805)524-2546
Alternate telephone: (800)773-8724
Email:
fwry@fwry.com
Classification: Diesel excursions
Location: On state route 126 between I-5 and US 101.


Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

56001 Yosemite Highway 41
Fish Camp, CA 93623
Telephone: (209)683-7273
Classification: 3 foot gauge steam railroad
 
California Western Railroad

P.O. Box 907
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Telephone: (707)964-6371
Alternate telephone: (800)777-5865
Classification: Steam and diesel excursions
Location: Highway One & Laurel Street.

Railtown 1897 Historic Park

Sierra Railway Company; P.O. Box 1250
Jamestown, CA 95327
Telephone: (209)984-3953
Classification: Steam and diesel excursions
Location: 5th Avenue and Reservoir Road.
Comments: This is the Sierra Railway that is often used on television shows and in the movies.

Travel Town Museum

3900 West Chevy Chase Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Telephone: (213)662-5874
Classification: Museum with diesel excursions
Location: At the NW corner of Griffith Park.
Comments: Operates the Crystal Springs & Cahuenga Valley Railroad.
 

McCloud Railway Company and Shasta Sunset Dinner Train

P.O. Box 1500
McCloud , CA 96057
Telephone: (916)964-2142
Fax number: (916)964-2250
Email:
train@macstasta.com
Classification: Excursions and dinner train
Location: Trains load at Main Street, McCloud, CA across from the Post Office
Comments: Weekend diesel excursions


California State Railroad Museum/Sacramento Southern Railroad

111 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-2265
Actual location: Old Sacramento, California
Telephone: (916)445-7387
Email:
csrmf@csrmf.org
Classification: Museum with steam excursions
Location: Second and "I" Streets.


Bay Area Electric Railroad Association - Western Railway Museum

5848 State Highway 12
Suisun City, CA 94585
Telephone: (800)900-7245
Alternate telephone: (707)374-2978
Classification: Museum with diesel excursions
Location: On route 12 between Fairfield and Rio Vista.
Comments: Owns 22 miles of former Sacramento Northern Railway trackage. Operates streetcars and interurbans on weekends (Wednesdays thru Sundays from July 4th to Labor Day) on a 6 mile line. Operates diesel excursions trains in Spring and Winter from Rio Vista Junction to Dozier station. Reservations are required for the excursion trains. 800 number is for reservations only, please.

Niles Canyon Railway

P.O. Box 2247
Fremont , CA 94536-0247
Actual location: Sunol, California
Telephone: (510)862-9063
Location: Station is in Sunol, one mile west of Interstate 680 on California Highway 84.
Comments: Current schedule: First and Third Sundays, 10 am to 4 PM, year around. Trains leave every 45 minutes. Additional running schedule: Every Sunday in April, and night trains Saturday and Sunday the first three weekends in December. Night train tickets are sold in advance. Six miles of rail have been replaced on the historic right-of-way first used by the Central Pacific in the 1860's. (The line was abandoned by Southern Pacific in the mid 1980's.) Round trip takes approximately 1 hour (plus). Currently (5/96), 2-6-2T Quincy #2 is being used, along with the California Western M-200 "skunk" motorcar. Plans (someday) are to extend into the town of Niles, and eastward to the town of Pleasanton. Railroad is staffed entirely by volunteers -- always can use more help!

Calico & Odessa Railroad

P.O. Box 638
Yermo, CA 92398
Telephone: (619)254-2252
Classification: Excursions

Yreka Western Railroad

P.O. Box 660
Yreka, CA 96097
Telephone: (916)842-4146
Alternate telephone: (800)973-5277
Email:
info@yrekawesternrr.com
Location: Off I-5 exit for Central Yreka. Located within the scenic and cultural attractions of Southern Oregon and the Shasta-Cascade Wonderland, 35 miles south of Ashland, Oregon, and 35 miles north of Mount Shasta in Northern California.



This listing of the Best Train Trips in the United States is constantly being revised as new train excursions become available and old ones are being enhanced. So, if you feel we are missing one, please email us and let us know!