Key Takeaways:

  • Overnight train trips offer a unique and relaxing way to travel while exploring beautiful scenery across North America.
  • Five of the most popular and picturesque overnight train trips include the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, and Sunset Limited.
  • Each route has its own stunning landscapes to admire, such as snow-capped peaks, rocky mountains, and expansive deserts.

vernight train trips are the perfect way to get away from it all. You get to spend a relaxing night in a cozy cabin, wake up in a new place, and have breakfast before you even get off the train.

There are many unique overnight train trips to take advantage of and these five overnight trains offer some of the most beautiful scenery in North America.

California Zephyr

The California Zephyr, which departs Chicago at 10 p.m., is one of the most popular overnight trains.

The train travels from Chicago through Denver and Salt Lake City, then heads south to Reno before crossing over the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lake Tahoe and arriving in Emeryville, Calif., at 8:40 a.m. on day two of your journey.

This route includes stunning views of the Rockies as well as desert landscapes and snow-capped peaks that will make you feel like you're traveling through a fairy tale book come to life!

Coast Starlight

The Coast Starlight is a popular train trip for tourists and families. The Coast Starlight travels between Los Angeles and Seattle, passing through California, Oregon, and Washington along the way.

The train is an overnight service that leaves Los Angeles on the southern route at 10:00 pm every evening and arrives in Seattle at 7:00 am the following morning. When you book your ticket online or over the phone with Amtrak reservations at least 24 hours before departure date, you can get a discounted rate of $199 each way (plus taxes).

Empire Builder

The Empire Builder runs from Chicago to Seattle, covering a distance of 2,322 miles. The train runs through the heart of the country, traveling through Minnesota and North Dakota before reaching Montana. Once in Montana, it runs through scenic landscapes such as Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. In Idaho it enters the Rocky Mountains where you will begin to see snow-capped peaks rising up around you as you travel out of Utah into Colorado and then into Wyoming where more mountains await.

After nine days on board this journey will end at Seattle’s King Street Station or Portland Union Station if you are traveling westbound (from Chicago).

Southwest Chief

The Southwest Chief is one of the most scenic train rides in America, traveling from Chicago through Kansas City and Denver before reaching Albuquerque. It has two types of cars: a dome car which is an open-air viewing car, or a coach car with seats facing each other (similar to an airplane).

The trip duration is roughly 30 hours. You can choose between four different ways to travel this route: on Amtrak's regular service (which includes meals), on Amtrak's upgraded service (which includes meals and bar/lounge services), on Amtrak's sleeping car option (with beds or roomettes available), and as an independent passenger who brings your own food and drink. Regardless of what you choose, you'll have access to their entertainment system featuring movies and TV shows during your trip.

Sunset Limited

The Sunset Limited is a passenger train operated by Amtrak, running between New Orleans and Los Angeles. The train operates along a route formerly owned by the Illinois Central Railroad, which was the first railroad to use the name for one of its trains.

The Sunset Limited is the only overnight passenger train in North America to offer sleeping cars, as well as a full dining car staffed by servers from premier restaurants like Charlie Trotter's and Alinea. In fact, it's the only Amtrak train that offers two meals on board: lunch when you depart New Orleans at 12:19pm CT and dinner before arriving in Houston at 7:10am CT (or vice versa if you're traveling east).

The trip takes 21 hours westbound; nine hours eastbound.

Many people are intimidated by the idea of taking overnight train trips, but there are so many reasons why you should try it out.

You’ll get to see a different side of America while bonding with your friends and family members over some delicious food and drinks. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even make it an adventure vacation! All aboard!

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Jul 24, 2022

Classes by:

Russ Eanes

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