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Celebrate National Park Week with These 7 Scenic Train Vacations

By Amtrak Vacations Tuesday, April 12, 2022 Read time: 5 minutes
To celebrate National Park Week this year (April 16th-24th), we bring you seven of the best national park rail vacations and what you'll see and experience along the way.

Railroads brought the first visitors to our great national parks over 100 years ago. Today, the national parks and the train still go hand in hand, with over 21,000 miles of track taking visitors to the heart of the top national parks across the U.S. To celebrate National Park Week this year (April 16 - 24, 2022), we bring you seven of the best national park rail vacations and what you'll see and experience along the way.

1. Grand National Parks of the Southwest

View from Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Destinations: Chicago > Grand Junction > Springdale > Zion National Park > Springdale > Bryce National Park > Capitol Reef National Park > Grand Junction > Chicago

Train Routes: California Zephyr

What You'll See and Experience: Discover five incredible national parks of Utah - Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef - on this seven-day rail journey from Chicago. Be treated to breathtaking sightseeing tours of each park and spectacular views of the unique geography of the area, including the dramatic arches, spires, pinnacles, balance rocks and fins you may have only seen in photos. Gorgeous year-round, this vacation promises incredible views, and plenty of sunshine and relaxation!

Learn more about this rail vacation.

2. Rails to the Grand Canyon

Grand canyon sunset landscape with dry tree foreground, USA

Destinations: Los Angeles > Williams > Grand Canyon National Park > Los Angeles

Train Route: Southwest Chief and Grand Canyon Railway

What You'll See and Experience: Traveling onboard the Southwest Chief and the Grand Canyon Railway to one of the seven wonders of the natural world is certainly a bucket list experience like no other. Known as "the most spectacular gorge in the world," the Grand Canyon is one of those places that stays with you long after you return home from vacation. The South Rim (open all year) is the most accessible and offers unparalleled views. This five-day adventure will introduce you to the picturesque scenery of the American Southwest like you've never experienced it before, even if you've previously been there by car, bus, or plane.

Learn more about this rail vacation. 

3. America’s National Parks

Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Destinations: Denver > Grand Junction > Salt Lake City > Yellowstone National Park > Salt Lake City

Train Route: California Zephyr

What You'll See and Experience: Enjoy some of the most gorgeous landscapes in the world on this train tour from Denver to Salt Lake City that includes four spectacular national parks: Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Arches, and Canyonlands National Park. Begin in Denver, where there is no shortage of gorgeous Rocky Mountain views. Head to Grand Junction on Amtrak's California Zephyr, which is considered one of the most beautiful train trips in North America. Enjoy the lovely views of the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas. Explore the geological wonders featured in two spectacular national parks: Canyonlands and Arches. Spend a day touring Yellowstone and exploring the quaint Old Faithful Village.

Learn more about this rail vacation.

4. Rocky Mountains to Arches & Canyonlands

Rocky Mountains in Denver

Destinations: Denver > Grand Junction

Train Route: California Zephyr

What You'll See and Experience: This five-day vacation features breathtaking scenery of some of America’s most unforgettable settings – the great Rocky Mountains and Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. First, explore the city of Denver and discover the wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park. Then board Amtrak’s California Zephyr for a scenic ride from Denver to Grand Junction, Colorado (your base for exploring the red-orange sandstone and desert blue skies of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks). It’s no surprise the U.S. Postal Service chose to depict Arches on one of its commemorative Park Service centennial stamps. The thousands of sandstone arches at Arches National Park are a must-see, and Canyonlands National Park provides a wealth of scenery, from vast mesas to soaring rock columns, and even examples of Native American cave paintings. Your tour also includes a stop at Dead Horse Point State Park to take in the breathtaking view over Canyonlands and the Colorado River.

Learn more about this rail vacation. 

5. Glacier National Park Express

Swiftcurrent Creek at Dawn

Destinations: Chicago > Glacier National Park > Seattle

Train Route: Empire Builder

What You'll See and Experience: Glacier National Park is one of North America's most popular national parks and for good reason. The snow-capped peaks, plunging waterfalls, dense forests, and glassy azure-colored lakes have the ability to stop even the most discerning traveler in their tracks. This is a 10-day rail journey onboard Amtrak that you don't want to miss! If you choose to visit Glacier National Park from Chicago, your train will traverse major portions of the Lewis and Clark trail and follow in the footsteps of early pioneers. You'll also have the opportunity to take in incredible views of untouched wilderness along the way.

Learn more about this rail vacation.

6. Grand National Parks of America

Destinations: Denver > Rocky Mountain National Park > Grand Junction > Arches National Park > Canyonlands National Park > Springdale > Bryce Canyon National Park > Zion National Park > Capitol Reef National Park > Grand Junction > Salt Lake City > Jackson Hole > Grand Teton National Park > Yellowstone National Park > Salt Lake City > San Francisco > Yosemite National Park > Los Angeles > Grand Canyon National Park > Williams > Chicago > Glacier National Park > Seattle > Mount Rainier National Park

Train Route: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, and Empire Builder

What You'll See and Experience: This epic, around-the-country rail exploration of 12 of America’s top national parks will shorten many a bucket list! See the best of the country’s greatest national parks – including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier National Park – the way they were meant to be experienced – by iconic Amtrak train. Take your time discovering these treasured, awe-inspiring sites with accommodations, tours and activities inside each park. And let the train take you in relaxed comfort from destination to destination, with amazing views out your window all along the way. This is the one train journey you’ll be talking about for years to come!

Learn more about this rail vacation.

7. Scenic North America: Rockies, Canyons & Beyond

Destinations: Vancouver > Jasper > Banff > Lake Louise > Jasper > Toronto > Niagara Falls > New York City > Chicago > Grand Junction > Capitol Reef National Park > Bryce Canyon National Park > Springdale > Zion National Park > Lake Powell > Williams > Grand Canyon National Park > Williams > Los Angeles

Train Route: Maple Leaf, the Lake Shore Limited, the California Zephyr, and the Southwest Chief

What You'll See and Experience: From the best big cities to the most awe-inspiring national parks, North America’s greatest treasures await on this all-encompassing, cross-continent journey by train. Begin in the vibrant Canadian city of Vancouver discovering the sights of the city, and from there, journey across Canada on VIA Rail, taking in the beautiful alpine towns of Jasper and Banff in the Canadian Rockies. Then continue east to diverse Toronto and experience the wonder of Niagara Falls. Then make your way across the great USA, from New York City to Los Angeles, with memorable stops at four iconic Southwest national parks, including the iconic Grand Canyon.

Learn more about this rail vacation.


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