12 Fall Foliage Train Rides to Book Right Now

The Buzludzha Monument was built toward the end of the Cold War by the Bulgarian communist regime, who hoped it would serve as a prominent and official headquarters for the Bulgarian Communist Party. The UFO-esque building was the site of many state functions, with Lenin and Marx posters and a red-star ceiling setting the ambiance. Though the monument was abandoned and closed to the public in 1989, sneaky explorers continue to venture in to gaze at the otherworldly dome.

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Take New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic Railway through the Crawford Notch pass in the White Mountains this fall.

1/1 SLIDESFall foliage is peaking across the United States and beyond right now. Instead of going on the same drive you do every year, consider ditching the car to take in the changing scenery from the comfort of a train. Here are 12 of our favorite scenic train rides for optimized leaf-peeping this year.

Amtrak Coast Starlight

Route: Los Angeles to Seattle

You might not immediately associate California with spectacular fall foliage, but this year’s autumn season “will be remembered as one of the most unbelievably beautiful and long-lasting, ever,” according to the blog California Fall Color. According to them, the last weekend in October is peak time to take it all in. Hop on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight in Los Angeles for leisurely views of the Pacific Coast before riding to the San Francisco Bay Area. After cutting inland to Sacramento, you’ll head up to Mount Shasta and through the Cascade Range where some of the best foliage can be seen. Of course, you can also choose to limit your trip to certain sections of the trip to cut down on travel time and price, but reserved coach seats are still available for last-minute trips on the Saturday, October 27, 2018, Coast Starlight from Seattle at 9:45 a.m. and the 10:10 a.m. from Los Angeles. From $122 one-way

Mount Washington Cog Railway

Route: Marshfield Base Station to Mount Washington Summit, New Hampshire

Ride the rails to the top of Mount Washington on this three-hour round-trip excursion that’s been an attraction in New Hampshire’s White Mountains since 1869. The railway still operates two vintage steam locomotives, but it has made an effort to reduce emissions by introducing seven biodiesel locomotives along the route. Visit by mid-October to see the fall colors at their peak. From $72 round-trip

Sagano Scenic Railway

Route: Saga Torokko Station to Kameoka Torokko Station, Japan

Just 15 minutes outside of Kyoto, you can catch the Sagano Scenic Railway from the Saga Torokko Station. It will take you on a 25-minute train ride through the Hozukyo Ravine, which is lined with Japanese maple trees that turn red and orange every autumn. From $6 one way

Amtrak Adirondack

Route: New York City to Montreal, Canada

Departing New York’s Penn Station in the morning, you’ll spend the next 10 hours winding through the Hudson Valley and up into its namesake Adirondack Mountains before traveling along the shores of Lake Champlain and arriving in Montreal in the evening. Until November 2, 2018, Amtrak’s vintage Great Dome Car will be attached to the Adirondack in Albany to give riders even better views of upstate New York’s fall foliage. From $69 one way

Agawa Canyon Tour Train

Route: Sault Ste. Marie to Agawa Canyon, Canada

Every year through mid-October, this scenic train takes you on a daylong journey from the lakeside city of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario 114 miles north to the Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park, where you’ll have 90 minutes to go on a hike or stop for a picnic near the Agawa River. Peak fall foliage tours typically happen between late September and the first week of October and are incredibly popular, so book your ticket early. From $92 round-trip

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Route: Independence to Akron, Ohio

You can take this scenic train ride throughout the summer, but go in October before it closes for the season to see the sugar maples and dogwood trees turn various shades of red, orange, and yellow on a three-and-a-half-hour loop through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. From $15 round-trip (Upper Dome Car tickets from $28)

Bernina Express

Route: Chur or Davos, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy

The Rhaetian Railway through the Albula and Bernina Passes in the Alps was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list for its outstanding architectural and civil engineering achievements, which include hundreds of viaducts and bridges through high mountain passes.  From $78 one way

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Route: Antonito, Colorado, to Chama, New Mexico

This narrow-gauge steam train travels between two small towns located right on the Colorado–New Mexico border through the end of October each year. The ticket price includes lunch at the midway point in Osier, Colorado, plus access to the open-air gondola car for better photo opps of the aspen trees that turn bright yellow in autumn. From $105 round-trip

The Jacobite

Route: Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland

Harry Potter fans will recognize this vintage steam locomotive as the real-life version of the Hogwarts Express that crossed over the Glennfinnan Viaduct in the films. You might not be on your way to Hogwarts, but you’ll certainly take in some magical scenery along the 84-mile train ride, which runs through the last week of October 2018. From $46 round-trip

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Route: Blue Ridge, Georgia, to Copperhill, Tennessee

Between the last week of September and the first week of November, take in the season’s colors on this scenic 26-mile round-trip excursion along the Toccoa River in the Chattahoochee National Forest. From $54 round-trip

Conway Scenic Railway

Route: North Conway to Fabyan, New Hampshire

On this five-hour round-trip journey, you’ll pass through some of New Hampshire’s most scenic landscapes, including the famed Crawford Notch pass of the White Mountains that lights up in a riot of red, yellow, and orange foliage from late September to the first few weeks of October every year. From $59 round-trip (Upper Dome Car tickets from $85)

Alaska Railroad Denali Star Train

Route: Anchorage to Fairbanks, Alaska

The foliage changes early in Alaska, peaking in late August and the first few weeks of September each year. Not only will you see a variety of fall colors through the dome car windows on this 12-hour train ride, but you can also catch a view of Denali and the northern lights in Fairbanks, if the weather is clear. From $195 one way

This article originally appeared online in July 2018; it was updated on October 25, 2018, to include current information.

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