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Epic cross-country train journeys for your North American bucket list

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Rocky Mountaineer 1.jpg


There's something inherently romantic about traveling by train. Perhaps it's the more relaxed pace of the journey or the nod to the past that you feel when stepping onto a historic train.


Whatever the reason, there's no denying that train travel is still sought after especially in North America where traveling by train is still considered to be an adventure.


If you're looking for a rail adventure to embark on this year, here are four cross-country train journeys to consider:


1. The Rocky Mountaineer in Canada

If it's luxury train travel in North America you seek, look no further than the Rocky Mountaineer. This privately-owned luxury train line runs between the west coast of Canada and the Canadian Rockies, and is known for its excellent service and glass-domed cars that make for the best viewing of Canada's incredible scenery.


A trip on the Rocky Mountaineer consists of riding the train during the day and then staying in hotels along the route at night. Popular routes include ones between Vancouver and Jasper, and Vancouver and Banff, and the company offers packaged add-ons that have everything from helicopter tours to Alaskan cruises.


If you want to see even MORE of Canada (and sleep on the train at night), then you'll want to check out the coast-to-coast routes offered by VIA Rail Canada


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2. Amtrak's Coast Starlight

A lot of people in the US seem to think that Amtrak is obsolete (or that it doesn't even exist any more), but that's not true at all! The US-based passenger rail company is still alive and well, and still offering epic cross-country train journeys. You can save money on these if you book a regular seat as opposed to a “superliner” sleeper seat.


The first Amtrak route to consider is the Coast Starlight, which runs between Seattle and Los Angeles through some of the best coastal scenery in America. The journey – which also stops in Portland and Sacramento – only lasts 35 hours if you do it all in one go, but Amtrak makes it easy to break up your trip by simply selecting the “multi-city” option when you book.


3. Amtrak’s Empire Builder

Another classic Amtrak route is its Empire Builder, which runs from Chicago all the way to Seattle. This route follows portions of the Lewis and Clark trail, and allows you to see the plains of North Dakota and the big skies of Montana. If you want to break up the 46-hour journey, add a stop to see Montana's stunning Glacier National Park.


(Amtrak offers vacation packages for some of these popular add-ons, too!)


4. Amtrak's City of New Orleans

Another of Amtrak's north-to-south cross-country routes is its City of New Orleans itinerary. This journey will take you from Chicago to New Orleans with a major stop in Memphis. If ever there was a train journey made for foodies, this one is it! Try deep dish pizza in Chicago, barbecue in Memphis, and all the Creole and Cajun specialties in New Orleans. 


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BONUS: Other Amtrak routes

Other cross-country routes Amtrak offers include the Southwest Chief (Chicago to Los Angeles via the Southwest, where you can stop and visit the Grand Canyon), the California Zephyr (Chicago to San Francisco, via Denver), and the Sunset Limited (New Orleans to Los Angeles via San Antonio and Phoenix).


5. Alaska Railroad

Even though this one isn't truly a “cross-country” trip, Alaska is often referred to as the Last Frontier, and is basically big enough to be its own country. The Alaska Railroad's main line stretches 470 miles from Seward to Fairbanks, connecting destinations like Denali, Talkeetna, Anchorage, and more. The most popular route runs between Anchorage and Fairbanks – it's known as the Denali Star in summer, or the Aurora Winter in winter.


If you're looking for a train journey that's more adventurous than luxurious, you can't go wrong with the Alaska Railroad. They, too, offer vacation packages to help you plan your trip.



Have you ever done a cross-country train journey? If not, which would you most like to try?



Image credit: Amanda Williams

 All content provided in this blog is supplied by Amanda Williams and is for informational purposes only. Barclays makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog. 

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