The holidays are the perfect time to experience the true American tradition of the railways. From coast to coast, the top-rated scenic railroad routes offer breathtaking views. Here are a few of the best scenic routes in America to experience this holiday season.
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Nestled in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Blue Ridge, Georgia is the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Dating back to the early 1900s, it features both open-air rail cars and vintage climate-controlled cars. As one of the “Best Railroad Experiences in Atlanta for Kids,” this scenic railway takes riders on a 26-mile, four-hour round-trip trek through the towns of McCaysville and Copperhill where the states of Georgia and Tennessee meet.
The Santa Express train arrives in late November with an experience for kids complete with hot chocolate and Christmas carols along the one-hour-and-15-minute train ride through the lush forests of north Georgia. Visitors can also check out the Santa Night Pavilion Train or Santa Day Pavilion Train.
Roaring Ramp Railroads
On the opposite side of the U.S is the Roaring Camp Railroads attraction, dating back to 1875 and named one of the best things to do in Santa Cruz. Visitors can take the Redwood Forest Steam Train to the summit of Bear Mountain for a view like no other. There’s also the Santa Cruz Beach Train that takes riders through Henry Cowell Redwood State Park and down to the scenic San Lorenzo River Gorge before arriving at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
During the holidays, visitors can take the daytime steam train to Bear Mountain for a holiday tree walk where you’ll experience some of the tallest trees in the country dressed up for the holidays. There’s a Chanukah train ride event as well.
Mount Washington Cog Railway
The Cog Railway was the world’s first cog railway to summit a mountain. Visitors take this New Hampshire railway on a three-hour journey up the side of Mount Washington to the highest peak in the Northeast at 6,288 feet. This railway is best known for its fall foliage views, and listed by Fodors as one of the top 10 trains to take in the fall. The guided ride takes you through the Presidential range of New Hampshire while offering views of Maine and Vermont. Visitors can choose either a vintage coach powered by a historic steam locomotive or one with a biodiesel engine.
On Thanksgiving weekend, Santa and Mrs. Claus join riders on a holiday train ride to celebrate the Christmas season.
Durango & Silverton Railroad
Originally intended to haul silver and gold ore from the San Juan Mountains, this Colorado-based railroad dates back to 1881. If you want a true Old Western adventure, there’s nothing like the rugged views of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This train winds through the remote Colorado wilderness where riders can experience breathtaking canyon views and the two-million-acre San Juan National Forest, all aboard a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive. Frequently making “best of” lists, this railroad is among the most scenic train rides in America.
For the holidays, families can enjoy The Polar Express™ Train Ride, based on the award-winning book by Chris Van Allsburg. Riders will get a visit from Santa, among other perks. Holiday visitors can also check out the Christmas Tree Train or New Year’s Day Brunch Train events.
So if you want a truly unusual yet traditional experience this holiday season, take in nature at its best – from aboard one of America’s scenic railroads.