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These Are The 6 Most Scenic Train Trips To Take This Summer 

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You have probably read that this summer is gearing up to be a busy one for travel, and millions of Americans are planning trips, both near and far.

Historic steam engine train travels from Durango to Silverton through the San Juan Mountains along the Animas River in Colorado, USA. copy

Data suggests that most people are looking to travel closer to home this year, with rising costs and airport headaches being the main factors.

While many in the U.S. choose to take a road trip, there are others who are looking to head to the rails. 

Train travel is trending worldwide, and not only because people are looking to avoid all the stress of flying these days. Around the world, traveling by train has a certain romantic, nostalgic feel to it, and no matter if you are winding your way across the Swiss Alps or riding along the Hudson down to New York City, you can't deny that relaxing on a train with panoramic windows beats being cramped in economy seating on a flight any day. 

Luckily, the United States has numerous options for some scenic rail journeys, and while long-distance high-speed trains might be a far-off dream, there are some nostalgic and nature-filled journeys to keep you busy while you make your way from point A to point B. 

Young man looking out of train window on the historic steam engine train travelling from Durango to Silverton along the Animas River in Colorado, USA. copy

As part of their 10 Best campaign, USA Today asked its readers for the best train rides in America, and the following journeys were voted the winners.

From New York to California and everywhere in between, these are some fantastic options for a train journey that's just as interesting as the destination. 

With options from all over the county, here are the winners of the USA Today’s 10 Best Train Rides To Take In 2023 category:

Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – Durango, Colorado

This train journey is one of the most popular heritage railroads in the country and also a National Historic Landmark.

Explore Colorado's pioneering and mining history while taking in some beautiful views along the way. This trip allows you to explore some of Colorado’s mountain region that is not accessible by car, so sit back and relax and marvel at the stunning landscape. 

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Historic steam engine train travels from Durango to Silverton through the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, USA

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad – Chama, New Mexico

This journey is both the highest and longest steam railroad in the United States, and the 64-mile journey is basically a museum on wheels.

Take a step back into history and enjoy the journey as this steam engine rides rails that were laid back in 1880. The beautiful mountain scenery is best experienced in the summer when many plan their visits to this family-friendly expedition. 

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Steam Train, from Chama, New Mexico to Antonito, Colorado heading north

Skunk Train – Fort Bragg, California

This California attraction is steeped in history and, thankfully, doesn’t smell as pungent as did when it opened back in the 1920s.

While the name Skunk might have stuck, today’s experience will transport you back in time with some beautiful scenery along the way. 

the Skunk in the redwood forest near Fort Bragg, California

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad – Peninsula, Ohio

This rail journey weaves you through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, along the Cuyahoga River, and offers the chance to see some great wildlife along the way.

This area is home to some deep forests, open farmlands, and endless hills rolling in the distance. Offering coach, tables, and executive class, there are many ticket options for visitors to choose from. 

The scenic train stops to let passengers on and off at the station in Peninsula during its run on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway – Manitou Springs, Colorado

As the world’s highest cog railroad, this journey will take you to the top of Pikes Peak, where you can take in some panoramic views high above Colorado.

This year-round attraction in Manitou Springs is particle nice in the summer when you can see the greenery surrounding you. 

A view of a pikes peak cog railway train waiting to load passengers for their return trip to the lower station

Georgetown Loop Railroad – Georgetown, Colorado

Explore the Rocky Mountains on this epic rail trip, where you will be pulled up the Clear Creek canyon by an old-time steam locomotive or a modern diesel engine.

Take in the views of the old mining towns and enjoy this two-and-a-half-hour trip on a living museum. 

tourist passengers in a railroad car on the Georgetown Loop Railroad in Georgetown Colorado

Finishing off the top 10 best train rides to take in the USA this year are these epic journeys:

  • 7. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad – Bryson City, North Carolina
  • 8. Cape Cod Central Railroad – Hyannis, Massachusetts
  • 9. Wilmington & Western Railroad – Wilmington, Delaware
  • 10. Saratoga Corinth and Hudson Railway – Corinth, New York

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Carl Bishop

Saturday 20th of May 2023

Good article on interesting train rides