The GypsyNesters a RoamRight Blog Author

Riding the Rails Across America

National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak, is a publicly funded railroad service operated and managed as a for-profit corporation and began operations on May 1, 1971

Can “getting there is half the fun” really be true? It all depends on how you get there. Ask most anyone if flying is fun anymore and you’re likely to get an answer that we can’t print. It is often compared to riding a bus in the sky. Guess folks don’t like buses very much either. Driving doesn’t usually fare much better, as happy tales of traffic jams and potholes are few and far between.

What’s a traveler to do? Perhaps it’s time to rethink taking the train. On shorter trips, less than a couple of hundred miles, the train can actually be faster than flying. With no need to check in two hours early, or find a way back into town from the airport, it is certainly more convenient. And it can all be done without removing a single shoe.

Longer journeys are where the fun gets into the getting there. It is a worry-free way to see some of America’s great cities while rolling right through the center of town… without a road to keep an eye on. Dine on fresh meals, often featuring regional favorites, served on real china at a real table, relax in seats large enough for real people, or even sleep in a real bed. Several trains even have wine & cheese tastings.

Many Amtrak trains, especially through the West, have Sightseer Lounge cars with giant windows for amazing views of the mountains, forests, deserts, and scenic coastlines. A few of these great routes include The California Zephyr across the Rocky Mountains from Denver to California’s gold rush country, The Coast Starlight that hugs the Pacific from Los Angeles to Seattle, and The Empire Builder which goes right through Glacier National Park on the way from the Pacific Northwest to Chicago (especially beautiful in the winter). Most of the trains that pass near parks or historic sites participate in the Trails & Rails program, a partnership between the National Park Service and Amtrak, where rangers come on board to give talks and demonstrations.

Sometimes a train can be the destination in itself. The Grand Canyon Railway takes passengers right to the rim of one of America’s most amazing natural wonders, or The Royal Gorge Route travels along the bottom of an incredible chasm twelve hundred feet deep. For rail fans of the bygone narrow gauge steam era, Colorado offers both the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. These are incredible examples of mountain railroading dating back to the 1800s.

There are over one hundred historic, scenic, and tourist railroads across America, even a handful in Hawaii, but for a real frontier adventure, go north to Alaska. From Anchorage, The Alaska Railroad rolls along the base of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, on the Denali Star; or delivers awe inspiring scenes of ice flows on the Glacier Discovery. From Skagway, the White Pass & Yukon Route carries passengers over the mountains and back to the time of the Klondike gold rush. No extra charge for moose, bear, or wolf sightings.

If a more elegant trip is preferred, Pullman Rail Journeys offers the classic railroad experience by adding a few luxury cars to Amtrak’s City of New Orleans. It’s a step back in time to the golden age of train travel aboard lovingly restored Pullman sleeper, dining, lounge, and observation cars. While they may look like the originals, even painted in the old Illinois Central colors, they have been updated to include Wi-Fi, electric outlets, and air conditioning. Porters tend to every need, and there is even room service available in the private compartments.

Traveling in style like that might just make getting there all of the fun.

Which of these classic rail journeys tops your list?

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.


About the Author

The GypsyNesters

The GypsyNesters, a RoamRight Blog Author

When their youngest child left home for college, David & Veronica experienced the collision of Baby Boomer and Empty Nester. Their response was to grab life by the horns, sell the nest, put on their vagabond shoes and become GypsyNesters! Along the way they rediscovered the fun-loving youngsters who fell in love three decades prior.

They are the authors of Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All  .

Follow their escapades on, Facebook,  Twitter,  Pinterest,  YouTube and  Google Plus.

Get A Free Travel Insurance Quote 

Travel smarter with travel insurance from RoamRight. Get your free, no-obligation quote online today.

I'm a partner, take me to my portal

Stay Connected!

Sign up for RoamRight's FREE monthly email newsletter to get travel tips, tricks, news, ideas, and inspiration!

The RoamRight mark is used by Arch Insurance Company and owned by its parent company, Arch Capital Group (U.S.). Insurance coverages are underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, NAIC #11150, under certain policy series, including LTP 2013 and amendments thereto. Certain terms, conditions, restrictions and exclusions apply and coverages may vary in certain states. In the event of any conflict between your policy terms and coverage descriptions on this website, the terms and conditions of your policy shall govern. Click here for privacy notice.

Copyright© 2024 Arch Insurance Company. All rights reserved.