5 Amtrak Rides With Spectacular Fall Foliage Views

Sometimes the best way to experience an autumnal landscape is by train car.

Amtrak Capitol Limited train
Photo: Courtesy of Amtrak

When the air starts to cool and a chill fills your lungs with a crisp bite, that can only mean one thing: it’s time for fall foliage.

One of the best parts of getting away in the fall is watching the leaves turn to warm reds, golden yellows, and toasty browns, painting the countryside in a multi-colored blanket, bringing to mind images of hot apple cider on a cool autumn day.

Watch the leaves turn across the Adirondack Mountains or enjoy the many hues of Vermont — along with a maple candy treat — all from the comfort of an Amtrak train hurtling by, evoking a slower way of travel that allows you take it all in.

“For those looking to enjoy the vivid shades of autumn, rail travel offers the perfect opportunity to witness fall foliage throughout North America,” Roger Harris, Amtrak’s president, told Travel + Leisure.

Amtrak Capitol Limited train
Courtesy of Amtrak

“Whether it’s the Rocky Mountains, Appalachians or New England, if you haven’t experienced these seasonal colors, you’ll come to learn that there’s nothing quite like witnessing this unforgettable, brief, display of brilliant color each year,” he added. “Instead of being surrounded by miles of highway, there is something about riding the train, with its unabridged scenery that allows you to get up close and personal to these spectacular fall views.”

These five Amtrak train journeys allow you to take in the best of the fall colors while sitting back and watching the world pass you by.

New York to Montreal

Amtrak Adirondack train
Courtesy of Amtrak

Which line: Adirondack

Why go: Zoom through New York’s Hudson Valley and Adirondack Mountains on your way toward the charming city of Montreal on a journey that takes only 10 hours. Hop off in Saratoga Springs for a taste of a rustic, glamorous lifestyle gone by, or take the train to Montreal where you can climb to the top of the city’s Mount Royal Park for an expansive view of the high-rise buildings in the distance and the rich foliage below.

Washington, D.C. to Chicago

Amtrak Capitol Limited train
Courtesy of Amtrak

Which line: Capitol Limited

Why go: Depart the nation’s capital and travel through the Potomac Valley as you leave the East Coast behind. Stop by Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which saw the first successful American railroad and sits along the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. When you get to Chicago, you can peep a different sort of scenery with The Bean and take in the city’s unique architecture from a boat tour.

St. Albans, Vt., to Washington, D.C.

Amtrak Vermonter train
Courtesy of Amtrak

Which line: Vermonter

Why go: Take a hike to see the brilliant colors of the leaves changing from Stowe, Vermont — one of the best places to see the foliage in New England — or get off the train in Springfield, Massachusetts, where you can take a break from the scenery and channel your inner child at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss in the hometown of the beloved author.

Los Angeles to Seattle

Amtrak Coast Starlight train
Courtesy of Amtrak

Which line: Coast Starlight

Why go: Breathtaking views of the changing leaves is not just reserved for New England. Travel through Oregon’s Willamette Valley as you sample French toast and sip hot coffee on the train, before jumping off in Washington. From there, head to Mt. Rainier National Park where you can see colorful foliage starting in September and, if you’re lucky, may even spot elk feeding on the colorful leaves (it’s one of the best national parks to see the changing leaves).

Chicago to San Francisco

Amtrak California Zephyr train
Getty Images

Which line: California Zephyr

Why go: Start your journey zipping through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and marvel at the impressive aspen trees that turn a brilliant yellow-gold color in the fall. Next, hop off in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, one of the country’s best towns to see the fall colors where you can bike or hike along the 42-mile Rio Grande Trail that leads to Aspen.

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