For three or four hours out of Denver on the westbound California Zephyr, for instance, you’ll be following the Colorado River all the way to Glenwood Springs. Most of the year, rafters will wave at you as they float along a hundred feet below.
Or you could be on the Cardinal – my favorite train in the Eastern part of the U.S. – as it crosses the Appalachian Trail or snakes its way through the New River Gorge.
And, as the folks on TV are wont to say, “But wait! There’s more!” On those trains, as well as several others passing through other scenic areas, members of the National Park Service and other historical societies board Amtrak trains and provide running commentaries about the history and geography of the areas passing by outside.
What a bonus that is! And it all underscores my argument that families can easily justify to cost of a long-distance train trip by realizing that the rail journey is not simply a means of transportation taking you to where your vacation begins … the train trip is, in fact, a big part of the whole vacation experience. Your Amtrak ticket doesn’t simply cover the actual transportation, but it saves the cost of a hotel room for those nights and, assuming you’re traveling in a sleeping car, it also includes the cost of all your family’s meals, too.
And you can’t beat that with a stick!