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Travel America By Train With This Truly Epic Railway Journey

By Colby Smith June 15, 2020

train amtrak

See the nation like never before.

If there’s one thing that America could borrow from countries the world over, is the splendor of a train ride. Gazing out the window upon the natural beauty of the countryside, the undulating hills, the quiet yet resplendent vistas, the treacherously beautiful mountain tops — all while sitting back, perhaps sipping from a glass of wine, among the light clamor of fellow travelers in the throws of their own adventures.

While here in the city we might not think America is beholden to such an experience, the good people at Wanderlu have drawn out a map that would prove otherwise. For less than $1,000, you can explore 48 states of America in an epic train loop around the nation.

The train journey takes place in 8 stages, covering nearly 10,000 miles of land and can be done in little over a week if take direct trips.

Beginning on a train from Chicago to Cleveland, you’ll see the splendor of American country while changing tracks in Albany, Boston, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Seattle before coming on home back to the Windy City — with opportunities to stop for some additional tourist trips in New York, Atlanta, Portland, and more along the way!

Stage 1: Chicago — Cleveland, OH

Photo: @cakeyizumi

Cost: $52.43

Time: 6 hours, 5 minutes

Here, you’ll take the Amtrak Capitol Limited from Illinois through Indiana and on to Cleveland, Ohio. If 6 hours seems a bit long, then buckle up, partner, because this is just a warm up for your train journey around the nation.

Stage 2: Cleveland, OH — Albany, NY

Cost: $67.67

Time: 8 hours, 41 minutes

Next, you’ll disembark the midwest for the northeast to Rensselaer County — a hop skip and a jump from Downtown, Albany. This trip will take you along Lake Erie, where you’ll curve through Buffalo.

You’ll graze past some national forests and preserves, stop in Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica, and wind your way through some wetlands until you finally arrive in Rensselaer County. Depending on how you time it, you can cross the Hudson to arrive in Downtown, Albany for a nightcap.

Stage 3: Albany, NY — Boston, MA

Cost: $27.68

Time: 4 hours, 47 minutes

The train from Albany to Boston composes the shortest leg of your journey, clocking in at just under 5 hours — which is really just a good nap depending on who you ask — but this isn’t one to sleep on.

Over the course of your trip you’ll wander along a medley of state forests, state parks, and conservation areas with promising views of lush greenery. Time it for the fall, and you’ll see magnificent autumn shades fit for a painting.

Stage 4: Boston, MA — Washington, DC

Cost: $103.79

Time: 8 hours, 11 minutes

Hopefully after you’ve spent a few days exploring the bountiful city of Boston, you’ll disembark on the Northeast Regional for the nation’s capital. You can opt for an 8-hour straight shot that will cruise you over seven states, or choose to break up your ride into trips, with a stop in New York, New York for a quick tourist visit.

Stage 5: Washington, DC — New Orleans, LA

Cost: $157.21

Time: 26 hours, 2 minutes

Here we arrive at our first day-long journey. If you’re in it for the long stretch, take the Amtrak Crescent toward the southeast. Or, you could split your ride into two trips with a stop in Atlanta for a bite of their savory southern cuisine.

Stage 6: New Orleans, LA — Los Angeles, CA

Cost: $150.08

Time: 46 hours, 35 minutes

After you’ve properly nursed your hangover from all those colorful daiquiris you crushed on Bourbon Street, you will be ready for the longest leg of the trip: a mere 2,000-mile journey clocking in at just under two-day’s time. If two days is just simply too much time to spend on a train, you can break up your trip into three parts, with stops in San Antonio and El Paso.

Stage 7: Los Angeles, CA — Seattle, WA

Cost: $137

Time: 29 hours, 1 minute

Having avoided traffic in the 100 or so hours you’ve spent on the train, you might have gotten a bit spoiled. But with the limitless things to do in Los Angeles, it wouldn’t hurt to spend a little time in light gridlock to explore the City of Angels.

After which, you’ll be ready for your picturesque voyage to Seattle. Whether you choose the direct trip or stop in Sacramento, and then Portland for a cup of coffee, this is the one where you’ll want to keep your eyes open.

As you wind your way up the Pacific Coast, you’ll be treated to some of the most breathtaking views Western America has to offer. On this truly spectacular trip, you’ll ramble over the Salinas Valley through San Fransisco Bay, to the base of Mount Shasta, climb up and over the gorgeous Oregon Mountain Range, and slide through Portland into Seattle.

Stage 8: Seattle, WA — Chicago, IL

Photo: @mikepetrucci via Unsplash

Cost: $257.18

Time: 45 hours, 15 minutes

Alas, we’ve saved the best for last. Your homebound trip will take you over 2,200 miles of scenic rural and rugged passages. Roll over mountain passes and alpine valleys, then glide through Montana as you marvel at sweeping views of the Glacier National Park, before coasting on back to Chicago.

Come home on the non-stop 45-hour train, or breakdown the trip with line changes in Shelby and Fargo. Either way, you’ll have a fantastic finish to what was been an incredible journey.

See more: 18 Spectacular Virtual Train Rides You Can Take Right Now