Rail travel is on the rise in the United States, and these scenic routes make for a memorable 4th of July trip.
Swapping the car for the train means you can fully devote your time to enjoying the stunning scenery out the window.
It’s a great eco-friendly alternative to the traditional American road trip and, as gas prices continue to soar, it’s also a great option for your wallet.
Here are seven routes that pass by some of the most iconic sites in the United States.
Traverse the Pacific Northwest with Amtrak Waterfalls
Named after the Cascade Mountain Range that runs along part of the route, this four-hour trip is one of the most spectacular in the United States.
The journey begins in Eugene, Oregon and travels through verdant forests to reach Seattle. From there, the train travels along Puget Sound where passengers can gaze out over the ocean and get a glimpse of the Olympic Mountains.
Dream through the desert on the Sunset Limited
Run between New Orleans and California, the Sunset Limited speeds through fascinating desert landscapes on its 3,210 kilometer journey. From the windows, passengers admire the dusty red rock formations and the vast plains of the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona.
In high season, national park guides come aboard and explain more about the natural heritage to travelers.
Look for eagles along the Grand Canyon Railroad
The Grand Canyon Railway meanders for two hours and 15 minutes from Williams, Arizona to the beautiful South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The 105-kilometer route takes passengers across the Colorado Plateau with magnificent views of pine forests and prairies.
The trip is ideal for spotting wildlife such as cougars, elk and bald eagles. Some of the historic train cars have glass domed ceilings for 360 degree vistas.
Admire the iconic natural sites of the California Zephyr
Lasting approximately two and a half days, it is the second longest rail route in the United States. The 3,924 kilometer journey begins in Chicago and ends up in Emeryville, California.
Along the way, passengers can take in some of the country’s most spectacular natural sights, including the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada and plains of Nebraska.
Taste fine wines on the Napa Valley Wine Train
The luxurious Napa Valley Wine Train passes through the bucolic landscape of the vineyards during its 58 kilometer journey. The three-hour round trip departs from Napa in Northern California and travels through Yountville, Oakville, and Rutherford to St. Helena.
Passengers can disembark at renowned wineries for tastings, but can also taste many wines during the trip itself. The ticket also includes a gourmet four-course meal.
Travel along the Pacific Coast on the Coast Starlight
Covering a distance of 3,566 kilometres, the Coast Starlight reproduces a classic american road trip by train between Seattle and Los Angeles. Except that nobody has to be behind the wheel, everyone can enjoy the spectacular panoramas.
Along the way, the train passes rugged cliffs, San Francisco Bay, and the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Mountains. There is a “tourist lounge car” where all the seats are reclined to look out the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Admire the Great Plains from the Empire Builder
The Empire Builder takes passengers on a 46 hour journey from Chicago to Washington. Along the 3,550 kilometer route, passengers experience eight hours of nonstop cinematic scenery as they traverse Glacier National Park.
The journey also passes through iconic cities like St Cloud and Minneapolis. Passengers can make the most of the view from the train’s observation lounge.