5 Great National Park Train Rides

A good train ride provides passengers with stunning scenery, high adventure and a bit of nostalgic romance. These classic rail trips through America's national parks include a panoramic dome car, a restored vintage railway and more!

Photos

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

“Moraine Lake – known as one of the most photographed places in Canada – is a glacially-fed lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. I took this photo during a production shoot for a Shaw TV segment where I chatted with them about my passion for the Great Outdoors.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

“Moraine Lake reflects a very distinct shade of blue because of the refraction of light off the rock flour that is continuously deposited in the lake.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park

Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park

Lake Minnewanka, which means ‘water of the spirits,’ is a glacial lake and is the longest in the mountain parks of the Canadian Rockies. 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park

Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park

“Located in Banff National Park, Two Jack Lake is my favorite place in Alberta to capture the vast number of colors seen along the horizon at sunrise.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Vermillion Lakes, Banff National Park

Vermillion Lakes, Banff National Park

“With Mount Rundle as its backdrop, Vermillion Lakes offer some of the most picturesque views in all of Alberta. It is a short jaunt from my home town of Calgary.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Johnson Canyon, Banff National Park

Johnson Canyon, Banff National Park

“This photo was taken at Johnson Canyon – one of the most popular places for ice climbers in the winter.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Johnson Canyon, Banff National Park

Johnson Canyon, Banff National Park

“When the water began freezing at Johnson Canyon, I was able to capture some of the most spectacular views the Canadian Rockies.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park

“I learned that there’s nothing better than a serene kayaking experience on the calm waters of Patricia Lake.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

“I've heard about the mind-blowing the beauty of Athabasca Falls, but seeing it in person is better than I expected. I have a very deep respect for this place.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Whistlers Mountain, Jasper National Park

Whistlers Mountain, Jasper National Park

“A rainbow breaks through the clouds just as I got to the top of Whistlers Mountain. Jasper National Park has the SkyTram that takes visitors up – approximately 4278 feet – to see the entire countryside, which includes the town of Jasper.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park

“Waking up at 5 am to catch Sunrise at Patricia Lake in Jasper National Park never looked so good.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Athabasca Glacier Ice Cave, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Glacier Ice Cave, Jasper National Park

“While on the Columbia Icefield, I hiked to the Athabasca Glacier to see my first ice cave. Due to warmer temperatures over the past decade, the glacier is melting, which meant visiting the ice cave was on the top of my must-see list.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park

In Jasper National Park, Maligne Lake is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy fishing, hiking, canoeing or kayaking. 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Waterton Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park

“While on my Badlands Expedition during the past summer (2015), I had the opportunity to visit Waterton Lake and I felt like I was in Jurassic Park.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Lakes National Park

Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Lakes National Park

Built in the late 1920s, the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel overlooks the Waterton Lake. Named after the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), the hotel was built to lure American tourists north of the border during the prohibition era. 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

“One day I drove past Lake Louise and randomly stumbled upon this stunning reflection on Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park.” 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park

"On my Columbia Valley Expedition, I skied off the summit of 8,000-foot-tall Panorama Mountain and para-glided down to the base. This was one of the best moments of my life and the snow-dusted trees below were a sight I will never forget." 960 1280

Dax Justin  

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

It's not likely you'll plan a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Gates of the Arctic National Park: It requires serious planning to venture into this wild Alaskan spot above the Arctic Circle. 960 1280

By National Park Service, Alaska Region (Remote river in Gates of the Arctic) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

The remote park is accessible by bush plane, air taxi and, for the truly hardcore, on foot. Hikers may approach the park from Dalton Highway, but there are multiple river crossings along the way and no trails. 960 1280
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Once in the park, visitors are rewarded with sweeping valleys and rugged mountains, the tallest rising 8,510 feet at Mount Igikpak at the headwaters of the Noatak River. 960 1280

By National Park Service, Alaska Region (Noatak River) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

Washington state has its share of glaciers with more than 300 mountain glaciers in North Cascades National Park. Get your bearings at any of the park's 6 visitor or service centers where maps and exhibit rooms can help you plan excursions.  960 1280

By Walter Siegmund (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

The Ross Lake National Recreation Area is a popular starting point for the 400 miles of trails that meander through the valleys and cut through the mountains with switchbacks and rocky terrain. 960 1280
North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

The mountains are dotted with the glaciers as well as more than 127 alpine lakes and cascading waterfalls. The most popular waterfalls can be found at Gorge Falls along State Route 20 in between Newhalem and Diablo and Rainbow Falls in Stehekin Valley. 960 1280
Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is a diverse spot with quiet deserts, caves and dense forests filled with 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines. It's remarkable that this is one of the least-visited national parks, often dismissed as a wasteland. 960 1280
Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Go underground at Lehman Caves, an ornate marble cave filled with stalactites, stalagmites and over 300 rare shield formations. 960 1280
Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Stargazers will delight in the view from Great Basin, one of the darkest spots in the country after the sun goes down. You'll want to spend the night so you can marvel at the Milky Way and constellations in the deep night sky, a rare treat as light pollution blocks the view from many cities around the country. 960 1280
Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

The state of Florida gets hordes of visitors each year, but somehow Dry Tortugas plays host to only a small fraction of them. This cluster of 7 islands is just 70 miles west of Key West, but its quiet island pace sets it apart from its nearest neighbors. 960 1280

By Joe Parks from Berkeley, CA (Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

The waters around the islands are filled with coral reefs teeming with interesting marine life that are perfect for a snorkeling trip.  960 1280
Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

Scuba divers explore the Windjammer Wreck, a complete wreck site featuring an impressive sailing ship that sank in 1907. Back on the beach, sea turtles build nests in the sand where they lay their eggs along these protected sandy shores. 960 1280
Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

Michigan's remote Isle Royale National Park is accessible only by boat or seaplane, so leave your car behind, and set sail from Houghton or Cooper Harbor in Michigan or Grand Portage in Minnesota. 960 1280
Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

Once there, get ready for a day of backcountry hiking or navigating the lakes, bays and islands in a kayak or canoe. If you're not an experienced paddler, avoid the frigid water and possible squalls on a guided boat tour. 960 1280
Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

To extend your trip, spend the night at the Rock Harbor Lodge, found in the island's northeast corner, with simple rooms and cottages overlooking the lake. 960 1280
Paddle the Pacific

Paddle the Pacific

Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park, just off the coast of Los Angeles, is home to some of the best kayaking on the West Coast. Rich with marine life and boasting the much-photographed Arch Rock, Anacapa is the perfect day trip or overnighter for the city dweller looking to get into some rough water. It’s a cliff island, so beware of winds, currents and fog.  

 

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Great Art Productions  

Float the Border

Float the Border

The mighty Rio Grande runs through Big Bend National Park in Texas, but it also represents the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Rafting down the river not only takes you through some eye-widening scenery, like 1500-foot deep canyons, but will also toss you back and forth across the border. 960 1280

Witold Skrypczak  

Hit the Sandy Slopes

Hit the Sandy Slopes

Colorado has Aspen, one of the most famous skiing destinations on the planet. It also has Sand Dunes National Park, one of the only sandboarding and sandsledding destinations on the planet. Slalom down the granular slopes like some diabolical combination of Jean-Claude Killy and Lawrence of Arabia. Hit the dunes early in the morning or late in the evening, lest you roast in the 150° midday heat. And don’t forget the lip balm.

 

 

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Simon Russell  

Cold Storage

Cold Storage

The upper regions of Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park have over 35 square miles of permanent ice and snow, providing a year-round paradise for hearty souls who consider ice camping a pleasure. If you’re going to stay the night on the mountain, securely lock your vittles to keep them from the clutches of foxes and other aggressive winter wildlife. 960 1280

Peter Haley  

Take in the Lights

Take in the Lights

Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park sits just below the Canadian border and offers campers a ringside seat to the Northern Lights. Voyageurs encompasses 270 campsites only accessible by watercraft, but we recommend the remote Echo Lake Campground for best visibility. Check a variety of weather services to determine your best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. 960 1280

Steve Burns  

Yosemite Gliding

Yosemite Gliding

It may seem crazy, but people have been leaping off Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park for decades. Hang gliding was once sanctioned and overseen by park employees. These days the private Yosemite Hang Gliding Association coordinates it. 960 1280

Celso Diniz  

The Rafters

The Rafters

If a weekend of seething whitewater just doesn’t cut it anymore, try an eight-day Grand Canyon raft trip down the Colorado River. There are a host of operators who will happily guide you down 200 miles of rapids. By the end of it, you’ll have seen Native-American ruins, mile-high cliff walls and countless eagles. 960 1280

  

Hit the Heights

Hit the Heights

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park boasts rock formations that will set a climber’s mouth to watering. The 415-square-mile park is a full-service climbing destination, featuring opportunities for scaling rock, wall, ice and snow. Lumpy Ridge and Longs Peak are favorites of local and international climbers. Whether you are an experienced sport climber or a beginning boulderer, be safe and leave no trace of your visit.

 

 

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Forest Woodward  

Lost in America

Lost in America

It makes sense that America’s largest national park is in Alaska, its largest state. Wrangell-Saint Elias stretches across 13,200,000 acres. You could fit Yellowstone, Everglades, and Death Valley inside it, and still have room for Denali, the third largest park (also in Alaska) at 6,075,030 acres. 960 1280

  

Take Me to the River

Take Me to the River

In addition to being the most popular hike in Zion National Park, the Narrows has something for every ability level over its 16 miles. The trail follows the Virgin River, which is convenient during the summer months, since you’ll be at least ankle-deep most of the time. If it starts to rain, head for high ground; flash floods are common and have a tendency to drop by without calling first.  960 1280

  

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