Road Trips

National Parks: Great Train Rides: See Our Parks on the Rails

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, an elegant Orient Express knockoff and a vintage railway restored to its original glory.

Amtrak's Empire Builder
This giant diesel-engine locomotive begins its journey at Chicago's Union Station and runs west along the original route of the Great Northern Railway to Glacier National Park in Montana. During the next two days, you'll stop at the Glacier Park Lodge & Resort, the  Historic Belton Chalet and the Izaak Walton Inn.

Alaska Railroad's Denali Star
Your 7 1/2-hour trip to Denali National Park on this refurbished blue-and-yellow train begins in Anchorage. Equipped with a dome car, a fine dining car and student tour guides, the Denali Star travels through seven tunnels and over 8 miles of bridges. Other stops include Wasilla, Talkeetna, Nenana and Fairbanks.

Alaska Railroad's Coastal Classic
Hop aboard the Coastal Classic in Anchorage for a scenic four-hour ride to Kenai Fjords National Park. Along the coast you'll pass a stretch of Cook Inlet known as the Turnagain Arm, before greeting the snow-capped Kenai Mountains. After a series of tunnels and a harrowing single-track switch, it's onward through the land of glassy lakes, waterfalls and glaciers to the end of the line in Seward. From there, passengers can take a boat cruise through Resurrection Bay to experience the park.

American Orient Express
This first-class excursion to the Northwest Rockies begins in Seattle. Each of the 17 luxurious cars, dating to the 1940s and 1950s, cost up to $2 million to refurbish and maintain. Two modern diesel engines pull the Pullman sleeper cars, gourmet kitchen, dining car, laundry and dome cars on tracks laid in the late 1800s. Glacier National Park in Montana is the first stop. The next destination is Idaho Falls and Yellowstone National Park. The final stop of this grand tour is Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Grand Canyon Railway
Your 65-mile, two-hour journey to the Grand Canyon on this vintage steam train starts in Williams, Ariz. Coach seats are bench style in Pullman cars from the roaring 1920s, the club car has a mahogany bar, first class enjoys captain-style seats, and a double-decker dome car offers passengers a bird's-eye view. From the end station, it's only a short walk to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and Bright Angel Lodge.

Coast Starlight
The Coast Starlight travels the coast between Los Angeles' and Seattle. First-class ticket holders can enjoy the luxurious Parlor Car, and there's also a car designated just for kids. The first park on the route is the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area with over 153,000 acres of beaches, mountains and a working movie set, Paramount Ranch. Klamath Falls, Ore., is the jumping off point to visit Crater Lake National Park. The train stops at Portland's historic Union Station before ending in Seattle, an hour and 45-minute drive to Mt. Rainier National Park.American Vacations, Family Travel, National Parks, Great Train Rides

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