Taking the Train through Nature’s Best

Taking the Train through Nature’s Best

  • 5 min read
  • By Phillp Imler

Traveling by train offers a unique perspective on the world’s natural wonders, combining the romance and comfort of rail travel with the breathtaking beauty of the planet’s most stunning landscapes. From the rugged peaks of the Canadian Rockies to the serene fjords of Norway, here are the 10 best train journeys that take you through nature and national parks, promising an unforgettable adventure through some of Earth’s most pristine environments.

1. Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

The Rocky Mountaineer’s journey through the Canadian Rockies is a luxury experience that offers panoramic views of towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, and turquoise lakes. Passing through national parks like Banff and Jasper, travelers are treated to the majestic beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, with opportunities to spot wildlife such as bears, elk, and eagles from the comfort of glass-domed carriages.

This is one of the most breathtaking journeys through pristine wilderness, majestic mountains, and forests that blanket the landscapes.  The train stops include places like Lake Louise and Banff that allow you to exit the train and experience some of the most beautiful sights like Moraine Lake.

2. Grand Canyon Railway, USA

Departing from Williams, Arizona, the Grand Canyon Railway takes passengers on a historic journey to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. The journey offers a step back in time with vintage train cars and Wild West entertainment, culminating in breathtaking views of one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders.

The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  Leveraging the historical train journey to witness and reach this world wonder is a mesmerizing endeavor.  It is a taste of what it was like in the old west.

3. The Flåm Railway, Norway

Described as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, the Flåm Railway in Norway takes passengers from the fjord village of Flåm up to the mountain station of Myrdal. The 20-kilometer journey offers spectacular views of waterfalls, rivers, and snow-capped mountains, showcasing Norway’s stunning fjord landscape.

4. Glacier Express, Switzerland

The Glacier Express offers an eight-hour journey across the Swiss Alps, connecting Zermatt and St. Moritz. The train travels through untouched mountain landscapes, deep gorges, and pristine forests, crossing over 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels. The panoramic windows ensure travelers don’t miss a moment of the stunning scenery, including a portion of the Swiss Alps that is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This journey has been featured in a variety of movie and television scenes.  The serenity of the landscapes is beyond measure and beckons travelers who want to witness the splendor from the rails.

5. The Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia

The Trans-Siberian Railway, stretching over 9,000 kilometers from Moscow to Vladivostok, is the longest railway journey in the world. Crossing through the vast landscapes of Siberia, passengers experience the untouched wilderness of Russia, including the majestic Lake Baikal and the Ural Mountains. This epic journey offers a unique glimpse into the remote natural beauty and diverse ecosystems of Russia.

6. Qinghai-Tibet Railway, China

Connecting Xining in Qinghai Province to Lhasa in Tibet, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the highest railway in the world. The journey offers unparalleled views of the Tibetan Plateau, including vast grasslands, snow-capped mountains, and high-altitude lakes. Travelers can marvel at the engineering marvel of the railway, which traverses the Tanggula Pass at 5,072 meters above sea level, providing a unique perspective on the Roof of the World.

7. TranzAlpine, New Zealand

The TranzAlpine train crosses New Zealand’s South Island, offering one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. The journey takes passengers from Christchurch to Greymouth, traversing the spectacular Southern Alps. Highlights include the Waimakariri River, Arthur’s Pass National Park, and the lush rainforests of the West Coast, showcasing the diverse landscapes of New Zealand.

8. Blue Train, South Africa

South Africa’s Blue Train offers a luxurious journey between Pretoria and Cape Town, passing through some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. The route includes views of the Cape Winelands, the Karoo desert, and the impressive Matjiesfontein, which offers a glimpse into South Africa’s natural beauty and rich history.

9. The Ghan, Australia

Traversing the heart of Australia from Adelaide to Darwin, The Ghan offers an epic journey through the Australian Outback. Passengers witness the changing landscapes of the continent, from the verdant wine regions of South Australia to the red desert of the Northern Territory, including a stop at the iconic Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the stunning Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park.

10. The Jacobite Steam Train, Scotland

Often described as the greatest railway journey in the world, The Jacobite Steam Train in Scotland offers stunning views of the country’s west coast. The journey takes passengers from Fort William to Mallaig, passing by the base of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, and across the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct, with sweeping views of the Scottish Highlands and the islands of the Inner Hebrides.

Each of these train journeys provides a unique way to experience the natural beauty of our planet.  Some train experiences are more luxurious than others, but collectively they each offer a spectacular engagement with nature that may be missed traveling the roads or flying into the destination.

detail-img detail-img