The 5 Most Scenic Amtrak Train Routes

Flying to your destination may save time, but aside from fluffy clouds and a pretty sunset, there's not much in the way of scenery. And while a road trip is fun, that requires you or your car mate driving -- so eyes on the road! That's why we love trains; they'll take you where you need to go, while you and your travel companion get to sit back and take in the scenery. For trips within the United States and Canada, Amtrak operates more than 300 trains daily, many offering truly spectacular views at excellent prices. Check out the five most scenic Amtrak routes and get on the right transportation track. 

1. Adirondack: New York City to Montreal

Photo Courtesy of Lake Placid Region via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Lake Placid Region via Flickr

The Adirondack line is easily one of the most scenic of Amtrak's routes; from New York City to Montreal, riders take a 10-hour journey through gorgeous areas of New York and Canada. Manhattanites or Montrealers can escape their bustling cities for trips through the Hudson Valley and Adirondack Mountains, the latter in particular being favorite in the fall for its foliage viewing. The train is equipped with a cafe car for snacks and Wi-Fi, but we'd recommend skipping checking your email and sticking to posting photos of your ride -- tag @oysterhotels and #oystertravel and we may regram them! A one-way value ticket costs about $68.   

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2. Sunset Limited: New Orleans to Los Angeles

Photo Courtesy of Aimee Custis via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Aimee Custis via Flickr

If you have 48 hours to devote to a one-way train ride, the Sunset Limited route is a fabulous pick. Travelers can hop on in New Orleans and then make their way to San Antonio, Tucson, Palm Springs, and finally Los Angeles. This line departs three days a week and gives riders a chance to see the bayou, desert, and southern California, with a pretty sunset included. There's no Wi-Fi, but the train is outfitted with both a cafe and dining car. A one-way value ticket costs $163.

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3. Empire Builder: Chicago to Portland or Seattle

Photo Courtesy of Loco Steve via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Loco Steve via Flickr

For a northern route, the Empire Builder begins or ends in Chicago, running through Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Fargo, Spokane, and either Seattle or Portland (they conjoin at Spokane). Passing through major portions of the Lewis and Clark trail and crossing the breathtaking Glacier National Park in Montana, travelers will see roaming wildlife and the Great Plains. Running daily, the trip lasts 46 hours and the train is outfitted with a cafe and dining car. A one-way value ticket is around $174.

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4. Coast Starlight: Seattle to Los Angeles

Photo Courtesy of Kunal Mukherjee via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Kunal Mukherjee via Flickr

With breathtaking scenery throughout the journey, the nearly 1,400-mile Coast Starlight route runs daily between Seattle and Los Angeles. For riders that board the train in Seattle, the 35-hour trip will take them through popular cities like Portland, Santa Barbara, and then Oakland. With views of the Cascade mountain range, the striking Mount Shasta, and stretches of the Pacific Ocean, it's no doubt a beautiful ride bookmarked by two popular travel destinations. The Amtrak train is outfitted with a cafe and dining car. A one-way value ticket is around $115. 

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5. California Zephyr: Chicago to San Francisco

Photo Courtesy of Loco Steve via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Loco Steve via Flickr

Finally, the California Zephyr Amtrak line is filled with exceptional scenery between its Chicago starting point through Denver, the Rocky Mountains, Salt Lake City, the Sierra Nevadas, and its final stop in San Francisco. Trains run daily on this route and the whole trip will take approximately 51 hours and 20 minutes. The train has both a cafe and dining car. A one-way value ticket costs $163. 

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