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Best Scenic Train Ride: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

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Readers choose New Mexico/Colorado railroad as the best

Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. Such is the case for passengers who step aboard these 10 American trains – nominated by a panel of travel experts and voted by 10Best readers as the best in North America.

  • Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

    One of the most authentic steam-operated railroads in existence, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad runs for 64 miles between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado, passing through the San Juan Mountains and the scenic Conejos Valley along the way. This moving National Historic Landmark represents one of New Mexico's most spectacular day trips.
    Photo courtesy of Kim Todd

  • Strasburg Rail Road

    Founded in 1832, the historic Strasburg Rail Road didn’t become a tourist railroad until 1958. Today, passengers continue to board the train for a chance to soak up the views of Pennsylvania’s scenic Lancaster County.
    Photo courtesy of Strasburg Rail Road

  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

    The historic Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad once hauled silver and gold along the stretch of track laid during the late 19th centuries between the two towns. Today, visitors hop aboard for the 7-hour roundtrip journey from Durango through some of Colorado's most impressive scenery with a chance to stop and explore the historic mining town.
    Photo courtesy of Matt Inden/Miles

  • Capitol Corridor

    This California train, often used by commuters between Sacramento and the Bay Area, also offers scenic views of the rolling hills, valleys and waterways of Northern California. Riders enjoy conveniences like free wifi and charging outlets.
    Photo courtesy of Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

  • Cape Cod Central Railroad

    Cape Cod Central, a heritage passenger railroad, provides narrated rides to show off the natural beauty of the cape. Woodlands, cranberry bogs, salt marshes, sand dunes and canals set the scene, whether aboard a shoreline excursion or brunch or dinner train.
    Photo courtesy of Vincent Colombo / Cape Cod Central Railroad

  • Rocky Mountaineer

    The magisterial Canadian Rockies pass by through the windows of the Rocky Mountaineer as it follows the path of the historic Canadian Pacific route. Landscapes include canyons, lava cliffs and lakes, with chances to spot wildlife. Glass domed passenger cars improve the view.
    Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

  • White Pass & Yukon Route Railway

    The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad was built during the Yukon Gold Rush in 1898. Today the real treasures aboard this narrow gauge railroad – an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark – are the glaciers, gorges, mountains, waterfalls, tunnels and bridges on display as the vintage train climbs almost 3000 feet in just 20 miles.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Chilkoot

  • Mount Washington Cog Railway

    Passengers aboard the Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire enjoy a 3-hour tour to the highest peak in the Northeast, 6,288-foot Mount Washington. The first cog-driven train made the climb on July 3, 1869, and today – 150 years later – the Mount Washington Cog Railway is a National Historic Engineering Landmark.
    Photo courtesy of Mount Washington Cog Railway

  • Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic

    Alaska Railroad’s Coastal Classic runs from Anchorage to Girdwood and on to Seward from mid-May to mid-September. Along the way, passengers can soak up the views of the steep Chugach Range and spectacular backcountry wilderness.
    Photo courtesy of Glenn Aronwits / © GA Digital Photos

  • Cass Scenic Railroad

    Tucked into the scenic mountains of West Virginia lies the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, where visitors can take a step back in time aboard a steam-driven locomotive once used to haul lumber. Trips depart from the town of Cass and take visitors to Whittaker Station (2 hours round trip) or all the way to Bald Knob (4.5 hours round trip).
    Photo courtesy of Cass Scenic Railroad

The top 10 winners in the category Best Scenic Train Ride are as follows:

  1. Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
  2. Strasburg Rail Road
  3. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
  4. Capitol Corridor
  5. Cape Cod Central Railroad
  6. Rocky Mountaineer
  7. White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
  8. Mount Washington Cog Railway
  9. Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic
  10. Cass Scenic Railroad

A panel of experts (listed below) partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning trains!

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