Some of the most scenic railroads in the United States include Amtrak's Coast Starlight route from Los Angeles to Seattle, the Napa Valley Wine Train, the Denali Star from Anchorage to Fairbanks in Alaska and the Grand Canyon Railway in Arizona. The Coast Starlight hugs the Pacific Ocean, swings east into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and then heads north through the Cascades. The train travels through evergreen forests and past Mount Shasta as it heads for Seattle.
The Napa Valley Wine Train winds its way through vast vineyards as it serves multiple-course meals in Pullman dining cars that date back to the early 1900s. The food is gourmet, the wine local and the atmosphere pure upscale on the 25-mile-long track. The ride is particularly colorful during the fall. A later dinner train allows guests to experience the California sunset.
The Denali Star from Anchorage to Fairbanks goes through the heart of the Alaskan wilderness. Riders travel through birch and evergreen forests, across rivers and through Denali National Park, which is the half-way point. Guests have the option of spending a night or two at one of the lodges at the park and then continuing on to Fairbanks on the next day's train. Moose, bears and caribou are often part of the scenery.
The Grand Canyon Railway runs a round-trip journey from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The entire trip may be taken in a day, and the schedule allows for more than three hours to explore the park. The route passes desert-like landscapes dotted with cactus and through forests of Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs. Various animals, including elk, mule deer and the occasional mountain lion are sometimes seen from the train cars.