Winter wonders on the rails: 10 great trips in North America
Traveling by rail in North America in winter offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the magnificent winter scenery and see the northern lights from the comfort of your train. Choosing to travel by rail in North America in winter guarantees you not only safe and comfortable travel.
It's also a new experience that you can enjoy at a leisurely pace. Where is the best place to travel by train in North America in winter, writes simplemost.
Amtrak Vermonter (between Washington, DC and St. Albans, Vermont)
Immerse yourself in the unique experience of traveling on the Vermonter, a railroad train that travels along a scenic route from Union Station in Washington, D.C. to St. Albans, Vermont, along the shores of Lake Champlain. The 13-hour journey takes you through nine states, providing an incredible panoramic view of both the big cities and cozy villages of New England.
Traveling in a snowy month will add to the magic, revealing brilliant white forest landscapes and allowing you to enjoy the beauty of villages such as Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Waterbury, and Essex. The train also makes stops at the amazing Camels Hump State Park in Montpelier, inviting guests to enjoy great hiking surrounded by majestic nature.
Amtrak Coast Starlight (between Los Angeles and Seattle)
Coast Starlight, which runs between Los Angeles and Seattle, is recognized for its unique observation cars, where passengers can enjoy magnificent views through floor-to-ceiling windows. These observation lounges become particularly popular, especially when the train rolls through the city of Oxnard and travels along the coast for three hours. For the best view, it is recommended to take a seat on the left side of the train.
The journey also provides amazing views of Oregon, with glistening forests, white-capped mountains, and numerous lakes. The Coast Starlight departs Los Angeles daily at 10 am and reaches Seattle in 34 hours, arriving around 8 pm the next day.
Amtrak California Zephyr (between Chicago and San Francisco
"The California Zephyr offers a unique opportunity to travel from Chicago to San Francisco Bay, covering 2437 miles and passing through seven states. A tour of this train allows you to choose a part of the route or enjoy the full journey of 51 hours and 20 minutes.
During the journey, the Zephyr will take you through major cities such as Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, as well as small towns including Naperville, Illinois, Lincoln, Nebraska, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The main attractions, however, are the majestic Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, which provide magnificent winter views that are not available for road travel.
The trip also has historical significance, passing through a section of the Sierra Railroad, created by hand during the Civil War as part of the transcontinental railroad route.
White Pass and Yukon Route Railway (between Skagway, Alaska, Fraser, British Columbia, Carcross, Yukon and Whitehorse, Yukon)
Travel to the seaport city of Skagway, Alaska, and embark on an exciting adventure on the historic White Pass and Yukon Railroad. The most popular route is the tour to the top of White Pass, which takes about three hours to cover 40 miles.
This historic railroad, which was built in the late 1800s during the gold rush, is fascinating for its vintage parlor cars. One of them, called the Lake Leberge, even transported Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to Whitehorse in 1959 during their tour of Canada and the United States.
However, by far the main attraction is the breathtaking views as the train climbs to an altitude of 3000 feet, passing by gorges, waterfalls and glacial rivers. For the best view on the way, it is recommended to take a seat on the left side of the train.
Amtrak Empire Builder (between Chicago and Portland, Oregon or Seattle)
Want to enjoy the beauty of the Northwest of America? Take the Empire Builder train from Amtrak! You can start your journey in Seattle or Portland and even get off at different stations along the way. The train passes through 7 states, including Spokane in Washington and Chicago.
If you start from Seattle, the journey will take 2255 miles, and from Portland - 2205 miles. You can drive the entire route or stop at interesting places along the way, but the entire trip will take approximately 46 hours.
Along the way, you will enjoy the beauty of snow-covered forests, icy rivers, and mountain ranges. Glacier National Park awaits you on the left and Flathead National Forest on the right.
Cascade Canyon Winter Train (from Durango, Colorado to Cascade Canyon, Colorado)
Southwest Colorado impresses with its high cliffs topped with snow and stunning waterfalls. The Cascade Canyon Winter Train invites you on an exciting journey to enjoy the unique scenery of this region.
The 52-mile route between Durango and Cascade Canyon in each direction will allow you to ride along the Animas River and see the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, all in five hours and 25 minutes. You'll also enjoy a 60-minute stop at Cascade Canyon, where you can enjoy a campfire and a walk along the river.
Amtrak Seattle and Canadian Rockies Winter Discovery (between Seattle and Alberta, Canada)
Immerse yourself in nine magical days of winter exploration on this exciting trip from Seattle to Calgary. Travel through the Canadian Rockies where even cars can't reach and enjoy breathtaking views of Vancouver.
Part of the fascinating tour is a visit to Jasper National Park, known for its diversity of wildlife: caribou, moose, bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and wolves. In Banff, you'll enjoy a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain, offering breathtaking views of the snow-covered landscape.
Napa Valley Wine Train (between Napa and St. Helena in California)
If you're a wine connoisseur, the Napa Valley Wine Train is a true wine adventure on rails. Traveling in restored vintage rail cars, you'll ride 36 miles round trip from Napa, California to St. Helena, California. Full-day or half-day options are available, and both offer great views of Italian architecture and beautiful vineyards.
The Legacy Experience full-day program includes a 6-hour journey with a gourmet lunch, as well as visits to two famous Napa Valley wineries: Charles Krug Winery and V. Sattui Winery. The Grgich Hills Winery Tour also includes a gourmet lunch, but stops at only one winery, where you can enjoy wine from renowned winemaker Mike Grgich.
At Christmas time, the Wine Train turns into the Santa Train, inviting families with children on board. The route is filled with a festive atmosphere, and a choice of hot cocoa or cider replaces wine. Santa is also on board, bringing additional joy.
Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad (between Spooner and Springbrook, Wisconsin)
The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad offers unique sightseeing excursions that make for a special trip. The 15-mile route along the Namekagon River between Spooner and Springbrook is laid out on railroad tracks that have been in existence for over 100 years.
A variety of packages are available to you, including themes such as Family Pizza, Elegant Dinner, and Bed and Breakfast. During the holiday season, there's even a festive touch with the Pizza by Train package, as shown in a post on the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad's official Facebook page.
The duration of your trip depends on the option you choose and can vary from 45 minutes to 3 hours.
Aurora Winter Train (between Anchorage and Fairbanks in Alaska)
Traveling by train from Anchorage to Fairbanks in Alaska for 12 hours and 350 miles is not just a journey, but a real magical adventure. Here you will immerse yourself in the breathtaking winter landscape and get a unique chance to see the northern lights.
The train departs in the morning at 8:30 and arrives in the evening, and thanks to the early sunset in Alaska, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the panoramic windows and perhaps catch a glimpse of the magical glow of the night sky.
Throughout the journey, you will be able to get off at stops to try winter sports such as snowshoeing, snowmobiling or dog sledding. The train also stops at Denali National Park and Preserve, where you can see the highest mountain peak in North America and possibly meet winter residents such as grizzlies and black bears.