This train journey from the coast to coast is one of the most scenic rail journeys in all of United States.
The United States is a huge nation—a simple journey, hopping from one coast to the other will leave you with so many incredible experiences across hundreds of scenic landscapes. While such a journey is not impossible, it is sure to cost you a ton of money. Now, what if we said, you can do this and so much more for just $213? Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? That's precisely what this traveler did—by taking a 3,400-mile trip on the country's forgotten railway network, in what's probably the biggest bargain ever, according to Derek Low.
Low is a self-proclaimed "world traveler" and an entrepreneur who founded Worldbound, a travel startup. According to Low, the US has an excellent rail network that takes tourists to all the towns and cities they wish to explore. Having explored the route himself, he dubs the cross-country journey from San Francisco to New York as the most "scenic and historic of all train routes". He affirms, "As you climb through the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, and further east through the heart of the Rockies, you may find it hard to disagree."
The San Francisco resident took the journey back in December 2011, a journey he has documented on his blog, complete with pictures of the breath-taking vistas he got to witness firsthand. The coast-to-coast journey takes four days if you make no stopovers, but Low adds that the journey is no fun if you don't as you don't get the immersive cultural experience at every pitstop. Of course, if you do this, you will need to buy a separate ticket for each leg. The first day of the trip starts with the travelers hopping on to the California Zephyr at Emeryville - a 20-minute ride away from San Francisco. The first leg of the journey is a 17-hour ride from San Franciso to Salt Lake City. "The trains begins its journey running alongside the tranquil waters of San Francisco Bay Area for some fabulous coastal views," he writes. The interesting part about this particular leg is you get to watch the train trudge along a foot above the water.
Later, he then switched to the Sightseer Lounge Car, which had windows that wrapped themselves into the ceiling, where he could soak in the gorgeous scenery. A guide from the California State Railroad Museum came aboard and provided a commentary about the significance of the scenery. One such example was when they passed Donner Lake. He explained a group of 87 people was stranded here, and to survive, resorted to cannibalism with only 48 of them surviving in an unfortunate tale from 1846. From there, he was treated to the snow-capped Sierra Nevada and then a few hours later, the landscape changed dramatically to a vast, barren desert. He wrote: If you fall asleep, and wake up, it's almost like you were transported to a different planet." He added: "In the evening, we were treated to a view so sublime, you begin to wonder if people who fly across the country and never take the train are quite possibly insane."
The train chugs along the American Wildwest on day two where passengers are again greeted by the rocky mountains and Colorado canyons. He stated: "The journey between Utah and Colorado is regarded to be the most spectacular train ride in all of United States." There he was treated to views such as the Book Cliffs. In addition, the train made its way up to the Rocky Mountains snaking through the gorgeous Colorado canyons following the Colorado river before eventually pulling into Denver. The third day involves a journey into Chicago with the train passing through four states - Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois. The last and final day of the trip involves a 20-hour trip from Chicago to New York. At Chicago, he had to switch from the Zephyr to Lake Shore Limited, as Chicago is the last stop for the Zephyr. The sense of arriving in New York as one sees the Hudson River is unmatched, he says. "As soon as you see the Hudson River, you sense a feeling of exhilaration that airline passengers will never know," he writes.