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14 Fall Foliage Train Rides to Book Right Now

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Take New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic Railway through the Crawford Notch pass in the White Mountains this fall.

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Take New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic Railway through the Crawford Notch pass in the White Mountains this fall.

This autumn, take in beautiful fall colors from the Adirondacks to the Alps on these scenic train trips around the world.

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Peak fall foliage season will be here before you know it in the United States and beyond. Instead of going on the same drive you do every year, consider ditching the car to take in the changing scenery from the comfort of a train. Here are 14 of our favorite scenic train rides for optimized leaf-peeping this year.

The historic Mount Washington Cog Railway is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019.
Mount Washington Cog Railway

Route: Marshfield Base Station to Mount Washington Summit, New Hampshire

Ride the rails to the top of Mount Washington on this three-hour round-trip excursion that’s been an attraction in New Hampshire’s White Mountains since 1869. The railway still operates two vintage steam locomotives, but introduced seven biodiesel locomotives along the route in an effort to reduce emissions. Visit by mid-October to see the fall colors at their peak. On Vacations by Rail’s eight-day New England Autumn Foliage Express tour, you can pair a ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway along with trips on Amtrak’s Vermonter, Conway Scenic Railroad, and the Cape Cod Central Railroad.

Book Now: From $81 round-trip, thecog.com

Can’t wait to get your fall foliage fix? Head to Alaska.
Alaska Railroad Denali Star Train

Route: Anchorage to Fairbanks, Alaska

The foliage changes early in Alaska, peaking in late August and the first few weeks of September each year. Not only will you see a variety of red, orange, and yellow leaves through the dome car windows on this 12-hour train ride that runs through September 17, 2019, but you can also catch a view of Denali and the northern lights in Fairbanks if the weather is clear.

Book Now: From $199 one-way, alaskarailroad.com

Cherry blossoms may come to mind when you think of Japan, but fall foliage is just as beautiful.
Sagano Scenic Railway

Route: Saga Torokko Station to Kameoka Torokko Station, Japan

Just 15 minutes outside of Kyoto, you can catch the Sagano Scenic Railway from the Saga Torokko Station. It will take you on a 25-minute train ride through the Hozukyo Ravine, which is lined with Japanese maple trees that turn red and orange every autumn.

Book Now: 
From $6 one-way, sagano-kanko.co.jp

The vintage steam train takes you through the spectacular foliage of western North Carolina.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Tuckasegee Steam Train

Route: Bryson City to Dillsboro, North Carolina

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The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad operates several excursions throughout the year. Its Tuckasegee River Excursion on a vintage steam train is the most scenic in the fall. On the four-hour round-trip journey, you’ll get to take in the river valley views from the train’s panoramic windows, and you’ll also have a chance to explore the shops and restaurants in the small town of Dillsboro during a 90-minute layover. This fall, steam train excursions leave at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between October 1 and 24, 2019. Looking for something more than a day trip? The steam train is part of Vacations by Rail’s nine-day Smoky Mountain Rail Adventure that takes travelers from Nashville to Asheville with additional stops for rides on the Tennessee Valley Railroad’s Summerville Steam Special and the Incline Railway on Gatlinburg’s Lookout Mountain.

Book Now: From $58 round-trip, gsmr.com

Skip the plane and take the scenic route to Montreal this fall.
Amtrak Adirondack

Route: New York City to Montreal, Canada

After boarding the Amtrak Adirondack at New York’s Penn Station in the morning, you’ll spend the next 10 hours winding through the Hudson Valley and up into the train’s namesake Adirondack Mountains before traveling along the shores of Lake Champlain and arriving in Montreal in the evening. It is unclear if the train’s vintage Great Dome Car will return to the route in 2019 after it was damaged in Maine in September 2018.

Book Now: From $70 one-way, amtrak.com

The scenery around this Canadian railway is at its best in fall.
Agawa Canyon Tour Train

Route: Sault Ste. Marie to Agawa Canyon, Canada

Every year through mid-October, this scenic train takes you on a daylong journey from the lakeside city of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario 114 miles north to the Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park, where you’ll have 90 minutes to go on a hike or stop for a picnic near the Agawa River. Peak fall foliage tours are scheduled for September 24 through October 15, 2019. They are incredibly popular, so book your ticket early. 

Book Now: From $121 round-trip, agawatrain.com

National parks aren’t just for hiking—you can enjoy them by train too.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Route: Independence to Akron, Ohio

You can take this scenic train ride throughout the summer, but go in October to see the sugar maples and dogwood trees turn various shades of red, orange, and yellow on a two-hour round-trip ride through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 

Book Now: From $25 round-trip (Upper Dome Car tickets from $30), cvsr.com

Fall may be shoulder season in Switzerland but it’s no less scenic this time of year.
Bernina Express

Route: Chur or Davos, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy

The Rhaetian Railway through the Albula and Bernina Passes in the Alps was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008 for its outstanding architectural and civil engineering achievements, which include hundreds of viaducts and bridges through high mountain passes. The train runs year round, but fall is particularly beautiful in this region of Switzerland.

Book Now: From $78 one-way with required seat reservation supplement, rhb.ch

The Most Epic Way to See Switzerland Is by Train

Southern Colorado is known for its abundant aspen trees, which turn yellow each fall.
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Route: Antonito, Colorado, to Chama, New Mexico

This narrow-gauge steam train makes daily excursions between two small towns located right on the Colorado–New Mexico border through October 20 this year. The ticket price includes lunch at the midway point in Osier, Colorado, plus access to the open-air gondola car for better photo opps of the aspen trees that turn bright yellow in autumn. 

Book Now: From $105 round-trip, cumbrestoltec.com

Pretend you’re heading back to school at Hogwarts on this fall train ride in Scotland.
The Jacobite

Route: Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland

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Harry Potter fans will recognize this vintage steam locomotive as the real-life version of the Hogwarts Express that crossed over the Glennfinnan Viaduct in the films. You may not be on your way to Hogwarts, but you’ll certainly take in some magical scenery along the 84-mile train ride, which runs through the last week of October 2019. 

Book Now: From $46 round-trip, westcoastrailways.co.uk

The Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad makes it way through the colorful Susquehanna River Valley.
Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad

Route: Milford to Cooperstown, New York

In 2019, the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad is celebrating its 150th year in operation. On Saturdays and Sundays between September 28 and October 13, 2019—with a bonus ride on Monday, October 14—the vintage train will depart at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a 2.5-hour ride through the Susquehanna River Valley that is lined with red, orange, and yellow trees during these dates. All rides begin at the Milford Depot, about a 15-minute drive south of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Book Now: From $17 round-trip, lrhs.com

The Coast Starlight travels along the Pacific before heading up into mountains where the best foliage can be seen.
Amtrak Coast Starlight

Route: Los Angeles to Seattle

Although you might not immediately associate California with spectacular fall foliage, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight will surprise you. Hop on in Los Angeles for leisurely views of the Pacific Coast en route to the San Francisco Bay Area. After cutting inland to Sacramento, you’ll head up to Mount Shasta and through the Cascade Range where some of the best foliage can be seen. Of course, you can also choose to limit your trip to certain sections of the trip to cut down on travel time and price. Keep in mind that the overnight experience in the sleeper cars include meals in the dining room as part of the fare.

Book Now: 
From $124 one-way, amtrak.com

The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is an easy day trip from both Chattanooga and Atlanta.
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Route: Blue Ridge, Georgia, to Copperhill, Tennessee

Between September 20 and November 11, 2019, take in the season’s colors on this scenic 26-mile round-trip excursion along the Toccoa River in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Trains depart at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 3 p.m. on select days of the week. Check the calendar and book your tickets before you go, since they can sell out.

Book Now: From $55 round-trip, brscenic.com

New England is one of the best places in the United States for views of fall foliage like this.
Conway Scenic Railway

Route: North Conway to Fabyan, New Hampshire

On this five-hour round-trip journey, you’ll pass through some of New Hampshire’s most scenic landscapes, including the famed Crawford Notch pass of the White Mountains that lights up in a riot of red, yellow, and orange foliage from late September to the first few weeks of October every year. 

Book Now: From $60 round-trip (Upper Dome Car tickets from $86), conwayscenic.com

This article originally appeared online in July 2018; it was updated on August 26, 2019, to include current information.

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