8 Scenic Train Trips You Can Take in a Day

Girl sitting on a train
Elena Sikorskaya / Shutterstock.com

Want to unplug and unwind? Consider leaving the car at home and taking a day-long train trip.

Train trips offer fabulous views of mountains, deserts, oceans and forests, as well as cultural and historic experiences. They allow you to sit back and ponder the scenery instead of the traffic.

The cost will depend on the season, route and class of train car. But discounts are often available for military members, seniors, students, children and members of AARP or AAA.

And best of all, these trips all take a day or less.

1. Cass Scenic Railroad

Passengers of the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park train enjoy the view from the Bald Knob overlook in Back Allegheny Mountain, West Virginia
Esther Kolis / Shutterstock.com

For a short but magical historical jaunt, try the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park rail line. Riding in a restored steam-powered train, you will traverse the scenic mountains of eastern West Virginia during an 11-mile jaunt.

The full route from the Cass Depot up to the Bald Knob overlook is about 4.5 hours round-trip. Check out ticket and pricing information.

2. Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

View from the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
ArtBitz / Shutterstock.com

The route of this train, which has been designated a national historic landmark, runs between Antonito, Colorado, and Chama, New Mexico, with trains departing daily from both cities. The full-day trip takes in 64 miles of scenery that includes “steep mountain canyons, high desert, and lush meadows.” Riders are chauffered in a motor coach back to their starting point at the end of the ride.

Check out ticket and pricing information.

3. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

A train on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Tony Craddock / Shutterstock.com

This Colorado ride travels between Durango — near the Four Corners area where the borders of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet — and Silverton and has been in continuous operation since 1882. The journey is 45 miles and includes a two-hour stop in Silverton.

Check out ticket and pricing information.

4. Ethan Allen Express

An aerial view of Penn Station in Manhattan, New York City
Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com

A ride on this Amtrak route between New York City (pictured) and Rutland, Vermont — by way of Albany — is about 5½ hours. It features wilderness and views of the Hudson River Valley.

Check out the schedule and book your trip.

5. Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon Railway
KPG_Payless / Shutterstock.com

This train journey offers travelers a unique and low-stress way to view the heavily tourist-invaded Grand Canyon — one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

In operation since 1901, the railway traces a 130-mile round-trip journey. Check out ticket and pricing information.

6. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
digidreamgrafix / Shutterstock.com

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad route in western North Carolina begins at a historic depot in Bryson City and takes riders through the mountains.

Check out ticket and pricing information.

7. Napa Valley Wine Train

The Napa Valley Wine Train in California
Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com

This Northern California route traversing the popular wine valley combines fine dining, vintage cars and, of course, wine. It travels 36 miles from downtown Napa to St. Helena and back, passing famous and historic wineries.

Check out ticket and pricing information.

8. Mount Washington Cog Railway

The Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

The Mount Washington Cog Railway is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Built for climbing Mount Washington, you’ll arrive at the Sherman Adams Building, which houses the New Hampshire State Park and Weather Observatory, a U.S. Post Office and several museum and exhibits.

Check out ticket and pricing information.

What are your experiences and impressions of traveling by rail? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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