Most beautiful winter train routes in North America

Published: March 10, 2019 1:43:29 AM

From Colorado to Alaska, here are the most scenic train rides for you to enjoy, as per Travel + Leisure...

Amtrak Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Utah

Empire Builder, Chicago, Illinois

The Empire Builder is an Amtrak long-distance passenger train that operates daily between Chicago and—via two sections west of Spokane—Seattle and Portland. Introduced in 1929, it was the flagship passenger train of the Great Northern Railway and its successor, the Burlington Northern, and was retained by Amtrak when it took over intercity rail service in 1971. The end-to-end travel time of the route is 45-46 hours for an average speed of about 50 mph (80 kmph), though the train travels as fast as 79 mph (127 kmph) over the majority of the route. It is Amtrak’s busiest long-distance route.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Durango, Colorado

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a 3-feet narrow-gauge heritage railroad that operates 45.2 miles of track between Durango and Silverton, in the US state of Colorado. The railway is a federally designated National Historic Landmark and is also designated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The route was originally opened in 1882 by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway to transport silver and gold ore mined from the San Juan Mountains.

Seattle and Canadian Rockies Winter Discovery, Seattle, Washington

This nine-day trip begins in Seattle, Washington, and takes you over the border to the North. With stops in Vancouver, Jasper, Banff and Calgary, Canada, you’re sure to see all the breathtaking views the Canadian Rockies have to offer. This trip also includes a ski gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain, so you can truly experience the winter wonderland first hand. This trip is available from October to April each year.

Colorado Ski Train, Denver, Colorado

The Ski Train is a passenger train operated in Colorado, providing weekend service between Denver Union Station and Winter Park Resort. Originally opened in 1940, the Ski Train offered winter passenger service between Denver’s Union Station and the Denver-owned Winter Park ski resort from 1940 to 2009 and was operated initially by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The operation was sold in 1988 to the Ansco Investment Company, which made various needed improvements and ran the “New Ski Train” for two decades before shutting the operation in 2009. An attempt that same year by Iowa Pacific Holdings to purchase and run the Ski Train fell through.

Napa Valley Wine Train, Napa, California

A train ride is always better with wine. You can book a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train any time of the year, but they also have special Valentine’s Day, Holiday, New Year’s Eve and Murder Mystery packages as well. Of course, every route has stops at local wineries like Domaine Chandon, Robert Mondavi and Beringer for tastings along the way. And every trip also includes gourmet meals as you sip and savour the views, too.

Winter Escape to the Grand Canyon, Chicago Illinois

People in the Midwest can escape the winter freeze and go on a beautiful desert getaway on Vacation By Rail’s six-day journey. While the temperatures won’t exactly be summery and hot, this route will take you through the colourful American Southwest, taking off from Chicago to Flagstaff,
where you’ll see plenty of snow-covered views before stopping at the magnificent Grand Canyon. After spending time at the natural wonder at your own pace, you can then return home to the Windy City.

Coast Starlight Train, Seattle, Washington

The Coast Starlight is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States. It runs from Seattle, Washington, to Los Angeles, California, via the San Francisco Bay Area. The train was the first to offer direct service between the two cities. Its name is a combination of two Southern Pacific trains, the Coast Daylight and the Starlight. The train has operated continuously since Amtrak’s formation in 1971.

Snow Zephyr, Chicago, Illinois

If you want to truly see the extent of America’s gorgeous and diverse scenery in wintertime, you can’t do better than the Snow Zephyr with Vacations By Rail. This five-day winter train excursion takes you from Chicago to San Francisco, so you can see all kinds of landscapes across the US, from the Great Plains to icy peaked mountains—all blanketed in snow. On the way, you’ll get a good view of the Rockies and Sierra Nevada Mountains. This route runs daily between November and March.

Aurora Winter Train, Anchorage, Alaska

The Aurora Winter Train, operated by the Alaska Railroad, provides passenger service between the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska. On the way, you can get a spectacular view of the Alaskan wilderness, from pristine lakes and snow capped mountains to beautiful wildlife indigenous to the area like moose, caribou and bears.

Aurora Winter Train, Anchorage, Alaska

Amtrak Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Utah

This five-day trip begins and ends in Salt Lake City, running between November and March every year. Geysers, hot springs and steam vents take on a special magnificence in winter, as the hot waters and steam contrast against the snowy and icy environment. Not only is wildlife much easier to spot—especially wolves native to the area—you also won’t have to fight crowds to get a good view or that winning Instagram shot.

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