Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. Such is the case for passengers who step aboard these trains – hand-picked by a panel of travel experts, and then voted by our readers as the best scenic train rides
in the United States.
No. 10: Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania.
Founded in 1832, the historic Strasburg Rail Road didn’t become a tourist railroad until 1958. Today, passengers continue to board the train for a chance to soak up the views of Pennsylvania’s scenic Lancaster County.
No. 9: Wilmington & Western Railroad in Delaware.
The Wilmington & Western route was laid in the 1870s, and today, the same track hosts one of the most popular tourist railroads on the East Coast. Excursions through Delaware’s Red Clay Valley depart from Greenbank and travel through Faulkland, Wooddale, Ashland, Yorklyn and Hockessin.
No. 8: Roaring Camp Railroads in California.
Roaring Camp offers two experiences aboard 19th century steam strains. The Redwood Forest Steam Train takes passengers on a 75-minute excursion through California’s towering redwood groves to the summit of Bear Mountain. Onboard narration explains the history of Roaring Camp and how the trains were used to haul logs. The Santa Cruz Beach Train travels from the mountains through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
No. 7: Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire.
Passengers aboard the Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire enjoy a 3-hour tour to the highest peak in the Northeast: 6,288-foot Mount Washington. The first cog-driven train made the climb on July 3, 1869, and today, the Mount Washington Cog Railway is a National Historic Engineering Landmark.
No. 6: The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway in Colorado.
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the highest railway in America (and the world's highest cog train) reaching a height of 14,115 feet above sea level. This 9-mile journey takes passengers to the top of Pikes Peak, traveling along Ruxton Creek, past Minnehaha and through Deer Park along the way.
No. 5: Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia.
Tucked into the scenic mountains of West Virginia lies the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, where visitors can take a step back in time aboard a steam-driven locomotive once used to haul lumber. Trips depart from the town of Cass and take visitors to Whittaker Station (2 hours round trip) or all the way to Bald Knob (4.5 hours round trip).
No. 4: Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Ohio. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is one of the best ways to explore Cuyahoga Valley National Park located in Northeast Ohio. The train travels north-south between Independence and Akron, with stops for both pedestrian and bike passengers. In addition to scenic rides through the park, the train also hosts evening excursions (Ales on Rails, Cocktails on Rails or Grape Escapes) as well as a Murder Mystery Train.
No. 3: Colebrookdale Railroad in Pennsylvania. Passengers riding the Colebrookdale Railroad board a restored century-old railcar for a 2-hour journey into Pennsylvania’s Secret Valley. An open car offers near 360-degree views of the passing scenery, while the first-class parlor car, called Storm King, offers drinks and snacks to the sounds of piano music.
No. 2: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Colorado and New Mexico. One of the most authentic steam-operated railroads in existence, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad runs for 64 miles between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado, passing through the San Juan Mountains and the scenic Conejos Valley along the way. This moving National Historic Landmark represents one of New Mexico's most spectacular day trips.
No. 1: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado. The historic Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad once hauled silver and gold along the stretch of track laid during the late 19th century between the two towns. Today, visitors hop aboard for the 7-hour round trip journey from Durango through some of Colorado's most impressive scenery, with a chance to stop and explore the historic mining town.