With airports looking ahead to their busiest season yet, those planning to take a trip this summer are faced with rowdy crowds, insane security screening lines, and inevitable mix-ups and delays – not quite the dreamy sunny getaway you might’ve hoped for.

Luckily for you, there’s a quieter, cheaper, and far more relaxing way to travel – and even though we’ve come to associate scenic train rides with remote European excursions, there are plenty of gorgeous routes right here in the U.S. that give even their transatlantic counterparts a run for their money.

But how can you find them?

The good news is that you don’t have to, we’ve already scoured hundreds of traveler reviews across forums and booking platforms in search of the country’s most scenic train rides, and these five were the ones that received the highest scores on the “landscape” scale:

5. Lake Shore Limited – New York City To Albany

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is one of the East Coast’s most popular trains, operating routes between Chicago and New York City for 19 hours a day, every day.

Man waiting for a train in New York City

And while the entire rail line overlooks some of North America’s most stunning and easily recognizable views, the NYC to Albany portion, in particular, will leave you speechless with its mix of riverfront towns, lush greenery, and dramatic cliffs.

Keep your eyes peeled the entire time, though, since the ~ 2.5-hour ride is filled with unmissable sights, including the Hudson River, West Point Military Academy, the Palisades, and the Catskill Mountains.

Hudson River

4. Denali Star – Anchorage to Fairbanks

The Denali Star route has long been considered one of the most gorgeous train rides in North America but few actually know just how mesmerizing the wild Alaskan nature can be – so take this as a sign to leave the traditional beachy holidays behind this summer and experience something different.

Travel through the gorgeous Denali National Park and try to catch a peek at the imposing mountains and expansive forests, and if you’re particularly lucky, you can even spot a moose or bear here and there.

Denali National Park

Keep your camera ready, though, the Chugach Mountains, Matanuska River, Susitna River, the Alaska Range, Hurricane Gulch Bridge, Nenana River Canyon, and the Tanana River all offer the kind of views you’ll want to remember for a lifetime.

3. Rocky Mountaineer – Glenwood Springs to Moab

If you’re a sucker for a good river landscape, especially in the summer, Rocky Mountaineer’s Glenwood Springs to Moab route won’t disappoint.

Aerial view of Glenwood Springs

The Canadian operator has recently expanded its services well into the U.S. and those who’ve yet to enter one of their trains are seriously missing out.

The highlights of this ride, in particular, include the iconic Colorado River, the striking red rock formations of Ruby Canyon, the Arches and Canyonlands National Park, as well as Castle Valley, which is famous for its towering rock spires and desert scenery that looks like it has jumped straight out of a fairytale.

2. Coast Starlight – San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara

This time, we’re going somewhere far more summery, since Amtrak’s pride and joy, the Coast Starlight, has nabbed a very-much-deserved spot on today’s list.

Railroad used by Coast Starlight in Central California

The train that runs up and down the West Coast is filled with jaw-dropping ocean views and sunny landscapes, but there’s one particular one-and-a-half-hour ride that takes the cake as the most scenic of them all – San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara.

Throughout it, you’ll get to revel in the views of the Pacific surrounded by rolling hills, the rugged Gaviota Coast, as well as the iconic Vandenberg Air Force Base.

1. California Zephyr – Denver to Glenwood Springs

Our winner (by a large margin, must I add) is none other than California Zephyr’s Denver to Glenwood Springs ride, a 5-hour journey through some of the nation’s dreamiest landscapes.

California Zephyr railway car

During this time, you’ll get to see the famous Moffat Tunnel (one of the longest in the U.S.), Fraser Canyon, Winter Park, and the Colorado River – if that’s not the ultimate all-American train ride, I don’t know what is.

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