In this day and age, the act of traveling is really considered more of a means than an end. However, something is lost when we look at it this way; after all, the world is full of beautiful scenery that goes wholly unnoticed when you're flying above it at 10,000 or more feet. While trains might not be the fastest or most comfortable ways to travel across the country, they're the perfect way of really getting to see some of the most beautiful scenery the globe has to offer.
Although our fast paced, "no-time-for-frills" culture encourages us to pass these things over in favor of more "productive" pursuits, there are nonetheless some incredible train journeys where the experience itself will make your destination seem irrelevant. With that being said, here are eight of the most scenic train journeys you could possibly take.
This scenic train route which takes you from Vancouver to Calgary is a growing tourist tradition. This service carried only 10,000 passengers in 1990 and now carries over 100,000 per year. Through the first passage to the West, Vancouver, you will see Castle Mountain, the continental divide, Stony Creek Bridge and the station at Lake Louise. Of note, you'll also see canyons, mountains, and glacial lakes. If you choose to take the special Gold Leaf Service, you will experience all of these magnificient views through a glass dome as a cover of the train. This all around view will include reclining chairs, a restaurant and complementary drinks. Well worth the extra fair.
The Ghan has been traveling through Australia for over 80 years. This line brings you from Adelaide through Red Centre, and up to the Top End, then finishes in Darwin, which is the capital of the Northern Territory. For three days and two nights you will experience astonishing views. During the trip there is a stop in the town of Alice Springs where you can take the day to enjoy history and take in the natural beauty.
The Bernina Express
This ride will take you from St. Mortiz in Switzerland to Tirano, Italy in 2 and a half hours. The scary thing about this ride is that the whole path was built without rack rails or cables. You will enjoy the view over 196 timeless bridges and 55 tunnels. The carriage is open-air, so it's perfect for a quick Spring ride.
Conway Scenic Railroad
This scenic route makes use of what used to be the Maine Central Railroad's Mountain Division Line. The tracks were laid in 1870. You'll see steep ravines, brooks and streams, lush forests, mountains, and more. It's a five hour ride to Crawford Station. The Notch Train is a vintage cart which offers a wonderful scenic view from a domed coach. The most popular season for this route is during early foliage season, especially for the dining excursions.
This train trip, which lasts a staggering six days, shows you Alaska's most scenic sights. It runs through both Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks. You'll see the mountains, forest, and coastline, as well as Mount McKinley, which is Alaska's tallest mountain. There are multiple stops along the way so passengers can take part of various activities, such as rafting among icebergs, hiking in Denali, or cruising through Kenai Fjords with the whales.
This eight hour ride runs only one way - from Zermatt to St. Moritz, which is 180 miles away. You'll go through 91 tunnels and over more than 250 bridges. The entire time, you'll be at an altitude of over 5,000 feet. This train is not necessarily an “express” route; it is one of the slowest express trains in the world therefore allowing you to take in the unbelievable views you pass through. There's also a pretty amazing dining car, where you can enjoy Swiss cheese, wine, and other desserts.
The California Zephyr
This route allows you to see almost half of the country. It travels about 2,500 miles and lasts a little over two days. You'll ride from Chicago to Emeryville, California. You'll see the Colorado River, the desert in Nevada, and pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The California Zephyr is operated by Amtrak and stands as their longest and most scenic route.
The Southwest Chief
Running a similar route is the Southwest Chief, which stretches from Los Angeles to Chicago. It clocks in at 40 hours, which is a little less than the California Zephyr, and travels 2,256 miles. You'll travel through the Mojave Desert in Arizona, through New Mexico, then up through Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and, finally, Illinois.
There are many different scenic train routes to take in all sorts of countries, and these are just a few notable ones. Have you been on any amazing train rides lately?