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The Most Beautiful ‘Must Do’ Train Rides In America

Oh, I think we’re going faster
From the mountains to the pasture
Just look at that scenery
It’s lovely, it’s lovelyLovage (2001)

If you enjoy the journey as much as the destination, then taking the train is a “must do” for you. Enjoy the old time feel of traveling the rails. Here are some of the best ways to take in the beauty of America.

California Zephyr

Route: Chicago, Illinois to Emeryville, California
Total Distance: 2,438 miles
Ticket Price: $167.00 each

This 50-and-then-some hour ride will allow you to retrace the trails American pioneers traveled when they went to settle the West. Highlights include Denver and the Rocky Mountains, the red rocks of Utah and the Ruby Canyon, the Sierras, Donner Pass, and then the famous San Francisco Bay.

Cape Cod Central Railroad

Route: Hyannis to Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
Total Distance: 27 miles
Ticket Price: Between $22.00 and $47.00 each

This is the way to take in Cape Cod sans any communal “old-money pretense.” Take in the cranberry bogs, little towns, oceanfront trails and the salt marshes. Choose between the dinner train which features fine dining or the sightseeing tour that comes complete with informative narration. Either way, you’ll see parts of Cape Cod you’d not see traveling any other way.

Capitol Corridor

Route: San Jose to Auburn, California
Total Distance: 168 miles
Ticket Price: $43.00 each

Some say this trip has a Steinbeckian feel to it. It was created to transport passengers from the Bay Area to the California state Capitol in Sacramento. You’ll see the San Francisco Bay, the waterways near Martinez, the hills of Northern California, and enjoy a short jaunt into the El Dorado foothills.

Cascades

Route: Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia
Total Distance: 156 miles
Ticket Price: $90.00 each

Veteran travelers say the scenic views along this four-hour trip through the Pacific Northwest will not disappoint you. You’ll ride through evergreen forests so dense they camouflage the I-5 corridor. You’ll also see Puget Sound, and if you’re on the western-facing side of the train you can see the Olympic Mountains. There’s even in-train Wi-Fi.

Cass Scenic Railroad

Route: Within Cass, West Virginia
Total Distance: Eight miles
Ticket Price: $37.00

Trained travelers confirm the scenery on this route is “spectacular”. You’ll ride a train originally meant to carry lumber to mining camps. You’ll ride an 11 percent grade slope with noteworthy views of the mountains below until you reach the top. There you will see a restored logging camp known as Whittaker Station. The best time to get aboard is in October when you can take in the colorful fall foliage.

Coast Starlight

Route: Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington
Total Distance: 1,377 miles
Ticket Price: $120.00 each

While a road trip up the Pacific coast is a classic road trip, the driver misses out on a lot having to keep his eye on the road. This train trip allows everyone to take in the sites. You’ll see Mount Rainier, Mount Shasta, Puget Sound, the San Francisco Bay and the Cascade Mountains in Oregon.