I’ve been reading the comments on my post “The Five Most Accessible Stadiums in the MLB,” and I know that many of you had strong opinions about my rankings (don’t worry, I’ll be writing an update that highlights some of the best counterarguments you submitted in the comments section and on social media).
However, fortune favors the brave, so I’m jumping into the breach once more–this time with the top five most scenic summertime Amtrak routes.
Frequently considered by many to be the most scenic train route in America, this line tops the list due to the variety of landscapes you’ll see as you zoom along the Pacific Coast. With the Santa Ynez Mountains in the south and the Cascades in the North, you’ll have a hard time tearing yourself from the windows on this trip. Start or end your trip at the tasteful Art Deco Union Station in LA, and connect with the opposite terminus in Seattle. You can even head all the way north to Vancouver via Amtrak’s Cascades route, a beautiful stretch of track in and of itself.
If you’d like to mimic the route of our first ever Transcontinental Railroad, this is the way to do it. Zip from Chicago through the Rocky Mountains all the way to San Francisco. Along the way, you’ll visit mountain and desert cities like Denver and Salt Lake City, and swoop through the Moffat Tunnel, which famously cut down transit times drastically through the Continental Divide. As this trip is a little over 50 hours, it’s the perfect train to grab a bed in the Superliner Sleeping Cars to truly enjoy scenic views of the Rocky Mountains.
One of the most famous scenic routes out there, this line passes goes from Chicago to Seattle, and passes through beautiful midwestern cities like Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Spokane. The highlight, of course, is Glacier National Park. Amtrak offers multiple trip packages to visit this gem of a national park, including 4 and 10 day excursions with activities like boat cruises included. It’s hard to beat wilderness like that. And it’s one of the routes I’ll get to ride this summer for Summer by Rail 2018!
A short but deservedly well-known line, this route travels from Seattle to Vancouver, BC. Along the way, you’ll soak in some stunning vistas of the marshes and waters that pock the Northwest corner of our country, known collectively as the Salish Sea. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, which roost by the hundreds in the Skagit River Bald Eagle Natural Area. Since you’ll be entering Canada you’ll need your passport, but don’t worry too much about customs: some riders say passing through via train is even easier than by car. I’ll be riding this service–which even includes some modern Talgo equipment–on my way from Seattle to Vancouver and back again.
You wouldn’t just be lucky to land on this railroad in Monopoly, the storied Pennsylvanian route that runs from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia offers plenty of sites as well. Major cities aside, this line also passes through pastoral Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the Allegheny Mountains that have inspired countless painters, and rounds the oft-photographed Horseshoe Curve as well. Visit Independence Hall and other historic destinations in Philadelphia, or enjoy the Warhol Museum and other cultural hotspots in Pittsburgh.
If you have thoughts–whether it’s a route I missed, or a particular segment of one of the above routes I glossed over–please let me know! I’ll take the best posts on Twitter and the comments section and post an update once I’m on the road in June.