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!

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Ellis Island

Ellis Island

Ellis Island was the gateway for more than 12 million immigrants to enter into the US between 1892 and 1954. Although most of the island is in New Jersey, the island is located in New York Harbor. Tourists and history buffs alike can visit the historic island and museum to hear inspiring stories and view photo collections about the people who passed through what was once the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station. 960 1280

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Fire Island Seashore

Fire Island Seashore

Fire Island -- a barrier island located on the south shore of Long Island, NY -- is a popular tourist destination during the summer, but it’s also a great place to visit during its off-peak season. Visit the Fire Island Lighthouse, explore the island’s wildlife, take a stroll through Sunken Forest, go camping at Watch Hill or go fishing on the pier at Barrett Beach. 960 1280

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African Burial Ground National Monument

African Burial Ground National Monument

The African Burial Ground National Monument is where the remains of more than 400 Africans were buried in the late 17th and 18th centuries. It is part of what was once the largest colonial-era cemetery for free and enslaved Africans. The burial ground, located in Manhattan, was rediscovered in 1991 after plans were underway to build a Federal office building in the same area. 960 1280

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Sagamore Hill

Sagamore Hill

Sagamore Hill is the home of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. Roosevelt lived at his “Summer White House” from 1885 until his death in 1919. Although the home is closed for renovations, the park grounds are open. 960 1280

David Smith, Flickr  

Castle Clinton

Castle Clinton

The history of New York City began here at Castle Clinton -- initially built to prevent a British invasion in 1812. The circular sandstone fort is located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. It is best remembered as America’s first immigration station where more than 8 million people arrived in the US, from 1855 to 1890. Before becoming a national monument, the castle served as beer garden, exhibition hall, theater and public aquarium. 960 1280

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Grant National Monument

Grant National Monument

The Grant National Monument is the final resting place of President Ulysses Simpson Grant and his wife, Julia. The largest mausoleum in North America commemorates the life of the man who ended the bloodiest war in American history as Commanding General of the Union Army and then, as the 18th President of the United States. 960 1280

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Federal Hall National Memorial

Federal Hall National Memorial

Take a trip back in history to see where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States. The Federal Hall National Memorial is the birthplace of American government -- home to the first Congress, Supreme Court and Executive Branch offices. The building now serves as a museum to President Washington and the beginnings of the United States of America. 960 1280

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Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

Take a guided tour through the recreated birthplace and home of US President Theodore Roosevelt, the only US President born in New York City. From 1858 to 1872, the brownstone -- located at 28 East 20th Street in Manhattan -- was home to Roosevelt and his family. After the neighborhood became more commercial, the Roosevelts moved uptown to West 57th Street. The house was opened and restored as a museum in 1923. 960 1280

Wally Gobetz, Flickr  

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

Visit the Harlem home of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, the first US Secretary of Treasury. The home was named “The Grange” after Hamilton’s grandfather’s estate in Scotland.it was the only home ever owned by the American politician and it remained in the family 30 years after his death. Insider Tip: We suggest taking the ranger-guided tour which allows tourists access to the historically furnished floor. 960 1280

Jim.Henderson, Wikimedia Commons  

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area

Explore the beautiful Hudson River Valley. This national park site stretches from New York City to Albany. Uncover the history of the American Revolutionary War, visit scenic parks and gardens and see the world’s largest kaleidoscope at Mount Tremper. Through the Hudson Valley there are dozens of tourist attractions, including the Neuberger Museum of Art, Donald Kendall Sculpture Garden, Stony Point Battlefield and Playland Amusement Park. 960 1280

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Governors Island National Monument

Governors Island National Monument

Explore the history of Governors Island as it evolved from a colonial outpost to regional administrative center for the US Army and Coast Guard. Visit Castle Williams, the sandstone fort that has stood watch over New York City for over 200 years. 960 1280

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Saint Paul's Church

Saint Paul's Church

Saint Paul’s Church, located in Mount Vernon, NY, is an 18th-century that was used as a Revolutionary War hospital, a historic cemetery with headstones dating to 1704 and remnant of a Village Green that was the site of the Election of 1733, which raised issues of freedom of religion and press. Aside from its historic past, the church apparently has ghosts that still lurk through the halls. Visitors have heard what sound like heavy chains being dragged across the basement floor. 960 1280

Anthony22, Wikimedia Commons  

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Take a trip with the family out to Liberty Island to the iconic national treasure, the Statue of Liberty. Given as a gift from France to the US, the statue represents a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and designated as a national monument in 1924. We suggest tourists make their way up to the crown of Lady Liberty to get the best view of NYC and its beautiful skyline. 960 1280

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Become a Junior Ranger

Become a Junior Ranger

Nearly every national park has a junior ranger program, enabling kids to earn badges or patches for completing various activities. But some parks have additional youth programs, such as the Junior Paleontologist program, which teaches kids about fossils at Badlands National Park in South Dakota and many others. Yellowstone National Park helps kids become Young Scientists by using toolkits to investigate the area around Old Faithful.

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National Park Service   

Take a Helicopter Ride

Take a Helicopter Ride

For a new perspective, try a scenic helicopter ride with your kids, such as the North Canyon Tour with Papillon Helicopters. This 30-minute aerial tour of the Grand Canyon beats elbowing your way in for a good view at Mather Point on the South Rim any day of the week. There’s also Gateway Helicopter Tours, which offers 3-minute rides around the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

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Papillon Helicopters  

Participate in a Triathlon

Participate in a Triathlon

A triathlon may not be top of mind when planning a trip to Everglades National Park in Florida, but families can have fun exploring the park by way of the Tamiami Trail Triathlon. Bike a 15-mile loop, hike 3 miles, and then paddle 3 1/2 miles in a canoe or kayak to finish the challenge. Along the way, complete activities to earn prizes. Some national parks, such as Saguaro National Park in Arizona, also host half-marathons and 5K fun runs.

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National Park Service   

Go Sledding on a Sand Dune

Go Sledding on a Sand Dune

At New Mexico’s White Sands, kids can sled down sand dunes on snow saucers. Bring your own or buy them for $15 each in the gift shop. Get a $5 refund for each sled you return. Or try Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Rent a sled or sand board in nearby Alamosa. The rentals are pretreated with a special sand wax for great sliding, whether you’re sledding or sand-boarding down the dunes.

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National Park Service  

Take a Scenic Train Ride

Take a Scenic Train Ride

See your favorite parks by taking a train ride, such as the one offered at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. Use the Bike Aboard program, which lets you bike the Towpath Trail in 1 direction and then hop on the train for the return trip. Another option is the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad near Yosemite National Park in California. Enjoy a barbecue dinner before taking a steam train to Lewis Creek Canyon for a sing-along around a campfire.

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Go Horseback Riding

Go Horseback Riding

Try a horseback ride to experience wilderness trails in an area such as Glacier National Park in Montana. Kids can explore Lake Sherburne and the old mining town of Altyn on a 2-hour Cracker Flats ride, which can be booked through Swan Mountain Outfitters. SK Horses at Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park offers 1- and 2-hour rides that start in Estes Park, and children as young as 4 can ride.

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Try a Night Sky Program

Try a Night Sky Program

Several national parks, including Lassen Volcanic National Park in California, offer stargazing programs. Kids will love using high-powered telescopes to see planets and constellations. Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is another great park for stargazing, enabling visitors to see as many as 7,500 stars. Some parks also have dark-sky festivals during the summer, with hikes and hands-on activities.

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Alison Taggert-Barone/National Park Service  

Go on a Cave Tour

Go on a Cave Tour

At Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, the kids-only Trog Tour lets young adventurers don hard hats and headlamps to trek through the caves. Or try Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, whose 90-minute King’s Palace Tour is among the most popular. At dusk, join a ranger program and prepare to watch thousands of bats fly out of the cavern entrance.

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Enjoy a Tide-Pool Walk

Enjoy a Tide-Pool Walk

At Redwood National Park in California, kids can join a tide-pool walk led by a park ranger. Little ones hunt for sea creatures as the ranger/naturalist teaches them about life in the ocean and sea life to be found at low tide. Olympic National Park in Washington offers tide-pool programs at Kalaloch’s Beach 4 and Mora’s Hole in the Wall.

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Shawn Sheltren/National Park Service  

Go on a Full-Moon Ranger Hike

Go on a Full-Moon Ranger Hike

Several national parks, including Bryce Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park, offer full-moon ranger hikes or walks. These popular nocturnal adventures are a fun way to explore the parks and wildlife while seeking out the best views of the full moon. Yosemite even offers full-moon bike rides, which leave at 8:30 p.m. It’s best to sign up in advance.

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Roosevelt Arch

Roosevelt Arch

The Roosevelt Arch is located at the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park in Montana. The arch's cornerstone was laid by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. 960 1280

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Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

If you're traveling to Yellowstone National Park, don't leave without seeing the Grand Prismatic Spring. 960 1280

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Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Old Faithful, Yellowstone's famous geyser, can shoot 3,700-8,400 gallons of boiling water at a height of 106-185 feet for 1.5-5 minutes. 960 1280

Adam Long Sculpture / iStock / Thinkstock  

Picturesque Yellowstone

Picturesque Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is full of picturesque mountain views. 960 1280

Michael H Spivak/Moment/Getty Images  

Yellowstone Wildlife

Yellowstone Wildlife

Travelers driving through Yellowstone National Park get to see all types of wildlife, including this bull elk in Lamar Valley. 960 1280

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Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs has been shaped over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate. Its energy has been attributed to the same system that fuels other Yellowstone geothermal areas. 960 1280

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West Thumb Geyser Basin

West Thumb Geyser Basin

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park can see the beautiful contrast of colors and textures at West Thumb Geyser Basin. 960 1280

Paola Moschitto-Assenmacher/EyeEm/Getty Images  

Castle Geyser

Castle Geyser

Castle Geyser is located in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. The geyser was named because of its large deposits that resemble a castle. 960 1280

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Lower Falls

Lower Falls

The sun rises over the Lower falls of the Yellowstone River in Wyoming. 960 1280

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Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River, nestled between 2 banks, makes Yellowstone National Park seem serene and peaceful all year long. 960 1280

  

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