Road trips are great, but if you’re in the driver’s seat you don’t really get to sit back, relax and take in the scenery. Enter train travel. This nostalgic mode of transportation is an ideal way to leisurely enjoy the changing landscape — and also lets you access more remote locations.
You can experience Grand Canyon beauty, ride a train that rolls through Napa Valley’s vine-striped landscape, or hop aboard a steam-powered locomotive in Southern Colorado that glides 200 feet above the bluish-green Animas River. Here are three of the most scenic train trips you can take across the U.S.
Napa Valley Wine Train, California
Why not let the conductor of a restored antique railcar be your designated driver during your next trip to Wine Country? The Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the few active passenger railroads in the United States, featuring vintage Pullman rail cars restored with Honduran mahogany paneling, brass accents and luxury armchairs, all reminiscent of the glory days of train travel at the beginning of the 20th century. And that’s just what you experience with the train’s interior!
Enjoy a gourmet meal and sip some vino while the train takes a 36-mile round-trip journey from downtown Napa to St. Helena and back, rolling through the country’s most famous wine region and charming towns like Oak Knoll, Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford.
Passengers can have their pick of trips, from a full-day experience that includes wine tasting to an afternoon tea trip and a murder mystery dinner.
Here’s a post from the @winetrain official Twitter account showing what’s in store:
A day spent sipping wine in Napa Valley is a day well spent indeed. pic.twitter.com/z0qY5hv8Kz
— Wine Train (@winetrain) February 25, 2023
Grand Canyon Railway And Hotel, Arizona
Departing from Williams, Arizona, passengers aboard the historic Grand Canyon Railway will see a series of beautiful scenes as they travel to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, where the Historic Village sits. they can explore for three hours, then take the train back to Williams for the evening.
As Bob Baker, the general manager of the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel, says, the experience includes certain highlights, like “the high plains desert, largest ponderosa grove in northern Arizona, the fact that we’re part of one of the biggest natural volcano areas in northern Arizona,” he told The List.
The ride comes with plenty of entertainment, too, with musicians playing Western tunes on instruments like fiddles, guitars and banjos. Cowboy actors even ride alongside for a portion of the expedition.
The @GrandCanyonRail Twitter account often showcases train cars, events and other fun:
Our train + hotel packages make planning your trip to the South Rim easy and affordable. Get started here: https://t.co/RBxR69Q9ng #GrandCanyonRailway #XanterraTravel #GrandCanyon #GrandCanyonSouthRim #SouthRimGrandCanyon pic.twitter.com/m9NiUPgg55
— Grand Canyon Railway (@GrandCanyonRail) February 2, 2023
Durango And Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Colorado
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad takes passengers through a scenic wilderness journey in the San Juan National Forest, and wildlife like deer, elk, bears and sometimes even moose make cameos. The railroad snakes along the river banks and shows off views of canyons and peaks as well as the river below.
“I would say about an hour into the trip we’re treated to a view of the high line which is probably one of the most iconic sections of our railroad,” said Dakotah Andreatta, a car attendant on the train who also notes you may be able to encounter wildlife along the route, such as “deer, elk, bears, sometimes a moose. We can’t guarantee it but sometimes they’re out there.”
The railroad has all kinds of special events, too, including a Polar Express-inspired train ride during the holidays that feels especially magical when the area is blanketed in snow. Other themed excursions include a ghost crawl, cowboy poetry ride and one that’s geared toward photographers.
Check out some of the views on Twitter at @DSNGRR:
The perfect way to start the day is with a nice train ride along Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Highline! pic.twitter.com/WHw1pFyv1i
— Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (@DSNGRR) February 14, 2023
The romance of train travel is alive and well! And, if you’ve got a “Thomas The Train”-obsessed kid who loves locomotives, here are more great train trips for families.