6 Beautiful National Parks You Can Explore Via Amtrak

Don't feel like driving to that beautiful national park? Take the train instead.

Just like exploring America's bounty of national parks, train travel is romantic — so why not combine the two for your next trip? Consider this a PSA: Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations, many of them within or near national parks, and you can even bring your bike, fishing gear, or camping equipment on board if you plan to adventure into the parks.

Traveling by Amtrak, you can even book a private room in a sleeper car, which provides the comfort of a place to lay your head on a long route — seats convert into beds when you finally grow tired of the free Wi-Fi and scenic views out your window. All aboard for these six amazing Amtrak routes that you can take to national parks.

1. Grand Canyon National Park

Southwest Chief Subliner Amtrak Train along the rocky high desert of Colorado
Courtesy of Amtrak

When it comes to family vacations and national parks, it doesn't get much more iconic than Grand Canyon National Park. Get to America's most famous natural wonder by train aboard Amtrak's Southwest Chief, which runs between Chicago and Los Angeles, passing through eight states (and cities like Kansas City, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and more) along the way. Out your window, you'll get a taste of why the American West is so often described as "majestic" — expect sprawling mountain ranges, deserts, and canyons lining the route.

Disembark in Flagstaff to take a two-hour shuttle to Grand Canyon Village, then hop on the national park shuttle and head to the Grand Canyon Railway for an added dose of Wild West entertainment (and another scenic train ride). Alternatively, you can spend the night in Flagstaff and book a tour that will take you from your hotel to all the park highlights.

2. Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park

Ocean view at Biscayne National Park
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Miami may not be the first location that comes to mind when planning a national park trip, but did you know it's the only city in the United States with two national parks on its borders? Hop aboard Amtrak's Silver Service/Palmetto line and you can explore both Biscayne National Park, of which 95% is underwater, and the Everglades National Park, which spans 1.5 million acres of swampy wetlands and untamed wilderness across the southern tip of Florida — a diverse and delicate ecosystem vital to the state's environmental health. The route stretches all the way down the east coast of the United States, from New York City to the sunny beaches of Miami, stopping in hot spots like Savannah, Charleston, and Washington, D.C., along the way.

You'll need one boat to explore the swampy landscape of the Everglades and another to make it over the bay to Biscayne National Park. From Miami, you can arrange a day trip to the Everglades or a leisurely cruise along Biscayne Bay.

Another bonus of the Silver Service/Palmetto route: If you hop off in Columbia, you're only a half-hour drive or the awe-inspiring old-growth forests of Congaree National Park, the only national park in South Carolina. Check out Palmetto Outdoor for shuttle service and kayaking tours.

Disembark in Washington, D.C., and you're an hour and a half from the waterfalls and wetlands of Shenandoah National Park, beloved in the fall for its impressive leaf-peeping opportunities. Full day tours are available with pick-ups in the capital if you prefer not to rent a car. You can also reach Shenandoah National Park on Amtrak's Crescent train between New York and New Orleans by hopping off in Charlottesville, only 30 miles away.

3. Crater Lake National Park

See through to Crater Lake and Wizard Island in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
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Amtrak's Coast Starlight runs the length of the West Coast, connecting Seattle and Los Angeles, and is easily one of its most beautiful routes.

You can stop in cities like Portland, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara along the way, but the true highlight is Crater Lake National Park, home to the deepest lake in the United States. The epitome of Pacific Northwest beauty, Crater Lake National Park has it all: You can hike a dormant volcano, camp, drive the Scenic Rim, and wander old-growth forests. To reach Crater Lake National Park via Amtrak, disembark at the Klamath Falls stop. There is no bus or service between Klamath Falls and the park, so you will need to hire a car to travel the rest of the way to the park 60 miles north.

4. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
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For a national park adventure packed with hills, dense forests, and plenty of places to hike and kayak, plan a trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the only national park in Ohio. If you board the Lake Shore Limited line and hop off in Cleveland, you're only a half-hour drive from the park. Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited route connects New York and Chicago — a 19-hour trip that rumbles along the breathtaking Great Lakes shoreline and through the scenic Finger Lakes region.

5. Hot Springs National Park

Aerial view of Hot Springs Arkansas from the tower in the National Park.
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Dreaming of a visit to the "American Spa"? Hop aboard the Texas Eagle, which links Chicago to San Antonio (and beyond, all the way to Los Angeles). Ride to Malvern, Arkansas, where you can disembark and take a quick half-hour drive over to Hot Springs National Park. Aboard the Texas Eagle, you can expect to cross the Mississippi River, take in the beautiful Ozarks, and venture deep into the Texas countryside. Whether you float in the relaxing natural pools or tackle the Sunset Trail, there are many ways to enjoy the Hot Springs National Park.

6. Glacier National Park

Empire Builder Amtrak train in the snowy landscape of North Dakota
Courtesy of Amtrak

Glacier National Park contains some of the most striking scenery in the nation, and Amtrak makes it easy to get there, thanks to its Empire Builder line, which stretches from Chicago to Portland and Seattle. Along the route, you'll track the Lewis and Clark trail, cross the plains of North Dakota, and pass through Montana's Big Sky Country, but Glacier National Park still stands out above the rest — it's the "Crown of the Continent," after all.

Park highlights include glacially carved peaks and lakes, stunning views, six National Historic Landmarks, and more than 700 miles of hiking trails. In other words, there's a lot to choose from, but make sure to hit Going-to-the-Sun Road and the gorgeous Hidden Lake.

To reach Glacier National Park on Amtrak's Empire Builder route, you have a few options. The West Glacier stop is located at the western gateway to Glacier National Park, the East Glacier Park station can be found at the eastern entrance, and the Essex stop is located within the confines of the park.

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